Shadowboxing in the Dark
Every human endeavor has its protocol, a vocabulary that is handed down, an alphabet from A to Z that must be committed to memory. Ideally, we grow from “baby talk” to full, articulated sentences. Any skip in the process leaves its gap. The wider and more numerous the gaps, the looser and weaker the structure.
Nobody is born doing karate, one must be “reborn” into it. Anyone who has witnessed a birth can attest that it is a messy sight, a tearing away into the new, feet first, covered in bloody mucous, snipped away from the womb, spanked into one’s first scream. Can less be expected from a rebirth.
My father introduced me to boxing when I was ten. He had learned as a Golden Glove Boxer in the 1930’s in New York. This was in the Canal Zone in Panama in the late 50’s, while my father was stationed in Ft. Clayton. Three times a week, in the late afternoons, he would put me through the paces: skip rope, speed bag, shadow boxing, the run around the block. He taught me the ropes: basic stances, the jab, the hook, the feint, chin in, the basic combinations. He was my father and he was my first sensei. A lot of what I am I owe to him, the good and the bad. For better and for worse, I am my father’s son.
I competed into my 12th year. After that, I boxed and trained alone in a dinky little room. Dressed in my old and smelly boxing trunks. I trained, I read, and I wrote poetry. This pretty much summed up my teens in that dinky little room.
Boxing served me well when I finally left the dinky room in my late teens to experience and learn the “ways of the world.” It kept me alive to see another day.
It was as my father’s son that I first walked into a dojo halfway through my twenties. A new vocabulary, a rebirth, of sorts. My father asked to join me in karate, I declined, believing I’d be embarrassed. A decision I’ve regretted ever since.
Regret play a major part in my curriculum vitae, it occupies much space on the page.
So even today I shadow box in the dark seeking to be reborn again. Nobody said it was going to be easy, least of all him.