Village Boxing Help
I've recently moved to rural Zambia in the past couple months as an aquaculture agent. My villagers saw me reading one of my London Prize Ring boxing books (props to Kirk Lawson for his Lulu store) and the farmers are convinced that they want me to help them start a boxing club in the village.
I'm really excited about the idea because it could help them have hobbies other than drinking corn beer and killing their neighbors over juju, and it might help me encourage their interests in proper health and exercise. However my main concern is how someone with very little boxing experience (read: me) can help these extremely poor farmers start a club without any real equipment. I'm already making some boxing equipment like boxing bags (banana trees work really well too) but I'm somewhat concerned about having the farmers spar without any form of protection. These folks have no real access to medical\dental care and make their living with their hands, so I have some reservations about endorsing this.
So weighing the pros and cons I really think a boxing club could help the village but at this point I'd really be interested in hearing people suggestions about how I can have these guys spar without risking their livelihoods and their teeth. I'm sure people must have sparred before mouth-guards and headgear so there has to be some way to do this. Any help, suggestions, or general input would be really useful regarding how to set up such a sparring club under these rural conditions.
I won't be able to respond on the forum very quickly due to lack of consistent internet but I'll try to read everyone's responses as much as realistically possible. Cheers.
I would definately hold off on sparring!! Seems like you are jumping into it too fast. I would hold off on equipment for a while too. Start it off like a cardio boxing class. Drill tons of fundamentals. I mean take it REALLY slow. I'm assuming that you know how to throw proper punches and some basic footwork. Correct? Because that is going to be your job strait off the top. Showing, then having them drill, then correct and drill more.
Before needing bags, you could use your hands for focus mits.
There are many organizations in the West which donate secondhand goods to developing nations. What I suggest doing is writing some boxing gyms (or other MAs) that you know of in the West asking for them any secondhand gear they might have. A bag, a pad or some gloves might be old or worn out by US standards, but be perfectly serviceable by Zambian standards.
The only problem is handling the delivery....
http://www.sportsgift.org/around_world.html (This website might help you get started).
Good advice. Might even be possible to get a bit of a donation drive going via Bullshido.net as well, if you pitch it right.
Originally Posted by yli
Or see if you can shift their enthusiasm to something you are equipped to teach. I think a longsword club in rural Zambia would be kick-ass.
If they're dead-set on boxing then hmmm ... in the days before mouthguards and even gloves, boxers tended to be professionals, or at least competing for enough money that they figured it was worth risking their health and safety. How would you/they feel about wrestling? The exercise benefits are similar and the potential for local-economy-damaging injuries is somewhat less (obviously depending on style, etc.)
Thanks for the suggestions so far guys, keep them coming if you got them.
Diesel_tke - This is a really good idea; I will certainly implement it. I plan on going over all the modern punches and foot-work, but also plan on working on the old style strikes (pivot punches, choppers, etc.) as well as chancery and back-heels. The hardest thing right now is going over the fundamentals in a language I only learned three months ago.
yli - I've recently heard of someone doing this with big-name organizations. Good thinking! I'll look into this.
DdlR - I plan on working a variety of things into the club, most of which I have a good deal more experience in. I'm gonna mix in some la canne Vigny, Hutton's Great Stick (which is the closest thing to the longsword I can do here), and Ringen, which they are also very interested in. I'm already making some wrestling mats out of river reed and have been quite busy making the training weapons for the stick fighting. But most of these things are foreign to them (indigenous fighting styles are largely dying out), whereas boxing is something like a semi-mystical wonder of the world that they crave immediately upon hearing the word.
Once again, thanks a lot for the help and keep them coming.
It's cool that they like boxing, but IMO it's a crying shame when any indigenous style dies - the world's that much poorer. Any chance of recording them, at least?
Originally Posted by Mordschlag
Some people in the WMA community are starting to look at ways of archiving little-known styles (in rural Italy, etc.) which are endangered, mostly because the local kids think of them as being "something grandpa used to do".
I'm on the look out for people who can show me their stick and shield style (off-hand is holding a spear\stick-shield vertically), but it seems like not all tribes practiced it and those who still do are far and few between. My village is mostly Lunda people and they are much more into bows than close-combat weapons, but it is my hope that if I harass enough of the locals someone will eventually point me in the right direction.
I'm heading back to the village tomorrow so I probably won't respond again soon, but please feel free to keep up with the ideas and suggestions so I can check them on my phone or something.
Even those should be recorded if at all possible. Be nice to get detailed video of that stuff. I think I remember seeing cheapy hand-held digital video recorders at Wal Mart for under $20.
Originally Posted by Mordschlag
Peace favor your sword,
A little bit can go a long way. And there is no reason to push them too quickly. Make sure that they undertand that it take thousands of reps before something is settled into muscle memory. And that a combination is a technique in and of itself. So a jab should be done thousands of times correctly. And then cross the same. Then the combo of jab and cross should be done thousands of times. Get them to understand that and they will be able to understand that sparring is way off down the line.
Also, l bought a box of mouth guards from everlast or ringside for like 10 dollars one time and it had about 20 mouth pieces in there. Amazon has 25 for 10 dollars. If you are having issues with it when it gets close to sparring time, let me know and I would be willing to pitch in on some of these to send you. I have no clue what shipping would be!!