Sunday, February 13, 2011

Men, Heavy bags, Driving and kayaks.

The Gym I attended most days has a number of free standing heavy bags - the boxing kind - scattered around the facility. They also make available boxing gloves, but they don't offer instruction. Invariably about once a week I will see a man put on a pair of gloves and hit the heavy bag for a minute or so. Also invariably they punch incorrectly. Most men don't know how to throw a punch, yet most men think they do.

I was taught to throw a punch by a girlfriend. The situation played out in a gym, in Manhattan and after I punched the bag, she destroyed the bag, and then proceeded to teach me how to effectively throw a punch. It was humbling to have a girlfriend teach me to punch, so I did the only reasonable thing I could think of, I married her. Over a decade later she can still beat the pulp out of me - if she chose to - and she is not a big woman, as I am not a big man. She is a couple of inches shorter than me. What she has is skill. Finely honed skill near 30 years in the making, studying various forms of martial arts.

Driving is the same way. Men not only think they can drive, but they think the only difference between them and anyone in Nascar, F1, indy or him is the car. I am sure I am guilty of this myself. I have been driving since my early teens, driven every manner of vehicle for a living, and feel confident that on a race track I could produce a reasonable time. I am also sure I am wrong. While I have read about apex's and turning, and when to accelerate in corners I know there is a big difference between reading about it, and doing it.

I don't fully understand why men think this way, and I have never run into a woman who thinks this way, though that doesn't mean it doesn't happen, I just don't experience it. I think it has to do with the fear of not knowing how to do something 'a man' is supposed to know how to do, but that is a guess.

Not surprisingly I see the same thing occur with kayaking. Regularly I see instructors of other disciplines think they can instruct kayaking because they can sit in a kayak. Regularly I see men who say 'Oh, I know how to kayak' because they have been in a kayak a couple of times. Recreational kayaking is a very popular sport. It is popular because you don't need instruction to get started, but that doesn't mean you don't need instruction. I don't generally see this kind of attitude in female kayakers, but again, that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. In order to learn any skill you have to open your mind to new concepts, and prepare yourself to take in new information that may be very different than your preconceived notions of that skill. I think kayaking has one of the highest levels of misconception of any skill set in the outdoor world. Particularly canoeists who think a kayak is a similar craft, but with a different paddle. You have to put away the fear of not knowing, and open your mind to the possibilities of finally learning.

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