Tag Archives: training

Rust and Introspection

armour

Well, this blog had gathered some dust, hasn’t it?

There are several reasons for that, chief among them my growing lack of motivation to do, well, anything. I haven’t exactly been lazy – I still spend at least four hours a week in the boxing gym and I’m still being as careful as I can afford to be about what I eat – yet my heart is not really in it any more.

Also, I have mostly been spending my time boxing and, while it is one of the most challenging combat sports out there, there really isn’t much to say about the training. I work out really hard, my hooks and upper cuts still need work and I often screw up the timing when I’m trying to slip straight shots. Apart from that, I basically do the same fashion of drills I used to do when I was fencing, except I’m learning how to use my fists. It’s fairly routine – just a constant ironing out of my techniques and a slow climb towards better form.

As for writing; I haven’t penned more than a handful of pages in four months. I simply haven’t had any ideas for any kind of story since the end of the summer. This week marks the first time I actually had an idea pop into my head that made me immediately start scribbling notes.

However, let’s deal with the martial arts side of things for now.

I used to love martial arts for its own sake. I loved training and I loved sparring and I loved learning new things just because I thought it was the coolest cat in the pet shop. I don’t seem to have much of  that enthusiasm left these days. Basically, I can’t really answer to myself WHY I’ve been doing it all these years, and why I’m still spending all my free time sweating.

The problem, I’ve decided, is that I have no real goal to strive towards. When I was younger, simply getting better was a good enough reason to keep me coming back. Yet as it is, I am getting dangerously close to thirty years of age and I want some actual final product to be working towards. The training I have been doing for the last six years has not included any kind of rank examinations, so I don’t have any kind of physical tests to prepare for. In, say, karate, I could always be working towards that next belt or what have you, but were no belts in Scatha and there are no real rankings in western boxing.

The only current challenge I have at the moment is to get good enough at boxing to feel confident enough to actually enter the ring for some amateur fights, but I know that it is still months away from happening and is a rather vague notion in and of itself. Not to mention I don’t intent to make a career out of boxing, since A) I like my face in one piece and B) I’m a bit old to start now.

I’m tempted to try and find some way to go back to Duello and train for the next rank there. Somebody must have surpassed the rank of red cord since my day, mustn’t they? I can’t remember that the next level was after red – when I was training there, nobody except the head instructors were rated any higher. I wonder who’s at the top of the pile now… Anyway, I don’t think I have the time or the money to pursue that right now.

This also brings me to the next hiccup – I often feel a sense of weariness when I think of western martial arts. Basically, I’m tired of talking about it and hearing people talk about it. I simply can’t muster the energy to be enthusiastic about this-and-that-fencing-hullabaloo any more. I’ve been thinking, writing and trying out new training techniques for the better part of eight years, and I’ve been talking about WMA for nearly ten – and I feel totally exhausted by the whole thing at the moment.

All I want to do is keep my head down, work hard and get the job done. I’ve lost the eccentric desire to create something new in favour of simply trying to concentrate on bettering my own skills and fitness in whichever ways seem the most appropriate at the time.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I no longer have any desire to take a leadership role in martial arts. If, for whatever bizarre reason, someone asked me to teach rapier or sabre I might consider it. But in regards to my skills as a whole, I have come to accept that I simply don’t have the experience to be an instructor, neither in my over-all martial ability nor in my social practices. My nature, at this moment, is to be a good soldier, not a charismatic leader. That may change some day, or maybe it won’t. Maybe I will always be best suited to be a tool rather than a craftsman.

That is a depressing notion, really…

Anyhow, I am constantly nagged by the question of ‘WHY?’ This had been compounded by the fact that I have essentially scrapped all my dreams and ambitions of the last few years out of a sense of pragmatism. I’m not young any more, and I have never earned a decent wage in my life. I’m still trapped by a job I’m bored to death of because I can’t afford to start over at another job that offers less money and I don’t have the skills to apply for a job that makes noticeably more.

I used to hold myself together with fantasies of being a writer who ran a martial arts school. I’d eventually retire to a country house and bash out novels. I’d sit there contently smoking my pipe and feeling like I created something worthwhile. I was riding the crest of what I thought was a decent sized wave of progress.

Today I couldn’t tell you how I ever believed I was capable of that.

When Scatha shut its doors it was the second time I had to start over, only this time I was totally on my own. It took me a long time to accept it, but I simply don’t have it in me to do that again right now. Not for two or three years at any rate. I’ve run out of schemes and ingenious plans and have to face up to the fact that I’m just going to have to work hard with nobody around to see it.

Objectively speaking I am a twenty-eight year old male who’s accomplishments include general good fitness, a certain adeptness at violence, and an ability to describe events with decent prose. My shortcomings are that I have no plans for the future that I can put my finger on, I have no career to speak of and I have a social circle the size of a dime.

It’s not exactly being a superhero, is it?

So all I can do it keep looking for a new job and keep trying to find a new way to motivate myself in my training while I ride out the rest of this rather bleak winter of introspection.

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Boxing: Day Three

It’s getting there.

I already feel like I’ve ironed away several of my little bad habits in regards to body mechanics. My jab, which was giving me grief at the beginning of the week, is feeling much faster and my body feels more balanced while I’m throwing it. The funny thing is that the whole improvement boiled down to one tiny little piece of advice the instructor gave me, after which I realized everything I was doing wrong and began to work on fixing it.

It often seems to happen that way; that one little correction that rectifies a mistake you didn’t realize you were making and sets everything in motion again.

On the other hand, I am still the weakest link in terms of endurance. Considering all the other exercises I do, you wouldn’t think circling my arms to work my shoulders for three minutes would be that hard – yet I feel like a scrawny kid in gym class when I try to do it. I can barely go past a minute without making pain face and stopping for a second. I also, as always, suck at push-ups. But there is nothing new about that.

In regards to hitting the punching bag again, the standard good workout seems to be ten rounds (30 minutes with 30 seconds of rest after each 3 minute round). I can do five before I start hitting like a ninety-year-old pacifist.

HOWEVER: As far as yesterday went, I did seem to pick up the actual techniques faster than some of the other people in the room. So I feel good about that. At least I can trust my ability to adapt and learn new styles to a certain degree.

I’ve noticed an amusing habit I have developed though, and that is that I am a hipster for martial arts. When someone asks me in the middle of class if I’ve had any other training I essentially start to say “I have, but you wouldn’t have heard of it”. To a certain degree I have been modest to the point of lying when people talk to my at this new school. When I first signed up I talked to one of the instructors (the same one I worked with briefly yesterday) about what I did at Scatha and Duello, but since then I have basically said “I’ve done some other martial arts, but I haven’t trained seriously for about a year” and then I let them draw their own conclusions. After all, I am there to add boxing training to my repertoire, not to fish for interest in my other endeavors. (What’s interesting, though not unexpected, is that nobody I have talked to at Sugarray’s has even heard of Academie Duello, despite the fact that the two schools are in walking distance of each other.)

The coach who was working yesterday, whose name I don’t recall, seemed to be one of the folks chiefly in charge of the establishment. Actually, considering I just agreed to spend the next year there, I haven’t really researched the person/people who started it or what there background is. I should probably do that. It’s nice to know more about other people than they know about you.

Anyway, said man was a brash, (I believe) Scottish fellow who was more than happy to call you a wanker and smack you with a target pad in order to get you to work out harder during the warm up. I was taken aback for the first few seconds, but I’ve worked with enough people over the years that I stopped taking it personally pretty quickly. I have a feeling I will both hate and be grateful for working with him. Despite his gruffness and accented insults, he was also very good at explaining the technical side of things.

So the grind continues, and thus ends day three.