Lifestyle

White collar boxing

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day…

Now whoever said that probably didn’t mean for me to eat double the intake to try and guarantee I had a grandiose style day.

I’m in the Scandic Solsiden in Trondheim Norway after a 5 week trip offshore so if you can’t take a few liberties here and there… well then… I don’t think life’s worth living

There’s a cost-reducing initiative at my company so getting off the boat and checking into the hotel – I had to double up with Bryan just for the night.  There was a moment of panic when we walked into the room and saw this:

20160703_205730

We just laughed at that point but I think we were both glad when we realized the beds could be pulled apart.

I’ve been working nights and the boxing’s taken its toll so as soon as I showered and sat in bed, I pretty much blacked out.

When I woke up I just lay in bed… window wide open, fresh air blowing in – plugged in my headphones and listened to some music… I thought about my wife, my dog, the boxing… just being home again – had a big smile on my face.  I went down for an early breakfast and just left Bryan sleeping with the room to himself.  Gotta give a guy his privacy.

Talk more about the white collar boxing!…

[…sorry yeah I was just getting onto that!…]

I’ve been reading other people’s blogs and I found a few good ones to follow including John Grimshaw, a guy training for an amateur charity boxing bout in 5 weeks.  It’s under the UK company Stealth UK Boxing.  StealthUK do these white collar boxing events where amateurs and beginners train for X-weeks and then they get to fight someone of equal ability.  They get the full arena-style experience and all the tickets that get sold, go to charity.  Sounds pretty awesome I have to say and I’m more than envious.  He’s got 8 weeks to lick himself into shape and he (and his wife) have my heartfelt admiration.  Training that intensely can take you away from the things and people you love and it’s never easy on your ties.  So if you’re reading this John, here’s to you, Mrs Grimshaw and baby Grimshaw.

There’s nothing like a deadline to keep you focussed either.

I’ve been boxing since April which puts me around 8 weeks but one day when my trainer Gary thinks I’m ready, I may look for something like this.  John’s bout is in Middleton, Manchester which is a little out of my way (me living in Scotland) but I’m not ruling out any part of the UK.  That’s the whole Musha shugyō thing again.

It’s not just about boxing or even health and fitness 🙂 … whatever you’re training in or whatever goal you want for yourself keep going for it and when you’re tired and strung out… just try to remember why you began in the first place.

As for me… well right now, I’m just looking forward to returning home.  I’m going to take a couple of days off this week and then I’m going to start training again.  Nothing too strenuous.  4-5 km runs and a bit of bag work.  That will shave my weight back down to 73 to 74 kg and in the second week, I’ll be back inside Lusby’s gym.  Back with Gary, back to my training and back to business.

20160617_003604

There are all kinds of people in the blogosphere and the rest of the world – with their own goals, heartache and personal motivations. I’ll try and say a prayer for all of you.  Love you all. – Southpaw Swan


Musha shugyō (武者修行?) is a samurai warrior’s quest or pilgrimage. The concept is similar to the Chinese Youxia, or Knight Errantry in feudal Europe. A warrior, called a shugyōsha, would wander the land practicing and honing his skills without the protection of his family or school.

Advertisements

I don’t want to hurt anyone…

Sound familiar?

I came across a blog post today where someone was interested in boxing but wasn’t so sure due to the fact that they didn’t like to hurt other people.

Part of the  refusal to “engage” in hurting other people is to do with your own sense of humanity in some ways.  Some people have no problem with clouting other people but if you’re a considerate person who thinks a lot before you act that’s also a good thing.  Maybe it’s the reason why you’re always trying to second-guess yourself before you throw down.

You don’t need to actually hurt anyone if you don’t want to!

Depends how passionately you feel about your boxing and other physical sports?  With boxing are you just learning the techniques for fitness or do you truly wanted to spar – and I did say “spar” and not “fight” – they are two different things.  (maybe not to some but they are different!).  You have to work out what kind of a person you are.  In my mind, sparring still remains that truest test of whether your techniques have borne any fruit.  Whether you can translate that training to your instincts inside of a ring.  You are going to get hit of course and you are going to end up hitting the other person but there’s nothing wrong with two people standing against each other practicing together.  “Today I’m going to learn something about you and in doing that, I’m going to learn something about myself as well.”  You have to take things in the correct spirit and with yourself.

There’s a lot of respect between two people who box and spar and fight.  I think we all have instincts – some are not so easy to see in others – with some people it’s very obvious if they’re leaders or warriors or if they’re more introverted and cerebral in their approach. I don’t think people who practice boxing are are any different.  You just have to work out what kind of person you are and remember – if you decide to box purely to learn the techiques, for fitness without the sparring stuff… well there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that 🙂  But if you’re passionate about something, you may discover things about yourself you didn’t realize were there.  That’s the beauty of falling in love with something.  Be it sport, boxing, people, whatever.

I truly think there is a sport or activity for everyone out there.  Something that becomes instantly identifiable within, when you try it.  You just have to have a bit of luck to discover it and be a little bit outgoing to actually come across it in the first place.

When I look at a piano, I just see a piece of wood and some pedals but for some people, they can just sit at it and they just know they’re supposed to play. That doesn’t mean they’ll instantly be great at it but they know deep down it’s something meant for them. 

We’re all creatures of habit. Some more than others but if you like the look of something then never be afraid to give it a go.  You never know where it may take you and with most cases, the journey is more important than the destination.

20160617_003604

Last of the offshore sessions

The end is definitely within sight now.  I thought I was going home on Sunday but those plans changed so the big vessel exodus is still Monday.

I was going to take my morning off training today  and watch the Wales v Belgium football game but I was so tired I slept in until 23:30.  I think it’s just coming to the end of the trip and my body has completely worn down.  I was happy for Wales though as they won 3-1.  I missed a good game apparently.  Typical!

I’ll probably go for a session after shift and then I’ll go for a final one tomorrow when I wake up and that will be the end of the offshore sessions.

I’m getting some weird pains in my left arm when I try and throw a left hook which is really strange.  I’m not sure where that’s come from in the last few days but it feels like the pain vibrates right up my arm to my bicep.  It’s quite a sharp pain.  Almost makes me freeze.

It’s been good though.  Training-wise it’s been great.  Boxing offshore’s really given me something to look forward to every single day. The boxing gear I ordered for the ship arrived as well.  To be honest I try and stay away from the welfare committee nowadays as I feel it’s becoming more of a thankless task.

The welfare commitee is basically a group of people on the vessel who discuss what to do with the welfare money in order to improve the living of the rest of the crew.  Like getting gym equipment, buying a new TV for the day room, organizing a day trip out to a theme park – that’s all classed as “welfare”.

The aim is to try and do some good but then someone starts to complain yet you find yourself roped into doing it again because (a) You’re one of the few that can be bothered and (b) you’re that guy.

It can get to the stage where your crew have fallen out with the other crew over something and the welfare money gets split into two.  You end up in a situation where “You do what you want with it and we do what we want with it.”  That kind of thing.  That’s a rare case but it’s just an example.

I have to visit Lusby’s boxing gym when I get home and Gary can see if I’ve made any progress.  My arms definitely have better  stamina now and it feels like I can punch a little faster.  Note I said faster not harder.

My Adidas boxing boots are stained with dirt, a few salt water marks and the grip on the sole’s worn down a little as well for good measure.

I went and bought a pair of Winning Pro gloves from ebay which I’m seriously excited about.  They’re almost like the Holy Grail of boxing training gloves and a pair of flourescent yellow Nike Hyper KOs.  The Adidas boots I’ll take offshore with me to train and the Nike ones I’ll keep at home.

Nike Hyper KO16oz Winning Training gloves

 

I’m a bit wary of buying nice gear though.  Let’s face it, you don’t want to buy great gear when you’re absolutely crap at something – you just end up looking stupid.  I just love that colour and design of boot though and as for the boxing gloves, I’ve heard that there’s no fit and protection like Winning.  Let’s face it, out here I was spending between 2 to 3 hours a day training so protecting my hands is really important.

More than anything though I miss Emma and my dog.  I just want to go home and enjoy their company, do a little more writing.  I miss visiting the boxing gyms near my home and I just miss being a civillian I guess.  My wife even told me someone from my local village football team was looking for me to play.  Now there’s something new.  I’ve been talking to them for a few weeks now to see if I can get a game and they finally came calling!  I watched a few games down our local playing fields and it looked a little “blood guts and thunder” which I’m not too sure about. It’s a different vibe to your friendly game of fives.  As a country we talk about wanting to be on a technical par with the rest of the world but you look down at this level and we’re still a nation of warriors when it comes to football and I think to myself – is that something I want to be part of?

[Sigh] I’ll see when I get home.

 

Gone in 60 seconds…

Okay, this is supposed to be a boxing blog so I don’t know why I’m writing about car-jacking a forklift! – Alright it’s like 02:00 – still a lot of light and I walked off the gangway and looked left and then right.  Where the hell has the forklift gone?

So I walk from warehouse to warehouse until…

pegasus.jpg

There he is! – That’s Pegasus!  Shit look at how much light there still is at 02:00!  Does Norway ever get dark in the summer?

I’ve never driven a forklift before in my life but damn me I’ll not leave this trip without taking him for a gallop around the yard.

So I open the door and climb in…

keysand3pedals

YES! Someone’s left the keys in!

So the first thing I notice is the 3 pedals… Wait – aren’t these things meant to be automatic transmission?  So what does that far left pedal do?  Shit!

I run back inside and Google up “How to drive a forklift”.  After a bit of digging I find out that it’s called an “inching pedal” – it works like a clutch in a manual car so you can manouver the forklift gently (when you’re trying to lift something up).  I don’t need to use this pedal though because I’m not going to be lifting anything.  Pegasus and me are going for a joy ride – we’re not working.  This is strictly pleasure, not business.

So I turn the keys in the ignition.  Nothing.  What the hell.  I look around.

prettybuttons.jpg

Wooo! Look at all those buttons!

That lever that’s shaped as a “T” – that’s forward and reverse and it was stuck in forward so I flicked that into the middle (hopefully that’s neutral) and tried the ignition again. Pure guesswork…

Pegagus roars into life

YEAH!

I’m pumped by now.  This is awesome.

So then I take him for a spin.  I’m a little cautious at first on the accelerator but he’s a very forgiving beast and then I go a bit faster and unleash the beast.. all 15 km/h (10 mph).  Air con blasting in my face – I’m grinning like a child on Christmas Eve.  Pegasus is very tempremental.  He doesn’t feel very stable though and there’s this constant beeping which I’m trying to ignore but it’s all part of the fun.

A couple of laps around the yard and…

parked.jpg

… we’re parked.  Look at how much light there is!  I can’t get over that!  It’s still only 02:10 in the morning!!!

Gone in 60 seconds?  It was more like 600 seconds.  But Pegasus’ been working all day and I’ve just had an hour’s training session not so long ago so we’re both a little tired.

Thanks Pegasus.

(You would never guess I’m a 37 year old man, would you?  My poor wife!)


Pegasus (Ancient Greek: Πήγασος, Pḗgasos; Latin: Pegasus, Pegasos) is one of the best known creatures in Greek mythology. He is a winged divine stallion also known as a horse usually depicted as pure white in color. He was sired by Poseidon, in his role as horse-god, and foaled by the GorgonMedusa.[1]

I’m nearly home

My alarm kicked me up at 22:30 today.  (My shift starts at midnight) – I knew I was going to take a rest from the training but what I didn’t expect was to fall deep asleep again.

Like I blacked out.

Next thing I know Rich (my room mate) is knocking on the door. Luckily he needed to go to the gym so at least I could get my shit together and leave the room nice and tidy.  Just as well we were at the dockyard and not on shift, out at sea.

So yeah check my new room out (I got the top bunk):

bunkbed.jpg

Getting down from there is a nightmare.  That ladder does absolute Jack.  What I really need is a fireman’s pole to slide down.  But then again I sleep completely naked and the thought of where a friction burn may occur is making my eyes water.

Why do I gotta move cabins?

I’ve had to move into another cabin and share because it’s pretty busy just now at the dockyard.  The vessel is maxed out with engineers trying to do their work.  I haven’t slept in a bunk for a while (maybe 3 years).  It gets warmer because there’s not as much circulation – you’re closer to the ceiling. I woke up and I was sweating (despite the temperature turned right down).  I couldn’t be sure though because I had a bad dream about Hiss, the snake from Jungle Book.  Sharing the cabin’s fine though because Rich works days and I work nights.  We’re never in the room at the same time.  Oh yeah and I banged my head at least 3 times during the night.

I’m tired…, erm again

I needed to take a day off from the training completely today and that whole sleeping-in thing just confirmed that.  Either that, or my sleep was so poor that my paltry 5-6 hours just wasn’t cutting it.  Plus I woke up and my elbow joint was just sore.  Plain sore.  Too much punching action.

Want to write more

I was thinking of my short story The Kid and even though it constituted the equivalent of a a few hundred words… that’s the first piece I’ve ever finished writing since I was 15.

And you know what?

…I really enjoyed just reading something complete.  I just hope I can translate that into something bigger.  I’ve wanted to publish something since I was 15 but back then my old man stopped me from pursuing that.  He got it into his head that going science and engineering was a safer bet.  Maybe he was right (because judging from the number of stories I’ve trashed maybe I’m not a natural storyteller) but it’d mean the world for me to be able to get a story out.  Something finished.

That boxing gear we ordered on welfare arrived!

Did I mention that some of the other crew took a bit of interest in my boxing?  So I think some of those guys  wanted to try it at some stage so I was allowed to buy a new heavy bag.  (The one I resurrected was pretty old and by week 2 I’d punched all the sand to the bottom). We also decided to buy some gloves and some focus pads and some other bits and pieces.  Hung the bag up just today – check it out…

newheavybag.jpg

It’s 1.5m tall – that’s 5-feet.  It’s pretty solid.  Had to do some trickery with the chain to get it to hang higher.  It sits pretty nicely now.

Reunited with my Reeboks

reebokrealflex.jpg

I left these on another boat almost 4 years ago.  The crewing manager promised me I’d return but I never did and they actually demobbed her a few weeks ago and I got some personals back.  These are just a pair of Reeboks I bought when I was in Galveston, Texas. First pair of Reeboks ever but they’re such a great running shoe.  They only cost me 45 bucks (compared to some of the crazy 200 dollar jobs you can find) but they’re the only running shoes I ever tried to buy thereafter.  I don’t think Reebok make the Realflex model like this anymore.  There’s something about this design I love so much.  It’s a shame they stopped.  The new one’s aren’t so nice.  I’ll treasure these until the day the grip dies.

Poppy is getting better

I mentioned my dog had a stroke while I was away but she’s getting better.  She’s walking stronger, getting back to her old self.  Stairs are still a bit of a problem for her but she’s improving all the time.  I’ve got 4 more days away from my wife and dog (and the cats) but I miss them so very much.

One more thing I need to mention…

When I started writing this blog I just wanted to keep a diary on my boxing… but I read and follow other people.  I didn’t expect that I’d take an interest like that but some people are keeping diaries on their illnesses, their problems and their worries and I found that I really care about those people.  I want them to get better and get over their hurdles.  I’d love for people like  peaceableme to not feel so forlorn or for boxingandballet to feel better at work.  It makes my problem of trying to make my left cross better seem so trivial and stupid.  I hope they’re all fine.

Here’s a view of Rissa in Norway where we are just now.  This is about as dark as it ever gets this time of year and there was more light than this because the exposure on my camera phone wasn’t so great. (I was stood underneath the helideck)

rissa

Hey tomorrow I’ll tell you the story of how I took this forklift truck for a joyride, how does that sound? – Still sounds crap maybe? Oh well, I’ll try and make a fair stab of making it seem interesting.

My favourite training music

20160617_003604

I thought maybe it would be interesting to list the kind of music I listen to whenever I wake up and I’m trying to motivate myself to train.  Most of these you can find on Spotify.  If anyone else has got some great tracks unconventional or otherwise maybe you can comment them below.

The list below is in order of preference.  There are other things I listen to, of course but these are the tracks I keep coming back to.

Happy training.

😉

For some adrenalin to wake me up while I’m putting on my gear and lacing my hi-tops:

  • Flyentology (Cassettes Won’t Listen Remix), EL-P, Trent Reznor
  • Rocker (Mickey Factz)
  • Vixen (Close Up)
  • Jump Around (House of Pain)
  • 20th Century Boy (T. Rex)
  • Thunderstruck (AC/DC)
  • Hypnotize (The Notorius B.I.G)

 

These songs below won’t give you any adrenalin but they’re great for me to go running to and they always have the effect of taking my mind off things.  I love these tracks – any of these could be top of the list on any given day:

  • Finally (Time and Space Machine)
  • Birch Tree (Foals)
  • London Thunder (Foals)
  • Turn Your Light on Me (The Night VI)
  • Thinking of You (The Night VI)
  • Dancin – Krono Remix (Aaron Smith, Luvli)
  • Craving (Starling)

profile-round

 

Training before work vs training after

Not many of us are lucky enough to be practicing our sport professionally and full time. Maybe that’s a good thing as you can end up hating the thing you fell in love with and there is a phrase that some hobbies should simply stay as a hobby.

I was reading about a guy who loved his music and his big dream was to open his own record store.  He did that but as his business suffered and pressure mounted it effectively killed his love of music. The tennis player Andre Agassi was “encouraged” by his father from a young age and early on in his autobiography there’s no doubt that for a long time, he absolutely hated tennis.

Actually those two examples above, both men eventually regained their love of their hobby and their profession but I’m going off on a tangent.

For the rest of us that aren’t professional sportspeople, we have to fit in our training where we can.  That usually means before or after work.

When I’m offshore I work a 12-hour shift.  But the other 12 hours of the day is completely my own where I have to fit in sleep and time to do my laundry.  I’m also lucky that my meals are cooked for me and I can pick what I want to eat – one less thing to worry about!  The offshore environment is a pretty good place if you want to get fit.  From a company perspective, your employer just wants you to work and look after yourself and everything on board the vessel is geared toward that.

I train roughly 3 hours a dayevery day.  I’ll do up to 1-and-a-half hours immediately after I wake up and then another 1-and-a-half hours after my shift ends.  Sleep-wise I will sleep 6 to 7 hours a day.

Training before work

Training when you first wake up is never easy!

You have no adrenaline when you wake up so you need to shock your body in the best possible way!  Below is how I normally attack the morning:

  • When you first open your eyes.  Think of something positive. You don’t want to start your day negatively.  That won’t help.
  • Once you open your eyes try and sit up straight away and get two feet on the ground.  Don’t cosy into your covers even more.
  • Put on a good music track to put on your clothes and brush your teeth to.  That’s also going to help.  You want to create some kind of positive vibe where you’ll be able to motivate your body.

I know some people are not “morning people”.  I’m not exactly sure how that state comes about but you should try and analyze what goes through your mind when you wake up and try and create some postive vibes for yourself. 🙂

me-circle.png

Training after work

This is a lot easier.  You’ve had the benefit of being awake for serveral hours and should have enough stimulation.  Your main task mentally is to stay committed to what you’re doing.

I get tired during the day too but I really look forward to my training.  For me it’s a way to take my mind off things and blow off some steam.  It’s useful for me working offshore because having a routine makes time go faster.  The only problems I find are that I don’t have enough hours in the day to do what I want. Getting rest is equally important – without rest the quality of your training goes down.

Prioritize what you have to do. Make sure you get enough rest.  Stay motivated.  Stay positive and always believe in yourself. 🙂

profile-round

 

Offshore training – week 1

Occasionally I get confused with this blogging malarky.  I mean, I’m learning to box and I’m charting that but how much detail should I be putting in?  Like every exercise? Should I be writing about that?  But then who wants to read that stuff?  I’m not even sure my trainer would be interested!

I mean, I don’t want to be too narcistic over this but I’d like to attempt to write something that other people would enjoy reading as well.  But then I read some sagely advice somewhere that basically said “Everyone else be damned and write something you enjoy rather than writing what you think other people would enjoy“.

And on that bombshell…

That’s me just about to hit the end of my first week away from home.  We were down for weather, here in the Norwegian Sea which has meant a gentle start to work.  Translation: maximum training every day with good rest.

I’ve been training twice a day, every day, so far.  A mix of bag work, jumping rope, high-intensity interval training and the odd run thrown in there.  No weights.  I read somewhere that it wasn’t a good idea to gain in size.  I don’t want my arms to look like Popeye so that everyone else can see when I’m about to swing a hook at them.

I’d say I’m currently spending 3 hours a day of my time training, coupled with around 6 – 7 hours of sleep.

I feel like I’m getting better.  My shoulder endurance is a little better and I think my movement may be better too but without a camera and someone to record, I can’t know for certain. I’ve got this GoPro camera I left at home.  I won it as a Health and Safety prize and I’m going to buy a tripod for it so I can record myself at home and check my movement when I train.

Training when you’re working offshore is a lot easier as well.  You don’t need to cook or worry about having to shop for groceries.  That stuff is taken care of. In a way, it’s the ideal environment because all you’re expected to do is work and look after yourself.  Short of paying a lot of money to go on a private health farm, I’d say that, if you’re an offshore worker and you want to get fit, you’ve got no excuses.

The food is a problem though.  man those guys can cook.  It’s hard not to help yourself to those dishes.  It’s a miracle I’ve kept under 75 kg but I need to make more of a concious effort if I’m to get down to 69kg.

profile-round

 

 

Offshore nights

Hey why have I woken up without an alarm – what time is it?

19:15

??? !!!

I’ve still got another 2 hours of sleep left.  What’s going on?

That’s right I’m trying to get my body onto night shift.

Can’t get back to sleep.  Bladder is full. I know, let’s take a p*ss – that will relax me.

Get up.  Ouch! Stomach mucles are sore from doing crunches yesterday.

Pee.  Back in bed. Hmm, let me phone Emma (my wife) she’s in Germany just now.  I can dial while lying in bed…

< Cue a pleasant conversation that ends in “Love you.  Bye.” >

OK that was a nice conversation.  What now?  Phone mum.  Let her know I’m alright. (I phone my wife and my mum every day while I’m offshore – only a few minutes here and there to let them know I’m alive)

Mum sounds panicked.  “Are you OK? You sound tired?” – Err I just woke up because I’m working nights.  We speak for a couple more minutes.  Mum’s happy now. I put the phone down.

I lie in bed and finally doze off around 20:00.

Alarm sounds.

OK now I need to get up.

21:40.

(That’s about 6 hours of sleep, broken once)

Music.  Need some music to brush my teeth to and to give me some adrenaline.

Arms are aching slightly from yesterday’s workout.  Can’t worry about that.  Just stretch it out.  I put on my workout clothes and my boxing boots.  I wrap the laces around my ankles. Too much work to thread every single hole if you wear “high-tops”.

I stuff my rolled hand wraps into my gloves.  I take the gloves, my iPod, water bottle, towel and skipping rope.  Last thing I think about before I leave my cabin:

“How long can I keep this up at twice a day.”

 

profile-round

 

 

 

Back on the boat

OK so what are my living conditions like? Well that’s a picture of my cabin below.  It’s not the Four Seasons but it’s mine for now.  Got a porthole but the blinds are closed – I’m working nights so I need to shut out the light during the day so I can sleep.

It’s definitely a little on the depressing side but I’ll get used to it in a day or so.  Those walls could do with a poster or two and I do miss having a rug.  I left a poster of Muhammad Ali two years ago but I can’t for the life in me remember where I put it.  It’s probably long gone.  My check-in bag was fully loaded coming over.  No room for luxuries.

20160602_012138

My cabin

First thing I did was wash the duvet and pillow.  60 degrees C.  You never know when the last time they may have been washed!

This is a picture of the gym – I like how Sir Alex Ferguson always uses the full name “gymnasium” rather than “gym” lol:

20160601_155837.jpg

The Gymnasium

When I got here I found the heavy bag looking sad in a corner.  With some help it’s hanging happily now.  (see below) I also brought my other double end bag with me and did a quick mount.  It’s being held down by that blue 20kg weight which actually does a good job.  The weight sits on top of an eyebolt.  I may look into getting that bolt permanently screwed into the floor and then we can do away with the weight.  At the moment I can’t leave it like that because the weight is used by other people but it’s easy enough to bring in from the gym.

So there you have it.  I may be in Norway, in the middle of nowhere, out at sea but I’ve now got the means to practice my boxing and do some conditioning work.  Best of all I managed to do it quickly with little fuss.

Did I use it on the first day? Absolutely. 4 km run, did some interval training but then I had to stop because the cook came in and wanted to play table tennis so I just popped back next door and did a load of shadowboxing while they praticed. When they left, I finished off with 3, 3 minute rounds on the heavy bag. I like how I can move completely round the bag when it swings.

I’m as happy as I’ll ever be out here.  Now I need to settle into a rhythm and then watch the days fly by.