The Box Tag project is designed to enable wider community access to a modified, low-risk form of competitive boxing (Box'Tag®). This is a collaborative project between the:
- the University of Canberra
- Boxing Australia
- the Queensland Academy of Sport Centre of Excellence for Applied Sport Science Research,
- Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO),
- RMIT University,
- the Canberra Police Community Youth Club and
- Sports Master Athletics International Pty Ltd (an Australian company that manufactures sporting equipment and has a particular focus on combat sports).
UC-RISE is playing a major role in a cross-disciplinary project involving development of a modified form of boxing called Box'Tag. The project is aimed at adding an entirely new dimension to boxing – a dimension in which the primary focus is on the safety and enjoyment of participants. There are technological, scientific and cultural challenges.
Initially, the emphasis was on enabling a new form of boxing competition where impacts to the head and forceful impacts are prohibited, but it soon became clear that Box'Tag differed from conventional boxing in ways that required the design and implementation of Box'Tag-specific training programs and activities. A framework has now been established that allows people to take part in the modified sport at whatever levels suits them, from simple involvement in the training activities through to engagement in formal Box'Tag competition.
In competition settings, contestants wear specialised vests and gloves incorporating sensor fabrics that allow automated impact detection and real-time scoring. Customised gloves with augmented capacity for impact absorption are being developed.
Box'Tag training entails progressive approaches to the building of both physical fitness and skills, with considerable use of novel games.
Boxing Australia (the organisation that controls Australian amateur boxing) has formally adopted Box'Tag as a vehicle for positive community interaction, and Box'Tag programs are now operating at clubs in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Ulladulla. In 2011, a pilot Box'Tag program was run at a school in a disadvantaged area of Brisbane, with favourable results and highly positive feedback from the School Principal.
Box'Tag competitions have been included in the 2012 and 2013 Victorian Police & Emergency Services Games, and in 2014 Box'Tag will be among the sports contested at the 2014 Australasian Police & Emergency Services Games.
UC-RISE has entered into an official partnership with the Canberra Police Community Youth Club (PCYC) to establish a Field Research & Development Centre at Erindale. The Centre is enabling continuous improvement of the Box'Tag concept through interaction with participants and systematic observation in 'real-world' training and competition settings.
During March and April 2013 UCNISS and the PCYC, with assistance from the University of NSW, ran a Small Open On-line Course titled 'Introduction to Box'Tag'. The 5-week course attracted 150 participants, including many from overseas. The course material is still available on-line at: https://www.openlearning.com/courses/introductiontoboxtag
A major focus of the work at the Canberra PCYC has been the exploration of new, more socially inclusive models for conduct of training sessions and competitions. This has been associated with progressive growth of the PCYC Box'Tag program to a point where it now has ~100 regular participants, with more than half being female. Attempts have been successfully made to attract the participation of multiple members of families.
Objective measurements have shown that Box'Tag competition and training activities are as physiologically demanding as those entailed in conventional boxing, and Box'Tag has been productively used as a form of cross-training by athletes from a wide variety of sports, including tennis, rugby league, rugby union, soccer, AFL, athletics, netball and sailing.
Recently Boxing Australia, with UC-RISE support, obtained funding from the Olympic Solidarity Commission, the Australian Olympic Committee and the Queensland Academy of Sport Centre of Excellence for Applied Sport Science Research for a project aimed at enabling increased community access to Box'Tag. UC-RISE is taking responsibility for administering the project and delivering specific aspects of it. There are several delivery partners including CSIRO, RMIT University, Griffith University, Victoria University, a software development company, manufacturers of sporting equipment and community sporting and fitness clubs. As part of the project, public workshops incorporating demonstrations of Box'Tag have been held in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney and there are to be similar events elsewhere during the first few months of 2014.
A former Australian Institute of Sport and national boxing coach, Paul Perkins, has joined UC-RISE as a Masters candidate and is carrying out a research project aimed at understanding factors influencing community uptake of Box'Tag. His supervisory team includes Prof Allan Hahn, Prof Keith Lyons and
Dr Richard Keegan.
The Box'Tag project entails the design of a new sport, specialised equipment, training programs and general infrastructure including training environments. It therefore encapsulates many aspects of Sport Design. A published paper providing details of the technology employed in Box'Tag and summarising the development of the modified sport can be found at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/19346182.2012.725413
Other publications relating to Box'Tag are listed below:
- Hahn A. Box'Tag: A modified form of boxing competition aimed at improving community fitness and health. Sport Health 25(3): 6-8, 2007.
- Hahn AG, Helmer RJN, Kelly T, Partridge K, Krajewski A, Blanchonette I, Barker J, Bruch H, Brydon M, Hooke N, Andreass B. Development of an automated scoring system for amateur boxing. Procedia Engineering 2: 3095-3101, 2010.
- Helmer RJN, Hahn AG, Staynes LM, Denning RJ, Krajewski A, Blanchonette I. Design and development of interactive textiles for impact detection and use with an automated boxing scoring system. Procedia Engineering 2: 3065-3070, 2010.
- Bruch H, Hahn AG, Helmer RJN, Mackintosh C, Blanchonette I, McKenna MJ. Evaluation of an automated scoring system in a modified form of competitive boxing. Procedia Engineering 13: 445-450, 2011.
- Terry P, Simjanovic M, Hahn A. Effects of a sport program (Box'Tag®) on disadvantaged youth participants. Accepted for publication in International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2013.