magic click to enlarge any of them:
As it screams, I think of Marechera, who was a “manfish” and to this extent in limbo or dead — “subtracted” from humanity himself. A manfish is a person who has drowned, and whose spirit becomes a fish. “I’ve been a manfish all my life. Maria, you did well to leave me. I must go.” And Maria, in the short story about the benevolent mould around the hut wall, signifying moisture as the blessing of the rains, is the blessing of organic life processes. The death of “Maria”, in his short story, is the effect of drought on Nature. Political awareness is the fruit of good and evil which, once eaten, signals the end of the innocent organic life lived in Eden. Marechera — a political, rather than spiritual fellow — is dead to his tribe.
Knowledge of good and evil (politics) equals death: this is the fundamental lesson from the Garden of Eden. And yet the infinity sign twists as we travel along its line, from one side to the other. Knowledge = the promise of power;a satanic delight. Marechera takes sides with the daemonic:. a product of the spiritual “other side”.
There are always two sides of the coin and one preserves this form of the human condition through self-awareness. Being human: a kind of sane insanity.
Tomorrow I’ll go sparring again. I’m led to believe that there will be two more there this time, for me to spar. It should be fun!
I spoke to one of them yesterday, and he told me something that I had also been feeling, “I m training harder, but I feel like I’m getting less fit. I can’t do more than two rounds, even.”
Perhaps it is something about sparring in a boxing ring that raises the tempo:
1. You have nowhere to go, to get away from the opponent, so you are forced to work harder.
2. It feels kind of ‘exciting’! — kind of ‘professional” — so you tend to spar harder.
3. Being up against the ropes or caught in the corner produces a high amount of adrenaline — which tends to use up one’s energy extremely quickly.
So, for all the reasons given above, those of us who are used to doing five or six rounds before starting to feel really tired are finding that, at best we can only do two.
Perhaps, this will start to change tomorrow, and we’ll find that we can do a few more.
I’ve made some steady work towards putting all the necessary footnotes into my black sunlight paper now. I just need to acquire a couple more books from the library today, and I am set.
Yesterday evening I drank more than half a bottle of white wine and went to bed early. It is apparent that I am growing muscles in my upper arms and shoulders. Today my right bicept felt all hard and large as if I’d innoculated it the day before.
Fought a probation purple belt yesterday, twice my size — and I guess he was tired, but I more than equalised him. Did three rounds of wrestling, two rounds of focus mitt work, half a round of shadow boxing, and two rounds of sparring. Today I did three thirty second sprints on the beach. Yesterday I paid for a tang soo do competitor to enter a tournament in Maputo, Zimbabwe.
Well, I’m still as fast as I plan to be in the gym. Yesterday’s couple of rounds was a return after a week and a half absence, and I will say that this is a bad thing. You need to be in the mind of boxing, to do it well, which means keeping your eyes open as a flurry of punches come in. (Traditional Muay Thai practitioners go waist deep into the ocean and smash up the water to cause it to enter their eyes as training to keep their eyes open during a bout.)
The progress I have made in the past two weeks is clearly not stylistic, but in terms of body mass. My neck and shoulders are much bigger now (not so well evidenced by the pictures, which were taken from the base of the boxing ring — hence the distortion of the images). When I lean my neck backwards, I feel that I am being cradled in something like a plastic baby chair on some parental backseat. It is actually extra sinew and fibre.
In other news, I’ve noticed some amount of bruising.
Addendum–Apparently, it’s rope burn, from when I was pushkicked back against the ropes.
It’s getting hard to go back to the gym and training, because, well, Tuesday’s training was a form of overtraining, uncouth to woman and animal alike.
Yet I’ll go and train to the level that I’m able.
Last night’s climbing up the cinema steps — ooh, the agony!
Did eight more rounds today and really sweated it. The change is that my whole body seems warmly integrated now, an efficient heat-generating machine, rather than parts struggling to co-ordinate themselves together. The skipping is the worst. Ooh, ah, it is just the worst! We had to stay in the red corner and then the blue corner of the boxing ring, thunderously skipping 2 minutes here, two minutes there. That sounds easy, but the strain is felt most predominantly in the calf muscles, especially after having done four hard bag rounds on legs still aching from the week before. The resonant ka-boom of the boxing platform upon each leap and landing is only partly off-putting. It’s the calf muscles that fire up, almost double clenching, like two fists, a vivisectionist’s wet dream, growing, grasping from the ankles up — that makes me wince.
Why should women learn self defence? Let me see.
Knowing self defence can increase women’s self-confidence, independence, mental and physical health, and more. It can give women goals and the knowledge that they can achieve the goals they set. This builds self-esteem, and enables women to know that they can do whatever they set their minds to do. A stronger body means a stronger mind. When you train hard, you think better, and your mind is sharper. Having a sharp mind also enables you to think ahead, to make the correct decisions, and make them quickly. You get the best out of life and actually feel more alive.
Knowing self defence gives you the confidence to stand up for others who are in a bad situation. It gives you greater moral strength. You can decide what is right or wrong about a situation and then you can act upon your decision. It gives women power to say no to those things that are wrong because they do harm. It enables them to be upstanding members of the community, who are loved and respected for how they act and think.
Self defence builds and nourishes the body, (as well as the mind), so that women are less likely to succumb to every sort of disease. It enables women to be more responsible and strong. It enables them to continue to fight for what is right, even when the going gets hard. It teaches one to think clearly under pressure, even during those times when everything is going wrong.
Knowing self defence is absolutely vital for a full and effective life.
I am amazed and delighted at what kickboxing is teaching me these days. Previously, it seems, I did not have the time I needed to focus on what was at hand. These days, I believe that I have made enough intellectual project on my self-allotted tasks that I can set aside the time to focus on my training. For the first time in a long time, I do not feel the tug of conscience warning me to put first things first, making intellectual work the first priority.
I am in love with the developments I feel taking place within my mind and body. I almost didn’t expect it. When I finish a round, I am tired, but the second wind, the third wind, the fourth, fifth, sixth winds, seem to come upon me, at last, breathing fire into my lungs, infusing succour to melting hot adrenaline.
It’s funny how people say things in the real world like, “you’re getting defensive.” How long and hard we practice working on our defences. The drop of the guard is so natural with the swing of the hips. We must impose every effort of intensity to stop this naturalness. We must get defensive — or open ourselves up to the risks of getting hit. So, martial arts is teaching me about things I hadn’t expected to learn –the practice of being defensive in real life is a minimisation process in terms of getting hit.
It doesn’t feel natural to practice one’s defenses in the psychological and political spheres. Yet, it is something one must learn to do, for all that.
I’m making up the rounds I need to do quite quickly now. What? I did 12 last Saturday, then 6 or so on Tuesday, 8 on Thursday, 4 on Friday and 8 on Saturday. Bearing in mind that these are 2-minute rounds, 38 of them are only 25 three-minute rounds, if that. Yet, I’m doing them quickly. As my fitness rapidly improves, I will start to do those that I do in my own free time as three-minute rounds.
I am required to do 90 three-minute rounds before I grade again.
I shall go running on the beach today, to continue to build up my calf muscles along with my aerobic capacity. I find that running in sand is very useful for developing the leg muscles necessary to do sparring. Holding the fighting stance for a duration is one of the greatest strains when fighting. You want to stand up tall to relieve the strain of the constantly taut leg muscles. Yet, standing up straight is bad. You can’t move so quickly from this tall position and your stability is weakened. You can, indeed, be knocked over much more easily, once you stand tall.
I find that my natural athletic propensities equip me for long distance running. My frame is naturally ectomorphic. I’m small boned, and have a very high metabolism (I eat about five times as much as Mike does, and do not put on weight.) I could have made a good marathon runner, I think.
Yet, martial arts training requires the development of a different physique. Even the ectomorphic frame must acquire the kinds of muscles which enable stop-start movements, as a priority. The kind of muscles that I need in my legs (but constantly need to work to develop) are those commonly known as fast twitch muscles. It is not known if the body can actually create more of a different kind of muscle type, depending on the type of training.
My natural athleticism has always equipped me to run great distances easily, but not, I find, to change direction quickly (as you often need to do in sparring) — not without soon feeling too much strain. This means that despite the amount of training I have done, I still have a predominance of slow twitch muscles. (I see this most obviously when I do shuttle runs in the gym and the pain it costs doing this type of stop-start activity.)
On the other hand, I do see many of the advances I have made in acquiring muscle mass when I go up against a white belt, or one of the lower belts. I’m very, very strudy compared to these. Comparatively speaking, those who have done little or no training are like ragdolls.
A new training block of martial arts. I can’t say I am looking forward to the toughness of it. It will be harsh. My face will learn to grimace anew, blood will pelt through my veins, my reflexes will be improved. I shall become terrible.
We grabbed partners and did sparring drills today. We practiced leg jamming (to block a roundhouse kick whilst upsetting the rhythm of the opponent. We practiced elbow strikes to the head and how to judge your distance from your opponent in order to effectively perform one. We also practiced catching a roundhouse leg, pulling it and then spinning it in such a direction as to open up the opponent to a head hook.
It was joyous!