Friday, January 16, 2015
About Self-Defense and Gym Squabbles
I keep thinking about the parents who have placed their kids in the boxing gym in order for the kids to learn how to defend themselves. On the surface, it is a good idea. However, I've changed my stance about that slightly since I've become a coach.
It would be nice if most of the parents would ask their kids if they want to be in boxing. Some do, but most don't make it a choice. Sure, some kids will eventually get tired of being bullied and start kicking tail, like I eventually did when I was young. But every kid doesn't have the desire to be confrontational. There are also the kids like Princess, who love to write checks their behinds can't cash. I would like it if some parents really took good notes about their kids before signing them up to participate in any combat sport.
Some of the older kids think they don't have much to learn in boxing because they've already had a number of street fights. Boxing does have a bit of a disadvantage in a street fight because unlike the sweet science, street fights don't have rules. In fact, knowing mixed martial arts would probably be better in regards to handling street confrontations. However, a little bit of knowledge can sometimes get people in trouble, especially for some of the kids who have already had brushes with the law. If they get into a street fight, can't clearly prove they were acting in self-defense, and the law finds out they know how to box. . . .there will be legal problems galore.
Yesterday, I was holding the punch mitts for Marine, who has some good, solid hands. Tough and Little J had some squabbling going on. They kept running in and out of the ring while Marine and I were in there. Little J ran right in-between Marine and I, narrowly missing being caught by Marine's punches. Tough kept pestering me about Little J's behavior. "Look, don't come into the ring while I am running drills with someone nor when there is sparring taking place. People can get hurt! I can't pay attention to what everybody wants and the person standing in front of me at the same time," I warned. "Little J keeps hitting me," Tough whined. "Ignore him!" I said curtly, returning my focus to Marine.
Ma used to tell me to ignore kids who were verbally picking on me when I was in grade school. Honestly, I don't like when I sound like my mother, which happens too often when I'm attempting to keep order in the gym. But I wonder what the youths' parents are telling them at home about handling conflicts with others. I didn't hear Little J's comments as much, but Tough was talking as loud as she could. I couldn't figure out what set her off to cause her to threaten to hit Little J nor why she was insulting Curly. Anger management seems to be in order, not only for Tough, but several of the other kids, too. If they would take more of their frustrations out on the gym equipment, that would help.
"Sparring is practice fighting," I keep repeating every time one of the youth asks who won after a sparring session. I need to put a poster up on the wall with big bold letters saying, "Worry about winning a real boxing match." Many coaches/trainers have emphasized how important it is that fighters correct the bad habits seen during sparring. I do my best to correct what I see. Unfortunately, some of the kids aren't going to understand why certain techniques need to be followed until after losing a fight and perhaps, getting hurt. I don't want to see any of the kids get hurt. But some kids still can't separate boxing from street fights and what they see during professional wrestling matches and the UFC bouts. Even more of a concern is that a few of them insist on not learning the difference. That reminds me of what older people used to say when I was a kid: a hard-head makes for a soft behind. Kids being hard-headed during training is surely not going to help when they go into the park district boxing shows.