Box it out

January 25th, 2017
Box it out
For many boxing is a great way to keep fit, get the heart pumping and relieve the stress of daily life. But one Hills resident is using the popular sport to help people overcome emotional and physical hardship one punch, swing and dodge at a time.

Having practiced varying types of martial arts throughout his life, Tony Toka knows firsthand the physical, emotional and psychological benefits of boxing.

After struggling to find a martial arts centre where the mind and personal development was integrated with fighting techniques, Tony decided to open Zen Boxing in Mount Barker.

According to Tony, Zen Boxing is much more than just punching bags and throwing around a macho attitude, it’s about teaching people a variety of skills that they can use throughout their life.

“Zen Boxing is a martial arts system that is designed to help people overcome emotional struggles such as fears and insecurities, and physical challenges like bullying or domestic violence,” Tony said.

“At Zen Boxing we understand there is more to martial arts than just kicking and punching — it’s an art form that requires a lot skill and discipline.”

Instead of just going through the motions Tony teaches people the process behind each and every technique, why it works and the skills required to achieve the best results.

“Our goal is to teach boxing through play,” Tony said.

“Rather than telling someone what to do, the involvement here provides an opportunity to play because there is no punishment for mistakes.”

“We encourage people to make as many mistakes as possible and give them opportunities to solve it.”

Tony believes that focusing too much on the rights and wrongs is counterproductive because it stops people from trying new things in the case of failure.

Boxing not only helps you release stress through physical movement, it also teaches you the skills to deal with stress and pressure.

“Like all martial arts, boxing is as much a mental and emotional challenge as it is a physical challenge,” Tony said.

“By learning to overcome physical challenges you are actually learning the skills to help you overcome emotional and psychological challenges and those are really important life skills.”

And overcoming hardship is something Tony is very familiar with.

In 1992 Tony and his family found themselves in the midst in the midst of Civil War of the Russian and Afghanistan region and he said that all the skills he had learnt through martial arts he had to apply to survive.

“My family went from living in a luxury apartment to living in the streets in a shipping container for over a year,” Tony said.

“A lot of people couldn’t hand the pressure.”

“Although at that point I never had mental health training, I had to delve into and use the skills I gained from martial arts to overcome this hardship and rebuild my life.”

But what really makes Zen Boxing an entirely different martial arts experience is Tony’s approach to giving and educating his clients.

Each Zen Boxing journey begins with an "Alignment session" where a customised program is designed to highlight people’s goals and ambitions – and not just the fitness kind.

“Since launching Zen Boxing I’ve received some great feedback from people who say they’ve learnt so much more about themselves and are more confident to take advantage of their lives.”

Someone who has greatly benefited from Tony guidance is Shaun Guthrie.

“Initially I just wanted to find a place where I could learn martial arts but since joining Zen Boxing I’ve learnt it’s more of a personal coaching space which incorporates fighting,” said Shaun.

“Tony has completely changed the way I look at and approach life. He teaches you mind clarity, how to set and achieve goals and how to be the best version of yourself.”

“The first time I met him he asked me what my goals were and what I wanted to gain out of life. While I was taken back my these questions initially, he got me thinking about what I actually wanted to achieve.”

Shaun attributes Tony’s guidance and support as a major influence in the launch of his new business.

“I’ve been able to identify and overcome my negative attributes to become a better and more mindful person.”

“My kids also go to Zen Boxing as they have great sessions that teaches kids confidence and how to overcome bullies.”

All ages are welcome at Zen Boxing, with different sessions catering for different age groups and needs.

For more information about Zen Boxing phone 0424 203 461 or visit

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