Chapter 30

23 Oct

Shotokan Karate Part Six: The end, Boxing: The beginning

For about two weeks, I’m bogged down with school, and have no chance to check out the boxing gym. Instead, I read Jack Dempsey’s book, and study it hard. I must say, it is an excellent manual. I performed the techniques exactly as he explained (with the exception of punching vertically; I didn’t understand that, and I still don’t). Eventually mid terms die out. This chance had finally appeared, and I grab hold of it like it is the last chopper out of ‘nam.

After I get the go ahead to investigate the boxing gym, I call the head coach. I ask him the basics: how much is it per month, family discounts, and what is the minimum age. He tells me everything I want to hear. The boxing place is roughly 1/3rd the cost of the karate place and I get to train 6 days a week; M-F 5 pm to 9pm, Saturday 10-12. I’m ecstatic, really. I ask him what type of boxing they do; this is where I prepare for heart break. Above all, I made the mistake of googling “boxercise”, which I viewed as some kind of girly punch fest where you hit on bags for a bit, then you braid each other’s hair, trade gossip, knit sweaters, pleasure your husbands, and jump rope. What I want is actual factual boxing training.

He gives me a mixed message. “We have a few competitive guys, some have even been on pay per views, but most of our people are casual. It’s a really good work out if that’s what you’re looking for.”

I don’t really know what the hell that means. If there are guys training to fight, then it must be right up my alley, but the last sentence scares me a little. If this is boxercise and I got my hopes up for nothing, well, I don’t know what I’ll do.

Ultimately, you can’t find anything out without actually going there. I can sit around all day long and think of what it could be, but I needed to see for myself what it actually was. I go the following monday, during class time.

It was, to put it simply, heaven.

I follow the address to a series of warehouses, and inside one of them lies the facility. I open the door, my stomach knotting up. Rows of heavy bags, end to end bags, and speed bags line every wall. In the middle, a giant boxing ring. The room smells of sweat and heat, and the sounds of mitts and people being hit fills the air. It was everything I expected a boxing gym would be like. It was, for the first time in my life, exactly what I wanted. I report this to mom, who lets me sign up immediately. I start the very next wednesday.

I arrive to class, and I’m shown how to wrap your hands. I use my dad’s Muay Thai boxing gloves, and I bought my brother his own gloves. He evaluates our basic punches: Jab, Cross, Hook, Uppercut. He asks me if I’ve boxed before, and I say I used to do some stuff back in the day. Kind of ambiguous, I know; I didn’t want to admit that the crappy Mcdojo BJJ instructor’s on the fly kickboxing was my previous experience. Besides, I was starting fresh. I wanted everything to be new, and most of all, I didn’t want him to assume I knew anything. I wanted to be taught everything from scratch, the right way.

After we demonstrate combos he calls out, he seems generally impressed with our skill level. I thank Jack Dempsey’s explanation of performing these punches personally, but that is a matter of debate. He moves us to each of the bags, and shows us how to operate them. He has us do 3 3 minute rounds on the end to end bag, 3 3 minute rounds on the speed bag, 3 3 minute rounds on the heavy bag, 3 rounds of jump rope, then ab work. By the time we got to ab work I was a deep violet sweaty mass of indescribable pain. Ab work consisted of doing crunches in various positions until you felt like razor blade babies were trying to escape from deep within you, then he throws a medicine ball into your stomach from various angles. It was a thorough work out.

It felt almost holistic. There was no describing how pleased I was. Maybe it was the dehydration, but I felt greater than I ever had before. I loved boxing, I loved that place, I loved saying I did boxing, I love showing my friends the boxing gym I went to, I loved everything. My demeanor went from pissed off to jolly over night.

The boxing classes, however, only made the Karate classes seem worse. Every time I went I just hated Karate more. I got to blue belt with a month left, and told sensei that I had to focus more on school and take a break from Karate. He says, “Well, that’s fine. I had great hopes for you, but do as you wish. You have my blessing.” I was shocked at his audacity. His blessing? I’m not getting married, for christ sake. Usually I would turn into a mountain of rage, but boxing had turned me into a creature of bliss and happiness.

That was in December of 07.

Since then, I’ve been reborn. I’m down to 188 pounds (I lost a staggering 42 pounds). I haven’t weighed that much since I was 13 years old. On top of that, I recently completed running my first mile without resting, something I haven’t done before in my entire life.

I’m still boxing to this day, and can’t get enough of it. It changed my work ethic as well; before I had relied on going to class to keep me in shape, but boxing taught me to do it on my own. I run my own roadwork regardless of what happens class wise, every day. On top of that, I’ve taken up weight lifting, and am in the greatest shape of my life.

Mr. Bad Guy lived happily ever after.

The end.

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