how boxing is just like playing the harp

These days, I eat, sleep, and breathe boxing. The problem with sleeping boxing is that it results in some violent sleep habits. So far, there have been no casualties, but I do a lot of twitching as I go to sleep running through a combination in my head or envisioning slipping a jab. I’m not the only boxer who does this apparently. I’ve heard of other boxers hitting in their sleep. I hope for my partner’s sake and mine that it doesn’t come to this. I may become good friends with the futon pretty soon.

I’m currently envisioning striking with one hand at a time because, evidently, in boxing two hands are not better than one. I have a tendency to superman it at my opponent, which is not ideal for me in so many ways. First of all, I don’t get a solid blow using the superman technique. In spite of what you might think, hitting with one hand is a lot more effective than hitting with two hands at the same time. Another problem is that it means I’m off balance and no longer in fighting stance because I’m leaping at my opponent like a jaguar. Since biting in boxing was outlawed in 1838, and the closest things I have to claws are covered with gloves, I probably should not be fighting like a jaguar. Lastly, with both hands out, my face is wide open for abuse. My sparring partner has picked up on this, leaving my nose a little sore as of late. So I’m focusing on keeping one hand at my face at all times and throwing measured, relaxed, hard blows. My trainer said this morning that it’s looking a little better—I’m not doing the superman every time. Hey, it’s a start.

One of the founders of Haymakers for Hope stopped by the gym this morning to watch our training. I was totally flattered because, after seeing me spar, she said that I have the things you can’t teach—timing and fearlessness. I imagine my fearlessness may come from growing up with an older brother. Since he’s a few years older, throwing punches usually ended badly for me; I’d typically end up lying on the floor paralyzed from tickling with both my hands trapped in one of his. But he broke me in for boxing all the same. All the whirlies are finally paying off. I’d like to say that playing the harp since the age of seven helped develop my sense of timing, but those two activities seem so drastically different it might be a stretch to connect the two.

In at least one respect though, playing the harp is just like boxing. When playing an instrument, you have to be willing to do the same thing over and over and over again until it feels like you were born doing it. You repeat it slowly and flawlessly until your muscles remember exactly what to do—until you do it without thinking. Only then do you pick it up. If you don’t have it, you slow it down again. Then when it’s time to perform or when you step into the ring, even if your mind is losing it worrying about this and that, your body does exactly what it is supposed to do. So I practice the same things over and over. Every day: one-two, one-two, one-two, one-one-two like meditation. One-hand-at a-time. One-two. And in this way, some day I’ll be a boxer.



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