Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Thousands of Kicks

The kids are in school for the first time since winter break, and I have no idea what to do with myself.  I mean, there are a million things I'm supposed to be doing, but I just don't know where to start.  So I figured updating the neglected blog would be a good idea.  But I must be quick.  My Muay Thai class starts in an hour.

Yeah, I'm working out at a boxing/MMA gym now.  My wife gave me a membership for Christmas.  Naturally, I parlayed it into a big existential issue and wrote about it on The Atlantic.  The gist of the piece is that I've never been a fighter AT ALL, and I wanted to see if I had it in me, even in the controlled environment of a gym.

I've learned, especially after writing a piece about guns, that although The Atlantic is a pretty high-brow outfit, there is no shortage of commenters with very strong opinions.  The gun essay garnered over 130 comments, most of them telling me what an idiot I am, or what an idiot the other commenters are.  The piece I wrote about fighting also incited some passionate comments.  There were a number of people who said, "Go for it!  You'll have fun and gain confidence!"  But more of them said, "You're going to get a concussion and a broken fist!"  And one guy said he'd like to fight me, but because he lives in Florida, the "stand your ground" laws there would obligate him to shoot me with his "357." 

The people who warned me not to get involved in fight sports, many of them experienced fighters themselves (by their own account), must have envisioned an underground "fight club" scenario.  I don't take usually take crazy internet comments personally, but I have to say that, even though my impression of the gym before ever having stepped inside was that it was legit, if a bit douchey, these doomsayers had me a little rattled.

I showed up for my first class feeling wary.  As I have with almost every new thing I've tried, I started psyching myself out:  this vibe is weird...these guys look like douchebags...big, tattooed douchebags that can hit things really hard...this isn't for me...I wonder if I can get a refund...it smells like the inside of a ski glove in here...

After making the class jump rope for 10 minutes to warm up (can I still jump rope?...when was the last time I did this?...Hey!  I'm doing it!...Oh my god, I'm jiggling all over--this can't be intimidating to my opponents), the instructor partnered us up to practice kicks, punches, and blocks.  Oh shit...don't make me do this with the guy with the map of Samoa tattooed on his neck.  

There was only one other student who was there for the first time, so we were thrown together.  We strapped on our gloves and Thai pads, and started mixing it up.

Nydia was only 5'2" at most, but she was solid.  She had joined the class because she was there anyway while her 12-year-old son learned to box.   We kicked and punched each other (I had to hold the pads at abdomen level) for the next hour, then fistbumped one another and drove off in our respective minivans.

Since that first class, I've done a couple more Muay Thai sessions and a boxing class.  My partner at the last two Muay Thai classes has been a big black dude (is it racist to acknowledge that, of two fit, 220-pound guys, one white and one black, the black guy is 30%-40% more intimidating?) who has been boxing all his life and is just now starting with the Muay Thai.  He seems like a nice guy, and is very encouraging, going so far as to  not roll his eyes every time I land one of my sad little punches on his pads.


And what about the children?  Do you still think about them at all?

Is anybody interested in a Christmas day recap at this point?  No?  Well, you can just skim.  It was fun, we feasted, they got lots of toys.  This year, for some reason, it seems like the toys they got were especially "girly," and often princess themed.  People just can't help themselves, I guess.  The upshot is that I'm going to be more vigilant about the amount of stuff they're surrounded by that promotes gender essentialism.  I don't want to eradicate princesses and pink floof from their lives, because the girls love it, and there's probably no long-term harm in it as long as they eventually outgrow this phase.  Girls and boys are different, and there's not much point in denying that.  But we don't need to surround them almost exclusively with clothes, toys, books, and movies that constantly reinforce that message.

They love their princess swag, these girls.  But when I can drag them away from it, they also like to run and play and get dirty, and lately, ride.

Our new thing is to cruise to the park, me on my skateboard (which I dusted off for the first time in 10 years), and them on their scooters.

After scootering, they like to do some interpretive dance.


Crap.  Better put on my shiny shorts with dragons on the crotch and get to the gym!



  1. I'm with Muskrat - your badass quotient just went up a bit. Be careful though, if you start wearing Ed Hardy stuff your douchbag quotient will rise exponentially.

    1. I'm more of an Affliction and Tapout kinda douche.

  2. Keep at it. You'll love it! I did Muay Thai for years before I got married. I never broke any bones (mine or anyone else's) & I'm still the most non-confrontational person I know. Knowing I can shatter a guy's rib cage with one kick is satisfaction enough for me.

    Actually, the gym is walking distance from where we live now & the guy who ran it just returned from overseas & reopened. I'm planning on going back.

  3. "Nydia was only 5'2" at most, but she was solid..."
    That's funny.
    You've inspired me to dust off the Tae Bo DVD. Lol.

  4. I don't know where to start with the boxing stuff... but that's nice camera work on the skateboard! Has your blogging wealth allowed you to invest in a Steadicam? And who was steering the skateboard while you were looking backwards?


Don't hold back.


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