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Exceptional Skills vs. an Exceptional Prime

Exceptional Skills vs. an Exceptional Prime
by J. R. Workman

"In defensive operations, ingenuity is of more avail than machines" — Vitruvius, On Architecture

Exceptional Skills vs. an Exceptional Prime

This may sound ironic but many of the boxers with the most unbeatable primes (such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Roy Jones Jr., and Mike Tyson) did not necessarily have the "greatest" skill or technique levels compared to other boxers. What they had that stood out was their exceptional talent or natural aptitudes for boxing i.e., their abilities to pick up the moves fast and with less experience than it takes most people to learn them, they all had sharp reflexes, and eye-catching physical gifts too―think Mike Tyson's power, Roy Jones Jr.'s agility, and Sugar Ray Robinson's ranginess. Boxers with exceptional primes usually have remarkable physical traits such as unbelievable power, speed, agility, or tremendous size advantages when it comes to height or reach which distinguish them from the vast majority of other boxers. And the boxers with the greatest primes of all times tend to possessed great (but not necessarily the best) skills ever.

A highly-technical and crafty boxer like a Floyd Mayweather Jr. or a Vasyl Lomachenko has outstanding levels of skill/technique, but may have been beatable in their primes because they did not have the highest possible degrees of talent and athleticism or genetic gifts (they still had tremendous primes―Mayweather won most of his boxing matches during his prime by knockout for example―but they just were not the genetic freaks of nature or the athletic peculiarities that the boxers with the best primes in history were). The boxers who have the best primes―on the other hand―tend to lose matches once their athleticism slows down when they are no longer in their primes because they have to rely on their skills more and more and they cannot rely as much on their talent anymore since their athletic abilities have declined (Sugar Ray Robinson, Roy Jones Jr., and Mike Tyson all lost outside of their primes).

Roy Jones Jr. always performed better than Bernard Hopkins did while he was in his prime but Hopkins was well-skilled and that is why he was able to defeat top fighters at an older age. Jones relied on his athleticism which is why he could not compete as well as Hopkins could at an older age. Roy Jones Jr. could have always beaten Bernard Hopkins until they got older―Jones dominated Hopkins when they fought in 1993 (back when they were both in their primes) but Jones lost to Hopkins in 2010 when they got older.

So skill is not the only factor when it comes to having the best prime ever―it is more a matter of being well-rounded or being the whole package and having a lot of talent and natural ability and physical/athletic gifts along with the skills/technique.

Skill still is the most critical advantage and valuable asset to have in a self-defense situation because of the amount of talent and athleticism that is necessary to beat skill/technique―skill is the best quality in all of self-defense for what it is worth. The fact that it takes such a phenomenal level of talent and athletic ability to defeat skill shows that it has more value over all or in and of itself; it is just that outstanding talent and outstanding athleticism with good skills beats good talent and good athleticism with outstanding skills when you add everything together. It takes two qualities in this scenario to out-do just one of themthat is how important skill is. Obviously the highest degrees you have of all three of these qualities the more unbeatable you will be in a self-defense situation. Outstanding talent and outstanding athleticism when combined with good skill can beat outstanding skill, but alone and separated from all of the other qualities―nothing beats skill.

Having said all of this, although the sport of boxing is useful to study for the learning and examination of self-defense techniques―it is extremely dangerous to compete in as a sport and it is heavily opposed by the bulk of medical professionals due to the physical damage it inflicts (such as concussions, increased risk of contracting Alzheimer's disease later on in life, etc.). The American Public Health Association called for a ban on the sport of boxing in its 1985 Policy Statement entitled Boxing Should Be Banned. This is not the only call for a ban of the sport of boxing released from medical professionals either. The Australian Medical Association also released a Position Statement labeled AMA Position Statement on Combat Sport (2015) calling for a ban on boxing as an Olympic sports as well as discouraging the promotion of other dangerous combat sports that can cause serious injuries. 

For these reasons, competitive sports fighting (except when the sport does not cause grave and/or unnecessary damage) is highly demoralized by a large number of physicians. 

Boxing training can still be performed safely, but engaging in sparring instead of competitive sports fighting is much less harmful on your body. Sparring is an excellent means of obtaining self-defense skills, but because of the self-restraint which is usually practiced in it and due to the guidance of the instructors, sparring is much safer than competitive sports fighting is for your health. 

Sparring also takes place in a more monitored environmentyou can adjust the intensity level of the sparring to your heart's contenttherefore sparring is actually a supreme and safe form of training when it comes to improving self-defense skills. 

Private boxing lessons that involve man-to-man instruction and an adequate amount of high-quality sparring partners are to be favored over gym classes and group lessons because they enable you to practice from homewhich is the exemplary and most fitting/agreeable training domain there isor any other desirable setting and it also ensures more concentrated training designed particularly for you than you would generally have at a gym or if you were training in a group; and this is optimal for acquiring self-defense skills. 

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