If the title is any warning, things are about to get a little deep/philosophical around here.
In a previous post, I wrote about how the only way the Buddha was able to defeat Mara (the representation of negative emotions like doubt, fear, etc.) was to turn toward that which scared or overwhelmed him. In other words, your suffering perseveres when you try to flee from it.
I was reminded of this today when we were working on defensive blocking. One person would throw a jab (and only jabs) and the other person had to stand his or her ground by catching/blocking the punch, pivoting, pulling his or herr stomach in, or blocking the punches with their elbows. The other way to block a punch is to turn your body/shoulder into the person throwing the punch (a great way to set up an uppercut). By walking into their space, you limit the range of the other person's punch.
Two of the people in Randolph's technique class said something to me about how it seemed so counter-intuitive -- someone is throwing a punch and yet you walk into it. Walking into a punch defies our self-protective instincts. You limit the other person's range, and what they can do to you. It's not the perfect protection (and you can't stay there), but it is one way to deal with the punch being thrown at you.
You cannot always run away from the punches in life. Sometime you have to take one, sometimes you can defend yourself, but sometimes you can step into what is scary and limit its control over you, capisce?
Marshall, another trainer at LA Boxing Georgetown, also said that the hardest thing to do as a teacher is to get people to bend their knees. People stand too tall when they're boxing. That stiffness in their body not only limits their speed, but it increases arm fatigue and leaves them wide open to get hit. The Buddha said that one of the reasons why we suffer is because we try to control situations, outcomes, people, etc. Instead of being present and aware of what is, we are constantly trying to dictate what's to come. In Western terms, this is the presence, mindset, and sway of the ego.
In boxing if you're relaxed and bending your knees (and have a clear mind) you're able to respond (what we do when we rely on our training and focus), not just react (what we do out of fear/panic), to what is going on, both offensively and defensively. When you realize it is not a situation that you can outright control (if you are matched equally, that is; if you are matched unequally you either have all the say or none of it), you start to pay more attention to not only what you are doing, but what the other person is doing. Bending your knees, and being flexible (mentally and physically) prepares you to act in either an offensive or defensive manner.
I know the Buddha would preach non-violence, but I hope that even he would appreciate that in a class setting (a boxing sangha), we all respect each other. We are all teachers, we are all students. I would hope the Buddha would appreciate the meditative aspects of repetitive motions/drills, and the valuable lesson of our own body's fragility.
LA Boxing Post 1: The Risks and Rewards of Change
LA Boxing Post 2: Showing Up
LA Boxing Post 3: Finding Your Fight
LA Boxing Post 4: Belonging
LA Boxing Post 5: Fight or Flight
LA Boxing Post 6: Finding your Fight: The Class -- Reporting In
LA Boxing Post 7: One of Us
LA Boxing Post 8: The First Rule of Fight Club