My trainer at physio started me with some basic boxing the other day and it’s sparked something. We’re just doing simple pad work, some crosses, hooks and uppers, but it’s making me crave a little more. It’s not boxing training as such, just a few punches as a warm up. What it’s achieving though is reigniting something that’s laid dormant in me for some time. It’s not my first rodeo. I’ve dabbled in boxing before and it’s something I’d like to dip into once more. But why boxing? Because I’ve got untapped pools of unprocessed rage? Because I really like kangaroos and want to do everything they do (I’ve also hollowed out a portion of my stomach in which I can stow stolen children)? No, because it’s actually a hugely complicated and intricate sport.
Aaaaages back when I lived in Rotorua (population roughly 60,000) I worked at the local radio station. There was a charity boxing tournament being thrown and they’d tapped two of the announcers to take part. I was no local celebrity, but I asked if I could take part in the training for fitness reasons. They said sure and I went along for 2 90 minute sessions per week for 8 weeks. It was intense and I’ve rarely seen that solid kind of growth over a short period. The results were substantive and visible. By the end of those 8 weeks I could clearly see how much fitter I was, the muscles ignored by most other types of workouts that suddenly made themselves known (through aches, mostly). The training was massively different from what I’d done before, but here’s some stuff we did:
- Skipping – When we started, skipping was one of our primary warm ups. I didn’t think much of it being handed a rope, but after 2 minutes I was toast. As the weeks went by it became more familiar. We learned new techniques, stamina increased. Stumbling through 2 minutes at the start, by the end of those 8 weeks I could muster 12 minutes without a break. Results.
- Bodyweight exercises – Squats, push ups, sit ups, burpees. The bread and butter. Everything increased here and as this stuff all rose my general fitness came with it.
- Plank holds – We started at 30 seconds. By the end I managed a 6 minute plank hold. Please don’t ask me to do that now, I just couldn’t.
- Body boxing – We partnered up and stood across from one another. One person would have gloves, the other would stand straight with their arms folded behind their head. They’d tighten their core while the other gently jabbed at their abs. Following prompts from the human punching bag, the boxer would gradually increase their intensity. It got ridiculous. By the end of those 8 weeks I was taking full punches to my core without pain. Then immediately being all what the fuck just happened?
- Footwork – Agility movements, delicate step patterns. We’d practice shuffling around the ring, tightening the efficiency of our movements. Without throwing a punch, we just had to move in and out, get close and retreat. If we couldn’t get around the ring efficiently we were easy targets. The motivation was simple: move or be hit.
- Body awareness – How does the body most effectively throw a punch? There are a number of points of articulation. There’s a ton of twisting involved. Did you know that adding a corkscrew motion to your punch can really up its power? Making sure it’s hitting dead on is far more effective than I’d ever thought. We had to think, what were our hips doing? Our knees? Feet? What happens to the body with a jab? A cross? How can you use the body’s natural elasticity in order to give that whip-like crack to your punches? So much comes from rotation and without someone showing you the way it’s completely unintuitive.
- Defensive offensiveness – Blocking is one thing. Making sure you’re not leaving yourself open with each punch is something else. When throwing a punch, how quickly can you snap it back into a defensive position? Jab out then in, fist resting by the chin. Keeping things tight, closing out all access from your opponent. Once again, there was easy motivation to be had. Have you ever been punched in the jaw? How about multiple times in a few minutes? You learn pretty quickly. When a fist connects with your nose you see red. It hurts, your vision swims as your eyes water. There’s a throbbing, intense pain unlike most other pain. Easy motivation.
- Getting in the ring – Have you ever been in a fight? If you’re a gentle easygoing fellow like me, the answer would often be no. It’s fucking terrifying suiting up against someone else and staring them in the eyes with raised fists. 3 minutes is an eternity when your arms weigh more with each passing session. By the end of the round, you’re jelly. You’re basically just trying to stay standing. I’ll tell you though, I’ve never felt anything like the combination of fight and flight after a fist to the face. Terrified of feeling that pain again, but furious at what was inflicted upon you. Swinging, swift heavy fists pounding into your opponent. Then you see them retreat, they fly themselves. The round is over, but you’re staring right through them. It’s unreal, surreal.
So why do I want to put myself through this again?