The Art of Kickboxing

This is dedicated to my kick-ass instructors at ILKB-Quincy. Every class starts with a five minute warning, and this is what I'd say during those five minutes.

All right kickboxers! This is your five minute warning! Wrap those hands. Gloves on top of your bags, water off the side.

Point in fact: This was my first class back after that hiatus. First thing when she saw me - Mariela gave me a huge hug, and then kicked my butt throughout class.

Point in fact: This was my first class back after that hiatus. First thing when she saw me - Mariela gave me a huge hug, and then kicked my butt throughout class.

I’m not an instructor here, but I’ve been coming to class on and off for two years, and I wanted to share some things. I’m so glad you’re here. I’m so glad I’M here. I want you to know that all the instructors are squarely in your corner! They are not here to shame you, or judge you. Every step forward you take will be celebrated, regardless of any side steps, halts, or what feels like backwards steps that happen in between. They will always be excited to see you. I know — I took a ten-month hiatus. My brain broke a bit, and so did my body. But you know what, all the instructors were here when I came back, ready with high fives, fist bumps, and hugs. They’ll be excited about your journey for you until you can be excited yourself. And no one will celebrate your successes louder or with more passion.

The good news is, the hardest part of the workout is over — at least, until that first fifteen. You got yourself in the door! I always have so many excuses to beat:

First pair of gloves - now retired

First pair of gloves - now retired

  •     Maybe I won’t find an easy parking spot. 
  •     I’m hungry - how long to I need to wait between eating and exercising? I’ll eat now and skip class.
  •     My armpits and legs are stubbly. Do I smell? Maybe a shower is a better idea. 
  •     I’m wearing my glasses and I HATE exercising with my glasses on.  But, my eyes hurt: I don’t want to put my contacts in.
Second set of gloves - 14 oz. (2 oz makes a hell of a difference) Twenty-ninth birthday present to myself.

Second set of gloves - 14 oz. (2 oz makes a hell of a difference) Twenty-ninth birthday present to myself.

And while sometimes my body does need to rest, I’m learning the difference between those signals and the anxiety/fear signals.  Excuses conquered for the day! New battle tomorrow, probably.

So, you know the drill: see an instructor if you need any modifications. Try to be present in the moment.  It’s hard.  It’s hard to come to class and not compare myself to a previous me.  I’m my own worst enemy here.  I try to remember this: the number of sets I did yesterday is not as important as the ones I’m doing RIGHT NOW.  The number of reps I did in the set before is not as important as the reps I’m doing RIGHT NOW. 

Remember to Breathe. Breathing helps me stay connected. Hell, breathing helps in general. You know, if you don’t get oxygen into your body, something is going to stop working.  For me, it’s usually my brain first. I stop listening to the signals my body is sending because I'm holding my breath.  And that starts because a move is hard.  When I let go of that breath and breath in, somehow the move gets easier. My body starts to function like a body again.

Benefits to breathing: it connects you to your abs, engages your core. Breathing connects me to my movement. Breathing reminds me that I live in this body.

When I FORGET MY BODY IS A BODY, I GET HURT. IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE.

That being said, listen to your body.  Ask for modifications or ways to scale a movement.  You know, I find that doing a technically correct pushup from my knees only a quarter of the way down feels better than doing a half-assed, poorly formed one. And I'm closer to half way down now! Progress! But, whatever works. You do you. As Mariela challenges, do two from your toes (or whatever the equivalent of the full movement is.) Recently, I’ve been really bad at engaging with that challenge. I’ll get there though.

Remember that slowing down is not the same as stopping.

Birthday workout! Starting twenty nine out right!!

Birthday workout! Starting twenty nine out right!!

Sometimes, speed can’t be the focus.  Sometimes, strength can’t be the focus.  Right now, I’m working on physical and mental endurance. I need to do it right. Rebuild the right habits over fast habits. I want to make it to the end of class. The end of the day. The end of the week. The end of the month a stronger, happier, and healthier version of me.

Speaking of the end of class, that’s when I get careless. Cause I’m tired. My shoulders are screaming at me, and my hips don’t want to do anymore roundhouses.  This is when I hit the bag incorrectly and smoosh my write.  This is when I step onto my ankle wrong and roll it or twist it.  So, I challenge myself to slow down at the end of class.  Engage my abs and muscles.  Drive for accuracy, not power, not speed.  I’ll get to the place. Again, slowing down but not stopping. Breathing. Building up that endurance.

July 12, 2018 - VICTORY FRONT SPLIT  Couldn't do these during my 13 years of dance training, but something's starting to click. I'm getting stronger, more flexible. My body is working like a body, and I'm not stopping now.

July 12, 2018 - VICTORY FRONT SPLIT

Couldn't do these during my 13 years of dance training, but something's starting to click. I'm getting stronger, more flexible. My body is working like a body, and I'm not stopping now.

Before we start, I want you to cheer for yourselves, for old friends, new friends, anyone who’s here for the first time ever or the fifth time this week! Get ready for the best hour of your day. Be kind to yourself, because remember, we’re here to learn the art of kicking the bag, not ourselves. 

I’ve totally used up that five-minutes… maybe more. Time for class, starting with that light jog around the room. Let’s GO!