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fun with kicking & punching

April 9, 2011

Wednesday evening of this past week I had another first; I tried my hand (foot? leg?) at kickboxing.

Eons ago, on the day before the earthquake hit, Eric’s friend Jees came to our apartment for an IT refresher course with Eric in preparation for an interview he had the next day (I’m going to assume it did not happen as planned). While he was here he mentioned that he’d just come from a kickboxing class at the Shinjuku Sports Center in Takadanobaba, just 10-15 minutes from our apartment on foot.

Of course, I was immediately intrigued. I’ve had a lot of fun in my Group Kick class this past year or so, and I had briefly toyed with the idea of looking for some kind of martial arts or defense class outside of my gym on occasion. I was also looking for a new Thursday activity, so it seemed to fit perfectly into my plans.

Jees explained that the class was taught by his friend Kenta, who Eric and he have gone out drinking with after work many times, and only cost ¥400, the fee for entering the Sports Center. I was all over the idea, and made plans to tag along the following week, possibly even with Eric in tow, since it was his friends doing the class.

Obviously once the quake hit our grand plans were totally derailed and somewhat forgotten as gym closures and power shortages affected all aspects of life for the first few weeks.

My favorite pre-strength training breakfast: greek yogurt w/ berries, nuts, & chia seeds + coffee w/ milk.

This week, Jees contacted Eric to let him know that kickboxing had resumed as of last week, but that it was temporarily relocated to a different venue in Kabukicho, and asked if we wanted to come. I waffled a bit, since I’d done a Rachel Cosgrove strength workout that morning and hadn’t really planned on going out again, but ultimately curiosity got the best of me and I headed out to meet Jees at 7 pm as suggested. Eric abandoned us and instead hit up BurgerxBurger for dinner in my absence.

Kickboxing turned out to be much more hardcore than I’d been expecting. I’m not quite sure what I’d envisioned, but the way Jees described it as a class definitely seems to have shaped my expectations somewhat, and a class it definitely was not. In reality, I found myself standing in a small, hardcore kickboxing gym in the middle of Kabukicho with three large men, and with pairs of other guys sparring around us.

And by sparring I mean going at each other with real power behind their attacks. They were using pads to lead punches and kicks rather than actually fighting, but it was intense. There was some blood at one point. Well, two points, but it was the same guy and his same nose doing the bleeding, so it really only counts as one, I suppose.

Lunch du jour: the last of the three-bean chicken chili on a fried egg w/ another huge salad on the side.

Kenta and the other guy who showed up, Daisuke (another one of Eric and Jees’ drinking buddies) had both been kickboxing since high school, and apparently were quite competitive in the past. They had Jees explain the basics to me while they did some training off to the side, then handed me a pair of gloves and took turns getting me to punch their pads in three-minute spurts.

Punching for real? It’s kind of hard. I’ve done jabs and hooks and uppercuts and all that in Group Kick, but those are all nebulous movements with no actual target. This was first time I’ve actually thrown punches that connected with something, and been goaded into putting more actual power behind them.

It was fun. Hard to adjust to the rhythm the first time around, but fun. I was surprised at how very focused I managed to get during spurts of following the pads and punching. I almost had some sort of tunnel vision and lost awareness of everything around me but the pads I was aiming for. It made me feel pretty hardcore myself!

The gym was pretty crowded, so much of our time there after the first 1/2 hour or so was spent standing around watching the more experienced fighters and waiting for space to squeeze in. This was great for me, since it gave me time to rest and observe proper form, but I think my two experienced Japanese companions were disappointed at not getting enough time to practice.

Early dinner of leftover mashed potatoes & pesto chicken meatballs w/ sautéed spinach & mushrooms.

Eventually they decided to take advantage of the situation to teach me some actual kicking, which I practiced on a giant weighted bag hanging from the ceiling to one side of the gym. That was fairly humbling. It is pretty impossible to look anything but ridiculously uncoordinated the first time you lift your leg to kick one of those bags.

Overall, I enjoyed my first experience with kickboxing. The actual venue was a bit hardcore for my liking, but it was an interesting contrast to the more cardio oriented combat classes I’ve taken before. I think that once they return to the usual Sports Center it might be less intimidating. I’ve heard there is another girl who participates in their group, which might make me feel less self-conscious being there. I do think it would be worth going back to try another couple of times to see how I like it once I become more accustomed to it.

Maple banana softserve w/ whey protein + coconut, cacao nibs & OSG inspired cookie dough balls.

While there, Jees mentioned that in addition to kickboxing he also goes bouldering (or indoor climbing? I’m not sure which) once a week or so. I’ve been interested in trying that out for quite a while now, so it’s very possible I may try to tag along for that in the near future as well. Maybe I can even get Eric to come along this time.

Anyone else out there ever try kickboxing or a similar combat sport? What did you think?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2011 9:48 pm

    Hey Maya, I’ve just stumbled upon your blog (actually googling “kickboxing takadanobaba”!) and wanted to let you know what a nice find it was! Your blog seems really interesting and I love the recipes you include too!

    • May 4, 2011 10:21 pm

      Hey, thanks for your comment and for stopping by! :D

      It’s funny that you found me by searching for kickboxing in Takadanobaba, since I’ve only recently been talking about it! What lead you to search for that? Looking to start up kickboxing.. or looking for a place to practice in Baba? :D

      Unrelated!: I checked out your blog (you have some gorgeous photos up!) and see that you’ve been to Libre Burrito. I heard about it opening recently but haven’t been myself yet. How do they compare to places like Frijoles?

      • May 5, 2011 2:22 pm

        Thanks for your response! I used to do a bit of kickboxing (just fitness stuff, nothing serious) when I lived in Sydney and felt like getting back into it again. So I’m still on the lookout for a good and convenient place.

        I think Libre and Frijoles are on par with each other in terms of taste. Libre burritos are bigger and they are in an easier location for me to get to. So they win points for that. Frijoles does a better margarita and the burrito is ready much faster too. You should check Libre out and let me know what you think!

        • May 11, 2011 2:07 pm

          Cardio kick type classes are my favorite and the reason I was interested in trying out kickboxing in the first place. I’ve done a Group Kick class at my gym for about a year and half and super fun.

          I totally plan to try Libre, but both it and Frijoles are a little out of my usual circles, so it hasn’t happened yet. Soon, though! I can’t let a burrito go untested for long in this town. :D

          I haven’t had the margaritas at Frijoles, but the ones at Salsita in Hiroo are amazing. That’s a bit pricier and more straight up Mexican fare, though.

  2. nalle permalink
    August 10, 2011 2:47 pm

    Hi :)

    I’ve been searching for a place to train kickboxing in the takadanobaba/shinjuku area, and I was wondering if the training is still ongoing, if they have a website, and how to get a hold of them? I have found some more generic places, but would like to see if I can find a smaller club or group to train with..

    If you could help me get in touch with these guys I would be really grateful.
    Sincerely,

    Nalle

    • September 4, 2011 12:34 pm

      Hi nalle!

      I’m sorry for the late reply, I was sort of on a summer blog hiatus and missed your comment before! Sadly my work schedule changed so I am not doing the kickboxing anymore.. just cardio kick classes at my gym a couple times a week. Not quite the same as the real thing, but the music & choreography aspect is a ton of fun.

      I’d like to start getting back into doing the real thing again now that my schedule has stabilized some. If I hear anything I’ll let you know! :D

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