Archive for October, 2010


No time like now

No time like now

My emotions are on a hair-trigger these days – sure symptoms of an erratic gym life and I am determined to get in some time today.  When I’m off kilter like that it’s a fine balance between doing too much and killing the muscles, and doing too little which will mean I won’t satisfy the gym itch and more grumpiness on my part.

My plan for the day is to run some, stretch, shadow box, and then do a few rounds each of the heavy bag, double-ended bag, and speed bag, with a fine finish of some abs.  Hmmm.  Nice plan.

As for its execution, there is no time like now.


Post Script:  Gleason’s was great!  Not quite to plan, but good enough.


The power of art

The power of art

My daughter started studying her martial art a few weeks before her 6th birthday.  As a young one on the mat she was an absolute mighty-mite executing perfect forward and backwards rolls that were the envy of the Dojo.  Now entering her 6th year as she turns 11, she has become a mature Aikidoist with a love and appreciation for the art and physical prowess of the sport — and for the confidence, mental discipline and sense of accomplishment it has given her.

As a discipline for young women, Aikido provides a clever alternative for girls to learn an art where size and weight are less an issue that one’s ability to execute well-timed defensive moves that takes advantage of an opponent’s forward momentum to land them on the floor in awkward positions (and the chance to run away from trouble once they’re down on the ground!).  Aikido also offers training in weapons to include the “Jo” (long-stick) and the “Bokken” (modeled after a Japanese sword).  With such moves Aikidoists become skilled in the defensive possibilities of such weapons and of the adaptive possibilities of broom handles and mega-umbrellas.

Whether it’s boxing, aikido, karate, Tai-Chi or any of the other martial arts, a brief course of study for a young women can offer a taste of the possibilities for personal defense and their own physical power.  I know that in my daughter’s case, it has given her a confidence in her physical capabilities that has translated itself into the schoolyard where she can hold her own with the best of them physically and mentally.  That’s not to say that she’s ever been in a physical fight, but the mental toughness of her martial art has given her the confidence to walk away from confrontations and the sense of self necessary to keep the mental taunts of the bullies out of her head which can be just as devastating if not more so.

I’ve also watched as other girls and boys for that matter in her Aikido classes and at places like Gleason’s Gym have transformed into clear thinking young people who are cognoscente of their abilities and mindful of the responsibilities of the unique skills they’ve garnered through the disciplined study of a martial art.  Sure, it’s not for everyone, but offering the opportunity to young girls in particular means raising a generation of women who will grow-up understanding the possibilities of their own physical prowess.


Fighting it

Fighting It

A full-length documentary film, “Fighting It” is a personal look at the lives of five women fighters.  The film is in the final throes of post-production with a release date set for next year.  The film’s perspective is to portray the passion, work ethic and accompanying emotional highs and lows of women who box, their compelling stories and the conflicts they face as they pursue their dreams.

The women featured in the film range from amateurs training for the Golden Gloves to professionals struggling to make a go of it in the burgeoning women’s professional boxing world.  All have wonderful and inspiring stories of what has brought them to the fray of the boxing ring.  It is a story that will be well worth the wait.


I love …

I love …

I love baseball.

I love boxing.

I love late 1960-1970’s salsa.


Olympic dreams

Olympic dreams

With the Olympics twenty months or so away, there hasn’t been much in the news lately  about women finally being given the nod to fight in three weight classes in the 2012 London Olympic Games.  What I wonder is whether the hard work and sweat of the young amateur boxers who have begun their preparations for the games will result in Women’s Boxing being taken more seriously in the run-up to the games and beyond.  Let’s face it, at this point, we’ll take an ESPN “Ocho” just for the chance to see the sport at all on television.

It’s also not as if there’s a hug pot of dough to support American male boxers, so the question is how are the American women with Olympic dreams going to support themselves if there is so little out there to begin with?   Women have been in the amateurs for years, so at least there is institutional knowledge to train women to score points under the international amateur system.  That doesn’t mean that these women will be given the kind of material assistance, “team” training camp facilities, coaching know-how and enthusiasm necessary to truly boost their chances at winning gold.

So, what to do?  For one thing, it’ll be up to all of us to push USA Boxing to give equitable treatment to the Olympic dreams of these young hopefuls and to push the press and sports television to recognize that Women’s Boxing is here to stay and needs to be recognized.


It’s good to hit things

It’s good to hit things.

I shadow boxed at home last night.  I put on 16 oz. gloves and boxed around the room for a couple of rounds before I pounded away at my closet door.  “Get this girl back to the gym,” seemed to be the refrain from my family who thought I was crazy.  I kept thinking how good it felt to hit things even though I wasn’t releasing much power or hitting very hard.

Hitting things is always my ultimate secret about boxing.  I love it.  I love how it feels to connect.   I love the physicality of working out on a big heavy bag and pushing in with my shoulder as I practice upper cuts.   The double-ended bag gives me a place to workout as a rhythmic dance.  It doesn’t have that da-da-da, da-da-da rhythm of the speed bag, but after a round or two, the timing is such that it starts to have its own distinctive beat.

Sparring is something else again.  It has its own magic that for me isn’t about the hitting so much as working through the space as a physical manifestation of a chess game.  Each jab is a feint, a loyal pawn that makes its way forward establishing pace, rhythm and control to set-up all the other punches, bobs and weaves in the arsenal.   To spar is to be in a pas-de-deux with my opponent as improvisational as tap dancing or trading eights with Miles Davis’ trumpet licks.

To hit something at the boxing gym is to come face-to-face with the truth.  You can’t hit and hit hard without that commitment or the emotional depths that get mined every time a punch is thrown.


Shadow boxing in the dark

Shadow boxing in the dark

I’m up really early this morning with a full day in front of me and no likelihood of getting to the gym this afternoon.   So here I am, ready to do at least a little something at home.  The hard part is figuring out how to get started when all I really want to do is get back to bed.

This morning I’m shadowboxing to “Payback,” by James Brown.  The thing about the song is I can move to it and imagine that I’m hitting a giant double-ended bag as I shadowbox in the living room.

Mostly what I love about this song is the sway.  And somewhere around the lyric, “gotta deal with it, gotta deal with it” I’m into the groove.  Jab, jab, right, left hook, right upper cut, left upper cut, left hook, left.

After the song finishes, I have an instance of “what now,” panic.  Playing it again feels right and with muscles starting to wake-up it does feel good to prance around the room.


October 2010

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© Malissa Smith and Girlboxing, 2010-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Malissa Smith and Girlboxing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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