Learning to box
I was about 12 years old when my Uncle taught my brother and I how to box. He showed us how to stand like a boxer and how to throw a jab, but he didn’t call it that. He just said, “hey, stand like this and then throw a punch.”
There was no bobbing and weaving, upper-cuts, hooks, counter-punching or much beyond the old one-two. He just showed us how to punch out straight with the fist turn at the end and how to get the heck out of the way. He’d then have my brother and I do mock fights that looked something like the mechanical dolls at the amusement park, very jerky and never quite connecting.
When I started to learn boxing in earnest as a woman in my 40’s, that early sense of pride and strength came back to me. Sure, I couldn’t slip or throw a body punch or use the speed bag, but I did remember what it felt like to feel physically confident. And when my trainer Johnny would say, “don’t give me none of that pitty-pat,” I really could break through and give it my all.
Learning to box was and remains an exercise in patience. Sometimes the jab really is a jab, and sometimes it’s nothing more than a lob into the air that goes nowhere and has no power. If I’ve learned anything in this process it’s that the best thing to do is not to worry about it and think of being a kid that didn’t put names to things, but had a lot of fun.