just keep punching

I apologize to all the people who don’t actually want to read about boxing because this post is really only about boxing. There’s no life lesson or moral, except that hard work sometimes pays off. Oh, and sometimes there is no right punch. There is no right time. You just need to throw something and keep punching. So now that I’ve given away the punchline, if you don’t want to read about boxing, you can stop here, and you’ll save approximately four minutes of your time and have gotten the (very deep) moral of the story anyway (what a deal!).

Friday was a big day for two reasons: 1) I threw my first ever uppercut while sparring and 2) I started throwing more than one punch at a time (aka combinations).

I’d grown frustrated during the past couple weeks with my seeming inability to throw any more than one or two punches in a row. For instance, my jab-cross has come along nicely, but I couldn’t seem to follow the cross with the left hook, the punch everyone beginner boxer is taught to throw after the cross. I finally managed to throw an effective hook by itself last week, but couldn’t put it together in a combination with other throws. It seemed I had some mental block preventing me from throwing any more than two punches. I think I felt like I needed to throw the right punches, properly, at the right time. If I wasn’t sure I could land a punch, or if I thought it wasn’t the best punch, or not the best time, I wouldn’t throw it. Which means I didn’t throw a lot of punches. This is in spite of the fact that when I’m sparring with someone, I don’t really care if she is throwing proper punches at me when she’s wailing on me. I just really want to get away from the fists as fast as possible. Even if she’s not hitting me hard, it’s overwhelming and upsetting, and inevitably, one of the six shots ends up being a solid blow. Knowing this couldn’t get me out of my one-two rut though.

On Friday, a switch was flipped. We were practicing uppercuts during drills, and I told the woman with whom I was drilling that I thought the chances of me ever throwing an uppercut were slim to none. Truthfully, I was a little annoyed we were drilling uppercuts at all, since I thought that in these last few days of training before the fight I should be working on shots I would actually use. When we started sparring, the first round went by uneventfully with the same old jab-cross. In the 60 seconds between the first and second round I decided I would try to throw an uppercut just for kicks—only to see if I could connect with it. I figured I could slip the jab, which involves twisting a little to the right to get my head out of the way of the left-hand straight punch, and come back with a right uppercut, a shot aimed for the underside of an opponent’s chin. Then maybe, if I was feeling it, I could follow up with a left hook and right cross. That’s how I saw it happening in my head anyway. I’m not sure if that’s exactly what I did, since what I think happened in the ring and what actually happened in the ring after often distinctly different. But I did throw the uppercut. And in that split second, everything changed. All of a sudden, things opened up so that I could take other shots—the hook, the cross, another uppercut, and low and behold, when you are hitting someone, they are less likely to hit you back, which allowed me to hit more. Whatever block that had been there vanished, and I just started throwing punches. It didn’t matter if I missed some or if they weren’t perfect. All that mattered was that I was punching. I was actually putting up a fight.

Friday morning was probably my last real class before the fight, since I’ll start easing up on training by Monday or Tuesday. It was great to end on a high and the feeling like I can bring it next Thursday. I don’t know who will win this fight, but I know I won’t go down without a fight. If nothing else, I’ll just keep punching.

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