Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Boxer As Martial Artist

Would I still be a middle-aged martial artist if I were a boxer?

I ask because now a second doctor has told me that kicking without an ACL is not a good idea--at least, kicking hard is a bad idea. And I'm finding myself drawn to the idea of taking up boxing as an amazing form of exercise, and perhaps eventually for sparring.

A week ago, I saw a physiatrist--a doctor of physical medicine and rehabilitation. My thought was that he would be less focused on surgery, more on recovery, and would be a good judge of what I can and can't do physically without an ACL.

Among other things, he tested the strength of my leg, to see if the muscles around the knee can stand in, to some extent, for a missing ACL. His judgment: "You're stronger than you look." Uh, thanks, Doc...I think....

He explained that one of the risks of kicking hard with my injured leg, even against a bag, is that without an ACL, the knee will travel too far--and in the long run, that would put me at risk of arthritis. And I know I don't want to kick while putting weight on my injured leg, which is how I got hurt in the first place.

Also not good ideas: tennis, basketball, soccer--sports involving a lot of cutting movement. Wrestling/grappling are out as well.

What activities can I do? He said running, sprinting, even sprinting up stairs are fine--as long as I don't bend my leg too far by, say, taking multiple steps in one bound.

As for martial arts, he suggested ones that don't involve kicking--wing chun, for instance.

I asked about boxing. He said that would be okay as well. I would need to be sure, when stepping to the side, that I put my foot flat on the mat. Stepping on the outside or inside of my foot would re-injure my knee (I think that's what happened when I twisted my knee again just trying to sit in a confined space). He even said he thought I could jump rope, a favorite boxing workout, if  I did so on a cushioned surface and not a hard floor.

I know that boxing workouts are amazing exercise (I once took a trial class at a cool downtown Manhattan gym called Trinity Boxing Club, but I'm too far away now to attend there). My friend Tracy Hutt swears by them.

One of the instructors at my school was saying that I could focus on boxing instead of kicking in class, and I may try that. But it's looking more and more like I will be boxing for exercise in the near future.


Stacy Strunk said...

I prefer the term fighting arts.

I've heard some say that, historically, things like karate were designed for personal defense, so they weren't really "martial" arts to begin with. But, to be honest, my knowledge of the history is a bit shakey. And, to be honest, as soon as our military brethern started learning these styles while stationed overseas, they probably became martial arts. But what do I know?

I've messed around with boxing and wrestling. Not a lot. But it seems to me that many concepts translate well: working angles, using your openant's (sp?) body movements to your advantage, things like that. I think if you like fighting/sparring, you'll like boxing or any other martial arts style. Although you'll probably always have some preference for your original style.

BobSpar said...

That's actually a very useful term, fighting art, though I'm not sure yet how much of what I'll be doing yet will entail sparring, given my knee status.

Felicia said...

Boxing is an amazing activity. So what there isn't much leg activity (as in lifting them off the ground to pummel someone with them)? It will probably still provide you with the same thrill of the chase as sparring does and keep you in tip top shape.

Never had any ACL injuries (knock wood), but my sensei injured both his and I was in class one night when one of my training partners tore his (he'll be grading for shodan within the year :-), so I don't have any direct experience, but is it the actual surgery that is putting you off or the recovery from it? It seems like an long road, so I can totally understand...

I so admire your desire to continue to train in some capacity, Bob. Applause, applause :-)

SueC said...

Fighting arts? Martial sport? combat sport? call it what you like it doesn't matter, it's good exercise - akin to sparring. You'll utilise skills you already have and no doubt learn new ones - what are you waiting for? Good luck with whatever you choose and I hope the knee holds up for you :-)

BobSpar said...

Felicia, SueC, it's great to get your support for making this change, it's so encouraging.

What I'm mostly concerned about with the operation is the recovery time--I wasn't able to work for two weeks last time, and I had to spend another week or two working from home. That, and it hurts like hell for a while.

I'm taking one more week of PT and then I'm going to start taking the boxing classes. So soon, soon. I'm looking forward to learning all the cool boxing equipment like the double-ended bag and speed bag.

joeg said...

: of, relating to, or suited for war or a warrior
: relating to an army or to military life
: experienced in or inclined to war : warlike

Well I think it fulfills the martial part. As for the art part flower arranging and painting fill that part. In the zen / Taoist sense if approached in the right way it is an art or part of "the way" (the -do in Tae Kwon and karate). So can a boxer be a martial artist. Can it fulfill that mental spiritual physical thing...yes I believe so.

I think you should go for it full tilt. As another middle age martial artist I can tell you there are lots of us cheering you on from the bleachers. It is said the way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death. Well we are all going to get older and break down eventually. Keep fighting and rage against the dying of the light! Good karma and prayers a going your way. Ultimately the only fight a warrior has is with himself. Regardless you are a martial artist if you decide you are one whatever physical limits age or genetics may put upon you. Best of luck in your journey.

Bob McG said...

Many thanks, joeg; cool reference to Dylan Thomas!