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I got back in the ring for the first time since September 2.

I’ve noticed over the years that for me sparring twice a week is ideal and where I can see a lot of improvement. Once a week is almost as good at keeping me feeling sharp. After two weeks without sparring things start to happen.

It seems more foreign. It seems detached and when that happens I get tighter. I start to question whether it’s a good way to spend my time.

Yesterday I slept poorly but I wanted to keep my training appointment. Because of the above it becomes very easy to not “feel good enough to spar.” Today was legit. I ran on Saturday, didn’t get the restorative sleep and I felt uncoordinated.

I also got a new trainer to work with. Here’s what I ask my trainers who are experienced fighters. “I want to go hard, I want you to test me but if I’m wide open I don’t want to get blasted.” They always nod and say they’ll tailor it to my intensity. That’s good but it also means if I start feeling cocky and pick up the pace they will do the same. The beauty of working with an experienced fighter is they have the skill level and the temperment to do this in increments. Fighting with peers or those with less experience doesn’t guarantee this and guys get mad, or frustrated and that’s when you can get hurt without learning anything.

In the first round I felt odd and like it had been two months. I threw the jab and doubled it up but when I got crowded in the corner I felt less confident. My trainer split my guard with an upper cut and it landed on my nose. That doesn’t happen often and I tasted my own blood. In 35 years of karate and boxing I now had my third nosebleed.

Tasting blood makes you feel alive. It will sound very weird but in a remote way I can identify with those people who cut themselves. Feeling pain in the right doses feels …not sure if “good” is the word but the feeling welcome. It makes me feel alive.

By the end of the first I’m getting winded and certainly by midway through the second the cardio is getting tough. The discomfort is one thing, what it makes you do is something else. I’m out of position, I’m not bending my knees and I’m standing too tall. When he steps in I’ve lost position, lost sight of him and bang–I take a straight right hand that lights up the inside of my head and sets off that buzzy, ringing thing.

My bell has been rung. I stay up but I ask for a second or so. This is tough on the ego but at 50 I’ve left the ego at the door as much as I can. It’s not the worst I’ve been hit and I finish out the round and I’m fine though I know I’ll feel it.

The third round I do on vapors, trying to protect myself. Protecting yourself also means throwing punches so you’re not a sitting duck. Every one I throw is exhausting. I get through the round and my three rounds are over.

I’m soaked in sweat. My head and shoulders hurt a bit and I can aready feel the tightness in my traps that I’ll feel more this week, probably through Wednesday.

My trainer and another trainer break down the right hand I took.

I panicked. I went back tall. I was out of position and most of all I lost sight of my opponent. All boxing 101 mistakes that I could pick out easily if I was watching them on TV. The problems is executing when you’re chest is heaving and you can’t breathe from exertion.

Training goals will be to get back in sparring asap to develop more comfort, focus on seeing my opponent and keeping in a fundamental stance.