24 December 2011

Piste off ski

I have a heightened sense of personal space. I know about this, have done for a while, I’m ok with it. I pretty much always accommodate for it in my day to day…but skiing I have noticed does not allow for this. It puts me, as a beginner, in a mild state of panic when I hear the crunch and swish of some competent snow gliding colourful cloth wearing thermal base layering born in an igloo type lines me up to for a glamorous and slick double shimmy and leg bend overtake in a majestic swoop and curve…damn him for being so fine and perfect…why doesn’t he realise I need the entire width of the piste to maintain a vertical posture and complete silence please.

Snowboarders although carrying the most offensive tag to most skiers just by their very being, to me provide a slightly…marginally…less annoying existence. As a snowboarder carves the piste he makes more of a scraping noise. You know it’s going to be a teenage boy or a middle aged man usually, neither group I seem to find a problem speaking my mind to, and that he will either be completely masterful and just an annoying tw*t or so past it you feel sorry for him anyway so feel like leaving him alone to cope with hair loss and middle aged spread is bad enough without exacerbating his misery.

Due to the difference in the approaching scrape noise pitch I can calibrate my internal “annoyometer”. A skier of the aforementioned proficiency scores highly enough to get me to stop in my unbalanced tracks and wait for him to pass in the manner of someone who is so vexed they cannot even muster the words to communicate that. Oh but he knows…I throw such a steely glare and pose stridently across the piste until he passes, ashamedly, that only someone with no sense of personal space who was so oblivious enough to me as to enjoy the beautiful sunny snow filled mountains couldn’t pick up on that aggressive body language.

The snowboarder receives a slightly different handling. Firstly as previously identified he will be at a disadvantage in life so to be so harsh seems unfair. And secondly it’s not his fault he choose that outfit, it seemed fashionable in the darkly illuminated shop where the bass was so fat he couldn’t feel his own heartbeat.
In these displays of piste disregard I try and simply carve around his random tracks sometimes it works, sometimes I have to completely change my planned turn, which affects my course enough to wobble me enough to get my knickers in monumental twist until either I or he give each other the death stare or fall over laughing.

As for lift queue etiquette or general orientation and traversing around resorts with huge bits of heavy moulded plastic to one’s feet it would seem that no-one adheres to normal social conduct and gliding into a complete stranger is perfectly acceptable. As are body parts that need airing/warming/deblistering or wageling along with general acceptance of erratic movement.

Apart from all of the above, I’m not quite sure what I expected, I mean what exactly is normal about flying down the side of a mountain on bits of carbon fibre dressed in colourful and ill-fitting clothing (note the camel toe, both male and female) with gay abandon to what is often a very demanding serious and responsible daily existence?

3 August 2011

From a woman’s point of view, Kickboxing interview with British title contender Kirstin Ahmed

Q: You hit and kick people in the head for a living right?

A: I used to get a small payment (larger if I won) whilst I was fighting towards the end of my career. I hung my gloves up in 2004 when I was 30, these days I just teach. It was unfortunately no way near enough to live on and I always maintained a full time job. There isn’t a great deal of money in the sport, particularly for women in the UK. If you can get onto the world stage it is a slightly different story although even then there are still very few full time female athletes.

Q: What kept you going in what must have been a very male dominated sport?

A: Luckily for me I am the kind of person who doesn’t really mind what others think of me or what others are doing around me. Often as the only female training I generated interest, some was useful as it meant I couldn’t shrink into the back of the gym unnoticed and had to perform every single session. The more chauvinistic or amorous attention I generated only fuelled my training to a more intense level to prove what I felt I was worth.

Q: So what does it feel like?

A: Full body mastery is one of the best feelings in the world. Kickboxing is a gruelling sport you have to be ultra fit, walking around in real life with that kind of aerobic capacity and musculature made me feel powerful from the inside out. I felt in control of my life and stable, I felt that knocks in life couldn’t penetrate me, more importantly I felt calm and peaceful….without wanting to sound like a hippy I imagine it to be as close as ill ever experience to a zen like state of mind.

Q: You must have to detest your opponents?

A: It’s easy to see why everyone thinks this to be. Take a look at the sport, the fighters involved and the very nature of the competition. Yes of course it hurts when you get kicked or punched, more so in your mind than through your body’s pain receptors. You are vexed that your opponent managed to outwit you to land a scoring blow on you, or that she found a way through your defence, or caught you out with a trick combination that you fell for. But you absolutely mustn’t lose your cool calm composure or show pain flicker across your face or get mad, you must stay in control keep your poker face and work out a tactical counter to score winning points back. As soon as you get angry and bring hatred amongst other emotion into the ring you will have shown her your hand and lost technical control and it won’t be long before she unpicks you. It is a fundamental winning rule of the fight game.

Q: What happens next?

A: As with any athlete who has given their life over to a passion I found it hard to walk away from the ring. I teach a women’s kickboxing class and run a project called Skilled Company with my friend where we open the boxing gym up for free weekly for 90mins to local youths who have been causing anti social behaviour and are known to the police. It is immensely rewarding on so many levels and I feel blessed to have finally found such a productive and effective release for my passion.

Kirstin Ahmed is a fulltime personal trainer based in the Brighton area. To contact her or find out anything more about women’s boxing and kickboxing go to www.brightonfit.co.uk