Saturday, February 4, 2012

Seeking Balance

I've started attending my martial arts school's "core" class on Saturday mornings. It's the one day I can attend, it allows me to reconnect with the community there, and it's a great workout.

I have to be careful about kicking since my right knee no longer has an ACL. I can't torque on that leg, I have to kick in a controlled manner without too much force, and I can't balance on my right leg. I make adjustments.

I'm still going to the gym before work 4 or 5 days a week, doing cardio and weights. But the class on Saturday is a good booster for me, physically and psychically.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Life

Am I still a martial artist?

I haven't posted for a long time because I made a decision to turn my life topsy turvy.

I took a new job much nearer my home, one with a lot of responsibility and requiring real creativity. While I'm saving about an hour and a half a day in commuting time, I'm spending that extra time in the office--and my day has shifted from very early to late.

As a result, I haven't been able to make the boxing class in the evening, I get home too late. I do have time in the morning, so I've been going to the gym associated with the boxing class before work.

Since I had been doing the gym and boxing previously, I'm now getting less exercise. I also haven't had time for blogging.

The new job is with a more traditional news organization, so my time at home is a bit more my own--I'm not on the endless real-time-news treadmill. But due to the amount of work required I do spend time on the weekend working--I just have more control over when it happens.

To my question at the top of this post: I have a black belt, but I don't train because of my latest ACL injury, and now I'm not in boxing class either.

My best guess is that I will return to some kind of training, one way or another, once I feel like the new job is under my belt, and once I get a special big project underway. Until then, I'm doing the best I can at a gym to stay in shape. It's not as much fun as martial arts or boxing, that is for sure.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I'm having trouble finding the right schedule for working out.

Right now I'm trying out going to the gym at work in the morning, Monday through Friday, going to boxing class in the evening Monday, Wednesday and/or Friday, and getting in a day of working out on the weekend.

The problem is I'm exhausted. My work day officially starts at 8 AM (though I'm often working on my commute on the way in). My commute is long. To get to the work gym in time to get to my desk a little before 8,  I have been getting up at 5:15 AM.

That means, to get 7 or 8 hours of sleep--and I am one of those people who do better on 8 hours--I need to get to sleep at 9:15 or so, far before my family goes to bed, which is unsatisfying.

Moreover, boxing class runs 8 to 9, and I just don't get enough sleep after that class.

Going to the gym during the work day isn't ideal. I supervise reporters doing real-time news, and it's not at all comfortable to be in the gym when somebody commits some news.

I'm still trying to figure it out.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I am shocked--shocked!--that the most heavily anticipated heavyweight fight of the year--between 6'6" Wladimir "Dr. Steelhammer" Klitschko and 6'3" challenger David "Hayemaker" Haye--turned out to be a disappointment.

Klitschko, a Ukrainian living in Germany, is huge, he weighs about 243 lbs., but he is a very strong, skilled and fit athlete. He fights very carefully, using his pile-driver-like jab to keep opponents out of their range and, once they're thoroughly befuddled, using his killer right hand to knock them out. People criticize him for "boring" fights where he doesn't take chances. But he doesn't need to take chances to win, and I can't blame him.

Haye, a Brit, was an excellent cruiserweight (the next-heaviest weight class) and talked tough about knocking out Klitschko, but failed to do anything besides dodging many of the big guy's punches without punching much in return.

End result: A boring but convincing one-sided victory by Klitschko, and more evidence that nobody outside the Klitschko family (his bigger brother is ranked the #2 heavyweight in the world--they'll never fight each other) can handle them.

There's an interesting argument that there are few world-class American heavyweight boxers nowadays because, for really big athletes, the economics of pro football or basketball are much more rewarding (with, to some extent, less risk of long-term damage) than those of boxing. Big athletes overseas don't always have the same economic calculation, so more of them head into boxing.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

How My Experiment With Sparring Again Turned Out

My wife says she has "nothing nice to say to me" about the incident last night. My friend The Hulk says he's going to kick me next time he sees me.

So I'm not a very popular guy right now in certain circles.

What I did was try out sparring in my boxing class--and, in the process, I twisted my trick knee again. I was hoping sparring would be okay because you don't kick in boxing, and kickboxing is how I tore my ACL in the spring.

However, last night I twisted my knee anyway when I was moving by placing my foot improperly. Since I no longer have an ACL to hold my knee in place--and despite tons of exercise meant to strengthen all the muscles around my knee--my knee bended in a funky direction and I dropped down to the floor in pain. End of sparring.

Today, I'm using the RICE method of treating the knee and generally taking it easy.

Why did I try sparring again? Because I find sparring to be life-affirming for me--I challenge my fears, I test my skill against another person in a controlled setting. Getting ready for sparring was exciting: the trainer actually put vaseline on my face, which of course you see in real boxing matches, and put some on our gloves as well.

I was sparring with Kenny, a young man who's much stronger than me (though I may be in equal or better cardio condition). He's studied boxing for a year (and took two years of karate when he was young, which he said helped keep him out of fights by boosting his confidence--he didn't feel the need to fight.) He was really good. He moved his head very well, and I found him a tough target to hit with my jab. He hopes to go into the Golden Gloves.

Since I had been able to train in boxing without hurting my knee, I truly hoped that I wouldn't get hurt during sparring. I was wrong. We didn't even finish the first round before I twisted my knee.

I could conceivably get a metal brace made for my knee. I do think my sparring days are over unless I go through another ACL reconstruction operation. If I did, I would likely opt for an allograft, since the biggest remaining problems from my prior surgery are from the incision to remove part of my patellar tendon to use as a graft. All in all, I'd rather not do the surgery, which would be painful, expensive and take me out of commission for months.

So today I have a stiff knee--I do hope and expect from experience that my mobility will increase with rest and time--and a couple of close people really mad at me. I do hope and expect from experience that issue will also improve with time.

Friday, June 24, 2011

1) Make Plans 2) Do Something Different

I often find with exercise and training that the sequence is: You make a plan, something doesn't work out, so you make another plan.

Today, I set aside an hour to go the gym  at work. My plan: do a core workout, do weights for legs (necessary with my missing right ACL), do weights for my upper body, then do some interval running on a treadmill for 15 minutes. Work intruded so I couldn't start right away; then one of the trainers at the gym wanted to dissuade me from using the weight machines, which isolate muscles, and switch to more natural weight training that uses multiple muscles. I like that idea (I've never been much of a weight trainer) but that talk took time and we decided to do a full lesson about it next week. By the time I was through with the weight machines, there was no time for running.

That's alright, I thought, I've got a boxing class tonight.

I showed up at the Friday night class and, since I'm new to it, I forgot something, as I always do. Actually, this time I forgot three things: 1) Wraps (essential to protect the bones of the hands when punching), 2) my soft knee brace, which I find helpful on my right knee, and 3) removing my wedding ring (hitting bags hard bends rings).

But another thing was missing: The trainer didn't show up. ("First time ever," someone from the gym told me.)

So I did five three-minute rounds of jump rope on the padded ring floor (my shins are a little sore afterward--uh-oh, hope it's not shin splints), several rounds of shadow boxing, a couple of rounds on the double-end bag, and, awkwardly since I had gloves on, a round on the speed bag (usually you use wrapped hands on the speed bag). I did a little, not-so-forceful heavy-bag training, since I didn't have wraps.

I worked up a sweat, got some training in, and then headed home.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A New Direction

I was writing this content for my bio on the blog, and I decided it made a good post in itself:

I'm 55 and transitioning into boxing from mixed martial arts after suffering my second ACL tear in five years. I've decided not to undergo a second ACL repair, and look to boxing as an activity that satisfies my desire for an intensive workout in a fighting art but that puts my knees at less risk.

The change is a natural one in some ways, because I have long been fascinated by boxing; moreover, I learned many boxing techniques at my school. Boxing is a very technical art--the "sweet science"--and I enjoy riding the learning curve in most activities I do.

Still, it's wrenching to see a time when I will exit my mixed martial arts school, where I attended for more than a decade, and where, on May 17, 2009, I received my black belt.

Moreover, i follow blogs of some martial artists--some of them ACL recoverees--and see great value in the cultural aspects of their pursuits. Boxing has a very different culture--albeit also one with a long history.

Ten years ago, when I first joined my martial arts school, it was itself transitioning to mixed-martial-arts school from Shotokan karate. While the school retained some of the attributes of karate, including belts, senses and respect, it focused instead on kickboxing and grappling.

As I began this blog, I was recovering from ACL reconstruction surgery. With three minutes remaining in my black belt test, I tore the anterior cruciate ligament in my left knee and had to stop. My surgery was on March 27, 2007.