How Jazz Music can make you a better boxer

I first started boxing and Muay Thai back in Singapore. I trained with Muay Thai world champion Nong-O Gaiyanhadao.

Now that I’ve finally gotten off my mother’s couch and back in school, I picked up boxing again while at Cambridge. And, although I am very well still a rookie, I did my first light sparring session this week and learned an interesting point in how music can make me a better boxer.

When it comes to boxing combinations, my trainer has taught me it’s not so simple as 1-2-3 punch. There is a methodical rhythm to it, and I’ve been able to relate this to my past studies in music and particularly jazz music.

Musical sheet compositions are usually written in a set time signature, 4/4 is the most basic and rudimentary, meaning FOUR quarter notes per “bar” of notes. The denominator dictates the value of the note, while the numerator dictates how many of that note. So 3/4 means three-quarter notes. 7/8 means seven eighth notes, 6/8 means six eighth notes, and so forth. The time signature, along with the tempo (speed of the song) dictates the rhythm.

But if you are boxing off a predictable “time signature,” you become an easy target. Predictable is good in classical music – while note so good in a fight. That’s why the rhythm you might learn in jazz music is important in boxing – the rhythm changes, adapts, stops and goes, and sometimes, there’s no discernable “time signature” at all. There is a lot of improvisation, especially when it’s your turn for jazz solos, with many “rest” notes. In music, the short pauses and silence in between can create dramatic effects.

And so, in boxing, it isn’t as simple as throwing your 1-2-3 combo punch every time. You take turns, trading with your opponent, but if you dictate the rhythm, you can win. So 1-2-3 can instead become 1-dodge-2 -3. Instead of throwing three punches in a row, you adapt, put in rest notes for yourself to dodge or block, feinting, changing your time signature rhythm entirely to throw off your opponent.

And the best part about music and boxing: it’s really fun when you get in the “zone” and flow with your rhythm that you create

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