Posts Tagged ‘protect yourself at all times

03
Feb
18

Our daily truth

“We are meant to put an end to sexual assault.” Sterling Reithman from her statement to the court at Dr. Larry Nassar’s sentencing hearing in front of Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.

 

Each day seems to bring more and more to the fore of the truths women and girls live with day after day.

And yet to read it in print, on social media, or watch it all unfold in a myriad of visual images whether in news accounts, the meaning of the colors women wear to events, in video clips from the courtroom—it would seem as if this is the first time we ever knew about it. I liken it to Captain Renault’s line in Casablanca when ordering the closure of Rick’s Place: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling’s going on in here.”

 

 

My first encounter with the fact of life all women live with was when I was seven. There was hole in wall in the bedroom my brother and I shared. A plasterer came to our house to fix it early one morning. My mother went back to bed. My brother and I played in the living room, but after a while, I went into the bedroom to watch the plasterer work. The man was fairly short and stockily built with dark, slicked back hair that fell into his eyes and a swarthy complexion. I was standing there for some time when he turned around quite suddenly. In doing so, he whipped out his penis and started to jerk off. I stood stunned for some time before I could even consider reacting—when I did it was to run out of the room. I stood at the threshold of my mother’s tiny bedroom, but saw she was sleeping. I was loathe to wake her up and frankly frightened because she had admonished me to “let the man work in peace.” I was also not certain what I would even tell her, and so I remained frozen in inaction. Shortly thereafter the plasterer left.

Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Season 15, Detective Benson and a serial rapist

In the scheme of things, I guess I was lucky. He didn’t sexually assault me or physically molest me—so what was a mere “jerk off” complete with grunts and licking lips. Besides, assault and molestation are usually the provenance of trusted figures in young girls (and frankly young boys) lives: parents, step parents, family members, trusted friends, teachers, coaches, Boy Scout troop leaders, babysitters, priests, pastors and rabbis, doctors, and on and on. It’s usually only later that we become fair game to the sexual predators in the outside world who manipulate, cajole, blackmail and betray their positions of trust to get in our pants one way or another—and that’s only the people we know. Then there are the rapists who grab, molest, rape, abduct, torture, murder and everything in between.  It is so much a fact of our daily lives it is the fodder of our nightly doses of police procedurals on television–and yet we remain shocked and surprised.

My particular litany of woe that includes a myriad of events from childhood well into adulthood is inordinately important to me. Those experiences perpetrated on me by people close to me as well as strangers shaped my life and my choices, my sense of self and my being, and has informed my sense of safety across a lifetime. This latter is of particular import because it defines my womanness as much as anything else. Just as the choices I’ve made to overcome those experiences informs who I have become today.

The point is, yes, absolutely #MeToo, but this is also so much bigger—and we stand at a pivotal point in the conversation where victimization by male sexual aggression and the pass they seem to get from the dominate culture is perhaps, finally being called out for what it truly is: a crime. However, while there are and have been many laws on the books, if women are not believed, their victimizers will not be prosecuted. Nor will these experiences suddenly stop–because they will not. They are perpetrated daily in large ways and small ways and until the culture changes to understand the concept of “no,” this will continue unabated.

When I was researching for A History Of Women’s Boxing, I teased out an interesting phenomenon in the early 1900s. At that time it became acceptable for women to practice boxing and other martial sports. When figuring out the strands in popular culture that would allow this sea change, I discovered in some instances it was to allow women the opportunity to learn self-defense. So there we have it–a problem identified, and a means of resolving it by allowing a variance in the strict gender binary. Would it were so simple.

Ask yourselves this: How is it that a 12-year-old girl complaining about a doctor sticking his fingers into her vagina is not believed?

If our lives are informed by our choices, our lives are also informed by the experiences heaped upon us of which some we control and some we do not. Next time you see me in the gym working out a 7:00 AM, understand that while I am there for many positive reasons such as a love of boxing and a desire to remain fit, I am also there because ensuring I can defend myself is the only way I know of to make myself feel safe: protect yourself at all times.

 

05
Jan
14

Gym time …

Gym time …

ehs-gymclass-1930s-neg-95-1-18-cambcolln

Having gone back to the gym for a fairly serious heart-pounding workout three-days-a-week, I can attest to the benefits of the experience–not the least of which is the sensation of being fit.

Carving out the time for it–and then sticking to it is something else. Aside from negotiating when to go (before or after work) there’s the bit about squaring things with loved ones for the two plus hours, times whatever number of days a week you intend to go.

With that taken care of, it’s just a  matter of actually showing up!

Having offered every excuse there is to give–it’s raining, too hot, too cold, I’m tired/hungry/had a bad day/had a good day–the starting premise for success is to go even if my arm is in a sling!

I guess the point of it is having made the commitment to the gym, why cheat at solitaire so to speak. This time is for me and even when I’m tired and grumpy and not feeling 100%, by the time I’m half way through my workout, all of the excuses I was formulating in my mind *not* to go have long since disappeared from my consciousness.

By that point my muscles are warmed up, my body limber, sweat dripping in sheets of water, my face flushed from exertion; whatever resistance I may have had replaced by the minutia of slipping a straight right.

Barbara Stanwick 1930sGym time is also about making the experience a good one. After all–it is you who are making the commitment to come and workout.

In my case it has meant making certain that the trainer I work with shares my objectives and listens to what my needs are. That wasn’t always the case for me–and it took a while to understand how to assert myself in the gym. It’s also fundamental to the old boxing adage “protect yourself at all times”!

If I can make a suggestion to anyone coming back to regular workouts, ensuring that you are comfortable with your trainer or instructor is a very important part of the experience. Furthermore, just because you haven’t been in the gym for awhile or you are a novice at particular skills or breathless after a couple of rounds doesn’t mean that you are at the mercy of a trainer who doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

In boxing this can mean being pushed to spar before you’re ready with a risk  of serious injury–a totally unacceptable outcome.  It can even come down to the choice of a gym or the type of activity you chose to do during your gym time. The main point is to be honest with yourself about what you hope to achieve, how much time you have to devote to it, your willingness to commit to it and you willingness to “try on” a few trainers to find the right one for you. With all of those pieces in place, the experience should be nothing less than fabulous–making each and every time you hit the gym a special treat: one that you deserve for putting so much of yourself out there in the first place!

04
Feb
13

Newbie sparring …

Newbie sparring …

 Sparring, Gleason's Gym

For new boxers, the lure of sparring offers the first opportunity to put the skills they’ve been learning to the test.

That means the chance to throw the old one-two, and otherwise work on their offensive combinations, as well as using and importantly, perfecting their defensive skills.

Before sparring begins boxers need to have frank and honest conversations with their trainers as to what to expect and what the progression of their sparring training will be. Questions and issues to consider include the following:

1. Do you really want to spar? This may seem obvious, but some students feel they HAVE TO, before they are really ready to. Make certain that you are clear on what you want to do.

Gleason's Gym, All Female Boxing Card, April 20112. Are you aware of the risks? This can mean anything from a black eye, a split-lip, a broken nose, or even a concussion or other brain injury if you are hit too hard on the head or land hard on the canvas.

3. Does your trainer have your back, meaning, do you honestly trust that your trainer is going to help keep you safe from harm and have the will to stop the sparring session if he or she thinks it is getting too rough?

4. Will your trainer listen to you if after a round or two you say, “I’ve had enough”? There is no glory in getting hurt or in working past one’s own endurance. If you can’t go on, then don’t. You risk injury, dehydration or worse if you push yourself too far.

boxing mouth guard5. Do you have a good mouth guard? This is a REALLY essential piece of equipment. And frankly, you should NEVER step in the ring to spar—even to learn a few pointers with your trainer—without one.

If you think you will be sparring on a regular basis and can afford it, you might well want to go to your dentist to have one custom made. Alternatively, you can purchase decent ones from sporting goods, boxing & MMA stores online. Your local gym may also keep some on hand for sale

Boxing Head Gear6. Do you own a helmet or does your trainer have a helmet to lend you when you are in the ring? A good, safe, well-fitting helmet is a MANDATORY requirement if you intend to engage in sparring. While this might not be legally required—you should not consider sparring or even playing in the ring without one. It is THAT SERIOUS.

The helmets approved for sanctioned USA Boxing amateur fights are likely your best bet. They are padded and provide good protection for you head and jaw line and many will also do a good job of protecting your nose. All of the major boxing catalogs carry them including Ringside, Title and Everlast.

Make no mistake. These helmets do NOT protect you completely and you could still suffer from a concussion, a hematoma (bleeding on the brain), or other form of brain injury even when you wear a helmet.

What they do offer you is some protection from blows and falls, but do not replace the kind of good defensive training that will see you move your head out of harms way.

7. Do you need or want to use other protective gear? Depending upon your sparring partner, and the likely intensity of your time in the ring, you may want to wear gear that protects your lower abdomen and your genitals. There are different designs for men and women and you should make sure that you are using a design that will give you the best protection. This type of gear protects you from feeling blows to your abdomen, but again, will not protect you completely.

LaTarisha Fountain, Photo credit: Savulich/News8. Do you have a decent pair of boxing gloves to spar in? Generally, sparring is done with 12 oz. or 10 oz. gloves depending upon your weight class. Here too, you might well want to use USA Boxing approved amateur gloves. They are well padded for your protection—as well as for the protection of your sparring partner. Likely your trainer will have a decent pair for you to use if you do not own your own.

handwraps9. Are your hands wrapped properly? This is another biggy! I’m not saying that your training has to give you the full fight treatment, but at the very least you need to make sure that you are using proper clean hand wraps that will give your hands good protection.

10. A word about your sparring partner. As a Girlboxing reader put it, your sparring partner is a member of your team. While you may not know your sparring partner well, your trainer should. That means knowing the relative boxing skills of your partner, his or her strengths and weaknesses, and importantly his or her temperament. What you do NOT want to face is a beat-down. Your first sessions are to familiarize you with the ring and getting a feel for throwing your punch combinations at a live, moving human being, rather than at your trainer’s mitts or the heavy bag.

Tricia Turton, training a young boxer at Cappy's GymA responsible trainer will make sure that you are appropriately matched with a person that is going to give you the flavor of the real thing as you find your comfort zone. That means you should expect to get hit, but not as if you were competing in the Golden Gloves. Again, what you are aiming for is the opportunity to exchange punches so that you can learn both offensive and defensive moves. What this means is that you are going to take some punches, but not hard, more like a tap to remind you to slip or otherwise defend yourself and prepare for your counter moves–not see stars.

When it comes to sparring, some trainers will take this role for themselves choosing to spar with students over several weeks or months to help perfect their student’s offensive and defensive ring skills before they let them spar with other boxers at the gym. Check with your trainer to see if this is a preference both of you share. In my opinion, unless you happen to be a phenom in the ring this is likely the safest method, especially for boxing students who only get to the gym once or twice a week.

11. Do not go it alone! If you trainer isn’t around, but your sparring partner is—do NOT spar! It’s as simple as that. You are working out with a trainer or coach for a reason: to learn the skills of the sport AND to stay safe. Sparring without your trainer in your corner is asking for trouble. Remember, your job is to protect yourself at all times and an inexperienced boxer sparring without a trainer in his or her corner is plain and simple NOT SAFE.

When you enter the ring to spar whether it’s for the first time or the 100th time, it is the real thing.

It is also a fact that many novice boxers are itching to spar from the moment they put on the gloves their very first day in the gym—sometimes to the point of throwing caution out the door.

After spending weeks, if not months, shadow boxing in front of the mirror and throwing jab, jab, right, slip, straight right, left hook combinations at your trainer’s pads the prospect of actually sparring can be very exciting indeed.

Sparring, though, is also a big responsibility for your sparring partner and for you—after all, you could get lucky and throw a left hook that connects beyond your wildest imagination. You also owe it to yourself to be mindful of the boxer’s credo to protect yourself at all times to which I will add an extra level of caution to say, when in doubt, sit it out.

And one more thing–if you DO get hit hard and your head hurts, you have difficulty seeing, you have a headache or lose consciousness, SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. It is much, much better to be safe than sorry!




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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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