by Mark Lorenzana
It’s been a couple months now of training here at 9Round gym in Polanco, at the heart of Mexico’s business district, and everything has been awesome. I had been training in boxing for a few years now, give or take ten years or so, on and off, and although I also weight-trained, played basketball, tried spinning classes, it’s boxing that holds a special place in my heart. Not just because I love the sport itself, not just because boxers are the most down-to-earth athletes I have ever had the privilege of meeting and befriending, not just because some of the most amazing trainers I’ve ever trained with are former boxers–it’s also because it’s one of the most physically taxing sports that you will ever take up in your entire life, and therefore will get you in the best shape of your life.
I’m not going to fight in a professional boxing match soon, hell no, and I’ve only even had a few sparring rounds under my belt; but I’m pretty confident that I can throw decent punches at my level right now, and I even have pretty good power especially my favorite punch, which is the right cross (or right straight). I throw a pretty good jab too, and serviceable uppercuts and hooks. So when I started at 9Round I was pretty comfortable throwing punches already, both during punch-mitt sessions and heavy-bag sessions.
But 9Round isn’t a boxing gym, it’s a kickboxing gym. So then I was required to kick and to throw knees and elbows as well.
Holy shit. Talk about getting out of your comfort zone.
The knees and the elbows, with time, I was able to get the hang of pretty quickly, the elbows especially because when throwing them you still have both your feet planted on the ground, which helps a lot obviously with balance and power. It’s the kicks that have been a pain in the butt so far, and after two months of trying hard to execute a proper side kick, round kick, and front kick, I admit that I haven’t quite got it down pat yet.
I’m relishing the challenge, though, because kicking is actually very useful in a street fight. Not everyone you will meet on the street who is aching for a fight will want to fight you strictly with boxing rules, and learning how to kick well will certainly help. Kicks have a longer reach than punches, and a properly thrown kick with good leverage can be more devastating than even the most powerful punches. And a perfectly timed kick to an opponent’s knee can end a fight in minutes. Why try to be macho and slug it out with punches when you can disable your opponent quickly?
So yeah, I’ve been enjoying the challenge of trying to learn kickboxing (even at this age, which doesn’t lend well to flexibility, so I’ve actually been very forgiving to myself by not forcing myself to kick as high as I can and just focusing on trying to kick with proper form, so you won’t ever see me trying to kick a guy’s face or even chest–I’m sticking to the abdomen, the nuts, and the knees, LOL). Right now, honestly, kickboxing is kicking me in the butt, but I know that given more time I’m eventually gonna get the hang of it.
Well, if not, there’s always pure boxing.
Or spinning classes.