I now have my first boxing trophy and it’s purple. Yesterday it was reddish purple, but it’s trending darker today and headed to black, I suppose, then the normal green and yellow. I’m feeling all Fight Club. I’ve been tilting my chin up and doing show and tell with my “I’ve been eating uppercuts” bruise for anyone who will listen; I don’t know why I’m so proud, but I am. Probably because I blocked more uppercuts than I took on the chin. You gotta let somebody throw ’em before you can learn to block ’em.
This was about my fifth time in the ring, and I’m finally — finally! — beginning to understand a few things. I blocked a significant number of punches, for the first time seeing that you don’t have to swat or shove a jab away (which takes too much energy) but simply catch or capture it with or between your gloves. I’m also learning to keep my right glove higher and my right elbow tucked in to my ribs against Bonnie’s wicked double left hook. In fact, several times I defended against that fast and nasty punch and countered with a left jab of my own, and I felt like cheering every time. I did shout and dance a little at the end of the second round. Before she took me to the shed for a serious whuppin.
Here’s how my ringtime — during which I earned my trophy, yay! — went.
Anticipating the jabs
My first round I’m feeling great; light on my feet even though I just trained hard for the hour previous. This time I don’t even feel the nerves, I’m just ready to get to it. So we go in, she’s easy on me, we’re both seeing what the other has in store today. After a minute or so I’m suddenly aware that I am anticipating and therefore blocking some of her punches!
I stop right in the middle, put my hands on my hips and demand, “Are you ‘letting’ me see, or can I just see these coming??” She gives the kind (and possibly truthful) answer that I’m starting to get a feel for being in the ring. I let out a “Hollaaa!” and drop back into my stance, feeling all bouncy and grinning like an idiot.
And I eat a few punches ’cause I’m too busy celebrating and not paying attention. My trophy is being constructed. I settle in and she throws a dozen in quick succession and I get better at blocking them. Some of them. These are jabs, though, not her meanest punch. By the final bell I’m pretty full of myself.
From flight to fight, thinking ability returning
The next round I have combos in my head for the first time ever. I’m amazed for the second time in six minutes! Up until now I’ve been so overwhelmed in the ring that I just can’t think. It’s been all I could do to well, to be blunt, to not run away. I know it sounds funny but there it is.
You’ve heard of fight or flight? It’s true. And my “flight” siren seems to get tripped far more than my “fight” indicator. So one of my major battles in the ring has been to toggle that switch over to the other side. And today I’m not only blocking punches (and not running away) but I have combos in my head and can throw them!
I spend enough time marveling over this minor miracle that I eat more yummy punches. This is gonna be a great trophy when it gets here.
The third round is the kicker. Between bells Bonnie waves me over. School is in session, she says, and it’s time to Bring It. She tells me to not hold back, to throw what I have, that we’re gonna do this thing. I’m breathing hard but still excited. That only lasts for another minute.
I don’t know it yet, but I’m about to wish I had an oxygen mask and an ice pack. And possibly a bucket to puke in. Trophy time, coming right up!
It’s just amazing how hard you can work in three teensy minutes. I mainly remember the sound of her punches, the way the air hisses between her teeth when she gets rolling. I move quickly from attack mode to defend mode to please-God-let-the-bell-ring mode.
In boxing there’s a warning bell 30 seconds before the round actually ends. It can either be a signal for your final sprint, or it can make you think that if you had enough air you could break into great heaving sobs. You might be able to guess which it is for me.
Once, only once, Bonnie gives me an out: “You okay?” she asks, no hint of a grin on her face. “Come on,” I tell her, like Rocky to Apollo Creed in the twelfth.
I make it, crawl out of the ring, wrench off my headgear and spit out my mouthguard. The single imperative of my body is to breathe. Oxygen is wonderful. I don’t even feel the purple spread of the trophy bruise on my chin.
I can hardly wait to do it again.
Note, added later: The next time I donned headgear to spar again I realized that the real reason I had a massive bruise on my chin was because the headgear itself has a metal or plastic bar through the chin piece. Sucky, nasty, thing! As soon as I took my first good hit I felt that bar bang against my chin bone, and I realized that even though I ended up with a nasty bruise before, it wasn’t necessarily due to uppercuts, but really any shot that landed to that headgear. I don’t wear that headgear any more. (I still get bruised, but they’re different bruises!)
Image by balt-arts on Flickr.