I’m training for a fight. It’s a tough one.
This past week I was able to do a lot of Muay Thai – the kind of work and strain I’d like to have on a regular basis, but am realistically unable to do unless I can learn to push myself at home and get a lot more exposure to sparring. I saw Master K twice, had a session with Ray, sparred in Brooklyn on Tuesday and in Rockaway on Saturday morning. The collaborative efforts of my sparring partners on both days has resulted in a really impressive bruise on my left leg, bruised ribs, nose, back, and some nonesense going on on my hips and thighs that has made it quite difficult to perform various tasks required of me (squatting at work, going up and down stairs, sitting to drive the car, etc.). I’m not complaining; I actually love this stuff. But it is an awakening to what I’m up against in this coming fight.
The question becomes how I can train my mind to be calm and decisive when I am under duress and extraordinary pressure? How do I train my body to accomplish necessary poses, attacks, and stances without my mind having to focus on them? And how do I emotionally handle the unexpected? Yesterday I had the wind knocked out of me twice. I was 10 years old the last time that happed and that was getting knocked flat at soccer practice, not getting kicked in the chest – twice, in one hour. The first instance was utterly unexpected (I still don’t know where the kick came from) and I fell to the ground, every ounce of air exiting my lungs in a long, drawn out and painful exhalation, while I made the most pitiful whimpering sound. It must have been only seconds before I could breathe in again, but it felt like a long time. And I was given time to stand and catch my breath, which, at the time, felt like too long, but after seeing the video, it’s less than a standing 8 count. The second time I knew that it would (eventually) stop hurting, that I my breath would return, etc., so I was able to stay calm and get up faster. But it’s really a shocking and emotionally unsettling experience; one that could emotionally or mentally end a fight.
I will say that two of the four sparring partners I had on Saturday, and the last 3 minutes of one partner I had on Tuesday, took the occasion of practice to engage in what is likely no different than an actual fight. So, I had a few fights this week, in non-fight situations. I have waded into the pool and felt the surging of the waves; I’ve been knocked over and crushed, choked and not drowned. I fall, recover my balance, facing the waves, knowing that there will be another.