Friday, March 28, 2008

ACL Survives; New Haircut Needed, Though

Wednesday night, I had a really fun sparring class. I was able to move well, kick as well as punch, and my new ACL made it through its first serious challenge.

I had a great three-minute round with my buddy Larry. I was really tired from the prior exercises and just sleep deprivation during a busy work week. But I realized it was more tiring standing still and getting hit by Larry, who's quite strong, than moving around. So I moved, and I was right--it was much less tiring. We each did very well.

At one point, I was throwing a round kick, with my weight on my left, repaired leg, and Larry knocked me down. I was wearing my knee brace. My leg twisted a little, but it was fine. Hurray!

I also sparred with a younger guy who was at his first sparring class. Normally a new student would not do free sparring, but our sensei was out--he went to compete in a WCL match--we had a visiting instructor who didn't know he was new, and this young man wanted to try it out. He did very well for the first time, and I was careful and tried to be instructive. It did, however, make my middle-aged heart swell with vanity to see him stop after about two minutes of sparring because he was exhausted and needed a break.

After class was over, I went to the local Panera and picked up a soup for my daughter. I got home with it. She was happy to see me and get her soup. But then she said, "Did you go to Panera with your hair like that?"

I looked in the mirror, and yes, my hair, stiff with dried perspiration, was standing straight up, something like Bello Nock, the clown.

Well, not quite that extreme, but you get the idea.

"Yes," I told my 15-year-old daughter as she began to laugh, "I looked like a complete buffoon when I went into Panera."

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Sunday, I rested.

Monday, I took a private lesson (my penultimate) at the gym where I work--some interval cardio on the elliptical machine, and resistance training.

Tuesday, I attended the 8:15 PM "core" class at my martial arts school.

Wednesday, I attended the 8:15 sparring class at my school. To help some students prepare for an upcoming student, we weren't allowed to hit to the head, mimicking tournament rules.

Today, I wanted to go to the gym for another cardio-and-resistance session...but I was working nonstop, and couldn't get away. When I got home, I thought I'd go to the local gym (same chain), but my daughter really, really wanted to play cards with me, and I did that instead.

On Good Friday, tomorrow, I had planned on getting the Jersey City Fight Club together at work. But nobody else could make it. I left my gym bag at my desk, so I'll go to the gym and, depending on my mood, either do a bag workout (fun) or resistance training (not so fun, but it would be good to do it twice in a week). That evening my wife and I are going to see Aretha Franklin!

Saturday, while also helping my wife prepare the house for Easter dinner, I want to attend two hours of my martial arts class--one hour of core, one of grappling.

Sunday, Easter, I'll be consuming calories instead of burning them.

While this is a decent schedule, I still feel a bit like I wish I could do more. No wonder my wife thinks I'm a health nut.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spitzer And The Mysterious Phone Call

On Monday, when the news about that N.Y. Gov. Eliot Spitzer spent thousands of dollars on prostitutes was on everybody's mind, a female reporter in my group at work tried to reach me on my cell phone as I was commuting home. She wanted to ask me something related to work. She called my home by mistake.

The reporter never said who she was. Here was the brief but hilarious conversation that ensued:

Reporter: "Is this Bob M-----'s number?"

My Wife: "Yes, but he's not here."

Reporter: "Oh, I forgot, I'm not supposed to call this number!" CLICK

My wife and daughter had a good laugh, and when my wife told me about it, she was laughing and said, "I'm onto you, Bob!"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Needed: Sleep

With exquisite timing, I started getting up half an hour earlier to go to work this week--at the same time we set the clocks forward an hour for daylight saving time. So effectively I've been getting up an hour and a half earlier each morning.

Tonight, at sparring, I was exhausted. I was also feeling very defensive, at least when facing black belts, due to my stunning encounter with a right cross last week. I did fine against some of my opponents, but against a couple of experienced black belts and a brown belt, I was making real rookie mistakes--things I thought I'd fixed a long time ago.

I'm going to bed.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Resistance Training

I signed up a while back for 10 sessions with a private trainer at the gym downstairs from where I work. I'm nearing the end--it was interrupted for a number of weeks when neither the trainer nor I could make appointments.

Historically, I've relied on martial arts, some running (nowadays elliptical machines) and some body-weight resistance training--push-ups, squats, etc.--to get into shape.

My trainer says that running alone can eat into muscle, and that you need resistance training--weights, Nautilus-type machines--to get into the best shape (along with cardio work like running).

One of my favorite exercise books, The Ultimate Boxer, says that weight training is beneficial for those martial artists known as boxers--but that if you're limited in time, you can get great benefit from push-ups, crunches, etc. instead.

I wonder, to really get into and stay in shape, what do you add to martial arts? Running? Sprints? Calisthenics-style resistance training? Weights?

Don't tell my plyometrics, my knees and feet can't take those!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Triangle Choke

Today I went to two hours of martial arts, with my buddy The Hulk in attendance also. Hulk is in his late 50s, and is incredibly strong. His knees are going, that's really his only limitation. He and I both got hurt within seconds of each other at the black belt test--he broke a couple of ribs and popped them off his sternum, and I got my ACL wrecked.

The first hour was core class, a great cardio workout. The second was grappling. We focused on the triangle choke, something I want to improve because, with my long legs, it should be an important move for me. We also worked on posturing up to get out of the triangle choke.

Friday, March 7, 2008


My buddy Tracy Hutt is an impish tomboy with a grin you've got to love.

Even though she's a little thing, she's very strong, and loves combat sports. I remember her kickboxing with Terry, a really skilled guy who can put pressure on you. He was in there, trading blows with Tracy, and she started laughing she was having so much fun. (Believe me, I never laughed when I was sparring with Terry.) She has a shirt with the motto, "Fighting Solves Everything," which she says she can't wear to her job as a phys ed teacher in school.

She turned to boxing a few years ago, had a good amateur record and made the finals in the Golden Gloves at least twice.

Wednesday night, she had her pro debut, at the Manhattan Center in New York City. No more headgear. The tickets I could afford sold out ahead of time, so I didn't attend.

The next morning, I discovered I could watch the bout on the GoFightLive.TV website. I started the video, saw her walking into the ring with a nervous grin and her hair braided on her head.

Since it was a workday, I went downstairs to fix breakfast and iron a shirt, but before I left I made time to look at the end of the fight.

It was pretty upsetting to watch.

It was round four, and it looked like it had been a tough fight. Tracy's opponent had blood on her face. Tracy was really attacking, but in her attack she left herself open. Tracy took two right hands from her opponent, and went down hard.

Tracy fought to get up before the count was over, but she couldn't do it--she fell over again, went halfway through the ropes, and had to be prevented from falling out of the ring. Her exhausted opponent looked surprised at her sudden victory; Tracy looked groggy and in pain, physical and psychological, and her corner was working on her nose.

I give her all the credit in the world for stepping into that ring.

Tracy's young and indomitable, she'll bounce back. I read that she already challenged the other young woman to a rematch.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Lesson, the Hard Way

Michele of the "Just A Thought" blog has an interesting post on how people learn. She talks about making the effort to teach karate in different ways, since people learn in different ways.

I learned the hard way tonight about moving my head.

As my sensei explained to me later, John (the school manager) and I both threw cross punches at the same moment. I'm much taller than John. But my punch missed him because he moved his head to the left as he threw his right cross. Since I DIDN'T move my head to the left, my face came into his punch. I had a helmet on, but it was a stunner. And my pride was hurt because I felt that, with my height advantage, I should be able to hit him without being hit back.

My sensei stopped to see if I was okay, and then explained what had happened. Suddenly things were much clearer to me.

You'd better believe I was moving my head when I was throwing cross punches after that.

Now, why is it that I could be told to move my head time and time again--and often move my head when I'm just shadow boxing--but I only learned to move it the hard way?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

New Middle-Aged Hero:

Bernard Hopkins, move over: Reuters reports that a 44-year-old Japanese mother of two has gotten a boxing license.

Kazumi Izaki, mother of 21- and 14-year-old daughters, is also the oldest boxer in Japan. She turns 45 next week.

She looks pretty fit from the photograph!

It's extremely rare for boxers to be successful at ages much beyond 35 or so. Bernard Hopkins, 43 now, is the current amazing exception. He's currently the light heavyweight champ of the world, and he's beaten some incredibly good boxers, including Winky Wright. He apparently keeps himself constantly in top shape--Ricky Hatton, in contrast, is referred to as "Ricky Fatton" when he's not training--and he is also arguably the smartest boxer out there in terms of tactics and strategy in his bouts. He always fights the right fight for each opponent, and it changes with each opponent.

Hopkins is supposed to fight super middleweight champ Joe Calzaghe--like Hopkins, considered one of the very top pound-for-pound boxers in the world--this year, I believe. Hopkins is said to be pushing the boundary of age himself--at 36 years old.

In the world of mixed martial arts, there's the amazing Randy Couture, 44, who beat a much-younger Tim Sylvia in a UFC title match.

These folks are exceptions.

Evander Holyfield, a former heavyweight champion, is 45 and still fighting--not nearly as well as he used to. People are worried he'll be hurt in the ring. (He's most famous outside boxing circles as the fighter who got part of his ear bitten off by Mike Tyson.)

Most boxers and mixed martial artists in their 40s--and any, if they exist, in their 50s--are around to pad younger fighters' records.

I've heard variously that men's potential for muscle mass peaks in the 20s, at 30 and 35 years old (I don't know the equivalent age for women); moreover as an orthopedic doctor once told me, at 35 the body "starts falling apart." It takes longer to repair injuries, and more of them occur.

I'll try to find out how Super Mom fares in her Japanese bouts.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


I learned this week that some months back, a friend of mine in martial arts class got (my wife can stop reading here) a concussion. She hadn't told me before, and hadn't made a big deal out of it. Unfortunately, she didn't make enough of a big deal about it at the time, a very risky course to take.

For privacy reasons, I won't go into all the details, but this friend did get knocked out in class, and didn't go to a doctor (I wasn't there to see this happen; I presume people advised that she should see a doctor). She didn't recognize signs that she had received a concussion in the next couple of days. It wasn't until a couple of weeks later, when she passed out and then went to a hospital, that some tests showed she had gotten a concussion.

I'm very happy that she then took time off from sparring. I'm very concerned that she didn't take care of her injury immediately.

The Mayo Clinic has a discussion of concussions. It notes:
The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not appear immediately. Symptoms can last for days, weeks or longer.

The two most common concussion symptoms are confusion and amnesia. The amnesia, which may or may not be preceded by a loss of consciousness, almost always involves the loss of memory of the impact that caused the concussion.

Other immediate signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:

* Headache
* Dizziness
* Ringing in the ears
* Nausea or vomiting
* Slurred speech

Some symptoms of concussions don't appear until hours or days later. They include:

* Mood and cognitive disturbances
* Sensitivity to light and noise
* Sleep disturbances

In my callow youth, I adeptly knocked myself out by flipping over someone's back on a basketball court--I presume I received a concussion, but it was the last day of basketball camp, it was the 1970s, and I didn't see a doctor. I also saw a friend knocked to the ground in a college softball game, and he lost all short-term memory for about six hours--a very weird experience, and presumably a concussion.

Note that you don't have to be knocked unconscious to get a concussion.

Do me a favor: Go see a doctor if you have any suspicion you might have gotten a concussion.