fun with kicking & punching
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?