Art of the punch
I woke up this morning in pain and elated. My ribs were sore, I had a slight swelling over my left eye, and the muscles between my shoulder blades had a pump that gave me the odd impression that if someone were to place a walnut between them, I could crack that drupe with a single shrug of my shoulders. Waking up in some kind of discomfort is nothing new to me. I’m three years into my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu journey, so rolling out of bed with a new ache or bruise is common these days, especially for a 44-year-old two stripe white belt, but these pains were new.
One of my BJJ teammates is a former Mixed Martial Arts fighter who has been coming in early to work with anyone from my gym on Muay Thai kickboxing basics. Our BJJ school is a traditional Gracie school, and we have a heavy self-defense focus, but my strike training is sorely lacking, and I love Muay Thai, so I jumped at the chance. We worked on basic stance, punch combinations, and the proper way to throw a kick.
We have a small group of teammates who get together VERY early on the weekends to work on our Jiu-Jitsu and drill together. One of these team members, Jose, is a very close friend of mine who I’ve known since starting BJJ. He took part in the boxing program at our school for a while until he decided to focus on BJJ. Another of the early morning crew, Cody, is another very close friend who is also a former MMA fighter. Cody offered to help Jose and me with our striking before we worked on our BJJ. The first couple of sessions were more footwork, stance, and mechanics.
Then stuff got real.
After a couple of sessions, Cody had Jose, and I spar to see where we were. Jose had taken boxing for a couple of years and had taken an amateur rules bout, and I, I had about five sessions of striking practice. This would be my first spar with anyone. Apprehensive as I was, I knew that apprehension was a signal that this was something I had to do.
Three rounds of 2 minutes later, I was sweating profusely, my arms were spent, and I was gassed. Jose probably went easy on me, but he did catch me with an excellent combination in our second round. He gave me the four-piece, but I didn’t get the soda, to quote Jorge Masvidal. This was the first time I intentionally set out to get punched in the face. The next week we spared again, and I did a little better, but Jose has years of experience on me. He and Cody were trying to help me get better. That’s what our team is about.
Do the thing
This corner of the internet and social media use the phrase “Do Hard Things” to reference a path to personal development. The idea is to get out of your comfort zone and build some toughness and fortitude. One thing we miss about this saying is the focus on action. To experience growth, we actually have to DO the thing.
We like to think we live in the “Information Age” with the knowledge of the world at the tips of our fingers. That may be true, but Dave Calvert said, “Knowledge without action leads to self-delusion.” That delusion comes from our belief that just because we “Know” about a thing, we can “Do” that thing. We can read about the thing, watch a YouTube video about it, talk to people who actually do the thing, but without actually doing it, we don’t really know anything about it. The difference between theory and practice is getting punched in the face.
The “Information Age” has created an environment of information hoarders who do not apply that knowledge in the real world. They sit behind keyboards and comment on YouTube videos and Instagram posts, telling the people actually doing things what they did wrong, how they should have done it, and that they suck.
You know the guy, he’s got an opinion on everything and experience in none of it. Increase your knowledge, by all means, but be sure you are applying that knowledge. It’s not going to do any good just rattling around in your skull. Use that information to make yourself and the world better. Listen to that discomfort that comes before trying something new as a siren’s call to action.
Go get punched in the face.
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