I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos of people boxing and sparring. It caught my interest and I figured I would learn how to box, however, does everyone need to go to a dedicated boxing school to learn? I've a friend who knows Karate (not sure if it'll help since they're different than Boxing), but we're gonna plan on sparring at a beginner level.

My question is, what prerequisites do I need to start sparring? I haven't been to the gym for a few months so I'm gonna need to get back in shape to help with flexibility and mobility and stamina.



5 Answers 5


I would not recommend learning to spar for boxing from a friend who "knows" karate.

Karate is not boxing

They are two separate sports, with distinctive styles and techniques. The adaptability of McGregor aside, hands in karate are at best, 60% of the offensive techniques, and of those offensive techniques, maybe 30% of the hand techniques would be applicable to boxing style sparring. Footwork is different, weight balance and shifting is different, even technique setup and flow is different.

Sparring first? Yeah...don't do that

Part of learning to spar is as much defense as it is anything else. Learning how to take a punch with minimal impact/injury, learning how to move, and above all, learning under the tutelage of someone that can correct technique and limit the ferocity of the sparring. Even as a senior BB, I have to be cautious when sparring with junior belts as they have not learned distancing and control. The likelihood that you hit or get hit just "a little harder than you meant" is the difference between walking away and being carried away. Yes, sparring can be that dangerous.

Don't learn to unlearn

The odds that you watch a few videos and spar your buddy and end up with good form is...almost nonexistent. That means that when you do go to an actual gym/studio, you will have to spend time unlearning all the bad habits that you picked up because you didn't know what you were doing.

Don't underestimate a good instructor

No offense to your buddy, but unless he is a certified instructor and a higher rank for a time, the general person that says "Yeah, I know some _____" means that they got to a mid level colored belt and dropped out. Any martial artist that knows anything won't say "Yeah, come on over and we'll spar". This just increases the likelihood that someone is going to get hurt, and hurt badly. You absolutely need someone that can watch, diagnose, correct and teach the correct form from the word go.


Don't do that. Don't be a Darwin award candidate.

  • "Karate is not boxing. They are two separate sports..." - or one martial art and one sport, depending on the karate school. Lots of solid points.
    – Tony D
    Mar 16, 2018 at 22:28
  • 2
    Technically both are both martial arts and sports. :)
    – JohnP
    Mar 16, 2018 at 23:35

Yes, you will need to go to a Boxing or MMA gym if you eventually want to spar or fight.

You need a legitimate instructor to teach you. No amount of YouTube videos or messing around with buddies can teach you how to box. Fitness clubs have cardio boxing and similar exercise programs. These will not prepare you for sparring or fighting.

It seems like you have your heart set on sparring. The reality is you won't be sparring for at least a few months if your gym is legitimate. You need to learn the absolute basic fundamentals. Footwork, keeping your hands up, turning your hips, etc are all needed before you're thrown into live sparring. It may look fun on the YouTube videos you watched, but real boxing sparring is brutal. You're going to get hurt. You're going to suffer brain trauma. You could die. I'm not trying to scare you, these are just realities of combat sports. Know what you're getting into.


Lets be clear. Boxing, MMA, Kungfu, Karate, and other martial arts all have sparring content. None of them "own" the concept or practice of sparring.

If you want to learn to spar like a Boxer then you have to learn sport of boxing. If you want to learn to spar like someone does MMA then you have to learn the sport of MMA. If you want to learn to spar like someone who trains Kungfu then you have to learn the martial art of Kungfu.

It's that simple.

Maybe you are a bit inexperienced in martial arts at this time in your life. Don't worry everyone starts out that way. But don't drink anyone's Koolaid either. You said that you would like to learn to Box. Go to a Boxing Club - no other type of club can teach you to Box.


"I haven't been to the gym for a few months so I'm gonna need to get back in shape to help with flexibility and mobility and stamina."

Worrying about the above as preparation for practicing with your friend is a huge red flag - if you're planning to go that hard that any of that matters while you don't know any technique, somebody's going to get hurt for sure.

Even if your friend knows martial arts well enough to teach properly, and you're happy to learn karate instead of boxing, go slow until your attacks and defence - including footwork and distancing - are comfortable and familiar and trusted, then slowly up the pace and power.

If your friend's not at instructor level (only a small proportion of people who know some karate are), find a proper instructor or boxing coach.


I was very lucky to have been introduced to my teacher before I started training. New students started in an initiation class that was simply called "JKD phase 1" (I found out on day 1 that my teacher was a Bruce Lee student). The basics were boxer techniques; stance, feet work, defence, basic punches and eventually kicks (and very important, how to hold focus mitts, kicking shields and thai pads). When we practised drills and "sparred" we would be lined up and didn't move around. After phase 1 (typically 6 months) you would choose a discipline and attend those classes. In the muay thai class, we ran drills and sparred while moving around the mat. It was cool to have had time to get in shape and some practice before the classes beyond phase 1.

I thought I knew how to throw a punch; day 1 was an awakening. Youtube can't correct you if you do it wrong. Two beginners will have a hard time correcting each other. A good teacher can. I taught myself to use nunchakus pretty well, by watching a youtube video. The thing is, I got lucky; the first video I saw was made by somebody that knew what they were doing. If I try to find nunchakus training videos, I have to sift through a ton of speed chucking videos and videos of people that really don't know what they are doing to find a decent one. If I started today, I wouldn't know which videos are garbage.


I suggest starting with a good teacher and practice with your buddy. One day you could stop going to class and can do drills (that you learned from a teacher that corrected any mistakes) and spar with your buddy on your own time.

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