Thursday, November 8, 2007


Last night, at kickboxing, I think I made a mental breakthrough. I wasn't just throwing punches; I was looking for weaknesses in my opponents, and coming up with plans to attack them.

I think this stems directly from my new sensei pointing out a weakness last week in my own sparring--he said that, in sparring (unlike shadow boxing), I wasn't pulling my jab right back to protect my head, I was letting it drop then pulling it back. (I'm not kicking or being kicked in my sparring sessions yet, due to my ACL operation and recovery since March, only boxing.) Indeed, my buddy Larry, of the Family That Fights Together, caught me once because I did dropped my hand after my jab again.

But it occurred to me that, if others could look for openings in my defense, I could look for openings in theirs.

I sparred with a red belt named Jay who I realized had a habit of blocking my jab with his left hand far in front of his face. This left an opening for me to throw my right over his arm as it was extended blocking my jab. So I would either jab and quickly throw the right over his hand, or I would fake the jab and even more quickly throw the right cross. It worked.

When sparring with Larry, I made sure to move a lot--as soon as I saw him set, I'd move to the side. This didn't always work, but sometimes it did leave him swinging in the air. But I also saw that he was carrying his left hand a little low. It wasn't low enough that I could just, say, throw a short cross and catch him--I tried and that didn't work. So I tried something suggested on The Contender by trainer Pepe Correa: double jab to the head, bend the knees a bit to jab to the body, and then from that position throw an overhand right to the head.

It worked perfectly. I was thrilled.

Nonetheless, Larry is quite a tough opponent, and he at one point had me backing up in a straight line (not a good thing to do). Also, moving back in that way puts some pressure on my knee. Larry does have good control and he eases up when necessary.

I want to note here that we're not punching anything near full force, and we wear headgear.

One other maneuver I used: I was sparring with my fellow brown belt Elizabeth, who was throwing body punches. You can't (or I can't, anyway) move out of the way of body punches, so I just clinched, which I don't think she expected. (In my school's kickboxing, you can throw knees, so clinches aren't really that safe, but we weren't using legs.) I think she actually cracked up when I clinched.

Pictured above: Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe, Britain's greatest boxers currently. Why do I love these guys? Because (and this photo doesn't really do them full justice) they are every bit as pale skinned as I am. I was wearing shorts in the summer, and my old sensei told me he thought I was wearing long white pants.

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