Thursday, May 24, 2012

Medicine Balls and Giants

Before Paul arrived, Alan told me his eye doctor told him to lay off sparring for awhile.  Alan's having some trouble with one eye that needs to be looked after.  Paul came in, and Alan asked if he wanted to spar.  Paul suited up, thinking he was going in the ring with the coach, only to see Alan help Andre Two put on his headgear.  "I'm not going in with him!" Paul declared.  "It's the old bait-and-switch," Alan grinned, then he explained to Paul why he couldn't spar.  Alan told the two of them that he was going to get in the ring with them to referee.

Alan told Paul that he wasn't throwing his jab enough.  Andre Two was moving around a lot, slipping punches left and right.  But the two worked well together, and it didn't turn into a war like when Andre Two was in the ring with Jake several days ago. 

Andre One and Andre Two sparred, and Andre One was doing his get-in-pop-'em-and-dance-away-fast routine.  Andre Two jammed Andre One up in the corner once with a lot of flurries, but that was the only time he got that opportunity.  Both Paul and Andre One pointed out that Andre Two seems to like to take punches.  He'd smile every time they landed some on him.

I notice that too when I sparred with Andre Two.  Some of you are probably shaking your heads and thinking, "What?  Was she crazy?  Didn't she say in an earlier post that dude was about 260 pounds?"  I stepped on the scale in the bathroom when I got home.  The display read 178 pounds.  Still too much for someone who's barely over five feet tall, and on top of that, I gave up 82 pounds to Andre Two.

One of the secrets to fighting someone not only taller but bigger as well is to not try to match them strength for strength.  Remember that fight scene between Bruce Lee and Bob Wall in the movie Enter The Dragon (1973)?  Wall played a guy who was responsible for the suicide of Lee's sister in a flashback sequence earlier in the film.  Wall had to have been over six feet four.  At least he looked that way.  The late Bruce Lee was no more than five foot three or four.  Wall's character thought his strength was going to be enough to take Lee out.  Lee simply reserved his energy, picked his shots, broke his opponent down, then finished the guy off. 

Alan joked as he put a pair of gloves on me, "Andre the Giant."  Paul told me that I would probably get him with my hooks.  "I don't think my hooks are going to have much of an effect on him," I laughed.  Andre Two and I did three rounds, and I spent most of that time looking for openings and taking them when they presented themselves.  Andre Two is very good at slipping punches, so a lot of hooks and straight punches to his head did not connect.  But some of the hooks and uppercuts to the body did.  He'd smile at me and say, "That's good!"

Afterwards, he told Alan, "She hits hard!"  I was surprised to hear him say that because I didn't think he felt any of the punches I threw.  Alan agreed, and I said what I usually say, that I inherited my father's heavy hands.  "Hillari, you hit him more than you've hit other guys in here," Alan told me.

Paul and I threw a medicine ball around.  I hadn't used one of those in awhile, and I forgot how heavy it is to launch one through the air.  Alan told Paul and I to catch the ball with each other's stomaches before throwing it back.  I kept thinking of a scene in a TV movie called "The Great Houdini" (1976) starring Paul Michael Glaser of "Starsky and Hutch" fame.  Houdini had a routine where he'd have guys deliver punches to his stomach.  People would be amazed when the magician seemingly wouldn't be fazed by the blows.  But Houdini did something that involved tightening his muscles before the blow came.  According to the TV movie, Houdini challenged a guy to punch him, but wasn't ready for the blow, and it caused damage.  I felt like that when the medicine ball plowed into me a few times. 

Then Paul and I were throwing the ball across to each other as we ran sideways across the length of the ring.  After a few times, I had to stop.  "I'm not as young as you, Paul," I said, huffing and puffing.  Looks like I need to re-introduce the medicine ball back into my workout.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Smart Women Boxing Training

Earlier in the day, Pastor Roger told me that their had been a fire in the field house at Indian Boundary Park.  The roof collapsed during the fire.  I learned later that the programs that are held there will most likely be shifted over to the field house at Warren Park for awhile.  I'm guessing Warren Park is a better spot because they are closer to Indian Boundary than Loyola Park and Willie White (the field house on Howard Street).

I was the only woman in the gym tonight as neither Sarah nor her sister Amy came in.  The other women signed up for the spring session, including Melinda, didn't come in either.  It was just me and Jake, Andre One, Andre Two, Ray, Art and Alan. 

Alan changed into his workout clothes, but admitted he didn't want to spar.  He probably would have sparred with Andre Two.  "I don't want to take the abuse," he grinned.  I was dead tired immediately after work.  I slogged home, then fell into a deep sleep for a minute.  I believe that may have a result of the effects of the allergy medicine I took this morning.  I had to shake myself out of it.  If I had laid down (I was sitting when I fell asleep), I might have overslept and missed going to the gym.  I was still a bit groggy, as well as stiff and sore when I got there.  I begged off sparring with Andre One.

Ray and Andre Two were the only people who sparred.  Alan observed the both of them and said, "They are matched up well because they are about the same size."  It was true.  Ray and Andre Two are heavyweights.  Ray was giving Andre Two pointers throughout their sparring session, and Andre Two was listening.  Ray told him that he would work with him again on Wednesday.

This past Saturday, I was outside talking to Patrick who lives near me.  Patrick doesn't always come to the gym, but he is an interesting guy who done a lot of international traveling.  I met his wife, Meg, who is well-traveled, too.  She's a grade school teacher, and Patrick is planning to teach, too.  As we were talking, Brandy came by, walking her adorable dog named Biscuit.  She said she plans to come back to the gym eventually, but there's still a lot of work she and her boyfriend have to do on their new condo.

Now to finally say something that ties in with the title of this entry.  My web site, is up.  I still have to add more content, but there's a lot up there right now.  I also have a Facebook page that ties into the web site called Smart Women Boxing Training. Both the web site and the Facebook page give out boxing tips and explain the sport to women who may want to take it up.   Check both out when you get the chance and don't hesitate to give me feedback. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sparring Frustration

As Jilberto opened up the gym door, Igor asked, "Coach coming in at 7:30?"  "He'll be here at the time he usually gets here," I said in a tone that indicated that I wasn't going make a conversation out of it.  The thing with Igor is one has to cut him off quick before he gets on a loop of talking. 

Andre One and I were doing our usual footwork drills when Igor started babbling to him.  "What is he talking about?" Andre One asked me.  "I don't know," I said wearily.  Turns out that Igor wanted to spar, but not the normal way of sparring.  Andre indulged him, and they moved around throwing very light punches a couple of rounds -- no headgear -- before Alan came in.  I don't know why Igor singled out Andre One this time.

I sparred with Andre One for four rounds.  In between one of the rounds, Igor stepped to ringside just as Alan was in the middle of giving both Andre One and I pointers.  Igor was going on about something involving getting his buddy Victor a fight.  Alan told him several times to have Victor give him a call.  Unfortunately, Igor's resistance to knowing when and how to listen led to him repeating the same questions again to Alan.  I wanted tell Igor to a) learn some manners, and b) recognize that he was interupting the coach.  But like I told Pastor Roger earlier in the week about a particularly annoying food pantry patron, sometimes it's not worth me wasting my breath snapping on someone. 

During sparring with Andre One, I became very frustrated.  Alan told me not to chase him, and to deflect his jabs, and step in with jabs of my own.  But Andre One is 28 years younger than I, and he easily avoided just about every punch I put out.  By the time I came back with anything, he had hopped away.  "Come on, Hillari!  Stop throwing half-assed punches," Alan admonished.  I wasn't throwing solid punches, but it was hard to do so.  I agreed to do a fourth round mainly because I wanted another chance to try and land something, anything during the round.  I was not successful.

I agreed to tape Andre One, using his camera, several times during the evening on Wednesday as he did various drills.  Alan took notice and told him, "Andre, you've got to get another camera person, because I need her to move around.  She may have some fights coming up."  Tommy made some jokes about me being the gym's documentarian, and both Alan and I laughed.  I don't mind doing a favor for Andre, but Alan was right.  I need as much practice as I can get. 

I have a video of Jake and Andre Two going at it for three rounds.  Unfortunately, I kept getting an error message when I tried to post it here.  Maybe I'll be able to include it in a future post.

I told Alan that he reminded me of my father when he asked for my help again in reading the attendance sheets.  Dad probably needed prescription lenses, but he wasn't going to have his eyes checked.  Nor was Dad going to use the reading glasses he had.  "Hillari, what does that say?" was a frequent request from my father to have me read something for him.  We got to Max's name on the list, and I said, "Max only came in on Monday."  "Max is probably scared to come back after what you did to him during sparring," Alan grinned.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Twice With Max, Twice With Paul

I was the first one to arrive at the gym, and I sang along to a song on my MP3 player to kill the time.  I think the song was "Thank You", a religious song that appeared on the end of one of Destiny's Child's CDs.  Alan came in several minutes later.  "My side piece is coming in tonight.  She flew in from California to see me," he grinned as he unlocked the door.  "I'm telling Riva," which is my stock answer every time Alan makes a comment about the attractiveness of another woman.  He laughed and said the woman -- whose name I unfortunately can't remember -- was a colleague from San Francisco.  Alan had invited her to the gym to work out.  "These California girls are always working out, so I figured she'd like to come in and try this," he said.

Alan convinced quiet Max to spar again Monday evening.  The last time Max was in the ring, he faced Andre One (who didn't come in that night).  Max took a little bit of a beating.  Knowing that Max hadn't boxed before he started coming to the gym, and based on how Andre One had popped him the last time, I didn't want to go hard on him. 

Problem was, Max wasn't hitting back much.  I immediately recognized that he was hesitant about hitting a female.  Alan told him, "Hit her hard.  She can take it!"  I encouraged Max to throw more punches as well, but he still didn't answer many of mine.  I kept catching him with hooks to the head and hooks to the body. 

I hit Max hard a few times, without really meaning to do that.  I kept asking him, "Are you okay?" after those types of shots.  I had him up against the ropes with a flurry of punches, and Alan told him, "Come on, Max!  Hit her back!"  Max caught me off guard with a right, and I slipped and fell near the corner.  We did two rounds.

Alan and Andre Two (to the right in the photo above) sparred for several rounds.  I positioned myself ringside, hoping not to see any major injuries take place.  Andre Two started out punching light, then quickly reverted to throwing hard shots.  I was talking to Art during part of the time they were in the ring.  Art was giving me pointers about observing my opponents more and setting up shots better.  The both of us looked over at the ring in time to see Andre Two get Alan with a hard right.  The force of it knocked Alan into the corner.  I winced and everybody else went "Ooh!"  Being the tough older guy that he is, Alan recovered quickly and came back at Andre with combinations.

Actually, before that happened, Paul and I sparred for a round.  Even though Max didn't throw many punches, I was tired out from hopping around.  Paul effectively kept me off of him a majority of the time by literally keeping his jab hand against my forehead.  I barely was able to get around it.  Afterwards, I told him, "I felt like I was on the playground in grade school during a fight," and we both laughed.

Later, Paul and I got into the ring again for one more round.  I'd had a chance to rest up, but it still wasn't easy to get around Paul's arms.  Plus, he was moving around a lot, and I couldn't chase him.  Alan told me earlier when I was in with Max, "See how much easier it is to fight someone your height?"  It was true that I was able to get in more punches on Max.  But, someone as short as I am also has to know how to handle people who are taller and bigger. 

Paul also sparred with Jake, and the two seemed to appear to be evenly matched.  They were working together.  However, when Paul sparred with Alan, they were holding each other a lot.  Everybody was calling out "Break!" continuously.  I called out, "Break clean!" after they clinched in a corner, backed up from each other, and Alan immediately threw a right cross.  Art commented, "It's turned into a MMA match."  They kept holding on to each other, neither wanting to let go because they didn't want the other guy to throw a quick punch. 

Alan may be chuckling in the picture above because his and Paul's California colleague decided to take on Paul for some light sparring,.  She was getting a lot of her punches in.

Paul told me that he was jumping away from me during the earlier round we sparred because several of my punches came dangerously close to being low blows.  "I'm sorry!" I said, feeling a bit embarrassed.  I think that I'm going so much for the hooks to the body that I'm not keeping my hands up enough while throwing them. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pad Work Wednesday

Andre One and I did a couple of rounds of footwork drills before Jake and I were turned loose on each other in a three-round sparring session.  I actually managed to get Jake in the head and face a couple of times.  But I was trying to focus on giving out left hooks.  It's something about that punch. . . I execute it on the bags all the time, but rarely am I able to utilize it during sparring and fights.  One problem is that I feel I have to step around to get the left hook in.  By the time I get over in position, the other person has skipped out of my reach. 

Jake and Alan sparred about four rounds.  Ray called something out to Alan about, "Show 'em those slick moves, coach!"  In-between one of those rounds, Jake told me, "I'm being worn out."  Alan was walking around the ring, which he always does in-between rounds of sparring.  "Yeah, Alan's not bad for an old man," I laughed.  I don't think Alan heard me, or else he would have had something smart to say back.

Pads were put to good use Wednesday evening, as Gina and Elena worked with them.  Professor held pads for Andre One, and Willie held them for Ray.  Ray really got into the pad work, as Willie knows how to use the pads very well.  I also got pad work from Willie, but I wasn't concentrating well.  I kept missing what number punches he was calling out.

Earlier in the day, I was talking to Pastor Roger, and it occurred to me that although Alan and I went to temple a few months ago, I never invited Alan to go to church with me.  The pastor lit up.  "Let me know what day he'll be there so I can preach a special sermon for him!" he said.  Later, Alan said that he wouldn't mind attending a service.  When I told him what the pastor said, Alan laughed, "So the pastor's going to to try and get me, eh?"

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Chasing Something That Can't Be Caught

"One of these things don't belong. . ." -- did that song come from "Sesame Street"?  Well, it applies to the photo above.  Alan was wearing two different shoes on his feet.  "The right foot looks like a club foot, doesn't it?" he grinned.  He pulled a pair of shoes from home to wear, but didn't notice that the shoes didn't match each other until later.

"Wasn't that fight terrible?" Alan said, speaking of the fight Saturday night between Demetrius Andrade and a former fighter of Alan's, Rudy Cisneros.  Cisneros was knocked down and out with a one-two combination at the very end of the first round.  That was a rough scene to watch. The man had to be carried out on a stretcher.  I didn't see the other fight of the past weekend -- between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Miguel Cotto -- but it was just as well.  I knew "Money" was going to win, just like I predicted that Saul "Canelo" Alvarez would win over "Sugar" Shane Mosley on the undercard. 

A lot of sparring went on Monday night.  Alan jumped into the ring with Andre Two.  Before he stepped through the ropes, he told me, "If something happens, come in with a baseball bat."  I laughed, knowing he was referring to the sparring war that Andre Two had with Jake awhile ago.  Andre Two wasn't connecting many punches in the first round, and when the bell rang, Alan told him that he could hit harder.  I watched carefully from the sidelines, just in case I had to call an ambulance for Alan.  Alan did hit the ground once, and he tumbled over.

Before Jake got in the ring with Andre Two, Alan told the both of them to "be nice".  The two men worked together as they traded punches. 

Andre One and I sparred for two rounds.  I kept thinking, "Don't chase him," because I knew I wouldn't catch him.  Alan must have been reading my mind because he told me not to chase him as the action went on.  Afterwards, Andre One told me that I nearly gave him a low blow.  I apologized.  I don't like when I do that to guys during sparring.  Honestly, I'm not trying to hit any guy there (without a good reason, anyway), but sometimes, my hands are too low. 

My third round was with Paul, Alan's boss at his day job.  Paul is taller and bigger than Andre One, but I managed to catch him with several hooks.  "See, doesn't she hit hard?" Alan smiled at his boss afterwards.  Paul was laughing that I was going for blood.  "I have my father's hands," I said in explanation. 

Jake and Paul had a good session when they were in the ring.  In fact, Paul kept jabbing Jake, and he got some good shots in.  They were pretty evenly matched up. 

I was highly irritated before I reached the gym.  Earlier in the day, I called Simons Park and casually asked if I could speak to the boxing coach.  "Oh, he's not in yet," I was told.  Further questions revealed that the guy just started there -- the person who answered the phone looked on the payroll list for his name -- and he had previously trained at another field house boxing gym.  I hadn't received a phone call or a reject letter from the Chicago Park District.  Really?

The good news is that I can continue to be at Loyola Park.  But the very bad news is that I've been pushed all the way back to square one of the game.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200.00, or any other money, for that matter.  I needed that job to make up for the gaping hole in my finances that's getting bigger by the second.  It never fails.  Jobs that I really want, the ones that I would enjoy going to every day, I chase them but never catch them.  But I always attract the jobs with difficult bosses, annoying co-workers and irritating customers and clients, and salaries that don't reflect what I'm worth.  I've had too many of those bad jobs (my current part-time day job is one of extremely few exceptions) since 1977, and I'm damned tired of it. 

"Think outside of the box," a social worker at a neighborhood community center told me concerning looking for a job.  The coach's job was representative of that sort of thinking on my part, but that didn't pan out.  I'm stalled at this point.  I'm fighting an ongoing match with a dismal job market where computers banish resumes to cyberspace hell if they don't find the right keywords, where "pounding the pavement" doesn't exist anymore, and I'm feeling the sting of age discrimination.  The score cards are not in my favor, and the referee -- who looks suspiciously like my dwindling bank account -- is about to stop the fight on me. 

After all that, I have to end this entry on a positive note.  The photo above features myself on the left, and my stepmother on the right.  The young lady in the middle is my niece Jalissa, a former Miss Black Illinois, who graduated last week with a masters degree in Integrated Marketing.  I'm very proud of her. 

Friday, May 04, 2012

Ropes On The Canvas

I took my camera in today to  get the photos off of it.  The camera had been acting up on and off; I assumed it had something to do with the hundreds of pictures on it.  When I got to the drug store, I discovered only five photos were on there, and most of the photos were not of good quality.  There was a bit of relief, because I thought, "That's some extra money I won't have to pay," but I was also ticked because I didn't get a chance to burn the lost pictures onto a CD.  How the pictures were deleted is somewhat of a mystery.  Andre and I were trying to find pictures I had taken of him in the ring previously, but we couldn't find them.  Now I know why.  Well, my niece Jalissa is graduating with a Master's degree on Friday; there will be more room to take pictures of her. 

Amy and I were the only women in the gym.  The guys were Valdez, Professor, Andre, Tommy, Willie and Art.  No sign of Patrick, Andre Two, Igor, Franco, Jacob or Max. 

Andre showed me the drills he does to work on his footwork.  One drill involves laying out jump ropes side by side, then stepping in-between and outside the ropes.  The second drill, one rope is laid out on the canvas, and stepping over the rope while bobbing and weaving.  I followed behind Andre, matching his movements.  Alan joked, "What are you all doing?  The two-step?"

Alan asked me when Friday Night Fights was on this week.  I told him the program would be on later than usual.  Actually, it's only on for a half-hour at 9:00 PM on Friday.  The actual matches won't be shown until Saturday night, around 9:00 PM.  Rudy Cisneros, a professional fighter whom Alan once trained, will have a match against Demetrius Andrade.  I saw Andrade fight in person at the International Boxing Championship back in 2007. 

I alternated between working out, recording Andre while he worked out and fooling around with my camera.  Art showed me some more self-defense techniques.  One had to do with using an awl as a weapon.  I told Pastor about it today, and a look of disapproval flashed across his face.  "Most of what I know about self-defense has been taught to me by men, and I eat that stuff up," I laughed. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Guys and Sparring Wars

Valdez (in the white shirt in the photo above) stepped into the ring with Andre Two (the guy in front of him).  Alan warned the both of them to take it easy.  Valdez is 280 pounds; Andre Two is 260 pounds.  "Damn," Andre One commented when he heard their weights.  It wasn't long before a few hard shots were thrown, and the war was underway.  Valdez stopped at one point during the rough action to have Alan refasten his gloves.  "You all aren't listening to me," Alan said. 

I found myself jumping back from the ropes several times, as both men crashed into the ones near where I was standing.  They both stopped pounding each other thirty seconds before the end of the last round they did.  Valdez had been hit in the mouth a few times, and he was bleeding. 

Franco, who recently returned to the gym after a few years, stepped into the ring with Andre Two next.  Alan told Andre Two, "Keep in mind, Franco is a hundred pounds lighter."  That sparring session quickly turned into a war as well.  But Franco held his own, getting off some good shots on Andre Two and moving around the ring quickly.

Franco said afterwards, "Andre Two is a big guy. . .I had to move!"

Andre One sparred with Max for one round, and Andre One's punches seldom missed Max's head.  "Easy, easy!  You've got to work together, man," Alan told Andre One.  Max had enough after the bell rang.  I think Andre One wanted him to do another round, but Max waved it off.

I sparred with Sarah, which I hadn't done for awhile.  Andre One told me that I didn't get enough body shots in.  "It's hard because she has longer arms," I told him.  "You have to set her up in order to get the body shots in.  We'll work on that on Wednesday," he said. 

Art and I got in the ring for one round before he sparred with Andre One.  He told me the previous week that he wanted someone to throw punches directly at his face and head so he could get used to slipping them again.  I did not go hard on Art, but I moved around enough so he could get the practice in.  It was good practice for me, too.  I have a habit of aiming everywhere else except for someone's face and head, and the exercise helped me focus on doing that. 

Art does not hold his hands in the traditional way that boxers do.  He has martial arts training, so his guard is up and out a little farther than usual.  Before they got into the ring, Art kept joking that he wished that Max would have softened up Andre One a little more beforehand.  Andre One was dancing around Art, who really didn't want to chase him around the ring. 

Paul had to chase Andre One as well when they sparred.  "He's so fast," Paul commented.  "That's what I said the other week when I sparred with him," I said.  I can't easily chase people around the ring -- or anywhere else, for that matter -- easily anymore.  I have to rely more on strength, but that has its drawbacks if one can't get close enough to an opponent to get punches in.

Alan got a copy of the Chicago Park District boxing tournament schedule from Barry.  Scottsdale Park had a show already back in February.  The rest of the shows begin in July, which is late; usually, they begin in June.  Loyola Park's show is not until late September.  I noticed a few parks were missing from the list, including Simons Park.  Simons is probably not listed because there's no coach in place over there -- I'm guessing.  I still haven't heard back regarding my interview for that position. 

A check of the boxing web site I'm putting together revealed that I did a lot more work on it than I thought I had.  I'm just now getting back to writing more content after slacking off for several weeks.  Once I figure out how to put images on there -- thank God I have plenty of my own photos to place on there -- and how to monetize it, I'll be in business.