The sweet and generous gift of mitt holding

Before we get too far away from the moment, I wanted to tell you about something really, really cool that happened to me a few weeks ago

I took a ground fighting class. I was worn out afterwards, but I wanted to stick around for the yoga class an hour later. I ducked into the bag room, put my 16oz boxing gloves on, and stared at the punching bag.

Hands up.

Chin tucked.

Rotate. Strike. Step. Repeat.

I took my time at the bag thinking through combinations. If my weight is distributed to the right, can I throw a right round kick, I’d ask myself while playing with my strikes and weight distribution. Is it better if I do a right side kick here instead?

A few of the regulars were holding mitts for each other. The mitt holder would call out combinations and the striker would rotate into the fastest, smoothest combinations they could manage. It was background noise to me. I tried not to draw attention to myself or take up space.

It wasn’t their room, but I was self-conscious. I kept my eyes on my bag: hyperfocused on my own breathing, my head movement, my weight distribution.

I stepped out a few times to get some air or just watch the two Krav Maga classes in progress.

Omar pokes his head out of the room, nods to me, and says quietly, “hey, we can stay on one side of the room if you want to keep practicing.”

“Oh, thanks!” I return and keep hitting the bag.

A few minutes later, Ron, the striker at the time, steps over to me. “Do you want us to hold for you?”

I thought for sure I’d heard wrong. “Sorry?”

“We can hold mitts for you, if you’d like. I could use the break,” he says with a laugh.

“Oh, yeah! Sure! That’d be great!”

Omar calls out a simple combination and I focus with all my effort to execute it properly. I fumble some of them and laugh nervously.

“Again,” he calls. We do it over and over until I get it.

“Okay, rest,” he says softly.

I’m grinning like an idiot.

“What?” he asks.

I don’t understand.

“The smile. What’s funny?” he asks.

“Nothing! I just love this so much,” I tell him. He smiles back.

They hold pads for me once more.

30 minutes later I gather my stuff to head to the yoga room. Before I do, I walk back over to them.

“Thank you,” I say. “It means a lot that you’d hold mitts for me.”

“If we’re in here and you want to fold into our routine, just ask. If we’re not doing anything specific we can hold for you.”

It was the nicest, most awesome thing. They never had to do any of that, but they did. It made me feel like a part of the gym, a part of the community. I’m still feeling warm and fuzzy about it. To those guys, a deep and sincere thanks.

This simple act of kindness also reminds me that I can do more to help the folks new to the gym feel more welcome. They’re part of this community. As a higher level student, I have a responsibility to encourage that feeling of belonging.

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