Sports | What are some things you only know after learning boxing?

On Monday night, I attended a boxing class and once again felt the joy of dopamine secretion! And the coach turned out to be an Inner Mongolian who can speak Mongolian, which I, as an Inner Mongolian myself, find quite rare!

What are some things that I only learned after studying boxing?

  1. The tough guys with tattooed arms in the boxing gym are actually very friendly.
  2. Boxing is not just about Tyson biting ears, "smart people" can also be good at boxing.
  3. Boxing and Muay Thai are not the same thing.

The only thing I had heard about boxing before was the story of Tyson biting his opponent's ear during a boxing match. It was January 2016, and I was still in Guangzhou at the time, feeling a bit lost in life, so I started going to the gym more often. It was there that I met Master Jin. (Later on, I met other coaches, and I called them "masters," but there was only one "Master.") He was also a member of the gym and would often go there to work out. Somehow, I found out that he knew how to box, so I tried to learn from him. He started by teaching me the basic stance, then the jab, straight right, followed by the left hook, right hook, left uppercut, and right uppercut. Gradually, we moved on to combinations, footwork, and defensive maneuvers. This process lasted for about half a year, but it ended when I went to study in Hong Kong.

In my memories, he would always help me wrap my hand wraps. (Later on, when I went to learn boxing in Hong Kong, I realized that not every coach would do it every time.) In the summer, when I wanted to look a bit more handsome at the gym, I would quickly take off my jacket, but he would scold me like an old father, worrying that I would catch a cold. He would also take me out for tea, to eat at my favorite restaurant, Xi Bei, and to the Korean street on Gangbei Road for barbecue... Master Jin was from Yanji and worked in Korean foreign trade. He could speak Korean and had a good understanding of the dipping sauces for barbecue. When the server brought the usual dipping sauce, he would look at it and feel that it wasn't authentic, and then he would instruct the server to bring different dipping powders. I was always confused, but by the time I realized it, he had already wrapped the barbecue and prepared the sauce for me... Looking back, he took care of me so well, while I was just a careless and ungrateful disciple.

Master Jin said, "Only smart people can be good at boxing."

I used to think that boxing relied on brute force and ruthlessness to win, but after learning it, I realized that boxing requires a lot of intelligence. You have to closely watch your opponent, predict their movements 0.001 seconds before they throw a punch, and respond with the appropriate defense. You have to know how to seize opportunities to score, and how to make your opponent follow your rhythm... In the square ring, without some intelligence, you won't be able to hold your ground. When I first heard Master Jin say this, I didn't fully believe it and wanted to know if I was smart enough (laughs). So, at that time, I had even more motivation to learn.

Master Jin said, "No one else will teach you the basics like this." At that time, I just heard it and didn't think much about it. Now, six years later, looking back, no one else has taught me the basics like he did.

Boxing starts with the stance: (using a right-handed stance as an example) Stand with your feet apart, take a step back with your right foot, point your toes slightly to the right front, lean slightly to the right (to avoid exposing your front to your opponent), keep your weight centered between your feet, slightly tighten your elbows, protect your face with your fists on both sides, and observe your opponent through the gap between your fists—this is the first step in learning boxing, and the instructor needs to constantly correct and remind you of this stance. After countless combinations, if your back hand drops, Master Jin would remind me that my hand should not drop, and only through repetition can muscle memory be formed. After that comes the jab, throwing a punch with your left hand, which is relatively easier to grasp. Then comes the straight right, extending your right hand forward, while coordinating the rotation of your shoulder, waist, and hips, bending your left knee, and rotating your right foot inward, while remembering to keep your left hand protecting your face. I spent a long time learning the straight right. After throwing the punch, I would freeze and maintain the hip rotation position, and Master Jin would repeatedly correct my posture, so that muscle memory could be formed through repetition.

There was a time when I bought new boxing gloves, and Master Jin solemnly said, "Never let anyone else wear your boxing gloves!" Immediately, various legends I had heard before came to mind... I still remember that there was a player who always stepped onto the field with his left foot first, and there were athletes who always wore red protective gear. Thinking about it, I felt that I was also becoming cool... Just as I was lost in my thoughts and letting my imagination run wild, Master Jin said, "Because it will mix the smell!"

At that time, I never thought that a few years later, in Hong Kong, I would meet even more interesting and loving boxing friends and coaches, and that I would step into the ring for the first time and have my first boxing match...

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