Training

Making shapes with shadow boxing

 

I spend a lot of time searching YouTube for pro boxers and their shadow boxing routines.  Something to do with my trainer always telling me to keep loose and keep flowing so I’m always looking for examples.

I started learning to shadow box by reading a guide by Johnny N then watching YouTube videos of Paul Williams, Manny Pacquiao, then Amir Khan, even an Instagram clip of Ivan Delgado.  Yesterday I came across Chris Eubank Junior’s 10-minute warm up.

His warm up was really impressive.  He’s stretching all his limbs and in between he’s shadowboxing – really small arm and shoulder movements at times but what I found impressive was watching him practice shifting his body weight:  A small step back, a little shuffle right, a subtle tilt of his body left.  Really deliberate.  It was like watching a sleek panther limbering up and moving.  Just watching him made me want to  start throwing and that was around midnight.

Like watching performance art.


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You’re always lucky if you find something that makes you feel free.  Exercise can be a horrible thing (I personally hate interval training!) but I don’t think of boxing as exercise (or football/soccer) – more about expression.  Hope everyone reading this has an activity that makes them feel the same.  It’s good to unburden the soul.

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Back at home

Hmm what can I write about?  You ever get that?

Well I’ve been training away and that’s a normal part of my life now so nothing really new there.  Went to Lusby’s during the open mat slot around 16:00 and I was pretty much on my own but that was fine. I lent my iPod to one of the Filipinos, Sherwin, back on the boat.   Sherwin’s iPod broke down and he’s away at sea for three months at a time and I felt bad for him so that was my good deed but I could have done with having my iPod with me, today.

I always get a touch nervous going to my own gym.  Maybe because my trainer is in there and I don’t want to look like a moron.  I needn’t have worried on this occasion.  I was pretty much alone but I managed to get a decent workout and I needed to get a feel for the place again before I come in again this Thursday.  Different gyms have different atmospheres and vibes.  I need to acclimatize a little.

I’ve done a lot of bag work while I was offshore.  To be honest, this time round I’m hoping to learn more ring craft stuff but I’ll speak to Gary and ultimately he’ll determine when I’m ready to learn more. But like the guy said in the movie Creed…

– Kid’s hungry, you gotta feed him sometimes.

I’m enjoying my writing too, just now.  I sent a manuscript for a short story to a couple of publications for some feedback so I’m waiting on that.  Could be a couple of months though. I find it’s quite an anti-social thing being a writer.  I zone out because I’m concentrating a lot on what I’m writing but that’s not good for Emma because it’s bad enough my work takes me away for half the year.  It’s like the boxing though – I just don’t want to waste any more time because suddenly I’m aware that I’m not getting any younger.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not all that old either but I don’t have so much time I can casually piss away.  Procrastination is a terrible thing.

Certain topics are easier to write than others.  The boxing stories like The Journeyman I wrote just seem to flow – it’s easier than writing something like a Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings style fantasy.  You don’t have to imagine whole worlds and  create stuff in your head from scratch.  I was thinking of maybe writing a larger fictional story.  Boxing themed again.  Something cathartic, on the theme of redemption – the stuff I wanted the movie Southpaw to be but (for me) didn’t quite manage.

We’ll see. I’m starting to build up a list of writing projects.  Some of them are more ambitious than others.  I’m not such a prolific writer that I can just crap out works of fiction.  My friend Vicki (a writer) was right… It’s important to finish something.  So many ideas never see the light of day – or the light at the end of the tunnel.  I needed to write some shorter stories so that I could know what finishing a story felt like.

The boxing training’s important to me, too.  I can’t always explain it so gracefully but I want to be good in a ring. I don’t want to go in there and look like I’ve just been taken out of a pub brawl.  It’d be nice to look back on all of this some day and say: Yeah, I could box a little bit.

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Weight obsession and 10,000 hours to become great?

I swear I’ve never been so obsessed with my own weight since I started to box.  If I go offshore I’ll probably weigh myself before the trip and then after the trip.  And then when I go home, I’ll probably never even look at the scales but now, I’m weighing myself every day or every other day.  I mean, I don’t even box competitively so there’s absolutely no reason why I need to stay within a certain weight bracket just yet.

…And yet… here I am weighing myself every other day, after I go to the toilet (maybe too much information there!)… it’s ridiculous.  Maybe because I’ve got it into my head that I don’t want to be above middleweight.  I mean can you blame me though?  Some of those guys above that weight are big.  You’re also talking about men that don’t have much body fat either.  It’s almost all muscle.

I’m reading this interesting book just now: Journeymen – The other side of the boxing business.  It’s about the less glamorous side of the UK boxing scene. It’s quite an eye opener.  These journeymen are like the poker grinders of the boxing world.  They fight a few times a month and are often pitted against younger, popular fighters that can sell tickets at venues.  Some of their records are terrible but it’s a mistake to think they can’t box.  They know a lot of tricks and their defence is good. It has to be.  If a journeyman boxer is cut then the officials will forbid that guy from fighting X number of days and therefore, no income to feed your family.  Journeymen boxers can get called up last minute to fill in a spot and they often fight in more than one weight bracket in order to pick up more work.  A guy can fight at one weight, one week and then a few days later he’ll bulk up to make the weight for another fight and then come back down weight again for the next.  It takes a lot of discipline to do that.  It’s a really good book.  I’m about halfway through it.

Talking about weight and eating, I’m trying to use up everything inside my freezer so yesterday was a food scrounge.  Managed to make a vegetarian curry out of the pepper, cauliflower and potato and I also made this lemon loaf cake with some lemons I found because… well… a house is always happier when there’s some kind of cake to eat.  It’s good for the soul.

Went for a run to clear my head.  Poppy’s mending but she can’t walk long distance yet.  I do miss those walks so I ran the route instead.  Nothing crazy.  I don’t time myself – it’s about 5 – 6 songs.  Maybe that’s around 20 minutes – probably equates to around 4 km.

That 10,000 hours thing…

I plan on doing some training later today.  I had some self doubting and self loathing yesterday when I suddenly thought what if I’m no good, what if I’m just looking stupid?  Have you ever seen that statistic that says it takes something like 10,000 hours to become good at something?

I tried to work it out:

If I go offshore, I spend 2.5 hrs a day training for 35 days = 87.5 hrs

I spend half a year offshore so that’s 6 (trips) x 87.5 = 525 hrs

When I’m at home I’ll train maybe a quarter of that 525 / 4 = 131 hrs

So at that rate of training… 10000 / (525+131) = 15 years

15 years to become good.  (Someone should check my math)

I’ve well and truly lost that window.  Ideally I’d want to start at 11 years old and hit my peak at 26 years of age.  That’s if you believe that 10,000-hour statistic.

I can’t just give up though.  I’m not going to be chump change for anyone.  I have to be able to hold my own in a ring.  Maybe that’s all this is. Some kind of pride thing.  I’m not sure anymore.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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.

 

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):

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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…

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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

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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)

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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.

World of Ringcraft

So I’ve got these two things on my list that I’m working towards and really it’s things that I can’t do alone and that’s the ability to spar with anyone (excluding pro level amateurs).

That requires honing my ringcraft and I can only do that with a coach and partners.

I wanted to write about this because one day I want to look back on this and remember how I felt versus how it actually went… if I make it that far.

The Kid

In my mind’s eye I’m alone out there.  Some small-time amateur night in an unspectacular, small-time hall with a few tables, chairs, the judges and the referee.  A venue that’s more “spit and sawdust” than bright lights and dry ice.

I’m alone.  Utterly alone out there on the canvas.  Gary (my trainer) is a professionally licensed boxing coach and therefore he isn’t allowed to be in my “corner” for an amateur fight.  It doesn’t matter that he has two professional boxers under his wing.  This isn’t a professional fight.  No, he’s sat out in the bleachers with his camera phone – probably hoping I remember the advice he’s given me.

I can’t picture in my head who would be there in my corner and maybe I don’t want anyone I know seeing what’s about to happen.  Not yet, anyway.

The guy I’m fighting is only twenty-two years old.  I don’t know him but he’s over 15 years younger than me.  All piss, fire and vinegar.  The second that bell sounds he’ll come right at me with the explosive force of youth that can only come from being that young.  The same explosive energy that turns from an ocean into a tiny well, once you’re older, like me.  The type of energy that isn’t my domain to conjure at will any longer.

I’m nervous.  The referee looks at my face.  There’s some mild, perfectly feigned recognition in his eyes.  Yeah sure it’s me.  There’s no other Chinese-looking boxer in this building I’m pretty sure of it.

I’m almost distracted for a second when someone anonymous helps me with my face guard.  I feel the velcro fasten tight at the back.  Anonymous  pats me on the shoulder. “You’re good pal.”

I beat the forehead of my face guard three times to make sure it’s secure. I look at Anonymous and nod my thanks.  I glance up at the bleachers looking for my trainer, Gary.  Hmmm where, where, where?

There he is.

…3rd row up,

…a few seats to the right.

I clench my jaw and wink at him.  He probably didn’t see that but it’s something I would only do if I’m nervous.

I look back round and feel the referee’s fingers touch my chin.  He wants to see my gum shield.  I open my mouth and bar my teeth at him.  It’s legal. No red colour.

I stretch my neck to my shoulders, left and then right.  A ritual I only do when I’m being serious.  The ref waves us both over.  I walk over trying to keep my shoulders loose.  The referee starts to talk but I only make out a few words as the kid I’m fighting’s trying to stare me down and I just stare back through him.  In the end all I catch is “fight clean and touch gloves” and we do.  A quick tap.

I walk to my corner, grab the ropes, squat once and cross myself.  Not because I want help from God but because somehow I’ve found my way to the canvas of this hall.

I barely hear the bell but I come forward wanting to claim some space early.  No roar of the mob behind us, just a few loud whistles to break the silence of a nondescript hall.

The kid comes right at me.  Fuck! I was just kidding earlier.  I came wanting to box but the kid really wants to brawl and trade.

I’m old but I’m not stupid kid.

I pivot hard right and my old feet obey, if only, for the time being.

A pity I could never move that well on a five-aside pitch. Probably would have tripped over myself. I shoot out a combination to his chin that would have sent the kid’s gum shield flying onto the first judge’s crotch. – That might have actually happened if I was entering an amateur fight and the kid mistook this as a pie eating contest but Kid adjusts his feet, fast and his head slips perfectly.  My jabs glance harmlessly away.  I curse through my gum shield.  I wanted to knock him down in under thirty seconds but if I was that slick I’d be fighting in the MGM Grand.  Instead I’m fighting in a hall where the men’s toilets look like they were oft Christened by a nightly blowjob, a line of coke and a diarrhetic mule.

I’m horrified temporarily.  The kid’s younger, faster and that’s all that’s barely registering through my head as he begins to throw down again.  Kid lands a couple of blows that were worthy of three points apiece on a basketball court.  All I can do is keep moving.    Protect myself where I can and fire back where I’m able.  The three rounds feel like twelve but when the bell sounds I don’t feel anything but relief.  I offer Kid an outstretched glove which he punches.  He pats me on the back with his other glove and as he nods I see he’s as tired as I am.

I return to my corner and spit out my gum shield, tear off my glove and grab the water relieved I can drink greedily instead of sparingly.  I catch Kid’s eye and nod at him one last time.  For just a few seconds I forget we’re on the score cards and we look at each other.  This is us, Kid.  All us.

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“The Kid” is the first piece of short fiction I’ve written in a long time.  It started out as a favourite daydream of mine.

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Milestones, musha-shugyō and dad’s idea of parenthood

So I had another look at (ExpertBoxing) Johnny’s minimum requirement list for becoming an amateur boxer the other day and stared at the “Hit the heavybag for 15 minutes continuous” and I thought to myself.  That’s surely something I can do now.  So I updated a couple of pages on the blogsite with the intention of heading down to the gym to confirm it.  My training’s becoming a little monotonous after 3 continuous weeks – always drills in rounds of 3 minutes so a 15 minute non-stop exercise could be just the ticket to freshen it up.

I went on 3.5 mile run (5.5 km) to warm up first on the tredmill. My left knee didn’t feel 100% but I pushed through taking the usual 30 minutes.  Had a panic attack at 20 minutes when it felt like the run was more strained than usual.  Have I put on weight? Have I lost some stamina? That kind of stuff goes through my head but I knew it was my knee.  I should have cut the run short but I can’t reconcile in my head that doing something like stopping isn’t giving up.  Something to do with my own stubborness and compulsive thinking as well.

That little business out of the way I warmed up my arms and shoulders forthe main event…

Now when you look at it on paper, 15 minutes continuous doesn’t seem like a long time  and maybe it isn’t but from the time you actually begin… it seems like forever.  The biggest problem wasn’t my arm or shoulder endurance – it was all the mucus and sweat building up.  Stuff that, normally, I would just towel, snot up, spit away into a bucket after 3 minutes I had to keep inside me and it was seriously putting me off in the final 5 minutes.

When I heard my buzzer go off I ran straight to my bucket and blew out all the crap from my nose feeling happy.  I still can’t understand people who prefer to go to the gym in pairs or multiples.  It’s not exactly the best projection of yourself caked in sweat, blowing bodily fluids out of your upper orifices.

Now Johnny never mentions what kind of continuous hitting the 15 minutes consists of but I did a mixture of hard and light shots and I was moving around the bag.  I don’t think I ever stopped throwing for more than 2 or 3 seconds and I could still keep my hands up to guard my face which I think was the general idea.

There are 2 things left on my list:

  • Be able to spar with any other amateur (excluding pro level amateurs with over 100 fights).
  • Be able to spar double the length of an amateur bout (equates to 6 rounds of 3 minutes each).

Those two are massive steps.  I don’t mind laughing at myself or making a fool of myself now and again, that’s part of life and good for the soul but I want to give a good account of myself.

I have this romantic daydream that one day I visit some other boxing schools around the east and west coast of Scotland and just spar a few rounds with some of the locals.  The Japanese have a word for that: musha shugyō… when you travel outside your home to train. Then, you return one day and you bring back that experience with you so that it enriches your own school.

When I was around 11 years old I was eavesdropping on one of my dad’s conversations to a neighbour.  I was young but old enough to remember the conversation.  He mentioned that he felt being a parent and having children was his way of giving something back to community and society.  The gist of it was that basically the aim was for the child to surpass the parent.  None of the parent’s fears and prejudices but all and more of their strengths and in that way, society grows and improves.  That was the important bit I caught from his conversation.  Part of that was for the child to go farther, learn a little deeper, experience a little more and come back more complete.

Growing up, my dad was a bit of a mystery.  He and my mum would work a lot and they’d leave, me, an 11-year old boy to look after his 7-year old sister in the house, alone.    So my sister and I had to grow up pretty fast on our own and look after ourselves.  But anyway, every so often I’d get glimpses into my dad’s way of thinking and this conversation I overheard was one of them.  Despite voting Conservative my dad’s quite socialist.  His outlook appears to be always on improving yourself as far as you can but with the aim of helping those around you and that effect rippling out to help a community, wider.  Dad may have started out by just wanting children for himself but I honestly think that later on he saw parenthood as more of a sociological responsibility and obligation.

I think about that from time to time.  But how does that even affect my learning to box? – I think ultimately whatever I tried my hand at, my parents wanted me to try as hard as I could.

There was never the lesson of “It’s not the winning that matters, it’s the taking part and having fun”.  I never, ever remember that lesson from dad coming in any way, shape or form.  His lesson was more: Take part, if you enjoy it, try and understand and study it more and practice.  Practice a lot.

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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.

 

Is Floyd Mayweather a d*ck to his padman?

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I’m not really a follower of Floyd Mayweather but I do watch him train from time to time and I take saved videos of him (and other boxers) with me offshore so I can watch them train.  Floyd’s pad man is his brother Roger Mayweather.  This 19-minute video someone uploaded onto YouTube of a padwork session Mayweather was doing, well, I saved this permanantly onto one of my drives so I could always watch it.

It looks like they’re playing patty-cake. 🙂

I have to be honest, I love the look of this kind of padwork.  Are we ever going to do anything like this Gary, lol?

I kind of wish I could be this super-ace pad man and do the Patty-cake thing.  It looks like Roger Mayweather (the pad man) is getting more of a workout than Floyd.

I’m looking online just now to find out more about this style of padwork. With this set of exercises I’m guessing Floyd is practicing rhythm and muscle memory.  You can see Floyd turning his wrists and moving his arms ever so slightly like he’s going through the motions of making a punch.

It looks very choreographed.  Whether it’s more “flash and panache” than actually practical I couldn’t say.  One thing though, if you did something 10000 times over a short course of time, you would definitely improve or change in some way.  I mean, isn’t that how the Chinese table tennis team practice?

I’d love to be able to have a go or even learn that style of pad work.

I didn’t know Floyd’s pad man is actually his brother but man he seems to be a bit of a d*ck to him!  Watch the video.  It’s hard to like a guy like Floyd when he comes across as so arrogant.  Mind you he probably doesn’t care and maybe if I was as good a pad man as Roger, maybe I wouldn’t care either.

Below is a link to an article I read on Mayweather’s style of padwork by another boxing blogger:

Is Mayweather’s Mittwork all show? (Shootafairone)

 

Home, Piano vanilla sauce and school cross country

After spending 3 weeks out in the Norwegian Sea that flight home’s so close I can almost hear the jet engines.  When you’re training twice a day it’s hard for things not to become routine.  The morning’s really become a struggle.  I wake up at 21:30 and I call Emma while I’m still lying in bed.  Normally I’m still completely drowsy, half asleep and on some kind of autopilot but I like hearing her voice.  Then I’ll drag myself up and put on my gear.

Those morning sessions last only an hour now:

  • Interval training.  16 minutes of 30 seconds on; 30 seconds rest.  It’s 4 rounds but this feels horrendous when your body is still half asleep.
  • Next I set my boxing timer app for 35 minutes with 3 minute rounds with 30 seconds of rest in between.  I jump rope, shadow box and do 3 rounds on a heavy bag.  The first 2 rounds are to warm up my hands but the 3rd round I go into this “tabata” drill where I’ll punch the bag as fast as I can, as many times as I can.  I hate this drill but it helps your arm endurance.  Finally I do 3 rounds on a double-end bag trying to be loose like Gary’s told me numerous times.  I made a video of myself so I could check my form.  I’ll upload when I get home.  (I’m on a boat – limited bandwidth and all that)

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So yeah that’s just shy of an hour but it’s an hour of quality.  It’s not like I’m staring at the floor daydreaming.

After a 12 hour shift of  sitting in front of 12 LCD monitors like Homer Simpson I’ll head straight back to my cabin and get changed for the afternoon session.

I use the same boxing timer app for the afternoon. For the first 35 minutes I’ll repeat what I did in the morning session (minus the interval training).  Then I’ll go another 35 minutes doing a mix of drills on the heavy bag.

Most people associate the heavy bag with hitting hard but I rarely throw such forceful punches at it.  I punch high (like 45 degrees up) so my shoulders get some endurance, try and concentrate on moving around the bag and then Gary’s words are always in my head about staying loose and punching from my hip.

I feel better than when I first got on the boat though. It’d be worrying if I didn’t after all this effort.

I’m still eating a fair bit but not as much as the first week.  When the boat goes alongside I can get a more accurate weight measurement but it’ll be easier when I’m home and I can cook only what I need to eat.  Out here, food is everywhere and there’s so much of it!  I’m guessing I weigh 75kg right now but once I leave this floating food palace I know I can get down to 70 – 72kg.  I weighed myself a few times out here but with the boat pitching and rolling I was weighing anything from 73kg to 76kg.

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I’m absolutely addicted to this Norwegian vanilla custard that comes in a tetrapak style carton.  I have it with muffins, pancakes, waffles, apple crumble everything sweet.  It has no nutrition info on the carton but I’m guessing it’s absolutely filthy.

My state of mind’s good though.  I just wish I could get a bit more sleep in between. I need to finish watching Season 4 of Banshee though! 😉

I miss doing pad work though with another person and I’m eager to do more work inside a ring when I get home.  The big test will be that first session back with Gary and whether I’ve improved in his eyes and how much.

There’s still a lot to do.  There are days when some kind of melancholy hits me and I feel down for a few minutes.  I wonder where I’m going with this and then other things get into my head and I start thinking about my life and all the things I’ve done wrong and whether I’ll be able to make it right in the end.

Emma (my wife) used to be a teacher and she said something to me once about how teachers come and go from a school and ultimately the school kids don’t remember you but I don’t think that’s true.  When I was 11 or 12 we went on this cross country run and I hated it.  I kind of lagged at the back with the Phys Ed teacher Mr. Nelson. Must have been shy of 4 or 5km but I was crap at long distance but I remember back at the changing room afterwards when Mr Nelson pointed at me and said “This kid will never be a great runner but at least he doesn’t give up.”

The other time I was in the pub at 16 and (illegally I guess) having a drink with a few of the teachers who just happened by after school (it was the last day of school before summer)… Mr Richardson was leaving to go to another school.  He actually never taught me in any of his classes but I remember him finishing his pint and saying to me “Do the right thing Shingy”.  Then he got up and left. It was such a strange thing to say.  There wasn’t even a conversation before that sentence.

I think about those two moments a lot when I am out at sea.  Most of the time when I train.  Often my sweaty towel is hiding my head and I start crying uncontrollably into it.  Maybe because I’ve come so close to giving up  and maybe because sometimes I’m not doing the right thing or I don’t know what the right thing is but I keep trying.  Those two teachers would be in their late 50s by now but I haven’t sought them out yet.  I wanted to tell them how much those words meant.  It wouldn’t matter if they didn’t remember me.

I’m not sure what the point of this last bit is… maybe something like this:

Whatever you’re doing, sometimes you need to look back and understand where you began so that you can keep going forward.

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