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?…


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!