"To open one's mouth indiscriminately brings shame, and there are many times when people will turn their backs on such a person." From The Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai
Two words: Muay Thai.
One more word: Oooouuch...
Before I get to last night's class, though, I have some domestic matters to talk about, namely my conversation with Courtney this morning.
"You made me sound all heartless in your blog, like I'm Nurse Ratched or something!"
"That was our conversation, though, nearly word for word!"
"OK, but I wasn't unsympathetic to you. I reassured you. And I'm not a tough love nurse. I just keep it real."
I promised I would clarify that on the blog. Courtney Holwerda is not heartless, but she will keep it real. And also she's a very good nurse and wife and supporter. (That part is from me.)
Class! Like I mentioned a few days ago, I had something that I couldn't get out of on Monday, so I shuffled my classes a bit this week, at Tony's invitation. Last night's class was Muay Thai, or kickboxing. I feel like I'm running out of ways during the project to share the following piece of information: it was hard. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes I've taken so far are difficult because of the amount of physical effort and endurance that they require. Muay Thai is much more of a cardio workout. Think about the classes offered at your gym - I'll bet one of them is a kickboxing class, and I'll also bet it has nothing to do with actual fighting, which leads me to the other immediately apparent difference between the two disciplines. No blows are thrown in BJJ, it's all grappling. Muay Thai is pretty much entirely punches and kicks.
I've been working with a trainer this summer, and one of the things that he sometimes talks about is the benefit of just making your body stay in motion for 30 uninterrupted minutes. Just keep in motion. It's harder than it sounds. That's what the first part of last night's class was. We all put on shin guards and gloves and partnered up. The class started with light sparring, where one partner throws punches and kicks at the other partner's hands, just as a warm-up. Then we moved to a footwork drill, where one partner went to the edge of the room and worked the heavy bag (sidenote: working the bag has made it clear to me that I throw punches like an anemic seven year-old girl) while the other partner sidestepped around a square ring until reaching a corner, at which point you ran to the center, threw three punches, and stepped back out to move on to the next corner.
The next part of class built on that basic footwork drill. Four people stood in the center, facing the four corners. When you reached a corner, you'd run in to the center, throw punches into their hands, and then simulate knee strikes. Then we did that same thing, but we had to do a pushup each time we reached a corner. Then we did that same thing, but we had to do a pushup and recover from it by leaping into the air each time we reached a corner. Car. D. O.
Now we came to the part of class where the drills were more focused on technique. One partner stayed gloved up while the other grabbed pads that strapped onto the forearms. They looked like these.
The gloved partner then did combination drills of punches and kicks, at Tony's direction, before we switched. My training partner, JD, wore the pads first. Then we switched. I had assumed that wearing the pads would be a bit of a rest. They'd absorb the blows for me, and I could just stand there and catch my breath. Wrong! Maybe you've heard the famous line from John Milton, "They also serve who only stand and wait." Well, they also workout who only stand and hold the pads. I quickly learned that just because you're wearing thick pads doesn't mean that you don't still have to brace yourself against strikes from the man in front of you.
Then we took off those pads and picked up something that looked like a padded riot shield, made to protect your front. The unpadded partner practiced force kicks, where you both kick and push at the same time. I was standing there with my mouth open like a dope, and the first kick shoved the shield into my face and made me bite my tongue. This is why I chose tonight's Hagakure quote, and also leads to the lesson I took from tonight:
If you are in a situation where you are likely to be struck, it is best just to keep your mouth closed.
Those are words to live by.
Class ends in much the same way that BJJ classes do, with sparring. Tony's only rule (aside from fight clean and don't go too hard on each other) is that you can not exchange head blows unless you are both wearing mouthguards. Neither of us was wearing one, so I got to stay pretty for another day.
You know when you're playing with a little kid, and you wave a hand off to one side of them and say, "See this?" and then you swoop your other hand in and tickle them with it, and say, "You didn't see that!"? This was my experience, except instead of waving a hand, JD was punching me in the ribs and gut, and instead of tickling me, he was surprising me with kicks to the shin. And the thing about kicks to the shin is that even with a shinguard on, and even if you manage to guard against the kick a little, they still hurt a lot! My whole left shin is purple today!
My one really satisfying moment was when I landed what I thought was a pretty solid uppercut right beneath JD's ribs, and his feet left the ground for a second. My satisfaction was fleeting, because it turned out that his feet were leaving the ground so that he could kick me in two places at the same time.
Back to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tonight before I'm off to apply hotpacks for the weekend.