Flag Associations, and Perspective

Read all of this or read none of it, your choice. For many, you will get to the end and not have gotten what I’m trying to say at all. You don’t have to agree, that’s not the point, but for once this week, just clear your mind and read.

I was out cleaning some things up in the garage today, trying to figure out a way not to be doing that.  I was giving thought to symbols, specifically flags, and how different groups feel about them.  Then I hit upon something that changes my perspective on one topic and cemented it in another.

Many are upset at the flag flown for the South in the Civil War.  Many things are said about this flag, but one of the major things is that the Confederacy was fighting to keep slavery.  What percentage or part that slavery played in the Civil War is debated, but for certain, it was a part of it.  Historians have knowledge of this, but the influence slavery had isn’t the key topic, it’s enough to say it was part of the equation.

Since slavery is part of the equation, the flag representing the side that was fighting for the equation is associated with it.

“That flag represents slavery.”

“That flag doesn’t represent slavery; it represents my Southern heritage.”

“Your heritage was involved in fighting to keep slavery intact.”

“No, I was born and raised in the South, that is all it means.”

Back to me.

I was taught in history that slavery was a catalyst for the war but wasn’t what it was all about.  That was taught by a high school history teacher, and no doubt that person was taught that by their schooling or textbook or whatever was used to form that opinion.  Therefore I feel that person believed what they said.  Does that matter? Indeed, it does.  Most times, it is WHY a person does something, not necessarily WHAT they actually do.  Two people fight, it’s one thing.  Two people fight because they hate the others skin color?  That’s another thing.

So …. Those that have objections to the Confederate flag cannot separate slavery from that symbol.  They just can’t, or it doesn’t serve the purpose.

For most people, it’s the “can’t,” and I understand that.

Why do I now get that?  Is it that I couldn’t understand the perspective before just 20 minutes ago?  No, that’s not it, I kindof got it.  But now I UNDERSTAND it.


I understand it now because I cannot separate what my family members (grandparents, uncles) went through while in the service under our great flag, for our great nation.

When people stomp on the flag, or burn the flag, or disrespect the flag in any way, I immediately think of my Grandpa Henry. He went through several campaigns in Italy and even guarded Bonito Mussolini’s body when he was taken down.  I think of my Uncle Jimmy going up and down rivers in a PT boat taking fire and being lucky to have lived through it.  I think of Grandpa Johnson, John Begley, the Husic family members, and others that I’m not immediately remembering.  What they went through for the flag resonates deep within me.

When athletes kneel, they say, “It’s not about the military or service members, it’s about civil rights.”  I hear you, and am sympathetic and fight for the cause, but I cannot separate what I associate with the flag and what you are doing in front of it.  You just can’t put them in different boxes.  When you buy a car, you get a steering wheel.  It just comes with the vehicle.  Same here.

Does the above sound anything like what is going on with the Confederate flag and the association to slavery?  Yes, it does.  Immediately both sides of this issue are going to say, “BUT IT’S NOT THE SAME!!”

Oh, yes, it is.  You don’t think it is because you have a perspective.  Your mind will slam shut and start spouting off this and that.

Open your mind.  Know that people have associations to flags, and you have a DIFFERENT association.  It makes 100% sense to each person on what their association is, and the others are just stupid idiots, right?

Yeah, sometimes, but that is just a small amount of people.  Your normal everyday citizen isn’t the people who are causing the majority of the problems.

Now I know you.  You are saying “Yeah they need to open their damn minds and ….”

No, I’m taking to YOU.  This is about YOU realizing the thought process is the SAME, from a different point.

Can YOU understand my perspective on the American flag?  Can I understand YOUR perspective on the Confederate flag?  I do NOW because I have been thinking about it for several weeks.

I desire to think from the point of understanding.  Not apologetic, as I wasn’t alive when all this happened, AND I fight for all humans.  I don’t HAVE to say any lives matter because it was never a question in my mind.  I’ve taken beatings for other people, just because they couldn’t.  Having said that, I get what “Black Lives Matter” means.  Solidarity, brothers, and sisters.

So, have you stopped to ponder if your perspectives on the Confederate flag and the American flag contradict each other?  Can you understand your point of view but not someone else’s?  Are you striving to open your mind and be willing to say, “Yeah, I get what you are saying, and you know what? I’m going to ponder upon it a bit.”

I CAN’T, in good conscience, say, “They are disrespecting my and all service members who fought under the flag” and NOT say, “I understand the associations you are making on the Confederate flag.”  You should be able to do both.

Stay safe.  Now back to cleaning the garage.

Calf Not Fully Cooperating Yet – What To Do?

Each week I listen to my calf area to see if I can increase my workload.  Can I skip rope?  Can I skip rope a bit more?  How about ring work, can that be increased?  Will increased aggressiveness doing any kind of boxing activity be just the amount of force needed to go backward, or will things be ok?

In weeks past I’ve been able to slightly increase each what I’m doing.  Plain activity isn’t the issue, it’s a plyometric type of movements like forcefully pushing off or landing, that is the issue.  Jumping jacks, box jumps, skip rope, some footwork drills ….. all are candidates to provoke it.  I’m happy that I’m able to push forward ever so slightly, but that pace puts me behind where I need to be to survive Fight Night.

In addition to plain boxing skills, I need to be conditioned enough to put up a fight into the third round.  I can either be better conditioned, more efficient, or smarter in what I do …. or all of it.

I had chosen all of it.


My calf wasn’t part of the thought process in this choice.  On Tuesday morning my calf let me know it was not happy with how I’ve been conducting myself.  It said, “Now Mike, remember who is running the show here?”  Oh yeah, thanks for the reminder.

I’m not able to do certain activities for a while.  How do I increase conditioning and work on boxing skills?  My calf conditioning is one of the things that need to most work.  Can’t do three rounds of two-minute chaos if your legs aren’t up for the task.

The answer to what to do is simple, and not so simple.  Simply speaking the answer is “You do what you can’t and nothing more.”  Thanks, self, that’s great advice.  Jackass.

It’s going to be a reality that my calf just isn’t going to get the work that I feel is needed to be ready.  It’s just not.  With that in mind, I need to do everything else and wish for the best.

I’m not going to work a bunch of fancy boxing techniques.  I’m going to stick with the basics and get better at them.  Basic punches, basic defense, basic footwork, and all that.  I’m going to have to figure out how to spar and not throw my calf into a tizzy.  Thousands of punches will need to be thrown on the heavy bag, using a two-minute timer, to ensure my arms don’t go dead.  Battle ropes will have to be …. battled to get extra work in.  Air squats, wall sits, whatever …. for the legs.  I’m going to break my bicycle out and get going on it (post to follow!).  I could drop about 10 lbs of bodyfat as well, that can always help.

In the end, I just have to do what I can.

Screw you, calf.

Jabber Jaw Can Kiss My Ass

One of the keys to my progression as a boxer and surviving Fight Night is making sure I jab until the cows come home. Smartly, of course. You may say “Duh, the jab is the foundation for everybody, you idiot!” and I really couldn’t argue with you. However, for me personally on this Fight Night, it’s more important than most of the other fighters. I’m slower, less experienced, less conditioned, and taller. I’m working on ALL aspects that need improvement but the reality is, I need to use my height and reach to jab them into submission.

This I already knew.

Of course on my first live sparring, that “I already knew this…” went right out the window. Well, today my boxing coach not only brought it back in the window, he made it a place at the dinner table, made ME cook it dinner, and then let it sit in my favorite chair and use the remote. It immediately switched the channel to Lifetime Movie Network just to taunt me.

JabberJawBoxingI jabbed and jabbed and on and on until I hallucinated and saw Jabber Jaw across from me, bobbing and weaving and saying “Nyuck nyuck nyuck!” as I wildly missed. I hate that stupid shark.

My left shoulder is hurting. Not injury hurting, but “push it real good!” hurting. Tomorrow is going to be interesting. I’m going to have to get my own intern just to open doors and brush my teeth.

Today is Monday.  On Tuesday I’ll do active rest to include shadowboxing.  Wednesday is a mitts class, Thursday more active rest, and then Friday will be live sparring.

Progress is all I require of myself.  To do that I need to make sure my week is smartly planned.  To do too much is going backwards, and I’ve had enough of that.

I’m going to need a bigger boat.

I Lost My Way Last Week

I ramped up my training last week.  That Friday was live sparring, my calf/leg was feeling good, and motivation was high. During the week I started to feel lethargic because I wasn’t recovering well enough to start the next session “fresh enough”. Either my training volume was higher than my ability to recover, or my nutrition was holding it back or some combination of something.

I responded by over-eating and cutting out some training sessions to make sure everything was taken care of. I didn’t KNOW I was severely over-eating, but that’s what happened. It went on until Saturday until I slapped myself silly and told myself to get hold of me, and stop doing that.  Then on Sunday, I didn’t do that, probably out of pity to myself.

Today I am back on track and will increment my training at a slower pace. I’ve got 10 weeks until my event, and I think I lost a week due to all this. I can’t have that happen anymore.

Tonight is my mitts session and I’m going to go as hard as my fitness allows me to go.  Then tomorrow morning I’ll adjust my workout (battle ropes, sled) to fit how well I’ve recovered.  Tomorrow afternoon is a fitness boxing session and if needed, I’ll cruise through it rather than destroy myself and my ability to do anything on Wednesday.  If I don’t go “enough” during the fitness boxing I’ll stay after and finish off.

What throws wrenches into all of this is that I have two defined things I need to be fresh for.  On Monday evening my mitts session needs to be very productive so I need energy and focus.  On Friday evening I have live sparring so that is a key event.  Pushing forward and holding back will be difficult, but I need to settle into a rhythm and get it done.

Purchased My Own Boxing Headgear

Using headgear has become a bit controversial.  One thought is that by using it one could reduce the focus on defense and receive more shots to the head.  While each shot would be less damaging than what would happen if no headgear was worn, the cumulative affect would be more damaging.  It’s a similar argument that exists in many sports where the protective gear allows for more aggressiveness and potentially less care.

I understand that argument.  I don’t know what the reality of it is, but I understand it.  Personally, I think it’s an individual thing.  If you come to rely on it then yes, I can see it.  If headgear is just another protective tool in your toolbox and you still work as hard as you can on avoiding blows to the head, then it’s a smart precaution.

However ….. none of that really matters as the rules of amateur boxing, and specifically, the ones used by MPower during their Fight Night are clear …. you WILL wear approved headgear.

Punchout Glass Joe
Punchout Glass Joe

MPower has headgear for us to use.  It’s good gear.  If I could find headgear that fit just right, get it adjusted, and use that same headgear each time, I’d use theirs.  Obviously, I can’t guarantee that.  Last night before our sparring, we all went to get headgear and there was enough to go around but I just started to think that maybe I should get my own.  I had considered getting my own headgear a few days ago, but I made the decision to pull the trigger while I was walking towards the gear and everybody else was picking a set out.  I’m serious about training, and Fight Night, so I should commit to some gear.

During sparring I got hit in the head a few times by jabs, one cross and one hook.  I’m working on not having that happen but it’s going to.  Since I WILL get hit, and I’ll be 50 years old by the time Fight Night occurs, I want to make sure I get a good set of headgear.  I don’t need top of the line, but I also don’t want to cheap out either.


After losing some sleep researching over the last few days, and specifically last night, I decided to go with Rival Boxing’s RHG10 INTELLI-SHOCK HEADGEAR.

I read many reviews and watched youtube reviews as well, and several stood out as what I was looking for.  In the end, I just went with a gut feeling and chose this one.  Why?  Not sure.  Maybe I just liked the looks of it, or when I winked at it I got a wink back?  Heck, not sure why, but it was on my short list and I don’t think it would have mattered which one I chose.

I have no opinion on how it will feel, or work for me.  When it arrives I’ll get it fitted and then wear it while doing non-sparring training, just to get used to it.  They are supposed to arrive this coming Monday.  If they do I’ll wear it while sparring and see how they hold up for real (sparring) use.

So … there you go.  I’ve got my own headgear.  It’s a good feeling.

First Real Contact Sparring Session

Last night was the first official sparring session to prepare for MPower’s Fight Night.  It was full contact, full go, no restrictions.  We first warmed up, which in itself was a good workout for me at this point in my conditioning, then began the sparring.  The ladies got in the ring first, three at a time.  Fighter 1 and Fighter 2 went for 30 seconds then Fighter 2 and 3, then 3 and 1.  They did that for two cycles for two minutes total of action each.  The rest of us stayed loose and/or observed.

After they were done it was the guy’s turn.  There were five guys total so two went then three of us got in the ring.  Each mini-round was 45 seconds, which doesn’t sound like much unless you haven’t’ done it.  Of the guys in my group, I was the only one that did not participate in the last Fight Night.  Additionally, it had been YEARS since I had done anything like this and even then it wasn’t as well ran.  We just swung and brawled, etc.

What happened to me has been done by countless people before me.

When it was my turn any training at all went right out the door.  I attempted to jab, which should be a huge part of my plan, but somehow nothing seemed to go right.  The guy I sparred first was shorter with less reach, yet I couldn’t get anything on him yet he landed jabs on me.  I know there is stepping, movement, etc. but I would think it would have gone slightly better.  My expectations of my first spar were low, and I succeded in coming in under them.  I think he did a good job and represented himself well.  I suspect I didn’t give him the work he was looking for though.  I’ll have to better for my partners in the future.

The second guy I sparred with was far more polished, and I knew that going in.  He is very nice and helps me whenever we are in a class together.  He did the last Fight Night and I think he has done more of these types of fights in the past.  He held back on me most of the time.  I’m not sure if I landed ANYTHING on him, but it was a good experience trying.  He rung my bell once and my mouthguard almost left my mouth.  My jaw is feeling that today.

Overall it was very disappointing.  I know it’s a common thing for people sparring but it left me wondering if they were going to be able to pair me with someone similar to me.  Sure, I should improve each week, and since everybody else has done it and I have not, the gap should close a bit, but how much?  I don’t mind getting hit but I’d like to box and just not get punched around.  The other fighter wants a good match, and the facility doesn’t want lopsided pairings.

So …. a few things I know I need to improve, in no particular order:

  1. Conditioning – I was tired after the warmup.  I know this and it’s because my conditioning is so far behind.  Of course, when the sparring started I wasted energy all over, held my breath, etc. and that made the situation worse, but even before that, I was a bit fatigued.
  2. Movement – I don’t think I moved anywhere without a very conscious effort.  Not when I was on offense, not when I was on defense.
  3. Defense – Sort of under the category of movement, but specifically I didn’t slip, duck or anything else.  THIS will be my most difficult thing to improve upon.  It’s foreign to me.  I have defense and movement but it’s not BOXING defense and movement.  I have to unlearn and relearn.
  4. Jab jab jab jab jab – And more.  Jab and move.  Move and jab.  Wash, rinse, repeat.
  5. Counter – Got to work on that.  If the sparring partner knows that no counter is coming, then they can tee off a bit more.  No jab, no counter, I’m a heavy bag.

In conclusion, I need work.  I have to get used to the chaos of the ring and do a better job in all aspects of boxing.

Trying To Manage All Aspects Of Training For First Amateur Fight

I’m trying to move towards falling into a routine for my training but I have a few seemingly conflicting goals.

Each time I increase one, it pulls the other down.  Incrementally I’m adjusting, but I’d like to figure it out a it quicker.

I need to:

  • Get leaner
  • Get my legs and lungs ready for Fight Night, which is 11 weeks away
  • Continue to work on imbalances, which is my entire posterior chain
  • Be rested at certain times like Friday Night Sparring
  • Not try to do too much and become injured

My current schedule is:
Monday – 5:30 am boxing fitness @MPower; 6:30 pm Mitts with Monty @MPower
Tuesday – 11:30 am boxing fitness @ PFit (near work); shadowbox, footwork, skip rope, etc.
Wednesday – 5:30 am boxing fitness @ MPower; Imbalance correction session, shadowbox, footwork, skip rope, etc. @ PFit
Thursday – Active recovery. Shadow boxing, movement drills, etc. Nothing strenuous
Friday – Friday Night Sparring
Saturday – 9:00 am Boxing Fitness @ MPower
Sunday – Lay around the house and avoid things

I’ve not been to a real sparring session to prep for Friday Night Fights, so I don’t know what to expect. Two Fridays ago was an “Open Ring” type thing, and we got some great work, but not contact sparring. Therefore it’s an unknown so, for now, I want to make sure I arrive fresh and rested.

The conflicts that I have revolve around my conditioning to get through three rounds of an amateur fight. If one gets too tired, then one gets sloppy, and it turns into a survival fight instead of boxing. I don’t want my conditioning to be a hindrance, beyond the reality of engaging in that type of activity. I know I also need to work on my resistance training to increase lean body mass and to correct those imbalances, but I’m running out of time. I only have so much “recovery” in me, though that is increasing as I get more fit.

Some ideas I have are to only do three boxing fitness classes per week to include Saturday. I use those classes to increase general conditioning and to get my arms and body used to taking lots swings. However, would I be better served if I did a few miles of roadwork twice a week to get the legs in shape? At this point which is better for me?

A bunch of volume means I need to ensure I fuel for the activity and recover adequately. Getting that wrong doesn’t help the leaner body efforts. Focusing on the leaner body too much hurts the energy level and most certainly the recovery. Not enough recovery hurts the efforts of having my conditioning at a certain level by Fight Night. Getting some of the above wrong could lead to injury.

A revised week would look something like this:
Monday – 5:30 am boxing fitness @MPower; 6:30 pm Mitts with Monty @MPower
Tuesday – A few miles of roadwork/stairs in the morning; shadowbox, footwork, and resistance training in the afternoon @ PFit
Wednesday – 5:30 am boxing fitness @ MPower; Game time call on how my body is holding up and either do nothing in the afternoon or work on mechanics
Thursday – A few miles of roadwork/stairs in the morning; shadowbox, footwork, and resistance training in the afternoon @ PFit
Friday – Friday Night Sparring
Saturday – 9:00 am Boxing Fitness @ MPower
Sunday – Lay around the house and avoid things

Thoughts? Comments?

Small Success Today – Jump Rope

As I’ve mentioned before I’m been fighting a calf/leg injury/thing for a bit over two years.  I’ve been working hard on inching my way back to “I don’t have to think about it anymore” and recently I’ve been doing just a bit with explosive movements like the jump rope.  During a class, I’ll do jumping jacks and maybe a set of 10 jump rope.  Because it’s been going so well, today after a boxing fitness class I thought I’d do 10 sets of 10 jump rope to see how things go.  I made sure I was stretched and then off I went.  I’m happy to report that I felt nothing out of the ordinary during or after.  Tomorrow I’ll wake up early to go to a 5:30 am boxing fitness class and I’ll see if I can feel the affects.

If I don’t feel anything out of the ordinary during the class I’ll again do 10 sets of 10 jump ropes then leave it alone for a day.  From that point forward I’ll reduce the number of sets it takes me to get to 100, then work on increasing the actual volume.

So …. yeah me.

First Boxing Session With My Coach

Last night I met with my boxing coach for our first actual boxing session.  Though he has already watched me in in some fitness classes and some side work I put in, he ran me through a few things to evaluate.

I felt his evaluation was 100% accurate.  Of the things I need to work on (almost everything) the largest one is moving.  I’m a plodder and that just won’t work.  I’m wanting to box, not fight, and to be able to do that I need to move.  We worked on that a bit and he gave me a drill to do to start with.  I’m to start out with the often used squares and do basic movements.  Side to side, frontwards and back, etc.  As I’m doing with my time with the coach I’m focusing on the very basics and will work on them until they cannot be undone.  When the action of the ring starts, I need to be able to execute.  If I don’t have the basics down to automatic responses, nothing else will work.  Boxing, not fighting.

To get an idea of how to use the squares, watch the below from fightTIPS.  It will be what I’ll watch when I’m away from my coach.

He also adjusted my hook.  I was a “thumbs in” guy and he had me adjust it to “thumbs up”.  Additionally, we focused on my elbow being higher than I was used to.

The last portion of the session was to get going on some basic defensive movements.  Duck, slip, and lean back.  We ran through each of them a few times and then we worked on him calling them out and I executing using the same punch sequence.  Like in my footwork I found myself thinking too much and then getting locked up.  I know it’s part of the process but I got a bit frustrated.  I’d have to step back, regather, then get back in there.  I’ll assume we will stick with the same punch sequence until I’m a bit more automatic on what I do.  Who knows, that’s up to the coach, right?

The above isn’t all we did, but it’s the highlights.  I asked him to get me a copy of the notes from what we worked on so I could reinforce them on my own, in a slow and controlled environment.  I want to do it slow them speed it up.  I find that’s the way I improve and develop the muscle/mind memory.  I demand that I show improvement each week to let the coach know I’m worth investing in.

Protecting The Choppers – Venum Predator

If I’m going to get punched in the face quite a bit, I need to protect my teeth.  I spent a few evenings searching, reading reviews, and all the other things you do when you want to buy something and you don’t have anything in mind.

A mouthguard that would repeatedly do well in blog reviews and also did very well in user reviews is the Venum Predator.  I ordered it and it arrived.  I followed the instructions to form it and used it this morning.  I felt like an idiot trying to speak but I actually think it was just me hearing myself.  So far, so good on it and it’s comfortable to wear.  Haven’t gotten punched in the face yet, though.


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