A preamble to “The Joe’s Boxing Method”

In 2006 I was competing in a karate tournament in Johannesburg. I was well past my fighting prime at 45 but an opportunity to go to South Africa was too good to pass up. We had spent the better part of a week cooped up in hotels, bused to venues or shopping centers surrounded by armed guards, I was going a little stir crazy. I had arrived a few days earlier than everyone else and had stayed with a friend in a house within a complex that had armed guards on the gates razor wire around the walls and an iron door within the house from downstairs to upstairs when we sleeping at night. He took me on a tour of Johannesburg including the city center where after apartheid white folk had abandoned and moved to more secure premises. My friend suggested it was safer now because of security cameras so while everyone else was doing a self defense seminar behind closed and guarded doors i decided that this was an ideal time for me to risk walking through the city center. It took about 40 minutes to walk to the city center fro my hotel and it was lovely like a New York street scene with sandstone buildings that reminded me of home. After an hour or so I decided to go to the Nelson Mandela museum but unbeknownst to me at that time it took me outside the camera zone. I had relaxed so wasn’t at my most vigilant anymore and had just bought a meat pastie and was walking past a rubbish truck when three men came from the front of the truck and quickly i realized that two men were behind me. In fact one had his arm around my neck from behind. One of the men in front drew a gun and slowly lowered it to point at me…..

25 years of martial arts training at that time came down to this, I had promised myself because what I was doing was risky that if anything happened I was going to go down fighting. I’m not sure if that saved me but I’m pretty sure it didn’t hurt the situation. I leaned back and kicked at the gun and pulled the guy from the back of me and threw him in front of where the gun was a second ago before i kicked at it. I then stepped back in my best looking fighting guard and asked them rather impolitely whether they would like to have sex and go traveling. In what seemed like an eternal pause they froze and then dispersed faster than they appeared. The whole event had taken less than 10 seconds. I took some big breathes and then continued my journey to the Nelson Mandela Museum. After some more deep breathes and perhaps inspired by Mr Mandela I thought screw it and walked confidently back to my hotel crossing the Nelson Mandela bridge again and arriving at my hotel the adrenaline in my body producing the biggest high I’ve ever known which lasted two days until I touched down in Sydney and saw my young daughters which of course the adrenaline drained from my body as the enormity of what had happened to me hit.

Now no one saw this happen and as it was not posted on Instagram (didn’t exist then anyway) so it’s only my word but it became a defining moment for me and solidified all I believed about self-defense and I always say it was the best career move I ever made because I knew one; i could do it but two; i knew why and finally three; the state of mind you experience is like no other although a boxing match comes as close as I know to simulating it.

So what do I mean by state of mind ?

At that level of stress and shock you descend or as I would describe ascend into “Flight or Fight Mode”. In my case I had already decided it was fight so I gave myself no choice. But also everything became “car crash slow” or some describe as “life flashing before your eyes”. I felt I was moving in slow motion that my strength had diminished and I was surprised at their surprise and how they ran away. It wasn’t till I told one of my students about it that he said no you experienced accelerated mental process (AMP). He told me an anecdote of his experience where he accidentally walked through a plate glass door and it shattered on top of him. He said he was in slow motion trying to stop the glass falling on him but in his case someone was watching him and said you were amazing you were moving like lightening so in a state of hyper cognition time had slowed down and his body had sped up. This then became a light-bulb moment for me and my thoughts were changed forever and thought imagine if we could control this and put ourselves in that state. Of course we can’t exactly but if we watch great athletes the likes of Sam Kerr and Nathan Cleary come to mind where they just seem to have so much time and perform that pass or score that goal in feats that seem superhuman.

Recently I listened to a podcast on ABC conversations a lady where a former Matilda’s player now talent scout coach talked about what was the key thing she looked for in a rising talent and that was the ability to read the field. In boxing it is that ability to know what your opponent is going to throw before they throw it and counter that punch in real time. Tim Tszyu and his father Kostya epitomize this and i call them eye fighters and I will reveal how this is achieved in my next chapter of the Joe’s Boxing method.

Next Installment – https://joesboxing.com.au/the-joes-boxing-methodology-why-boxing/