“Keep your hands up!”
“Move your head!”
I hear these phrases yelled to me almost every time I spar. Do I heed those words of wisdom? I try to, but I typically leave my sparring sessions with a throbbing nose from getting hit. I feel like I’m keeping my hands up, but they aren’t high enough. Only a couple of inches make the difference between protecting and exposing my nose. When it comes to moving my head, well, I just forget to do that because I’m so focused on punching.
I’m working hard to address these two issues. When I shadowbox and work the bags, I’m focusing on keeping my hands real high, in order to get into the habit of protecting my darn head. Sometimes, however, it seems as if my shadowboxing and drilling work doesn’t translate into how I move when I’m sparring. I figure that just means that I haven’t done the drills enough. They haven’t become natural movements for me just yet.
Still, you’d think that I’ve gotten hit enough to learn to hold my hands up, at the very least. It seems so simple: keep your hands up, don’t get your nose smashed in. Moving my head makes a lot of sense, too. Slip, dip, get out of the way. I’m going to keep getting hit until these evasive actions become a part of how I move without thinking.
Does getting hit repeatedly mean I’m not making progress? Does it mean that I’m sure to be a worthless boxer? Nope. I’m new to boxing and there is so much for me to learn about the sport. I know this in my head, but sometimes it can be hard to keep a bright attitude when you feel like you’re getting pummeled.
One day a while back, after a particularly rough few rounds of sparring, I left the gym feeling low. My whole head hurt, my bloody nose was throbbing and I felt like I’d been useless in the ring. I was tired. I told Terri that I felt pretty beat-up and she suggested that I take a few days off from sparring. Though it was the last thing I wanted to do, I’m sure it was a wise decision. She then encouraged me by telling me that I’m doing well. It sure didn’t feel like I was doing well, so I had to take her word for it. After all, she knows a lot more about boxing than I do.
As I spent the following days touching my nose to see if it was still tender (it was), this incident got me thinking about how life is:
Sometimes life beats you up.
No matter how good your defense is, getting hit is a part of boxing. No matter how you live your life, you’re going to feel some metaphorical punches. Haven’t you had experiences that made you feel like you’d just been beat up? Maybe a death in the family. Losing a best friend. Struggling through physical or mental illness. Falling short of your goals. Maybe a period of time where hard punches come overwhelmingly close together, with no end in sight.
At least you can hit back in boxing. In life, there isn’t always a way to retaliate. I can still keep my hands up to protect myself, though. I can move my head to dodge other incoming shots. When I feel like life has knocked me down, the best thing I can do is get back up and learn from it.
For now, a sore nose is a part of where I am in boxing, and the feeling reminds me of my desire to improve. I’m training to be better and better. Most importantly, I’m keeping at it. I’m learning how to protect myself, and getting hit is a part of that. It helps that I’m still having a ton of fun, even when I’m getting punched in the face. It’s crazy, I know, but there’s nothing like boxing!