Tag Archives: sparring

Putting yourself in harm’s way

I love the training in boxing.  On the boat I’m able to train everyday.  When I’m at home I train to a lesser extent.  Yesterday I went to Lusby’s and I wasn’t expecting Lewis to be there let alone do any sparring.  It was nice to try and put into practice some of the movements that I’ve tried to work on.

When I watch action-type movies you see a lot of people getting into fist fights and bar brawls, all different types of fights.  It all looks easy.  Someone comes towards you and bang, they strike or get struck.  What’s incredibly tricky though is judging the distance when you’re able to physically hit someone.  Not many people have been involved in physical confrontation and gauging that distance accurately isn’t something you can just pick up instantly.

It’s alright if the person isn’t expecting it.  Sure you can just walk up and sucker punch someone no problem.  They’re hardly in a position to offer resistance.  But if someone’s waiting, ready for it… you’re talking inches.  Just inches and centimetres.  The difference between being able to land something and hitting plain, thin air…  and then you have to be aware that you can also be hit back in return.

Pawing jabs and punches…

I love watching this Ukrainian boxer called Vasyl Lomachenko.  I’ve mentioned him before but he’s a wonderful boxer to watch.  His movement is really fantastic and there’s a lot of stuff you can learn when you watch him fight and train.

One thing I see him do in a ring is that he does a lot of these “pawing jabs” and punches.  Just light taps.  They’re not really going to hurt anyone but he uses them to occupy someone’s vision and whilst that’s going on, his feet are moving to a better position.  It’s then he’ll stop pawing and strike you somewhere exposed with more force.

  • This takes a lot of practice. My head movement, my guard… You’re trying to pay attention to what the guy opposite you is doing too.
  • Against an orthodox boxer I’m always trying to secure an “outside” position with my foot.  Against another southpaw, we’re even, so I have to box well, look for my openings and react well.
  • Harder to put into practice than you think. Fitness has to be good of course but more experience in the ring is essential.

Pivoting fast…

I’ve watched Lomachenko practice this on a heavy bag and there’s countless examples where he’s done it in a fight.  His movement is amazing.  The only way I can describe it that one minute he’s in front of you and in a flash he’ll skate around and just land a body shot or an uppercut.

  • The very first thing I realized when I tried this is that you have to be close to the other guy.  It’s more of an inside fighting move.  When I tried it on Lewis, I was too far away and he didn’t have to do much to just react to it and as a result, I was too far away to land a body shot at times.
  • I think you have to condition yourself to get used to being close to your opponent.  I have to learn to be able to block well (because at such short distance, I’m going to be vulnerable too) and then be able to see the chance to skate around.
  • I need to get close but that’s tricky in itself.  You have to train your mind to accept you’re jabbing your way into harm’s reach.

Blocking

There were a few times when I invited Lewis to come on at me and I would just block with my gloves in front of my face and and my elbows tucked in.  I was trying to condition myself to get used to the feeling of someone pummelling me.

  • When I tried this I forgot to open my gloves every so often so I could see where the shots were coming from.  I need to work on that.
  • Thinking about it now I should have thrown a few inside shots of my own but I didn’t, which I regret.  Thinking about it again, this would have been a good moment to try that fast pivot I mentioned above.
  • I escaped by just pivoting away and maybe in an ideal world I should have pivoted away and thrown a few shots quickly.

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So that was it!  Four rounds.  It goes quickly.  It gave me plenty to think about though and I’m further away than I thought as usual!


Here’s a great video of Lomachenko. You can see him doing the two things above and there’s an amazing track I love listening to just now.  Tom Day – “Who we want to be”.

 

10 rounds and some fear factor

I’d already had an hour’s session in the morning when Jim poked his head into the instrument room in the afternoon and asked if I fancied doing some sparring.  That morning consisted of a 4km run and around half an hour of drills on the heavy and double end bag.  I was going to do another session in the evening but I didn’t expect to take my body into battle in the evening.

I had a little more trepidation this time.  Maybe because I knew my body had only just recovered from the 12 rounds on Sunday but I wanted to warm up this time.  Jim has his own 12oz gloves and I tried dropping a hint to him as he was wrapping up his hands mentioning there were some unworn 16oz gloves in the gym but he didn’t bite.  I have my pair of 16oz gloves which I always use but I also have a pair of 12oz I took with me, this time.  I haven’t used those yet, this trip.  Jim has only 12oz and it’s a slight advantage.  I didn’t do too badly last 12 rounds so I didn’t mind doing the same again.

One punch of his came and somehow slipped through a gap in my head guard and partially onto my right eye.  It rocked me back and I had to stop momentarily and shake that off.  I wondered if I was going to have a black eye but I had to put that to the back of my mind.  That was only Round 2.

I’ve been boxing for just shy of 6 months now and to be honest, the time and practice that I’ve put in equates more than what an average person would do.  But if you talk ring-craft, I only hold around 24 rounds of experience.  It shows.  I still have tendencies to turn away, my feet are not always balanced, I’m leaning forward or back a little too much.  There are a few hooks that come my way that I don’t even see coming and although a head guard can block off some peripheral vision, that’s lazy eyes on my part.  It tells me I’m not reading body language or aware enough yet.

Jim had gone for a run right before the sparring as well and I know he felt tired too.  It was near Round 7 we decided just to take it to 10 rounds only (and not 12) but even then I was flagging a little.  The first 12 rounds I practiced in that first week, my footwork was way better – I circled around much more and I was much more active.  This session, by the time I reached the 8th, all I wanted to do was Philly-shell up and keep Jim at bay but you can’t do that.  Even though you’re too tired to throw, you have to look like you want to throw otherwise you’re only inviting the other guy onto you.

I managed to survive the 10 rounds but I have a raft of questions that were in my head, that are still in my head today.  They’re all about how I can improve my balance so I am always in a position to throw punches.  Like someone commented… Boxing is about balance.  Keeping yours and taking it away from the other guy.

The two blows to my right pectoral that stopped me dead in my tracks during the sparring made it painful for me to sit up in my bed last night and this morning but it’s minimal stuff.  I’m going to give myself a week from Sunday before the next sparring.  I’m also going to put on my 12 oz gloves next time if Jim continues to wear his.  That will make it even.  My hand speed will be faster.  Faster to come back and protect my head, faster to jab out and ward him off.

Last night was good but I felt trepidation and I didn’t have that the first session.  Maybe because I knew this time I wasn’t 100% and maybe I knew Jim was faster than me which got into my head a little bit.  The bag work, the running, the jumping rope, the drills… that’s where you go to get the techniques.  Sparring?  That’s where you go to learn to fight.  You come to understand what works in the ring for you and what doesn’t work, what you’re doing good and what you’ve got to improve on.  It can’t be about you and someone else inflicting pain on each other – that’s pointless.  If I match up in glove weight with my opponent that will help me answer some more questions, I’m certain of that.  I won’t make that mistake again next session.  I’m getting hit more than Jim, that’s what I feel at least.  That’s not just down to the weight difference in gloves, of course not.  They call boxing The Sweet Science and in science experiments you need certain variables to remain constant in order to solve the other unknowns.

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Adidas Hybrid 300 Boxing Gloves Review (16oz)

I love my Winning lace ups but sometimes it isn’t practical because I’m either training at home or sometimes there are situations when there’s no one around to help you lace up your gloves.  I work offshore for half the year as well so it isn’t practical for me to go looking for someone to help me lace up.    There are also times where you’d like to take your gloves off and on (for instance to reset the interval timer on your phone or iPod) and then it may be annoying if you have to go and find someone to re-lace your gloves for the second or third time.

 

These are hybrid gloves and although I’m not exactly sure what that means, I think it’s a mechanism that offers somewhere between the security and support of traditional lace-ups with the practicality of the velcro system.  These Adidas 300 have a clever elastic strap on the inner sleeve that tightens as you pull the velcro over.  It offers really good wrist support.  I’ve been using them every day since I’ve been offshore, training twice a day (just over an hour each session), every day and I’ve used them for sparring out here too and the support holds up great.  The outer skin has a few perforated airholes and the lining inside is a satin-like material that’s really cool, breathable and comfortable and my hand feels really good inside.  I’ve worn these with training wrap but also with bandage and gauze methods of wrapping your hands.  The latter method obviously makes your hand more bulky but my (Euro) size 8 – 9 hands still fit nicely inside the glove.  I don’t have particularly big hands for a guy though but for me, they’re comfy – more comfy than my RDX ones which were my first ever glove.

The Adidas Hybrid 300 gloves retail around 80 – 90 GBP so they’re at the higher end of the spectrum.  You’re paying that extra money for the extra wrist support (which admittedly is very good) and the quality of the materials and the linining which again are good.

My one gripe, is that I’ve noticed around the inner thumb area, the “skin” of the glove has already started to rub away.  I’m not even sure how that’s happened (or is happening).  These gloves are training gloves so I think they can be used for sparring and bagwork but I think there’s a trade off right there because sparring gloves are designed to be softer (obviously for facial impact) and bag gloves are padded extra and more hard wearing as you’re going to be striking leather and synthetic bags lots of times over.  With a training glove you’ll never get the full durability of separate bag gloves and sparring gloves, though.  If you love your gear and you have more money to throw at your gear, you can afford to buy two sets of really good gloves but this isn’t a bad in-between.

There’s a definite “band” when buying gloves.  You’ve got the sub 20 – 50 GBP range then a 50 – 100 GBP range and then you enter the Holy Grail 100+ GBP range.  When I compare these Adidas to my Winning pair there’s obviously no comparison for comfort and balance but actually the balance isn’t too bad – they feel a little bulkier.  What do I mean by that? Well my Winning are 16oz but they’re so well balanced they feel ridiculous like 12 or 14oz – these Adidas 300 are 16oz but they definitely feel like 16oz!

The Hybrid 300s  are at the middle to higher end of the glove spectrum and it’s not a bad effort from Adidas.

One important point is that unlike my RDX, the quality of material is good enough that with one hand gloved, I can grasp the velcro strap with my gloved hand and actually pull it on normally.  With the RDX ones I couldn’t move my fingers enough and ended up using my teeth to pull the velcro strap and secure down the remaining glove.  The problem I found with my old RDX (which were around 30 – 50 GBP) is that if I didn’t grip the bar inside properly there were times when my thumb would ache while hitting the bag.  Maybe the shape of the RDX was a little unforgiving and I didn’t form a proper fist inside at times, due to ergonomics.  This hasn’t happened once with the Hybrid 300s.

I love boxing gloves (and boxing boots!) – Something about the shiny colours, those classic shapes – the way that no two gloves made by two manufacturers seem to feel identical.

These Adidas are worth a try for sure.  Most shopping is done online nowadays and if you’re like me, then I hate returning stuff via post.  With gloves it’s not a bad idea to go to a boxing club and try some different ones if you can do that and find what’s right for you.  You’re going to be doing a lot of hitting hard and soft and at different speeds and different types of bag – it’s important to find a glove that doesn’t hurt your hand (through poor design in ergonomics or material).

Always look after your hands.

 

Powers of recuperation

I remember reading this interview that Arnold Schwarzeneggar did while on the set of Terminator 3 way back when he was making a comeback as an action star (he must have been in his early sixties) and something he said stayed with me.  It was, “Look, I feel great.  I can do everythng I did when I was thirty years old… it just takes me longer to recover from it.”

Arnie nailed that last part in a nutshell.

Those 12 rounds that I sparred, you don’t realize it until after but parts of my body feel like they’ve been tenderized by a meat mallet.  I blocked off a large portion of shots and obviously Jim and me weren’t going at it hammer and tongs style but occassionally, some blows sneak through and the punches absorbed by the defense of your arms and shoulders… you can feel those the day after.

When I mentioned to Jim I was still aching yesterday I was thankful he said the same.  I think it would have demoralized me if he turned and looked puzzled at me and said “No, I feel great.”

The sparring was Sunday and this is Wednesday.  I took Tuesday-night training off and my body felt better this morning for it.  I think I may have been caught under my right arm, somewhere close to my armpit).  It’s tender when I throw an uppercut.  I just gave away my Ibuprofen to a guy who woke up with a cranky neck but I may ask for a couple of tablets back!

I’ve just been eating vegetables and rice this whole week.  I’m not a vegetarian so I’ll happily spoon the sauce from the cook’s chicken curry (for example) with my vegetables!  I can’t quite bring myself to give up desert though!  Saturday I’m going to let myself eat a steak.  Just the steak though.  Rare, bloody.  I can’t wait!  (To hell with it – I need some protein, right? I didn’t bring any Vega with me this time)

We were going to do another sparring session this Sunday which I’m really looking forward to but then Jim just walked into the instrument room just now (now being Thursday) and asked if I was alright for tonight.   I thought about it for a split second before I said yes.  I read a lot of comments on people who sparred for the first time.  There’s a handful that had an awful first-time experience being paired up inappriopriately or having a masochistic coach that insisted on the beginner “toughing it out” as a kind of ritual rather than something useful and progressive.  That’s such a waste.  How many good people who could have really enjoyed and become decent boxers were lost because of someone like that, teaching them?  I can only hope they found another club eventually and felt a little better about themselves instead of being made to feel useless.

When the buzzer goes on my iPod app and we touch gloves the adrenalin is already there.  Sometimes with things like this there’s a fight or flight response that kicks in.  Every animal has it.  If someone spits in your face in the middle of the street society tells you that it’s inaproproate and unlawful to to retaliate and those things are in the back of your head (for many decent civilians out there).  Most people aren’t cowardly – they’re only concerned about the repercusions – that’s what civilisation does to you.  But in a ring, you’re training.  The conditions are fair.  If you can hit me then I can certainly hit you back.  You’re free.  Truly free of any burden.   Some people go through life and don’t get the chance to experience what that’s like.

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Going 12 rounds

I’m back on the boat and training a couple of times a day, again.  That’s the good thing about working offshore – you get a lot of time to contemplate and focus on things.  I decided yesterday to make a legitimate effort to get down to welterweight which is 69 kg, 155 lbs (At the moment I weigh 74 kg, 163 lbs) – I’m on a diet of only rice, vegtables and fish.  I said my last goodbye to Steak Saturdays and I bypassed (what Rich described as) one of the best offshore lasagnes I’ve seen.  I’m not giving up waffles on a Sunday and Wednesday though.  Screw that – I want to box, not be a saint!

I’ll try at least! I don’t want to end up looking like Christian Bale in “The Machinist” and if I start to feel weak when I train then I’ll know I’m maybe not supposed to hovering around that weight.  I’ve not got a weight disorder or anything like that – it’s just that everyone has a weight, at a given age, where their body is in its best condition: Minimal fat, lean muscle, a heart like a whale.  Just this once, I’d like to go for that – before the Good Lord starts to take it away from me little by little. 🙂

Yesterday was a real treat.  I’m onboard a boat and Jim is here too – this time we’ve both got our head gear with us and Jim’s around my weight and height so yesterday evening, after shift we did twelve , three-minute minute rounds of sparring.  I was pleasantly surprised I made it through to the last round.  I was dropped around the eighth or ninth round though.  One of Jim’s punches caught me right on the solar plexus.  I’ve never been hit there before.  You don’t feel anything for a split second (apart from hearing a nice meaty “smack”)  Then it feels like something is going to come out from your mouth.  I dropped down to one knee and spat out my gum shield unsure if I was going to throw up.  I tried to give myself a count and was up and around not long after 10 seconds maybe.  I got caught a few times during those twelve rounds.  One right hook in particular, caught me flush on the ear and I swear I could hear ringing for the next five seconds.

It’s tiring to put yourself within range of a person’s fists and then punch, block and then move out quickly.  You’re having to do that constantly.

That may not sound fun but you feel really alive facing someone.  Not all sports can give you that kind of a buzz.  Probably because the person opposite you is aiming to punch you!  Maybe I’m trying to defend boxing as a sport here… there’s no question there’s an element of violence but it’s built on a foundation of fairness and respect first.  Perhaps that seperates it from other forms like mixed martial arts.  That’s not to say that there isn’t respect in that sport, of course there is but combat sports like MMA are purely about fighting, where anything goes.

I like sparring.  You get to see first hand where all your training is going and what you still have to work on.  I don’t think it would be healthy to spar twelve rounds more than once a week though.  You don’t want to end up getting “punchy”.  I had a shower afterwards and went to bed happy, I really did.  I was up this morning shadowboxing, trying to work more on my movement.  It’s like that when you enjoy something.

Wrapping my hands

 

Studying boxing – trying to probe and defend

I was still thinking about my sparring experience from last week and how I reacted against Umar who had a slight size advantage and more experience.  I wasn’t throwing nearly as many punches against Umar because I was a lot more wary of him so I figure I need to learn and practice techniques for probing someone’s defence without getting whacked in the chin.

So what I enjoyed doing for some of yesterday was trawling YouTube for videos of pros and amateurs boxing.  I found a highlight reel someone made of Lomachenko’s, a gifted Ukranian southpaw boxer.  It was really interesting from a boxing perspective.  He’ll do things like “paw” away at your guard with light taps and then suddenly he’ll change the tempo and ferocity of his punch.  Another thing is he’ll feint a lot and watch your reaction and then he’ll employ the same feint again shortly after.  But because he knows how you’re going to react to it, Lomachenko will punch through whatever gap is created.  That all sounds like simple stuff but to have the intelligence and speed of thought to employ it while you’re in a fight is really impressive.  Plus his movement is really good.  In and out, side to side.  I really enjoyed watching him box on those videos.

I also caught some highlight reels of Floyd Mayweather Junior.  I never really watched any of his fights.  All I heard was that he “runs” and doesn’t want to box but when I watched the videos of him, I didn’t see a man running from anything.  His defence is absolutely amazing.  The way he tucks himself into that shell and just dips and rolls away from someone trying to hit him.  Most of the time his opponents are punching thin air.

I went on Expertboxing and used Pinterest to save little guides of the tricks Mayweather will try.  One thing he does is he’ll just sort of lunge in with a jab and he’ll just duck and roll away immediately after.  He’s just probing someone’s defence – something I need to learn to do.

I went on a run this morning to warm up and used my double end bag in my garage to practice the things I need for when I spar against someone.  So I tried probing jabs where I just come in and quickly duck out of the way of the bag.  Quick in; quick out.  I’d practice a quick two or three punch combination and get my body into a shell like I see Mayweather doing.  (I’m trying to create some muscle memory so that my reactions become more like an instinct)  I want my hands to automatically be in a certain position when I’m trying to pull away from someone.

I really enjoyed that session.  I’ll let you know if it helped when I try and put some of this stuff into practice next week but I’m a great believer in practice makes permanent.

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Those videos I studied below and the links so you can have a look if you’re interested!


Me and more boxing sparring

I was pretty relieved when Gary told me I’d be doing some more sparring today.  It’s another hot day in Glasgow (just for a change) and I’d just spent the whole morning trimming down a large seven foot high hedge, sawing off tree branches and mowing the lawn – all before midday.  I was pretty tired.

I couldn’t have faced another day of doing heavy bag drills!  I would have tried my best, don’t get me wrong but it would have ruined me.

Lewis was in again so I sparred three rounds with him.  He’s smaller than me so I have a height advantage but he wants to fight too so he’ll always come in and take a few shots just to get into my body.  He’s also a southpaw like me so it’s less complicated with regards to movement because my stance will always mirror his.

Umar was a different prospect.  An orthodox fighter who’s a  little larger than me with maybe 10 kg (22 lbs) on me.  He’s got much more ring experience and he moved like it too.  I don’t know – just something about the way a person will carry themselves inside the ring.

I actually know enough theory to know that I need to pivot around and stay on his outside but reading it and doing it is something completely different!  Maybe what’s happening is I’m too pensive.  I should be trying my hardest to dart fast around him and just come in with jabs over the top and leading right hooks.  I know it’s just gentle sparring but that doesn’t mean I can’t move my lazy arse and show some agility and some movement.  I was smaller and I was probably more agile too.  I should have used that to my advantage.  I’d better note that to myself for next time.

I spent a total of three rounds with Umar and it was good to get some practice against an orthodox fighter.  It was useful to experience the problems I’ll have facing people with an opposite stance.

I also practiced a couple of exercises with Gary and Umar… no contact but it was all movement based.  It involved me needing to “hunt down” Umar and keep on him and keep on his outside and Omar would try and evade me.  This felt a little strange and at times, I felt a little off balance trying to chase someone around the ring (probably because maybe I was off balance at times!) but it was useful again.

Umar and Lewis are two very different styles.  Lewis will come in and take a few shots in order to land some on me.  With Umar (maybe because of his experience and size) that was much more tactical.  It involved me wanting to size him up and trying to work out how to get around him so I could land something decent.  I didn’t throw nearly as many punches as with Lewis.  I’d have liked to have seen a video of myself to see what my guard and my movement was like.   But if it was bad, I know Gary would have told me off anyway!

Another thing I need to work on is that I jab and I don’t follow up enough.  It’s just a range finding punch but if it lands semi decent I should be following it up with other punches, pivoting round, and doing all kinds of things to make new angles for myself.  I’m still learning though and it is really enjoyable every time.

At the end I did one more round in the ring with Lewis for good measure.

Seven rounds doesn’t sound much but I was caked in sweat afterwards.  Wore the old face guard again.  It’s like the “condom wisdom”.  I’d rather have one and not need it than need it and not have it.  It’s true that by wearing a face guard, there are some people, who mistakenly think they’ve been given a license to hit you harder.  But as long as they don’t mind me hitting them just as hard, I can live with that.

Right now I’m sitting at home writing this and I’m pretty happy but my right arm is a little tired.  That old injury again where I have to do my old physiotherapy exercises to keep straightening my arm to maintain its range of movement.  It’s sore. Probably tired from jabbing and holding up a heavy-ass electric hedge trimmer.

Omar

Umar practicing on the heavy bag

Heavy bag drills on a hot day

23.1°C was the max temperature recorded by the Met today in Glasgow.  That’s 73.6°F.  Pretty warm for Scotland!  It was hard going in the gym today.  The heat that seemed to hang in the air… my arms weren’t tired from punching but my chest felt really heavy like I was fighting for more oxygen.

My trainer played a dirty trick on me today too.

Gary: Pick a number from one to nine.

Me: Errr, okay… seven.

Gary: Okay that’s seven of the heavy bags.  So you’re going to do a two minutes on each bag followed by 30 seconds of fast punching and then I’ll give you an exercise of ten reps, (push-ups, jumping squats or crunches) and then onto the next bag.

Me: Shit.

I was wasted just after three of those bags.  Imagine how I felt when I looked at the other side of the room at the other four bags waiting for me.  I had very-little to nothing-left when I reached the last bag.

I enjoyed some of the pad work too.  There’s something really satisfying about popping some light shots off a pad that someone’s holding.  I got some slip training in as well – rolling my shoulders so that blows glance off me.  I’d love to do more of that so I can become quicker at it and become one of those really annoying slick fighters with good head movement.  Hard to hit, technically good so I could box my way out of trouble rather than be a brawler.  That was my dream but I don’t think you can pick the type of boxer you become anymore than you can pick whether you’re a man or a woman.  You are what you are and eventually your true nature reveals itself.

I had this moment near the end where I looked at Gary and said… “I’ll do whatever you want  me to.  I’m yours for this hour.  Just call it chief and I’ll do my best.”

Maybe it sounds hokey but I like moments like that.  That’s a warrior’s promise.  Yes I’m paying for Gary’s time but if you give me your time, I’ll forsake whatever physical disadvantages I have and be the best boxer I can be.  A person’s body, your physical beauty  – whether you believe that’s God-given or an act of nature – it has a finite shelf life and because of that, your journey and the destination, you have to think about it a little.  What do I want from this?  – That kind of thing.

I have to admit though… I miss the adrenaline rush and the buzz of being inside the ring.  It’s weird.  Nothing seems to compare to it.  I have practiced Kendo which is a Japanese form of fencing but nothing compares to that feeling I had being inside a ring.  You feel so alive, so wired up.

I miss it and I feel a bit like a junkie wondering when my next fix is going to be.  Gary’s taking some vacation time next week.  He’s back to Australia for two weeks so I’m fitting two one-to-one sessions this week before he goes so I don’t lose training time with him.

I think what I may do while he is away is drive down to SK Boxing Gym down in Govan – they have a couple of nights where they have an hour’s session dedicated to sparring…

… I’m hoping I can find a dance partner.

One thing though… I’m a student of Lusby’s Boxing Gym, Gary’s my trainer and although we’re not a large gym I’m very proud of those roots.  Whatever gym I choose to practice at – whoever I’m sparring against, I never forget that.

Gary on the right, me on the left at Lusby’s Boxing Gym.

My first supervised sparring session

 

The sparring? – That was great!  I can’t even remember the name of the kid I was sparring with – that’s really bad – I went off on a tangent writing this – that’s why my memory has gone.

It was just light stuff – no need for even a gum shield but I chose to wear my face guard because I didn’t know the guy.  I didn’t know how hard he would hit.  Plus I hate it when I get punched in the face and it knocks out a contact lens.  I thought it would be good to get used to wearing a face guard… and lastly in the back of my mind… maybe I thought the face guard would encourage the kid to come at me a bit more.

Hmmm I was catching him in the face a little more than he was catching me (at least that’s how I felt it was going) and I read somewhere that the person who’s stronger should  let up a little and try and encourage the other guy to box more.  So I tried not to discourage the kid completely by unloading non stop and not let him get near me.  I was fitter as well but I knew the kid had spent the week boozing at the T-In-The-Park Music Festival so he hadn’t exactly been conditioning himself prior to today.

I tried to work on my movement a little and tucking into my guard just to get used to taking a few body shots.  I think we had something like a total of 3 rounds of 2-minutes.  I got some good feedback from Gary afterwards.  I was a little stiff in my movement and I need to just relax everything and flow a little better.

I really enjoyed it and I hope it didn’t put off the other guy either.  He’d just started out as well.  (Jeez why can’t I remember that kid’s name!? – Was it Kevin?) – I asked Gary if he was in his early twenties – he was seventeen.  Seventeen.

I would love more practice at sparring.  I told Gary that’s where I wanted to be.  Eventually I’d like to get my medical card so I can box at amateur level, competitively.  There are a couple of clubs that offer days that are just sparring and if I start to go to some of those evenings regularly I’d improve but if Gary can find me regular people I can spar with and help with my ring craft then that’s even better.

I always get a little nervous coming back to my trainer.  I try and reason it out and I think maybe I just care about Gary’s opinion and I wouldn’t want him to look at me training, one day and think he was wasting his time.

In a fantastical, ideal world, I’d be 27 years old (not 37) and I’d at least have a chance to win something where Gary would need to put up a shelf to hang a trophy on. Some small amateur competition or a piece of fighting memorabilia like a fight poster of mine.

There’s nothing wrong with an older man dreaming. 🙂

Some things you do in life are purely for your own selfish reasons – maybe even ashamedly so at times but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about the people close to me… Helping me, training me, putting up with me day in, day out.

Even if they despise this sport I love, or can’t see or feel what I see and feel when I lace up my gloves.

I always imagine my first competitive amateur fight will be alone – I don’t think I’d want anyone I know to see me go through something like that.  But it doesn’t mean they’re not in my thoughts in some deep recess where my heart and guts are.

People can think you don’t care because you never call, or you’re never at some family function/special occasion. Maybe you haven’t taken time to meet a new baby that just popped out but those people are always part of you.  I see their faces and hear their voices for a split second when I’m struggling to push myself up or when I’m crying into my towel.  I love those people.  They don’t know it but I can make their strength my own and even on the bad days when I hate myself, I can convince the damaged part of me that I can still do anything.  That it’s not too late.

Is that being over dramatic?  What was this about again?…

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It was a great feeling being in a ring.  It really was.

 

That time I sparred on the boat

I’d just pretty much been training myself up to that point.  There was a heavy bag and a speed bag on the boat.  I was lucky that Jim (another offshore worker) happened to be on the same rotation because when I found out he was going to be there as well, he kindly brought along his focus pads.  Jim’s done a lot of Muay Thai, boxing and Wing Chun so he was helping me out with some pad work so I could get a taste.

I didn’t have a face guard back then, otherwise I would have brought that with me.  Just my gum shield.

It helped to be sparring against someone you knew and we were only going at it around 25% so it was nothing hard core.

My first impression of it is…

(and I’m looking for a word here!…)

messy.  It doesn’t feel clean like it looks with the pros on TV.  I think that must come with experience and you get an appreciation for the distances involved and of course your technique and your “ring craft”.

Actually at the start, I remember saying to Jim: “Alright let’s take it easy to begin with.” Then in about 5 seconds, Jim punching me lightly in the face and that knocked out one of my contact lenses immediately and I thought, “Sh*t.”

Afterwards we had a laugh about it and I mentioned he’d knocked out the contact lens in my right eye and Jim replied. “I wondered what that was – I thought I saw something coming out of your eye.”

And then I said.  “Yeah it was my contact lens.  Don’t worry, it wasn’t a big tear.”

“I wouldn’t have stopped anyway.”  Jim replied with a grin.

I enjoyed it though.  Actually I thought it was great.  We have limited bandwidth on a boat (not allowed to download videos) so I couldn’t YouTube any “First Sparring” tutorials.  I could only read articles.

Like I say, having Jim there was a bit of luck because I knew him.  When I went home this time off I watched a few vids on YouTube of “First time sparring” and two novices just going at it full tilt with the coach barely paying attention and I thought “What on earth are those two going to learn from that?” – I’m pretty sure that kind of “baptism of fire” will toughen you up but I think it can do more to discourage you. Surely it’s more beneficial if your first spar is with someone with a lot more experience, like your coach.  Someone who can measure their own punches well and just let you gain a bit of confidence (and take you down a peg if you need it) rather than the session ending in a no holds barred fight for survival.

Then again, everyone’s got their own idea on how someone should be trained!

I’m away offshore again next week but sadly Jim’s not going to be there so I’ll more than likely be training alone.  I’m already thinking how much time to spend of my 12 hour break each day training.  I reckon I can get a good 3 hours in everyday.  That will leave me time to do my laundry, blog and get a decent enough sleep.  Not much time for much else though but I’d like to improve on the stuff that Gary’s taught me this last 4 weeks.

I checked my body-mass-index today, 173cm (5’8″) and 73.4 kg  (162 lbs) [on an empty stomach, and bowel!] and I am just within a healthy weight for a 37 year old man. Sometimes I think this BMI thing is a load of nonsense but I’m going to try and use this trip to get down to a super welterweight which is around 69 kg (154 lbs).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not turning anorexic, I just want to turn what fat I’ve got left into lean muscle and be in the best condition I can manage. No point in me doing half measures.  We’ll see!  Like I say I like my food and the Filipinos on the Guardian are good cooks -it’s going to be tough!

😉

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