Boxing and Empathy

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 12.25.31 PMMy friend Philip Rosedale made a fascinating observation about boxing.  It takes around 200 milliseconds to respond physically to a stimulus.  A jab takes under 100 milliseconds from first movement to landing on your face.  Yet among professional boxers, landing over 40 percent of the punches thrown is considered an exceptionally good performance.  Boxers can predict that their opponent will throw a punch before their opponent has even decided to do it.

This is different than the also incredible vision and intuitive physics of baseball players and volleyball players who can extrapolate from a 16 millisecond video clip where a ball is headed.  This is literally deciding to slip a punch before your adversary has thrown a punch.

I’ve experienced this myself and it’s an incredible feeling – you can see it at 55 seconds in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfYh6dPMXoI – I duck G’s hook a split second before he throws it.  I’m slow enough that slipping at the same time G. throws would probably result in me getting hit.  (If you want see better boxing, here’s a video of pros slipping each other slowed down http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui-7QZLuDD0.)

When I spar, I literally try to surprise myself when I throw a punch.  But my opponent still usually manages to block it or get out of the way.

We are so much more predictable than we think.