Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I never thought I'd be kickboxing... I'm more of a 'kick-line' kind of guy....

Kickboxing is a funny thing... when I was finishing up at the gym tonight, I was in the change room, and overheard two guys talking about how amazing kickboxing really is. They spoke about how tough and awkward it is at first -- that it's really easy to feel uncoordinated, out of shape, and even a little bit powerless. But with some good direction, and some consistent coaching, kickboxing can give you a pretty damn incredible workout. I would have to agree.

The natural high you get from your heart racing, your adrenaline pumping, and you confidence soaring, can't be beat. And nothing is quite as satisfying as the sound -- the cracking sound -- of your foot or your fist hitting the pads with such incredible force and strength. Knowing that the sound not only comes from physical strength, but also from within, makes it so incredibly rewarding.

I've been doing kickboxing workouts with Sebastien for a little while now. And I truly enjoy every minute of it. Even in those moments when he tells me to drop to the ground and start doing burpees between punching rounds (that was last week's 'added feature'), I still manage to smile because I truly enjoy what I'm doing. This is an interesting feeling because having fun while kicking and punching isn't anything that I ever thought I'd enjoy.

Why?

Growing up as a queer fat kid, I was a ready target for anyone who was looking to project their own internalized self-hatred at an easy victim. On the playground, in the hallways, even on the street, I was a very visible target for anyone who was feeling so shitty about themselves that they had to try to make me feel worse about myself. I realize that now, but in the moment, it's hard to not internalize the insults, the bulllying, the hate, and rise above it. It's hard for a 13-year old fat kid to 'rise above' when all he wants to do is crawl under a rock and be invisible. The interesting thing though, is that I never responded to the insults with physical action -- I was always able to fight back with a sharp tongue or my wicked sense of humour. I figured that if I couldn't fight back with my fists, I could fight back with my words. And they've been my greatest defence ever since. In fact, in an interesting scenario a few weeks ago, Seb was trying to get me to punch and kick as hard as I could. And he started tossing threats out at me -- things like, "Hit me harder, I just stole your car. Kick me harder, I just kicked your dog." And I found that I actually couldn't hit harder, because instinctively, I wanted to stop and fight back with my words. Literally. He was trying to prompt me on to work harder, and I intuitively stopped in my tracks to speak back as opposed to fighting harder.

I guess, in some ways, I have to learn to bite my tongue and simply get things out of my system that need to get out.

That said, when I had the opportunity to throw on a pair of gloves, and actually throw punches and kicks at my trainer, it was a very odd experience. After only a few quick blows to the protective padding that Seb uses, this uneasy feeling started to come over me -- that I was doing something that I wasn't supposed to... but I was enjoying it. It was kind of a bit of a guilty pleasure... 'cause I'm a lover, not a fighter! LOL!!!! But with every punch, I punched harder. With every kick, I kick higher -- not only because I'm getting stronger, but most importantly because I feel like I'm starting to let out more of the 'stuff' that I've had pent up inside for such a long time. For once, the 'crap' that is stored up inside of me isn't coming out in a therapy session, or verbally.. it's starting to fly out in punches, in sweat, and in the exhiliration of a 30-minute kickboxing session with my trainer extraordinaire.

The catharsic feelings that come from the punch and the kick have been a bit of a revelation. Not only am I getting a good work out, but I feel like I've finally been given a chance to fight back. Literally. Let me explain.

First of all, I have to offer a disclaimer. The time Sebastien spends with me each week to work through my 'stuff' -- physical and emotional -- is a gift. And he's an incredible person. But it was only once we engaged in a bit of focused physical 'combat' that I started to realize that kickboxing is about so much more than a workout. In case you haven't noticed, Seb isn't just a great trainer, but he's a good looking, well-built athletic guy who, by virtue of how he presents himself in the world, in some way symbolizes every jock-blockhead who's called me 'fat' or a 'fag'... or worse yet... 'a fat fag'.
Now, I MUST clarify, that Seb would NEVER EVER say any of those things to me... he is one of the most caring, liberal minded, supportive, hetero-jock guys I've ever met. But by the simple virtue of how he 'is' in the world, and the assumptions I make about that based upon years of being taunted, tormented and bullied by guys who weren't unlike him, I can't help but wonder if I'm starting to use him, the kick pads, and in some ways what he represents, as a bit of a target for finally fighting back -- for finally exercising a bit of the inner and physical strength that, for so many years, I wanted to propel out of my body to fight back against those people who've hated -- hated not just me, but in some ways, themselves. When I catch myself in those moments where I realize that I'm not just working out, but that I'm starting to fight back a bit, I find I actually blur my eyes so that I don't see Seb's face -- somehow I need to do that in order to dissociate my actions from my human target -- because he's not someone against whom I've ever felt a need to fight. Blurring my eyes also helps me to control the fact that not only do I have sweat pouring down my face, but the emotional release of kicking and punching is sometimes accompanied with tears.

So, in spite of all that, or perhaps because of all of that, kickboxing is fun. It's a great way to get out some aggression. But for me, it's also been an emotional catharsis which, bit by bit, is helping me to let go of pent up anger, frustration, and sadness. And even when I'm sprawled out on the gym floor, exhausted by a workout (physically and mentally), I still feel absolutely amazing. The high and the euphoria are something that I've never before experienced -- and with each week, I look forward not only to the exhiliration, but the absolute happiness that comes out of knowing that you've finally been able to do something that you never thought possible, that you're accomplishing something that you never thought could be achieved.

The other day, Seb video-taped a bit of my kickboxing session so that I could get a sense of how fast I'm moving and how hard I'm hitting. The video is currently undergoing some editing and its distribution is going through the appropriate clearances with my agent and legal team (HA!!)... but once it's pieced togeter (read: once I've learned how to use the video editing features on my computer), I'll be thrilled to share it with you.

And if you don't get a bit giddy watching me kick and punch Seb... try it for yourself. Get out there and give kickboxing a try. Pretty freakin' cool.

Kia Kaha.
Stay Strong.

Update:
Here's the video... I didn't edit it... Just imagine how cool that cracking sound is in real life. VERY cool.

PS. I'm the one in the red gloves... I know, it's hard to tell us apart sometimes... LOL!



video