Saturday, February 19, 2011
Smells like a fighter
I buried my hands in saffron, disguised them over smoking tar, helped the honey gatherers...
The words from Michael Ondaatje’s poem “The Cinnamon Peeler’s Wife” keep coming to mind every time I get home from the Hit to Fit gym. Because I’m investing only one month in boxing – at least for now – I am not buying my own equipment. I borrow gloves from the communal glove bin instead, aptly named the “stink box.” After I’m done my workout there is a unique aroma that I can’t seem to wash free from my skin. Maybe I don’t look like a fighter yet, but I sure smell like one!
But enough about that. Let’s talk boxing. This morning I had the ultimate opportunity – Sandy, owner of Capital City Boxing/Hit to Fit and the original Hit Girl, was at the gym and she offered to give me some tips. Her passion for the sport comes through clearly in how she describes it. As she told me, boxing isn’t about hitting a punching bag, but rather about strategy. Can you get punched and not flee, but instead strike back having identified your opponent’s weakness? Can you anticipate your opponent’s reaction and outsmart her?
Sandy talked me through the importance of getting your jab correct. That is to say, fast. The energy it takes to get a jab to the bag repeatedly exhausts me, let alone the energy it takes to do it correctly. But it’s important to know how to jab – it sets your distance from your opponent. (Glad I’m not up against Sandy, because her reach is longer than mine.) She explained that although the jab is a fighter’s weakest punch, it’s also the punch that gets used most often. Sandy likened the jab to a pawn in a game of chess; it’s not the most powerful piece, but it’s crucial in establishing your strategy and feeling out your opponent.
She who has the fastest jab is more likely to win the match. With a fast jab the fighter can land a punch and get her glove back to protect her body. After jabbing, the fighter can also create an opportunity to land a stronger punch like the straight right, which is powered from your foot, up through your legs, and into a strong hit. In essence, you find a way to get in a combination like jab-jab-jab, straight right, left hook, straight right, jab.