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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why I Box

In October 2009, my family committed to eating the Paleo\Primal Way. By spring of 2010, I was looking for a workout or exercise regimen that would address my needs.   If memory serves me right, I first joined Apex Martial Arts in February 2010.  This was after trying Tae Kwon Do in two different schools.

Apex offers classes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing\kickboxing.  I signed up for kickboxing. The first 15 minutes consists conditioning exercises which range from push ups, jumping jacks, jumping squats, burpees, mountain climbers and so forth.  Lots of variety as the instructors mix it up on different days. Non-stop for 15 minutes.  You partner with someone for the day. Then come the drills, then more drills and workouts.  The last few minutes are for ab work.

When I first started, I could not make it through the first 15 minutes without stopping. I had exertion headaches as my body was not used to the work.  I was inexperienced and did not hold the focus mitts correctly.  My rhythm was poor and I felt awkward holding targets for others.  This changed in time.

As I kept up with training, my body grew stronger.  My endurance increased.  One day my exertion headaches disappeared.  I got faster. And better.  I was also spent after every session yet deeply satisfied. My confidence grew. By the end of 2010, I was much more interested in boxing - the sweet science.  I used to think boxing was just two guys in a ring trying to beat each other's brains out.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The best boxers out there are like artists performing a work of incredible athleticism forged with great will.

A boxer's abilities are the result of dedicated hard work.  Hand speed, foot work, bobbing and weaving, slipping and ducking, power, punching combinations, stamina and timing are all tools in the boxer's kit developed over time. Time alone and time in a gym.

You learn about yourself when you box.  Training exposes your strengths and your weaknesses. Physical weaknesses not apparent watching movies on the sofa are glaringly obvious in the gym. Mental weaknesses are revealed the first time you face a sparring partner in the ring. What you think you are doing, and what you're actually doing may be different.  So you start listening to others.  You learn not to panic when you're hit. There are primal fears when you face an opponent who hits back. If you don't cave in to those fears, you develop an inner calm.  You learn to think on your feet and constantly adapt yourself in the ring.

Equipment is fairly basic.  A good pair of gloves and handwraps are mandatory. If you spar, you'll need 16 oz. gloves, a mouth guard and head gear. Being rich doesn't buy you a better skill set in the ring. Here is the great equalizer: you have to put in the effort.  You have to put in the time to earn skills for the ring. There are no shortcuts.

There is an honesty I appreciate about boxing that keeps me going back.  I guess its like cycling.  Every punch thrown is a pedal stroke. A far cry from sitting in an SUV by myself and pressing the gas pedal. If its to be, its up to me.  And it ain't about the bike.

Our gym is not an ego-driven gym. We are there to train ourselves and to be a training partner for others.  Ultimately, our battle is within and not with anyone else. I box to train my body and to train my will. Boxing is an act of worship I perform in the temple of my body which houses my soul.  As I exercise to my limits, I am forging my body by the strength of my will. When my mind and body are one, my boxing feels effortless. I see my opponent through the window of my head protector and I move and punch.  Slide in, jab-jab. Jab, cross, hook.  Step back as the counter-punch narrowly misses. I see, I move. There is no time for other thoughts.  You can't Wii this.

After the sparring is over, I feel alive. I'm energized.  If I did well that day, I celebrate.  If I didn't do well, I keep replaying those moments in my mind to figure out how to better adapt to the challenge.  And in a day or two, I get to do it all over again.


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