MF Gets in the Ring: Day 2 – First Sparring Session

By Dean Stattmann

I arrived at Chelsea Piers yesterday for my second training session with CP boxing coach Jason Lee.

Once again, Jason wrapped my hands, but this time in tandem with a lecture about how I should have learned how to do this myself by now. On my second day.

Just like Monday’s session, we kicked things off with six minutes on the jump-rope, and then things got intense…

First, Jason introduced me to a jump-rope that I had never used before, the heavy-weighted speed rope. It’s just like a regular jump-rope, except the rope is thicker and it feels like the handles are dumbbells. Turns out all the added weight is actually in the rope.

But before getting started with that, Jason took me over to another section of the gym to show me how to do sledgehammer swings, an exercise I’ve been dying to try since I first learned of its existence. After all, how many gyms do you know that allow you to pummel a tire with a gigantic hammer?

“Before we get you sparring, I want to see how good your rotation is,” he said as we walked over.

Turns out sledgehammer swings aren’t as simple as they look. It seems like the arms are doing most of the work, when it’s really all in the abs. After a couple tries, I finally got it right and started going to town on the tire. But that was just the warm-up.

Now that I was familiar with the heavy-weighted speed rope and sledgehammer swings, the next step would naturally be to superset the two exercises for three back-to-back sets with no rest. So that’s what I did. Thirty seconds of jump-rope, followed by 30 seconds of sledgehammer swings. Repeat. Repeat.

My reward? A 15-second break.

Next we returned to the same rope exercise I did on Monday. You know, the one where you grab a rope in each hand and try make waves. From now on I’ll be calling those “rope waves.” We paired a 15-second set of that with a 20-rep set of light-weight trap-bar deadlifts. Same deal; three supersets, no breaks.

At the end of it all, Jason explained the method behind his apparent madness. He was getting me tired for my first sparring match, which, unbeknownst to me at the time, would start in about 10 minutes. And it wouldn’t be a stereotypical first sparring match if it weren’t against a five-foot-tall girl.

As I prepared for my first experience in the ring, I wrestled with the thought of fighting a girl. You know, because it’s wrong to hit them and stuff. Turns out that wasn’t going to be a problem.

“You’re just gonna block her punches,” Jason said. “Move around and don’t let her get too close,” which is how I usually react when confronted with a woman trying to punch me in the face. Not that I’d ever get into a situation like that. Danielle.

I began gearing up. Wraps, check. Gloves, check. Mouthguard, check. Headgear, check. Groin guard, definitely check.

Once we got in the ring I immediately started getting the hang of it. Circling around, I blocked my opponents jabs with my right hand, as Jason taught me, and deflected her rights with my left. This, in itself, isn’t that hard, but simultaneously trying to remember all the elements of proper form from my previous session made it a real challenge. There was definitely at least one time when I got jabbed in the face as I tried to remember which way my front foot should be pointing.

A couple rounds later, I finally got a chance to go one-on-one with Jason and throw a few punches of my own. He stayed on the defensive, allowing me to rain punches down, but he wasn’t exactly letting me hit him. Something I really enjoy about my time in the ring with Jason is that he is always training with a fight in mind. Instead of telling me my guard was down, he punched me in the face. Yeah, it sucked. But next time I feel my guard dropping I’ll pull it right back up.

With my first sparring session behind me, I feel a lot more confident going forward with my training. I now know which aspects of my game need improvement, and luckily for me, I have a trainer who can help me get there.

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