We have a saying in CrossFit, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” It’s easy to do with CrossFit b/c nearly every workout is going to challenge you. Take this idea further and challenge yourself in a new sport. Most of the time, you’ll get that old feeling again of walking out on the baseball field as a kid for the first time. A little unsure, somewhat scared but excited nonetheless. CrossFit helps build this internal “muscle” of being prepared for the unknowable or at least accepting it, whatever it may be.
With all this considered, I’ve always wanted to box or learn how to box. The idea of getting hit in the face doesn’t appeal to many people, so picking it up at 31 years of age is not something most people do. Maybe it has to do with my Irish background. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that when I was born, my parents friends would tell them I should be a boxer b/c I had big hands. That was 1980. I was probably one of the last white kids anyone ever said that to.
As a kid though, I grew up taking Taekwondo until the age of 16. I learned how to throw a punch, kick and defend myself. I valued the discipline that it brought and the “outlet” that it allowed. Sports is one thing. Taking out one’s aggression on a heavy bag or punching mitt is a totally different experience and response. Some parents may frown on the idea as violent or think of such actions as promoting violence. Actually, that line of thought couldn’t be further from the truth. The discipline instilled from martial arts was a tremendous value that taught me proper use of force was only to be used as a last resort. Because I now had the experience of hitting and being hit, I understood the ramifications. I learned never to hit anyone out of anger. I learned to protect those weaker than me. I learned my own true power as an individual and my capabilities. In the end, it instilled confidence, humility and graciousness.
In addition to my martial arts background, my father, the quintessential competitor who took Taekwondo classes right alongside us, also loved to spar and box. In the Irish tradition (it’s a tradition right?), boxing against your dad is a hallowed act and a coming of age rite, so to speak. Now, my father has always claimed to be a Golden Gloves boxer which I have never been able to verify. He has multiple trophy’s from his collegiate championship wrestling days but nothing for boxing which makes me a little suspect. My dad loves trophies, where the hell are they?! If he’s reading this, Dad, I believe you, whether I ever see those trophies or not.
Back to the sacred rite of “Father vs. Son” backyard brawls, my dad made sure as we grew up that we’d always be able to handle ourselves in a fight…which also includes handling him in a fight. For the record, my mum was VERY much against this. However, that didn’t have any sway in the matter whatsoever. For the untrained, when the gloves go on a rush of adrenaline will overtake the individual. When the “bell” rings, the first 30 seconds are usually a blur. It’s only when your arms are so tired from swinging (improperly) are when things start to slow down.
My first experience sparring with my dad was something that was very memorable. Actually, the most memorable part was the feeling of getting hit and looking up at the stars. It happened quickly too. Those are stars, right?? In the end, he knocked me down once (my father will say twice but I firmly attest I slipped) and I knocked him down three times. At the time, it was a feeling of mixed emotions. I just knocked my dad out! Shit! I apologized of course and felt bad while at the same time feeling very proud. I was a senior in high school and it was a coming of age moment for me. A moment that has always stayed with me.
Back to the present, I’m currently training under Tim Lajcik, a former MMA Champ, skull crusher who happens also to be the nicest guy in the world. Maybe it’s his strict diet of sweet potatoes and fish, but Tim “The Bear” Lajcik is as real it gets. What are my intentions with this training? Naturally, I’m inclined to take it as far as possible. With my background, what’s stopping from me from exploring an amateur boxing/kick boxing career? I have a long way to go but right now I’m having a lot of fun pushing myself in new and different ways, physically and mentally.
Learning how to throw a proper punch is no different from learning how to clean, run, jump, snatch, swim or do a kipping pull-up; it’s all in the hips. In all regards, CrossFit has prepared me to be a superior athlete, no matter what the sport. Couple this with the mental fortitude to take on a WOD and CrossFit is the all around best method of preparing any athlete, mentally or physically for the seen and unseen.
How are you challenging yourself?
Never Let It Rest,