Footwork, timing and balance are fundamental aspects of boxing. Boxers spend countless hours running through drills and skipping rope to improve their footwork. It is one of the hardest skills to develop as there is no real short cut or easy way to learn and the traditional ways to improve your footwork can seem tedious at best.
Dancing could hold the key to the training boxers are looking for. Dancing has been compared to various forms of martial arts and has even been included in one, Capoeira.
Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that uses music and dance to conceal powerful blows. The television show Fight Science featured practitioners from various martial arts testing the power and speed of their kicks. The gentleman who practices Capoeira was able to generate an incredible amount of force in one kick using the mass of his entire body thanks to the movements of the dance martial art.
Dance forms such as Salsa, Tango, Ballet and Ballroom dancing can be an excellent addition to any training regimen since they teach boxers technical dance steps, rhythm and balance that not only help improve footwork but also hip movement. Dancing can also provide boxers with invaluable cardio training with styles like tap dance and hip hop. Ballet can teach a boxer self control, perfection, balance and to be more flexible.
Dancing can not only benefit your body, it can also benefit your mind. Dancing can boost your mood by increasing serotonin levels, making you feel happier. The physical and mental challenges of dancing can also increase cognitive ability. The New England Journal of medicine reported on the effects of recreational activities on mental keenness in aging. They concluded that almost none of the physical recreational activities they studied (golf, swimming, walking, etc) provided any cognitive benefits. The only physical activity that offered both cardiovascular benefits and protection against dementia was frequent dancing. Not only does dancing provide protection against dementia but it also had the greatest risk reduction of any of the activities tested, cognitive or physical.
The fact that some forms of dancing require rapid decision making is what can make them beneficial to your mind and foot work while boxing. This is especially important for boxers who take repeated impacts to the head. A medical paper from the American Academy of Neurology showed that fighting frequently over a long period of time caused decreases in volume in some areas of the brain and also reduced connectivity between the basal ganglia and other parts of the brain. The basal ganglia acts as a cohesive functional unit of you brain and is strongly connected to the cerebral cortex. It plays an important role in a wide variety of functions from memory retention to motor skills. Its critical to boxers to protect their minds and keep them sharp.
Dancing can also impact a boxer psychologically. Dancing can be a great way to relieve stress and eliminate anxiety. A study was conducted at the University of London where patients with anxiety were asked to spend time in one of four different therapeutic environments, only those that were in the dance classes during their study showed significantly reduced anxiety. Dancing has also been shown to increase confidence.
Some professional boxers have already incorporated dancing into their training, whether they know it or not. Boxers like Victor Ortiz, Sugar Ray Lenard, Laila Ali, Evander Holyfield and Floyd Mayweather Jr. have all been featured on the hit TV show Dancing With The Stars. Even UFC fighter Chuck Lidell was featured on the show.
Do you dance and train? Do you find it helps with your technique? Tell us about your experience in the comments!