I recently got in a debate with a friend; both of us do boxing, although he's been doing it for longer apparently. He seems to think endurance is far more important than technique, whereas I argue that while both are important, technique is a greater deciding factor - for instance, I would expect a boxer with decent technique and high endurance to lose against a boxer with great technique and decent endurance, since the latter would be more efficient at using his energy and would be able to dominate the fight more, eliminating his opponent's physical advantage. I also argued that boxing is very much a mental sport and requires a lot of fast thinking and neural training, which endurance on its own neglects. He doesn't seem to be convinced though.

While he has been boxing longer, my opinions are those of people who are better and more experienced than both of us (for instance, Johnny at expertboxing.com). Are my ideas unfounded? Are we both in the wrong?

  • Welcome to the site. Have a look at good subjective bad subjectiv as there is a good question in there. I feel (but I might be wrong) that currently, the question reads too much as inviting discussion which SE does not do well at all. Jun 18, 2014 at 10:35
  • I see what you mean. I'm not deliberately trying to invite idle discussion per se; I'd just like to know if my current training path is along the right lines or not. Jun 18, 2014 at 10:57

4 Answers 4


Conditioning and muscle endurance are the attributes which allow you to continue executing proper technique after the first few moments of a fight or bout. All the slick technique in the world is useless if you're too tired to execute that technique.

Technique is important, but it tends to degrades rapidly as one tires. Being in condition for boxing allows you to continue applying your technique after being gently concussed, after being punched in the gut, after throwing the same technique fifty times, after several minutes of high-intensity movement.


When Mike Tyson knocks you out in the first round, is it because you don't have enough endurance or because your technique failed you?

I would argue that endurance is more important than technique when the fight goes the full distance. Having good technique is one thing, but it's your endurance that keeps you from making mistakes when you get tired. And making mistakes is what gets you knocked out. Conversely, if you want to end a fight quickly, your technique is more important, though it is obvious that both have their role.

Also, don't make the same mistake that every mediocre fighter makes: Don't focus on style and technique uber alles and in the process forget that boxing (or any martial art really) is about knocking the other guy out. Which is why Mike Tyson is world champion even though his technique looks boring. It's also why Joe Fraser managed to knock out Muhammad Ali.

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    Any martial art really is about knocking the other guy out ... That's a really narrow minded view. Jun 18, 2014 at 11:55
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    No it's not. If you want to dance, then take up dancing. If you want spirituality, join a church. If you want a good workout, try Tae-bo. If you want to learn how to fight, then take up a MARTIAL art. google.com/search?q=define%3Amartial Jun 18, 2014 at 12:36
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    Blanket statements almost always have an exception that proves them wrong (see what I did there?). Aikido is not (usually) about knocking people out. Kali tends to be more about stabbin' folks. But, yeah, boxing is totally about knocking dudes out. Jun 18, 2014 at 12:38
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    AFAICR, many martial arts specifically do involve more than (insert incapacitating element here) the opponent(s). In many of those cases, it's because actual combat demands more than technique: it deeply involves the mind and the ability to remain calm during said confrontation. Regarding the appeal to authority for the blanket statement: there are a bunch of authorities who would disagree that all martial arts are solely about incapacitating opponents. I don't really believe that kind of attitude is the best way to settle disputes. Jun 19, 2014 at 13:20
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    You learn to remain calm by gaining experience. It's the same principle that underpins any contact sport. Freaking out happens when you don't know what just hit you or what's going to happen next. Once you get used to the idea that a punch or kick to the face feels so-and-so, your brain spends less time analysing what just happened, leaving more processing time available for "Okay, how do we do that to the other guy?". This shouldn't be a revolutionary concept. Go ask a boxer how he was taught not to freak out about being hit in the face. Jun 19, 2014 at 14:11


  • Technique taps into reserves of energy (endurance)
  • Endurance is conserved with efficient execution and strong guard (technique).


  • Without endurance, your technique falls to bits fast.
  • Without technique your endurance falls to bits fast.

It isn't one or the other, it's both, in equal measure - that's why it's so tough. If you aim for good technique and neglect endurance then you'll win by early knockout unless you find someone that can go the distance. If you aim to go the distance and neglect technique you'll outlast your opponents unless you find someone who can route out weaknesses in your technique to bring you down early.


I do TKD sparring (and usually win), and sparring is very tiring and taxing as well.

I go for more of a technique side. I try to conserve my energy as much as possible, not throwing a shot unless I know there is a very good chance of it scoring. I am always shifting in and out of target range, so I'm not taking a beating 24/7.

Of course, endurance is also extremely important.

Two words:

jump rope.

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