The Joe’s Boxing Method – Peripheral vision and the the sixth sense

Some of the following is almost a bit spooky but I have asked Dr Google and confirmed what I am saying but as this isn’t an academic journal I have not used references so the following disclaimer is issued that it may not be the 100% truth but it could at the very least be a very interesting lie.

You’ve probably been taught that humans have five senses: taste, smell, vision, hearing, and touch. However, an under-appreciated “sixth sense,” called proprioception, allows us to keep track of where our body parts are in space. Proprioception, or kinesthesia, is the sense that lets us perceive the location, movement, and action of parts of the body. It encompasses a complex of sensations, including perception of joint position and movement, muscle force, and effort. The silent “sixth” sense. Proprioception is the body’s mysterious ability to locate our limbs, even in darkness.

The sixth sense to me as it relates to boxing is combining the sensations of sight & sound (particularly peripheral vision), rhythm and touch with lesser reliance on smell and taste although they are relevant to not only locate our own body parts but also heightened awareness of our surroundings (eg where the ropes are behind us) placing us in a state of hyper cognition. Although generally referred to as the sixth sense the state of knowing something is wrong from a self-defense point of view must really be a seventh sense in this context.

However to me the most important component in this is peripheral vision which becomes the glue for the other senses. A trick that I do with my students that illustrates what the power of peripheral vision is to hold up both arms with forearms right angles at the elbow and hold at the sides of your head and slowly move your hands back until you can just see both hands without moving your eyes left or right. Most people end up with their hands adjacent to their ears. some even further back depending on the flexibility of their shoulders. This is crazy it is well behind where the eyes physically finish which means our peripheral vision is very powerful.

The human eye provides for an extremely wide angle of peripheral vision, up to ~ 160 degrees in most people. This peripheral vision is good for recognition of gray-tone patterns and is highly sensitive for detection of movement, but has almost no color capability. Peripheral vision is part of the visceral level of perception, referring to unconscious or emotional reactions that are more instinctive in nature. My anecdote for this is driving where we see a bicycle emerging from a side street we don’t react immediately but we prepare ourselves to brake in case it darts in front of us without consciously thinking about it. Vision in the periphery is much better at detecting moving objects and subtle differences in luminescence. These factors can be beneficial if a rock is hurtling in your direction, say, or if you’re playing football and boxing you can see the wider field so a person with enhanced peripheral vision could be potentially be Maradona or Sam Kerr. In boxing our subconscious mind looks for patterns or ticks in our opponent that can be exploited so recognition of gray-tone patterns play an import part of this.

This all then leads to equipment that has developed in boxing specifically but not knowingly to the enhancement of peripheral vision with the speed ball (called speedbag most often in USA) and the Floor to Ceiling ball (called double end bag in USA) being the most traditional but many other improvised ones as well . I will discuss how we use the speedball and floor-to-ceiling and the other ones work in a later chapter and show the basics of how you can use them.

Next Installment –