The boxer always has his hands and needs only to clench them into fits. 

In the Meditations written by Marcus Aurelius, there is a fantastic paragraph that reads: 

The model for the application of your principles is the boxer rather than the gladiator. The gladiator puts down or takes up the sword he uses, but the boxer always has his hands and needs only to clench them into fits. 

The above text left me wondering about my take on principles. Are my principles embodied within me as a boxer who only needs to form a grip and charge, or is it a weapon that I have to pick up whenever life obliges me? 

But then, is there a moment when we decide without using our principles? 

To my thinking, no. Principles are fundamentals for our reasoning; they provide a canvas to draw our decisions; they are taught at a young age to help us experience the world. They help us differentiate the good or bad from a personal point of view. 

Gladiators or Boxers? 

A Gladiator rarely fought with his hands. There was pride in his weaponry. Most gladiators were slaves or criminals who trained in the school of using weapons called “Ludus gladiatorius”. After their training, they would then be thrown in the arena to entertain endowed with knives, shields, swords and helmets. Gladiators had to pick up weapons and armour. 

A Boxer fights with his hands. They have to wear gloves, mouthguards and boxing wraps but then wouldn’t they put up a fight without them? They definitely would. A Boxer doesn’t need to pick up a weapon; he is one. 

“My punches are just as hard in Chicago as in New York.” – Sonny Liston

In meditations, Marcus urged us to let our principles be like boxers, within us and ready just like our hands pending to clench into fists contrary to Gladiators who have to pick up their weaponry before charging into a fight. 

What are “Principles”? What is their role in our life? How to cultivate them? How to adopt good ones in our life? All these answers will is a due exploration in my next articles. 

Thanks for reading!


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