Fighting as a Legend

Some students have a background, identity, interest or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

1,2,3,2…1,1,2,5…1,6,5,3…at first you have to remember each combination, which move is next, but after a while it becomes instinctive: in a bout you don’t have time to think. Despite boxing’s bad rap for being barbaric, it’s long been known as the “sweet science” — every move is carefully calculated. Its beauty lies in its simplicity: the principles of physics and the kinetics of the human body. So almost every movement—defensive and offensive — in boxing has the same foundation. A left hook (3) or a slip to the right (dodging an opponent’s left strike by dropping to the right side) both set you up to deliver a right handed blow or an evasive slip to the left. A left upper cut (5) can lead to a pivot to avoid an opponent’s punch, or to deliver a right hook, or punch. Each movement builds from the last and prepares for the next. It is like walking: after extending your left leg and right arm, you then continue with your right leg and left arm. This seems automatic to us but it wasn’t always, which you know if you’ve ever watched a baby attempt his first steps. It’s the same with boxing: right then left, then right then left. Even if you punch with your left hand twice, say a 3,5 combination, you still rotate your right shoulder forward between the two punches to prepare for the next left handed punch.

I originally started my martial arts studies with tae kwon do. I switched to boxing because of the personalization of the sport — every boxer has a unique style; there are no strict rules. It also comes in handy to know how to defend yourself when you could be seen as a typical Jewish day school student. I was drawn to boxing too because of the intense preparation and dedication it requires — long conditioning, the endless practicing, and tough sparring— all for 540 seconds. To be a good boxer you must start from the bottom and work your way up: your stance, how to walk around a ring, your first two punches, defense, and then putting it all together. You need a strong foundation.

The main aspect of boxing that sets it apart from other sports is the instant feedback loop, telling you that you are doing well or that you aren’t doing so well — a punch is informative. One day I was throwing some punches on the heavy bag, finding my form, when I noticed another boxer, older and quite experienced (who didn’t speak a word of English), watching me. He came over, held my bag— a nice gesture —and when I shot out a straight right (2) he clocked the left side of my head. It was his way of telling me, jumping the language barrier, that I was dropping my left too much. I don’t do that anymore.

We (boxers) are like debaters; each fighter knows what they want to accomplish, and has practiced going about it, but reacting to your opponent is the key to winning. Too many people believe boxing is just a pair of brutes hitting each other back and forth until one is finished. But there is so much more to it. When thinking of the greatest fighter of all time, Odysseus comes to mind — it’s not because of his massive strength (Ajax has him there), but rather his agile mind. When juxtaposed with Achilles, he makes it obvious that fighting is a mental sport which is only incidentally physical, and that’s the beauty of the sport for me.

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