The Theatre of Boxing, and Life

"Truth is, I played at other people's styles so much I never found my own."

We'd just finished padwork, and the trainer was suggesting I watch video clips of certain female boxers. But they've got to be good, I told him, because I take on what I see. He nodded. He'd done too much of that, he said, and he never thought to turn what worked for others into something he could call his own.

When I first started boxing, I played pretend. The coiling in, the chin tucked, the elbows tight--I had to play at what I'd seen boxers do. It wasn't natural. It wasn't me. I was drawn to the sport, but the posture was not yet mine.

But with time, the fighter's stance became automatic. I stopped pretending to be a boxer; I just box. I get into position. It's what's done. My feet get a little wide at times, but I'm working on that. In general, I look like I should.

Stance,'s the dissertation I'll someday write. In Where Do You Stand, I addressed how we take on roles but how certain postures are default in us, make us who we are. But I'm still wondering if trying on something new can be incorporated into our sense of self. For the good, though it could go the other way.

The trainer: he never found his way. Maybe the style he tried on fit him like an oversize jacket. A jacket that was in style, but that nonetheless didn't look right on this guy. On others, yes, but not him. He was the pimply boy in evening attire, the old lady in the trendy teenage dress.

But maybe the color was good, and the next jacket he shopped for could have been this color, but in a different size. There must be a reason why the jacket was popular, same way there's a reason Joe Frazier's lumbering won him fights.

Greg and I were hashing out some marital discord the other night, when it came to blows--or could have, had we not been reasonable people trying to solve the thing amicably. As for my end of the resolution, I realized that the thing I promised to do better at would take a little pretending, at first. Not something totally out of character, but a good way of being that had lost its way over the years.

I'm not acting. I'm not trying to be someone else. Instead, I'm urging out a little of the me I'd like to see more of.

Taking on the stance that's required. There's your default posture on the one hand; there's the guy who never found his, on the other. And then there's the figuring out how something else can become part of you again.


  1. Praxis, sanctification, living into a reality, behavior modification, power of positive thinking; whatever you call it, I think it's a good thing to see a goal and work toward it, rather than simply accepting whatever comes your way. It will feel unnatural at first--and you'll certainly need to adapt the stance to make it your own--but in the end it will allow you to become the person you want to be. Although, for the record, I love you just the way you are. (Except for those couple things we were arguing about.)

  2. John Wesley, who got the whole "Methodist" thing going a couple hundred years ago, had a really tough period in his life when he felt he'd lost his faith. He asked a friend, Peter Bohler, whether he should give up preaching, since he had no faith anymore. Bohler told him to continue, with these fine words: Preach faith until you have it. Then, because you have it, you will preach faith.

    There's much to be said about imitating the masters, even if it feels like "faking it." Because right practice precedes right thought, in many cases.

    By the way, hang on to some of your wide stance (talking boxing, now). Mine is damned narrow and I get too easily off balance. It's a nuisance.

    And there's probably a sermon in that, too.

  3. A sermon...or a blog post. Do it!

    Greg, I'll remind you of all that someday...


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

COVID Diary 6

Closing the COVID Diary

COVID Diary 5