Friday, January 21, 2011

A (Long) Day In The Life

Got up early, 5 AM, to get to work early. Walked through the snow with my MMA gear and caught an early train; in the office about 6:45.Long busy day. Hoped to leave work in time to meet my wife for a light dinner before training; no luck. Hoped to leave work early enough to make it to the first of two classes; no luck. Now on the way to the second, 8:15 class. Then it's back home to crash. TGIF.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

10 Years on the Martial Arts Path

I started my current martial arts journey 10 years ago this month.

My primary quest was better health; I was overweight and gaining pounds, my cholesterol was out of whack, I was easily winded and I no longer enjoyed the joy of movement I had felt so intensely as a young man in pursuits like basketball. A few weeks prior, I had a scare when a bit of skin cancer was cut off my ankle. It made me realize that bad things can happen to me, and I needed to get healthy.

Except for a few months out of commission due to my ACL tear and surgery, I've pretty much continuously been on the martial path since then. I'm meeting my health goals; I've lost 25 pounds from when I started, my good and bad cholesterol are in good shape, I've got stamina to keep up with the young guys in class. All this makes me feel good about myself.

But my martial arts school has become more than a way to be in shape. It's become a central part of my life; when things work out, I go to class three days a week for five hours of training, and I cross train by running on two other days. Some of my best friends I met at my school.

To my complete surprise, I discovered that I enjoy the sport and contact element (within limits) of training. It's life-affirming to face up to my fears, and to push the boundary of how hard I can exert myself.

It's an antidepressant and a stress reliever. There's no time for running through anxieties in my mind when I'm pushing my body as hard as it can go, or sparring or grappling with challenging opponents. When I'm done, I often feel not just tired, but calmer, more optimistic.

And it also appeals to my desire to keep improving and learning. It's a never-ending challenge.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

End of Vacation; Fighting

Alas, tomorrow the work week begins after two weeks off. I'll miss having so much time with my family.

I will return to training after taking one week off (I did train hard the week of Christmas), though I'm going to stay away from sparring and grappling for a bit more to be sure my rib is healed.

Martial arts blogger John Vesia had an interesting post back in November, which I'm only finding now, about boxers who could have been martial artists. It stimulated an interesting discussion about whether boxing is a martial art (many of his readers didn't think so), and whether fighting arts are martial arts. There's a boxing coach, Christy Halbert, author of The Ultimate Boxer, who makes the interesting argument that a boxing match isn't a fight because the boxers aren't angry at each other; they often have tremendous respect for their opponents in the ring.

An interesting perspective; but not the one in the movie The Fighter, which I watched today. Christian Bale in particular puts in a virtuoso performance as Micky Ward's crack-head brother. There's plenty of anger, and more fighting in the two brothers' family than there is in the ring. The crazy family dynamic, and Micky Ward's (Mark Wahlberg) effort to balance his needs with his need for his crazy family is the center of the movie.

Bale's performance was disturbing to me since it was reminiscent of a person I love who has a similar troubled personality though, thank God, not the addiction the character has. A very powerful movie.