Posts Tagged ‘shadow boxing

14
Dec
13

Back to basics …

Back to basics …

Lennox Blackmoore & Malissa Smith

Stepping back into anything whether its training or writing blog entries takes a bit of getting used to!

With my manuscript for A History of Women’s Boxing at the publisher (and working through manuscript cuts)–I can attest to how difficult it is to find one’s way back to the earlier routines.

Boxing–not unlike serious dance–is a sport that requires constant fine tuning not only to keep one’s muscle-memory in tact, but to make physical sense of all of the nuances.  Throw in some old bones like mine and that savvy seems to revert back to near on zero after a few months!

For the last four weeks I’ve been attempting to turn back the clock–so to speak–to move my body into the next “space” vis-a-vis how I look to myself shadow boxing in front of the mirror. In a word … Ugh!  Well, okay, I’ll modify that.  “Ugh!” for the first three weeks and a mere, sheesssshhhh for today.

With just a four-month layoff, my timing became non-existent, I couldn’t muster more than 50 situps and the pad work was ugly. Facing my trainer Lennox Blackmoore in the ring was even worse! I could *barely* make it through three rounds (never mind four) of the *ugliest* looking punching you’ve ever seen!  And there was not ONE straight right that I didn’t walk in to!  Talk about humbling.

By the second week–I could at least make it through three + rounds, but my ring performance was no better even with Len egging me and shouting SLIP!  I think I managed to slip exactly one punch–well, maybe I’m being a bit generous to myself. I also managing a 16 round workout, but the situps remained pathetic.

My next step was to add two nights of training on my own after work–to at least bring my conditioning up and to focus on basics such as stance and the jab-jab-right-slip-right combinations. Last Saturday, however, was even worse in the ring–I still kept heading into the straight right, and finally in frustration, I just had Len keep throwing rights at me till I’d slip left out of the way! That seemed to help somewhat although I was still feeling bummed and even my timing on the double-ended bag was awful.

Back at it this week I kept plugging away doing rounds on the slip-rope and the heavy bag to work on those imaginary punches coming my way and spending rounds working on my stance, my footwork and throwing punches from the “slip” position. The only bright spot was realizing that my conditioning was coming back–with my body comfortably moving and working hard through all 16 rounds of work.

That all paid off today when I was able to get through four rounds in the ring with Lennox still able to breathe! As for slipping those punches–we’re talking a work in progress! He nailed me CONSTANTLY, but I did manage a few in every round and kept up with him when we shoe-shined during the last 30 seconds of the fourth round.

As for the rest of my workout, I had lots of stamina and spent a good six rounds slipping and punching as I moved around the heavy bag and the double-ended bag. The speed bag work was fun too. I was doubling-up like a demon and jumped over to the double-ended bag during the one-minute round breaks. And beyond that I actually did 100 situps–admittedly slooowwww, but at least back to my old number!

Despite the fact that my conditioning is much improved, I still feel like a physical moron in the ring and realize that it’s a matter of retraining my brain. The fact is, when I see a punch coming, I want to pull back, and that would make sense if I was stepping back with it and following it up with something, but I’m not. I’m just dumbfounded as I try to hit back and as the milliseconds of inaction tick by I, of course, get slammed with another punch!

The “Pollyanna” in me is convinced that my 59-year-old body can learn some new tricks … but even if I never really do, I at least feel good for trying.

Here’s a nice short video on how to slip a punch–and if you don’t have a slip bag, you can always follow my lead and slip the shower head in the morning.

14
Mar
13

Women’s Boxing: Jen Hamann’s “road to gold”

Women’s Boxing: Jen Hamann’s “Road to Gold” 

Jen Hamann, Photo Credit: Jen Hamann

The 2012 London Olympic Games which featured the introduction of women’s boxing has come and gone. The distinctive honor of having participated as one of the first thirty-six women to compete is also certainly singular. But that has not diminished the hopes and dreams of a new generation of female boxers who have already begun to train for the 2016 Games in Brazil.

One such fighter is 27-year-old Jen Hamann. Based out of Seattle, Jen is a two-time Golden Gloves winner who emerged this year as the 2013 Outstanding Female Boxer at the Jr. Golden Gloves.

Jen HamannJen has amassed an 18-2 record since taking up the gloves in 2009. She is currently counting down to this year’s 2013 USA Boxing National Championships beginning on April 1st, challenging for a spot on the podium at 125 lbs. Jen trains under head coach Tricia Turton, herself a former professional boxer, who recently began Arcaro Boxing. Together, they are forging a partnership to help prepare Jen for the competitive challenges that lie ahead.

Jen Hamann & Tricia Turton

Though no stranger to high-stakes competition as a Division-1 athlete in soccer, track & field and cross-country for Seattle University, Jen relies on Turton to help keep her focused and on point. Hamann also works through her experiences by maintaining a blog that recounts her feelings about the sport that has become so much a part of who she is. The link is here: Hamann Road to Boxing Gold. 

Recently, Girlboxing had the opportunity to enter a dialogue with Jen Hamann about her Olympic dreams. Here’s what she had to say:

1. Boxing is not for the faint of heart, what is it about boxing that has driven you to want to spend the next three and a half years of your life dedicated to gaining a berth on the USA’s women’s boxing team fighting at the Brazil 2016 Olympics?

Boxing has given me an outlet to express myself. There’s something satisfying about letting it all go on a heavy bag.  I also have a bit of a sassy temper, and when I suppress this short fuse, it eventually comes out on others in some other way. Boxing doesn’t change my personality – I’m still sassy as ever, it just lets me express it everyday.  Sports and exercise do this for many people, but boxing does it for me. As for the 2016 Olympics, that’s easy – I can never do anything half-heartedly. Whether a good thing or a bad thing, I have to consume my life what I am passionate about – the Olympics are the principle of amateur boxing. Who wouldn’t want to put on a USA uniform and represent their country? 

Jen Hamann, Photo Credit: Alan Berner, The Seattle Times2. You’ve written that you “see boxing as a tool for self-expression, passion, and awareness.” As you embark on your goal of winning a place on the Brazil 2016 team, how will those three attributes take you through the next four years?

Sometimes I get frustrated for being frustrated at practice. I can be a perfectionist in training, and this narrows my view of possibilities. When I fight my personal style of boxing by fixing bad habits, I loose my passion and I end up working to correct something rather than express something, trust my hands and let them go. The 2016 Olympics is a long road and right now, this is a distance race. The more you can be yourself the longer you will last. Being amateur is hard enough; the more awareness you can have of your self, what you love and how you express yourself, the better boxer you will become.

3. You also see boxing as playing an important role in your personal development. How is that expressed as you go through the day-to-day work of being an amateur fighter?

Being an amateur fighter is hard – especially now. I’m not currently on the radar and no one really knows me, I’m pretty new to the National scene. Since training for the Olympics is a full-time job you can imagine how hard it is right now. I have to walk into fundraisers and local events saying that “I am training for the 2016 Olympics” without much of a resume to back it up. It’s like claiming the title before earning the position. But the more I can say it, the more confidence I have in the ring. Since I’ve started writing about it, my boxing has improved.

Jen Hamann, Photo Credit: Alan Berner, The Seattle Times

4. As an accomplished athlete since high school and as a Division-1 college athlete in Track & Field, Cross Country and Soccer, you are no stranger to high-stakes competition. How have you incorporated those experiences into the training and mental focus you need for the ring?

Soccer was my first love. But the difference between the athlete I was in college and the athlete I am now is my confidence. I was a great practice player, for some reason, I couldn’t translate it into the games – I was so afraid of messing up that it messed me up! In boxing, I went into it as an underdog looking for a new hobby without any pressure of college ball. Clearly things have changed! The difference now is that I’m not afraid to show confidence and passion in the ring like I was in soccer. In boxing I have no problem in front of a crowd and I have fun with it – the performance is no longer a burden but a blessing and I’m lucky to participate everyday.

Jen Hamann5. You maintain an active blog recounting your experiences in and out of the ring, as well as your philosophical inquiries as you train. You recently wrote, “Just like in a boxing fight – we continue to put ourselves in a situation of fear and panic in the ring because we want to simultaneously feel the power of recreating the meaning and intention behind each punch.” What is the practical application of that idea as you train in the ring?

If I can push myself in the ring, push through fear, reactions, and comfort boundaries, then I can do this is real life. Creating these sort of fake situations in the ring makes you more likely to put yourself out there in life – you take on situations that you normally wouldn’t. Taking this perspective, I’ve personally grown a lot – I’m more expressive, more confident, more open to talking about what I want, what I need, what my opinions are, taking risks, and taking stances. The only way to go somewhere new both in boxing and in your life is to experience discomfort.  It’s uncomfortable sometimes to take risks – announcing myself as an 2016 Olympic hopeful, or applying to grad school this year, but without the risk and the fear, the success is far less exciting.

6. You’ve mapped out competitive goals that include winning a USA Boxing National Championship, the National Golden Gloves Championship and the National PAL Championship. While you fight at 125 pounds, it can still be difficult to find competitive amateur fights. How have you and your trainer mapped out your competitive options so that you can continue to compete at the highest echelons of the sport?

Finding good fights can be challenging. Luckily, I have a coach who will fly to the end of the world and back with me to find a fight. As a former professional boxer and a former member of the USA women’s rugby team, coach Tricia knows what it feels like to put on that USA jersey and represent your country. Now retired from competition, she wants to give me that same feeling at the 2016 Olympics. As far as finding fights now, this is why we are doing our best to make it to all the national events around the U.S. – experience is almost everything for a boxer.

Jen Hamann "Skittles"

7. You’ve been fighting out of Cappy’s Gym since you started in the sport, but are following your trainer Tricia Turton to Arcaro Boxing. How is that transition going and what do you both see as your goals as you begin this new chapter in your career as a fighter?

Timely question – I just wrote something about this transition on my blog here: The Adventures of Moose and Kid Skittles. Tricia has always been the brains behind the boxing skills, the mentoring and the person passionate about boxing in her community, so it would be crazy of me not to follow her.  The transition is only difficult because she still doesn’t have four walls where she can hang a heavy bag. Luckily, my community has been amazing at helping us out with places to train and funding trips for fights. If we can get through this, we can get through anything in the future. 

Jen Hamann8.  You have chosen to fight among an elite group of women boxers who are all striving for a place in the Brazil 2016 Olympics.  How would you describe your relationships and what you have to offer each other as you embark on your journey together?

Currently, I am not on the USA team so I don’t know any of them personally. I do know that traveling, making weight, and working towards huge athletic goals cannot be done alone. I feel that the best Olympic contenders for the US will come out of a strong, respectful and hard working National team.  We have to be willing to work together, push each other and respect each other for anyone to push their skills – our teammates can be our best trainers.

I think that there are a lot of youth female boxers who are also under the radar, being over looked. Again, we still have 3 years of training and some of my most recent fights against youth boxers entering the senior class have been hard. They are hungry, they are motivated by the 2012 Olympics, and they will not stop challenging us. Gold Medalist Claressa Shields is a perfect example of this. Which also reminds me of a recent blog piece I wrote: Does it matter how you play the game

9. In closing, what has boxing given you — and in turn what do you hope to give to the sport?

Mostly, boxing has given me a medium to express myself without feeling bad about it. It’s also given me confidence. I used to only like those famous athletes that were polite and politically correct in the media – because I used to think that expressing confidence and self-esteem was synonymous to extreme arrogance. But this is completely untrue! My favorite boxer Melissa Hernandez really expresses this well, both for herself and for other women in boxing. I think she boxes because she loves the sport, but she puts on a great show in the ring because she really does care about promoting the sport of women boxing.

I really just want others to experience what I have experienced through boxing. Though I’m not in the spotlight right now, I hope that the blog captures the ups and downs of working towards a huge goal – something that both boxers and non-boxers can relate to. The blog, sometimes a little too revealing, is right now, my way of giving back because I write pretty honestly about the whole experience. 

Be certain to check out Jen Hamann’s Blog:  Hamann Road to Boxing Gold

02
Jan
13

Setbacks in a minor key …

Setbacks in a minor key …

Ricola Honey Herb

When will “they” come up with a cure for the “common cold”!

I mean really, PAA-LEEEZZZZZZZ.

First with the throat tickle, then the sneezing, sneezing, sneezing before the big guns hit, you know the ones, aches on your ache, fever, chills and the weirdest dreams ever!

It puts in mind that we head off full in our stride only to get a minor twist in the ankle or other such upset along the way.

And yes, it does mean putting a stop to the momentum of that walk or in my case, shadow boxing around the living room, work on my latest chapter and a trip to the office today … but its being minor is the main point.

The minor hiccups will pass and then it’s full throttle again through life’s wide open vista of possibilities!

Meanwhile, have a happy January 2nd, 2013! (Cough, cough, cough)

 

21
Nov
12

Warrior for a day …

Warrior for a day …

Amazon Warrior, Tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix, 510–500 BC.

Some days are like that.

Arise with a grimace, fighting one’s way through dreamland to hop in the shower, cat nudged perhaps a little more firmly than intended out of harm’s way so as not to be tripped over and squashed.

Next up the whirlwind of coffee, breakfast, family wakey-wakey-time and out the door for the morning-I-can-do-this grind to work and the why-do-I-have-to-be-here mentality that makes every single interaction a grin-and-bear-it moment.

Usually at such times one longs for a huge heavy bag swaying at the threshold of the entryway to one’s workspace, preferably one that screams do-not-enter there’s a warrior inside ready to pounce with the added bonus of getting in some workout time. Or better yet with a hat-tip to a Twitter pal, a Star Trek inspired intruder alert with a phaser at the ready can also do the trick.

At heart is the sense of dissatisfaction with the state of things or as a friend said yesterday too much time pouring over the news and how the sensibilities that ensue can leave one bereft and in misery. Her response is to play with her four-year-old granddaughter. She fits herself into the lovely sweetness of playing dress-up and the humor of late afternoon cartoons, finding herself freed from turmoil and the heightened alert of thoughts and feelings overwhelmed by too many images of darkness at play in the world.

And it does seem true, we live in a constant assault of images and ideas–not so different from the tales of darkness of old which warned our forebears of what happens at the edge of the world where monsters and barbarians lay ready to pounce. In the post-industrial context of 21st Century “first-world” life, however, our cautionary tales are always among us and our sense of who is and is not a monster is framed for us by warring factions that cast a wide net for our allegiance whether it be social, political, religious, ethnic or some other mish-mash of ideas and constructs that has us all at each other’s throats.

My mother would say that when I’m in the “mood” it means I have my umbrella up against the little black cloud that follows me everywhere. She’d tease me unmercifully until I’d either descend further into my mood with a giant throated “leave-me-alone” or break the spell into peals of laughter.

At this juncture, I’m not certain if that warrior-for-the-day feeling is akin to that sort of umbrella defense, but I am quite sure that those sort of moods take on the cast of fighting the world for a bit of peace–and frankly for a piece of the world that’s free of strife, black moods and something akin to a nasty splinter that takes time to work out.

20
Nov
12

Waking up in the darkness …

Waking up in the darkness …

Waking up in the darkness is like greeting an old friend. I am up before the day begins. Showered, dressed and at the ready with the coffee brewing enough before 6:00 AM to be able to accomplish something.

Much of life is like that. Encountering our habits and our dreams as so many disassembled actions which when put together mean something. I’m guessing that intention is what rules. The intention to place meaning on an action. To rise to write or shadowbox or to go for a run, the predawn activities of garbage trucks making their rounds along with one’s fellow denizens of the early morning: workers hastily making their way to 6:00 AM shifts, the Starbucks crew stocking the cases with morning buns, thin, but meaningful crowds of sleepy people breathing just a little bit heavier as they finish their climbs from the subterranean world of the F train.

As with many of us, my days are punctuated by the necessities. The having to be somewheres, the hours of interstitial comings and goings that amounts to bits of drift time lolling on subways, smart phones in hand or going old-school with newspapers or books, or the quiet expanse of thoughts held together by the glue of sudden awareness as stops enter and exit from view.

All of those hours culminate in being tired, in rounding out the day with making dinner and talking across the table with family before running out in all weather to walk the dog or pick-up a forgotten quart of milk. It is time spent hounding children about homework and taking a shower and reminding them to brush their teeth before finally collapsing in front of the television, the brain addled with too much of the day before drifting into uncomfortable bits of sleep, the pants for work crushed in the odd patterns of couch pillows and wondering how it got to be 10:14 PM and an episode of Hawaii 5-0.

Not that today will be so much different, but rising before dawns affords another construct of time. It is a period that belongs to me alone. One that allows me my own intentions before the chore of waking up my daughter begins. I can open the door to her room and call out “time to wake up” knowing that I’ve already accomplished something. While it is not exactly cheating time, as after all it is my sleep that I have curtailed, it feels like a win. A timeout from the usual routine to shake it up somehow. I’ve even managed a minute or two of throwing my arms into the old familiar patterns of a jabs, straight rights and hooks, if only to wakeup the somnambulant boxer who still hides inside my shoulder as I continue PT.

Perhaps because Thanksgiving is almost here, I’m feeling that sense of gratefulness that hits me every year. Luckier than lucky is how I think of myself … and here once more before morning to celebrate.

29
Jan
12

Facing the new.

Facing the new.

Marlen Esparza, Photo: Rose Arce/CNN

I liken a fight to a blank page. Entering the ring, a boxer’s body and mind stand at the ready as so many remembered movements much as a writer sits poised with words and syntax.  It’s what happens next that is remembered. The boxer will engage in an improvised pas-de-deux with her opponent while the writer will engage her thoughts and ideas to fashion words into hoped for coherent and readable prose.

Given that I am wearing my writer’s mantle today, I am trying to work through the momentary panic of that blank space.  As with any creative endeavor — whether the improvisation of a boxer’s dancing feet or a trumpeter’s trill — the way thoughts form on the page seem miraculous.  Yes, they are based on deep knowledge of words and syntax and perhaps even a clear “plan” of attack likened to a boxer’s plan to stick and pull back, or the trumpeter’s competencies with B-flat.  However, the blank page of a writer can also represent the open road without a road map.  It is the moment of facing down newness. Words without a plan. A space that can take a writer anywhere the imagination feels like going.

Such is my day today.  My writing has no agenda.  Like shadow boxing on a Monday night without a trainer, I can take it where ever I want it to go.  I can stick with one thing or write tons of fanciful little ditties.  Such is my luck today — even as I swallow back that momentary taste of bile that anxiety always seems to bring!

 

11
Oct
11

Grabbing opportunities …

Grabbing opportunities …

Moore Sisters

I missed my opportunity to go to the gym yesterday.  Mostly because I’ve so little time it was hard to squeeze it in even though I was actually off from work.

On those sorts of days I’m reminded of how even a few minutes of bathroom mirror sparring or my personal favorite, hook the shower curtain keeps boxing as a focal point of the brain and becomes my opportunity.

This puts me in mind to something my daughter just said to me.  “I wish I could go to Steve Jobs funeral. At least I could say that I met him.  He really changed my life.”  Out of the mouth of babes …

Sometimes in the extraordinary we find opportunities for epiphanies that are life altering.  It means taking the risks mindless of the fact that we may not have a net to catch us.  That is certainly a truism of boxing.  We leap as part of a practiced effort of skill and heart.  Sometimes that leap places us in an impossible situation — much as Ishika Lay now lies in a coma in a Toledo, Ohio hospital, it should not, however, negate the choice.

For others of us, it means running a marathon and having a baby as happened yesterday in the Chicago marathon. So much for the idea that women are in a “delicate condition” when they’re “with child” — the kind of stuff women in my generation and older were raised on.

I’m not saying be extraordinary every day — but I guess I am saying follow your heart.  There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself out there.  It’ll add depth and momentum to your life and maybe even put a smile on an 11-year-old face at 6:45 in the morning.

Not exactly on point — but in the “grab the gusto” department, a twitter friend @mjon3105 sent me a link to a film from around 1910 showing two different scenes of a woman boxing. So … yes, the newsreel footage was billed as “Amazon” woman boxing … but, heck, she was boxing! The link is below:

(AMAZONS OF YESTERDAY) – British Pathe.




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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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