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▶  More from Modern Combat Modern Agonistics
Not Training For a Fight?
Why it Happens
I head out in a few hours to fight 13 rounds against a guy in his prime that usually outpoints me 3-to-1 in sparring, and I have not trained—not a session—since he accepted my challenge and set the date.
Am I fatalistic?
Am I lazy?
Am I stupid?
Am I arrogant?
Am I looking for an advance excuse for why I lost in the event I do lose?
No—at least I hope not—but this decision to forgo training was reasoned.
The fact is I don’t want to have to back out of a fight after it is set. Not fighting in an agon or tournament that will go on without me is one thing. But bailing and crashing an event would be too embarrassing. I also want to put in a good showing. And here is the rub. At my age, I get hurt training constantly. I get hurt running for the bus, walking down the stairs, getting out of bed.
Those last three might be odd happenings that are not that serious. But a training injury bears directly on your fighting ability. Training is where most fighters in most sports accumulate injuries. I avoided playing badminton yesterday because I am fighting today—afraid of the girls it seems. My conditioning is horrible, and I am my heaviest ever. But, over the past two years, every time I have tried to push my training in order to increase my cardio, power, speed or strength—or to decrease my weight—I have pulled up lame. This is the story of old fighters, and is why you see much of what you do in the fight game; the why’s and why not’s that are little said and even denied.
The old fighter does have his chance though. Power and timing hang around even as speed and cardio fall away. Most importantly, an experienced fighter gets relaxed easier than the younger man, granting him a functionally higher cardio ceiling in comparison to his base-line stamina. I literally cannot run a mile—cannot!
However, up until two weeks ago when I stopped training, I was sparring for 1 to 3 hours three times a week depending on the intensity.
So, even as the old fighter is nagged by his ego to train, his injuries to quit the sport, and his doubt to back out, he still has his sense of mastery—that he can somehow finesse the young man into beating himself—nagging at him as well. This sense of mastery that I possess in regards to weapon fighting is still strong enough in my mind to suggest a possibility of victory; to crowd out the lesser shadows.
A fighter contends for status and other things. Foremost among those other things in our society is money. I had a friend who fought his last 6 pro boxing matches with zero training, as they were last minute matches. He made more money off of those 6 losses than he had off of the 20 fight win streak that began his career. The inducement for pro fighters to fight on past their prime to collect their ‘paycheck’ is therefore doubly understandable.
But what about you LaFond, there is no money on the line for this stick-fight?
That is the question I faced yesterday when I sat watching the girls walk off to the badminton net as I considered the fight that I engage in five hours from now.
The answer is that I’m fighting for my identity. I worked so hard to become a fighter, and have so identified myself for so long, that the thought of not being a fighter is something I loathe, and yes, fear.
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fatmanjudoDecember 28, 2014 3:17 PM UTC

I dislike running and cannot do it past two months due to pain in my knees. For the last year I do kettlebells with jump rope and a little heavy bag at the end. Doesn't bother my knees but had to build up slowly for lower back on kettle bell and ankles on jump rope. I am in best shape in many years. I recommend it. Just need adequate recovery time. Like the song goes. Not as good as I once was but I'm good once as I ever was. Pax
responds:December 28, 2014 11:54 PM UTC

Thanks for the tips.

For my wind I've been walking, shadow boxing, and doing stick-fighting footwork patterns. I have recently added hitting the speed bag while skipping, just like you have a rope but while you hit the bag.