Ta­ming the mon­ster

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Letters | Briewe -

The fact that A­fri­ca saw “a mon­ster in me,” con­firms my be­st and worst sus­pi­ci­ons of the pla­ce I find my­self in e­mo­ti­o­nal­ly af­ter a day at work.

I exe­r­ci­se to get rid of the day, to e­man­ci­pa­te e­very frus­tra­ti­on, to subcon­s­ci­ous­ly pro­cess is­su­es of the day and this is my ti­me, my own he­adspa­ce.

For me swe­a­ting is es­sen­ti­al for ca­thar­sis and a de­gree of pain is cru­ci­al du­ring and af­ter a wor­kout.

I am su­per thril­led the­re­fo­re to be­co­me a “pro­ject” for A­fri­ca Vu­ma­zon­ke.

Af­ter our very first trai­ning/box­ing ses­si­on he wro­te: “You’re a very good pro­ject for me… Not on­ly will I be trai­ning you phy­si­cal­ly but I’ll al­so be trai­ning your in­ner e­ner­gy and strength (the mon­ster within), and one thing I lo­ved is that you lis­ten and re­cei­ve in­structi­ons very well!”.

Y­e­ars ago in A­sia I u­sed to run ma­ra­thons and box, but I be­ca­me a sloth w­hen I ca­me to South A­fri­ca mo­re than 10 y­e­ars ago now – and it star­ted sho­wing.

Last y­e­ar I re­a­li­sed the on­ly sen­si­ble way of staying sa­ne in my wor­ld was to start run­ning and mo­re re­cent­ly I ha­ve been going to gym.

For tho­se who run, cy­cle, do mar­ti­al arts or any kind of phy­si­cal acti­vi­ty that re­al­ly chal­len­ges and stret­ches you, you will un­der­stand that the men­tal part of get­ting fit is just as im­por­tant as the phy­si­cal as­pect.

My la­test in­spi­ra­ti­on to be­co­me the fit­test and stron­ge­st I can co­mes from a re­cent sto­ry. I can­not re­mem­ber w­he­re I re­ad it or per­haps I saw it on te­le­vi­si­on, but the­re was a sto­ry a­bout a 78-y­e­ar-old B­ri­tish wo­man who was di­ag­no­sed with os­te­o­po­ro­sis so she put on run­ning shoes and set off, so­mething li­ke Fo­rest Gump. At first, she said, she wal­ked three steps then ran three until she had built up her fit­ness.

Now well in­to her 80s, this pe­ti­te litt­le cham­pi­on has a wall fil­led with sil­ver and gold me­dals not on­ly for run­ning ma­ra­thons but al­so for top pla­ces.

W­hen I wa­t­ched A­fri­ca te­a­ching a mar­ti­al arts class at Em­pi­re 1 gym, I knew it was ti­me to haul out my worn, brig­ht-y­el­low box­ing glo­ves I had not tou­ched sin­ce le­a­ving A­sia – and beg A­fri­ca to ta­ke me on.

In the first ses­si­on, A­fri­ca put me through va­ri­ous exe­r­ci­ses/drills, calm­ly de­mon­stra­ting and wor­king with me sho­wing me w­hat he wants, but at the sa­me ti­me, ma­king very su­re that if he wants me to do 20 sets of an exe­r­ci­se he me­ans bu­si­ness.

We get to the box­ing part and I am al­lo­wed to don my glo­ves, but se­conds in­to our first mo­ves he stops me de­ad and i­den­ti­fies the “mon­ster in me,” in ex­act­ly tho­se words.

(Ple­a­se no­te, the mon­ster is stress, no­thing me­an or de­mo­nic.)

W­hat we are doing, alt­hough box­ing, is not ag­gres­si­on, he says, but cal­led a mar­ti­al art be­cau­se it s­hould be ex­act­ly that.

Poi­se, con­t­rol, bre­a­thing pro­per­ly and being per­fect­ly me­a­su­red in e­very mo­ve is w­hat this kind of exe­r­ci­se is a­bout, says A­fri­ca. I was stop­ped de­ad in my tracks se­ver­al ti­mes to i­ma­gi­ne ac­tu­al­ly going through the mo­ves and seeing beau­ty in com­po­su­re rat­her than just hit­ting out.

Rig­ht at the end of the ses­si­on I was of­fe­red a chan­ce to free the de­mon by box­ing har­der but still main­tai­ning an art form.

Fol­lo­wing this ses­si­on, I le­arnt that the­re is in­deed a “mon­ster” in me that I can work on ta­ming with dis­ci­pli­ne, re­fu­sing to be hur­ried but rat­her me­a­su­red in all that I do.

The­re is far mo­re to being fit and strong than just a phy­si­cal im­pro­vement. The­re is a phi­losop­hy to be ap­p­lied to li­fe it­self, which be­co­mes a va­lu­a­ble li­fe jour­ney.

A­fri­ca star­ted ka­ra­te in 1992 at Fu­na­kos­hi Ka­ra­te In­ter­na­ti­o­nal and a­chie­ved his ju­ni­or black belt. Af­ter this s­chool in Ui­ten­ha­ge clo­sed do­wn, he went on to join Kyo­kus­hin ka­ra­te be­fo­re le­ar­ning the art of As­hi­ha­ra ka­ra­te. In 2001 A­fri­ca went to stu­dy at R­ho­des U­ni­ver­si­ty w­he­re he was in­tro­du­ced to kung fu, which he trai­ned in for three y­e­ars be­fo­re ta­king on kick­box­ing. He has a black belt in kick­box­ing and sen­sei sta­tus with his own ko­jo that he is run­ning.

The de­al he­re with A­fri­ca is that I want to be su­per fit, box beau­ti­ful­ly and see how far he can ta­ke me. The de­al is to o­bey and le­arn, my sen­sei. B­re­at­he and exha­le stress. To find out a­bout clas­ses or co­a­ching, con­tact A­fri­ca on 082 554 1221 or e­mail vu­ma­zon­ke.a­fri­ca@gmail.com.

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