winningOne of the sparring techniques that I’d always been aware of –but somehow never quite practiced– is that of crowding in on the other person, your opponent. It was reinforced to me a few weeks ago in the private lessons. It is your task and duty to do precisely that, to dominate the centre of the ring, whilst pushing the other person to its peripheries, “against the ropes”.

I’d known about this, but for some reason never practiced it, most likely because I felt that I still had a lot to learn about technique and so on without resorting to “mind games” (which could have been an easy forte). 

Yet, ‘mind games’ have to take primacy when you are physically weaker, or when self-preservation is preferred to an outlay of maximum effort along with maximum risk. (My enjoyment of risk for its own sake means that I often don’t see what should be palpably self-evident.)

The feeling of being crowded is something special in boxing. It feels like being overwhelmed to the point that you cannot think or intuit clearly how to respond. It feels like becoming that mythical gendered beast, the female hysteric. The point is to try to make the other person feel that way, whilst taking steps — literal steps — to evade the corners or the edges of the ring, where one can be made to feel this sensation.

It’s a lot easier to evade the corners when one has a mind to do so –that is, when one sets this goal as a top priority. Evading the corners with great speed also means that one is moving quickly, which will enable one to find the interesting angles on the opponent — the open jaw line coming in from the right, the exposed rib cage, the belly when crossing in with a roundhouse from the left.

In political battles, the stakes are about the same, and the feelings of either dominating or of losing one’s mind are also to be encountered here. To stay cool when one is in the corner, “against the ropes” and the subject of mental crowding is what we train for. To be able to still the mind to look for an opening when the whole world is raining down upon one’s head is the name of the game.

Those who take more blows than they hand out are often deemed “hysterics” in the world of politics and life — however there is rarely consideration given as to whether those who dominate and those defending are actually going pound for pound. The “hysterics” of the world can have more courage per mass than the clear winners do.  Weight in on the side of one, whilst mental strength is on the side of the other.

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