Mo Cho and Martial Arts, the story

Making purpose through Martial Arts

Day 26

Coach Mike alluded to today being a strength and conditioning session: he always is a man of his words.

We started off with the Public Square run, we wore 16 oz. gloves and had to throw punches. Then we strapped up and sparred for 3 rounds, I fought Mike, not Coach Mike, but Mike Brown. He is not new to boxing, he’s very athletic and is able to control his punches so I had a good sparring session. Coach Cleveland had us sit down in each others range and spar there, that way we’d get used to hitting and getting hit. It was pretty good practice. I definitely feel more comfortable exchanging punches now.


After sparring is where the strength and conditioning kicked in. We started doing abs, and didn’t stop for thirty minutes. We were not allowed to let our legs touch the ground during/in between sets or we would have to do 5 sets of 25 push ups on the 10 lb plates like we did yesterday (which I was still/am really sore from). We started off with sit ups, then bicycles, then more sit ups, then bicycles, then heel touches, then jack knifes, then 6 inch leg lifts, then flutter kicks, the sit up twists, then toe touches, then toe touch twists, then bicycles, then 45* leg lifts, then 45* flutter kicks, then alternating elbow planks and 20 elbow ups for three sets. This was all for 30 minutes, NON-STOP, it was awful, we were all squealing and no one was happy to be doing it. Oh and I did forget, before we did the elbow planks was 20 medicine ball hits to the stomach, then we had to balance a 50 lb heavy bag on our hands (like a chest press) while getting our shoulders off the ground (immense amount of stress to abs and wrists) for 20 seconds. Basically it was ab death day.


We finished with our abs and thought we were done, Coach Mike called me up to do the five sets of 25 push ups on the four plates of 10 lbs anyways. It was terrible. 125 push ups after yesterdays workouts seemed impossible. But I dug deep and managed to rep them out. While everyone else finished I was cheering them on while doing more bicycles. I then quickly left as I had a date with the girlfriend (in 30 minutes).

I can certainly see and feel the results of my training, sparring is more enjoyable now, I can think more and relax more. I’m becoming less punch shy and I feel more confident in my stand up abilities. Boxing is awesome. Life is awesome.


Day 25

I have never screamed so hard in my life. I can’t even scream on a roller coaster, but today I screamed as if I was having a baby. 


We started off practice with sparring, which is expected as every Tuesday and Thursday the fighters come out to spar. I fought 6’2″ James for three rounds and fought 5’11” Mike (not to be confused with Coach Mike) for two rounds. It wasn’t too exhausting. I ate many jabs and a couple hooks to the temple but overall I was unscathed. Yesterdays training, while focusing on looking at the punches come paid off. I was able to slip many punches and finally landed a decent combination (it was a one two, left body shot, right straight). It felt awesome. What’s not awesome, is right after we finished our rounds of sparring, everyone left be Mike, Will, and I and we started doing what is known as “crazy intense” level.

In case you were wondering, Coach Mike describes other people’s workouts before joining the gym as “good, maybe hard,” he describes his levels of workouts from “intense” to “extremely intense” to “crazy intense.” Today was crazy intense.

We started off with one set of 100 standard push ups, which isn’t bad but after a good sparring session is a bit difficult. Then we did 100 decline push ups, which was killer: toes on the ring and hands on the floor. Then we did 100 incline push ups, at this point, I had to take a break after every 10 or so push ups. Then, we had a “final” set, where I volunteered to go first, which was in hindsight maybe not the best decision. Coach mike put four 10 lb plates stacked on top of each other and I had to do 10 push ups, all of which had to touch the plates. This was pretty bad because there was no break between the last 300 push ups and this “final” set. Then he took off one plate, and it was 10 more, all touching the plates, then he took off the third plate, 10 more, then the forth plate, 10 more, then he removed the last plate. Surprise! done. except not.


This is the point of sheer exhaustion, where you know that when you shower, you won’t be able to properly wash your hair due to muscle fatigue. After Mike finished his set of plate push ups, it was the final hoorah. Push up position for 10 seconds. Then halfway down in push up position for 10 seconds. At the transition point, I gave out the most pathetic and dying scream of death and pure defeat you’ve ever heard, coincidentally, so did Mike. At this, Coach Mike laughed his ass out, crying for like a minute and I yelled “I’m giving you my soul and all you’re doing is laughing at me!” I guess it was a good move because while he was laughing, Mike and I were resting up because we knew we were going to have to finish. After he had his laughing session we did it again, 10 seconds in push up position, 10 in halfway, and 10 seconds one inch off the ground. With that, we were done.

Holy Jesus that was hard. We did around 350+ push ups with only 3 seconds rest between each break/rest. I had my coming of age today, I am a man.


Why I love boxing

There are many reasons why I love boxing. After a hard day of work and the clock tics on I think of the thrill of sparring. I feel the pressure in every step, I feel the importance of keeping a proper stance and how drastically important it is to keep the hands up. I think about the opponent, I try to analyze his strengths and weaknesses, his favorite combinations, I observe his timing, his range, everything. Everything is important in boxing. You mess up, you get hit, instant criticism, instant feedback. You’re both wearing gloves and at this level, headgear, so the punishment is not as bad as you would think. 

After just one round, just three minutes, you feel more worked than if you had been lifting weights or going on a fast run. It’s just you and another person in the ring. But really, it’s just you, it’s you getting over your fears, it’s you thinking on your feet, and you staying composed when it matters most. In the ring, your job doesn’t matter, you don’t think about the argument you had with your girlfriend last night, you don’t ponder the meaning of life or your significance in the big world. You’re alive. It’s the mixture of fear, athleticism, competition, and hunger that gets you through the round.

By the end of three rounds, the technique fades a bit, your punches may be a bit slower and your combinations are not as fast. Heck, even if you’re in great shape, if you’ve been punching, you’re going to be tired. Every shot you land, encourages another shot to throw, instant positive feedback, derived solely from yourself. Nothing feels better than landing a body shot square between the other man’s guard or landing a hook to the jaw. Also, nothing feels worse than getting hit in the stomach. Getting hit in the head, especially with headgear, is nothing to really write about, except that it doesn’t hurt as much as you think it would. But getting hit in the stomach will change your perspective completely. If you didn’t see it coming, it could end the match. It’s basically getting the wind knocked out of you, but also your legs can give out, and suddenly holding your hands up is exponentially more difficult as you want to nurse your stomach to health. I’d rather get hit in the face than in the stomach really hard.

As I said earlier, everything matters in boxing. Also as Mike Tyson says, “everyone has a plan, until they get hit.” If you see me hit the bag, you may think I’m pretty good, my form is getting to textbook level on the bag, I can shadow spar dynamically, and I can work a speed bag as fast as any other guy. But as soon as that pressure kicks in, and I’m fighting someone who is much better than I am, I tighten up, the technique I had been training loses a lot of its effectiveness. I know I can do better, but my mind is instinctively in defense mode – no one likes getting hit. So now I work on looking at the punches as they hit me, making eye contact, accepting the fact that I’m going to get hit and that it is going to hurt, but that one day, I will see those punches, I will dodge them, and I will hit them back really hard.

That is why I train so damn hard. Every tire flip makes my upper cut faster and stronger. Every sledgehammer to a truck tire solidifies my hook. Every push up adds snap to my jab and strength to my straights. Every combination I throw outside the ring, makes it a little bit more automatic when I do fight. Everything matters.

When you see you prepare for a fight, you will notice I’m very particular with keeping my shoes tied tightly (wouldn’t want to have a loose shoe). I also very meticulously wrap my wrists and knuckles this is to ensure I can punch as hard as I can without having to worry about hurting myself. Once again, everything matters. Boxing has become the reason to sleep early, and to run hard even though no one is watching. It’s the reason I eat spaghetti and chicken every. single. night. and avoid all junk food. It’s for those moments, when you’re strapping up getting ready to fight, and you’re scared and you’re thinking about fighting your fight, and remembering everything, and making sure that when you go through your mental check-list, that you have no excuses for not doing your best. So that after the fight, even if you lost, you know you did your absolute best and that you will become better.

Boxing, to me, could be a representation of life. Everything matters, except in life the sparring matches are much longer and subtle, and draining and you may not know that you’re sparring. Boxing has helped me realize that in life, we’re Always sparring. We’re always sparring everything, but most importantly, we’re sparring ourselves. 

If you ask me, why do you love boxing so much, I will respond, it makes me feel everything all at once.

Thank you for reading, I know it’s not my usual “Day X” format, but I thought I would share.

Day 24

I am overworking myself. This is my second two-a-day in a row. Yesterday after the morning workout and a very big struggle with staying awake in work, I went back to the gym and did about an hour of work on technique, bag work and boxing. Then this morning I got up at around 6:30 am and went on a decent tempo four mile run with Corben (the fast runner), and Paul. We went fast partly because Paul has not boxed and hence was not allowed to beat us even though he independently works out, naturally our competitive natures stepped in and we ran a pretty decent pace.


After another difficult day of staying alert at work it was back to the gym; today was a particularly difficult workout. We started off with a 2.5 mile Public Square run and then got back and strapped up for sparring. I went five total rounds, one round with a very experienced fourteen year old. He had pretty decent four to five punch combinations that I couldn’t help but keep my hands up and try to slip. He was taking it easy on me at first, then he put on the boosters and started dropping bombs. We sparred in a rotation so after I got out and the other three started boxing it was my turn for four straight rounds.

First of the four was against James, the tall black 6’2″ ex-military boxer. His arms are as long as my legs and he can hit me with jabs from what seems halfway across the ring. I had to get inside to deliver punishment, but it did cost me a few good knocks to the forehead and a cut lip. After James was some new guy that was not new and weighs ~20 lbs more than me. A young black, supra-athletic 5’10” guy kept coming to my body. I had a hard time swinging and my calves kept on cramping up due to all the running I’ve been doing all day. I could slip his jabs to get inside but he too was comfortable on the inside, so it ended up being a brawl. At the end of this second round the cycle continued and I fought the others. My hands became more heavy, my breathing heavier, but I didn’t stop. I wouldn’t, no, I was going to fight back. I ended up getting them with pretty hard body and head shots and got them on the ropes. Granted if you were watching this happen, you would probably say the other guy one, but that I had heart, as that’s what everyone said after I asked them for their criticisms.


It was one hell of an sparring gauntlet. My calves were on fire and my arms I could barely lift. We then had three sets of 100 push ups and 50 elbow ups. So in total 300 push ups and 50 elbow ups. All of which you were only allowed a three second break for rests and your chest had to hit the floor on the push ups. Everything was hurting. We then had 100 heavy jump ropes and a 1.25 mile Charter One run, overall it was extremely tiring. My whole body was still sore from yesterdays two-a-day to start off with. My knuckle, which I got x-rayed turned out to be negative, meaning it’s bruised, only pretty badly. So I told Coach Mike that I won’t be coming to morning practice tomorrow. I need rest.

Well it has been roughly a month and a half of a relatively clean diet and regular heavy exercise. I started off pretty fit from doing Tae Kwon Do at the fight team at Cornell University and keeping up with P90X and Insanity two-a-days. I quickly found at that the pace is nowhere near my limit when I went to Cleveland Boxing Club with Coach MIke, who has pushed me to a point that I didn’t know existed. It’s been quite a journey thus far, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. I haven’t posted a progress picture, because honestly I don’t see a difference, but I will post them below.



2013/6/14 Left.             2013/7/24 Right.

All in all this is a ten pound difference in this time period. 


Day 23

Woke up at 5:30 am to have my first morning workout. Getting out of bed wasn’t easy, but Coach Mike texted me the other night so I had to go. We all jogged over for the 6 am practice and stretched out, in the mean time I figured I would weigh myself as I hadn’t eaten anything, I now weigh 148 lbs, which is roughly a 10 lb gain since I started boxing. Now minus off 2 lbs from clothes and shoes and that’s roughly a lot of either water weight, or actual gains. I was surprised, I don’t feel bigger or anything, I guess I’ll take a progress picture later tonight.

waking up

We started off the workout at a high pace and didn’t let up until the end. It was a Public Square run, which felt pretty refreshing in the cool morning air. Corben and I ran at beast mode pace, which is roughly 5:30 minute mile for 2.5 miles. One of the newer guys cut the run short and turned around early saying that he’d “keep up with us”– so naturally we picked up the pace, a lot. When we got back, there were many stations set up and we went to work.


First station was 20 heavy bag squats. Then 20 sit ups with dumbbells in hand for punches at the peak (10 lbs), 20 chest presses (35 lbs), 20 barbell curls (55 lbs), 20 military presses (45 lbs), 20 high step ups (35 lbs each hand), 20 push ups then we headed outside. We then had farmer’s walk, holding two 45 lbs plates on each hand we had to walk down the block (60 meters approx.) and back, each time we dropped it was ten more push ups when we got back. I dropped it six times, my fingers why dying, my wrist and knuckles were still injured and my forearms were on fire. Veins were bulging. After farmer’s we did tire flips down the block, then sledgehammered a tire down the back alleyway and back (this time my hands didn’t cut open), then did 20 mountain climbers and 200 jumping jacks then 60 dips. At this point we’re all pretty tired, then Coach Mike tells us that we have a new workout, one that’ll keep the mind and the muscles confused. We had 100 push ups while doing a “one-two-three one” count, meaning we basically did 200 push ups but counted differently.


It was a brutal strength training that I probably could not do a month ago. It felt good, I feel good, everyone was feeling good because they worked so hard – such a great way to start off the day.

On a different note, I’m still getting used to writing about myself online and making my thoughts known and forever public. Let me know what you think of my writing style, does it appeal to you? Should I include more detail on the workouts themselves or what I personally feel? I’m not quite sure what my audience is or how you reach my blog. I would love to hear what you think.


Day 22

Watch out world today I have taken a big step forward in boxing. By big step, I mean controlled little steps at a very casual rhythm. We started off the day with the public square run, 2.5 miler, which we haven’t done in a while due to the 100+ degree Fahrenheit weather and running of the 5 miler boxer’s run. I ran it with one of the guys that I met on Day 2, only this time, I beat him by 3+ minutes, oh the progress. When we got back, it was non-stop all out technique for an hour and a half.


Coach Cleve had me working jabs and combinations as usual. This time, everything had to be right.  Shifting the weight down and forward on the upper cuts and popping the punch while planting the opposite foot and turning the toe, all while being compact enough to bring it back and follow up with a perfect straight. Keeping the hooks strong, compact, and bringing it right back and being able to combo off of it all the while keeping it all in a rhythm. Now throwing one two’s and all combinations off of a slip or weave and keep pushing forward. Not letting the gloves touch so that I “always know where the punch is at.” 


We went from working the hands, to working the bag, and we worked hard. Every punch had to count, my whole body was behind every combination. Also worked the speed bag to get rhythm and timing down. We then worked in front of the mirror to get the slips and weaves as compact as possible. Before I knew it it was 8pm and it was time to go home.


It was a great practice and I learned a lot, can’t wait till I have an actual match, I just need to keep on sparring and keep on getting beat up.

Day 21

Hello everyone, it’s the weekend. That means sparring time and long runs! Today I went four rounds, two against a 6’2″ fast ex-military boxer, and two against a 5’8″ golden gloves fighter. They already sparred 5 rounds before going against me but even then they were fast. It was very difficult rounds, the military guy kept hitting me with stiff double jabs and uppercuts, my lips were getting all cut up inside because my mouth guard wasn’t formed properly. I got him with a couple good body shots, I am still getting used to throwing punches when I am trying to defend myself rather than balling up. 


He was tagging me with long jabs from a distance

Against the GG fighter he was everyone, going to the body and the head, he got me with a lot of good shots. He took it a bit easy on me and told me to work on my combinations, telling me that “when you’re hitting a combination, if you do it right, I can’t hit you,” which is really nice because from appearance he’s not very approachable. I hit them with a few good shots.


He was hitting me with solid body shots, the ones that take the air out of you and makes your legs weak.

After we finished off, Coach Mike sent us on the boxers run, we were all pretty tired. We talked for about the first two miles before I broke off at my own pace. They gave pretty good words of encouragement, saying that I’m pretty “cold” for being only twenty days in, that I have a lot of heart, and that we all started off “at the bottom now we here.” It was pretty encouraging, I’ll get over my reaction to tense up and learn to throw instead. Getting hit hurts, but it doesn’t hurt that much. I tend to look down when I throw punches to avoid getting hit in the chin; however that prevents me from seeing where I am punching. I have to learn to punch AND get punched at the same time to be better. That will come in time.

After finishing the run it was about ten more minutes of bag work and then we called it a day. Overall, today I got experience, an ass-whooping, but overall experience. One of these days, I will be good enough to win. Just have to keep going, one day at a time.

Day 20

Started from the bottom now I’m here, Day 20. Looking back, I can safely say, I have a long way to go. Coach Cleve said that I have to get over my punch shyness, that “you get tense when you’re getting hit, don’t worry, you’ll get over it, we gon’ spar,” basically the next time he trains me, he’s going to “teach” me. 


Not sure if you know this, but he has terrible arm positioning, needs to cover those ribs, no wonder he’s weak to fighting type.

The first thing you realize when you walk into the Cleveland Boxing Club, at least in this weather, is it is hotter inside than it is outside. “If it’s 93 out there, it’s 103 in here” – Coach Mike, which means it’s a great place to lose weight, but the heat drains the body. That plus the heat coming off of everyone else and that stale feeling of sweat permeating in the air gives the whole training session that rugged Rocky Balboa montage feeling. 


We started with 10 minutes of running on the treadmill at max incline, I was sweating buckets by the end of it. We then worked the heavy bag for about 20 minutes while waiting for Coach Cleve to teach us, that never happened though because Coach Mike decided that we’ll just do conditioning instead of waiting around.

We did five sets of 20 push ups incline with our hands on the edges of the treadmills. Between each set we got three “one thousands” to rest, so basically it was 100 straight push ups. We then had three sets of planks, each lasting 20 seconds each, with a three second pause in the “down” push up position. Then we had 100, 200, then 300 bicycles. We then had 100 jumping jacks, then 100 jump ropes with the heavy hope. We were all working (Jeff, Greg [a new old guy], and Will) at a different pace.

When we all finished it was time for the “killer” workout, according to Coach Mike.. Turned out to not be killer, though the anticipation of what it would be was killing me. We ended up standing in a rectangular formation and each did 10, 15, 20 squats with a 50 lb heavy bag in our arms. In between sets though we would walk across the room and hand them off to the next guy. I personally thought it wasn’t that bad and most of us finished it with ease.


Then the workout was over, the days are getting a little shorter, probably due to the 103+ degree Fahrenheit weather. So far deciding to take on boxing and have a healthy diet has been producing results, I will probably post a progress pic sometime in the next week if I remember to (uploading pictures is always one of those things I don’t like doing). Until next time~ 

Day 19

Do you know that feeling when your body wants to quit, but you won’t let it? Where all you want to do is stop but all your goals, motivation, and progress relies on you taking that one more step? Today was that feeling for one short, yet very intense hour.

It was 90 degrees, maybe 95 in the gym with over 100% humidity as everyone was sweating. My usual boxing buddies decided not to go today for various reasons, the heat being the main/some random “thing came up.” That already made me a little discouraged. We started off doing long multi-round technique drills with Cleveland, Coach Mikes technical coach and heavy bag drills. After we finished the usual buzz of the treadmills started and we drilled.


30 seconds on, 30 seconds off and doing a power set of 30 reps of either heavy bag squats, jump ups, jumping jacks, jump rope, push ups, military press and barbell curls. This turned into. After doing these drills for 15+ minutes of high intensity uphill sprints we ended the workout with 3 minutes, highest incline treadmill sprints continuous. It was awful.


I felt like I had a million “reasons” to stop, it was too hot, my calves felt like they would explode, my shirt felt like it was going to choke me. But I did what all good self improvement books said, “imagine your successful and already finished and living an awesome life…etc” so I imagined going home and eating my pasta while I write blogs then taking a cold shower. It worked. Thank God that was over. 


If only my pasta looked like this.


My actual spaghetti, my diet hasn’t changed at all for a month straight…sigh

That said, I leave you with a quote that I was thinking about: 


Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.

Day 18

Today was 90 degrees and had an 80% humidity so we did not do sprints nor did we do any runs. We did however drill combinations, slips, catches and 10 punch combinations. Combinations being 1-2s and adding various off hand hooks and upper cuts. Slips and weaves just dodging all the hooks and jabs that Cleve threw at us, and finally catching all the body shots by hitting the punches with the elbows.


This guy Mike Tyson knew how to weave really well.

We worked a lot on keeping the hands up, the elbows tucked into the ribs, and hitting the jabs. Also keeping the knees bent, shoulder relaxed and chin down, and making sure we felt our shoulder touch our cheeks when we threw the punches to ensure our punches were straight. Also the concept of getting in and getting out, hit without getting hit. Here’s a decent article on proper stance, but really you should find your own according to your fight style:

We worked the bag and worked the mitts until we couldn’t any more and had to go home. It was a pretty light workout, it was technique intensive. I would like a good ol’ fashion push me to my limits practice soon..