Erasmus · Hobbies · Oslo

Break it like Brækhus

So one of the reasons I haven’t updated my blog recently is due to rediscovering a social life and being a little overwhelmed by that. Admittedly, it’s not much of an excuse but it’s better than not updating out of pure laziness; rather laziness actually caused by something.

Anyway, one of the things I’ve started doing is boxing (which I would just like to clarify is not in any way involved with mud wrestling, thank you mum and Floss). One of the things I really wanted when I came to Oslo was to get involved in some sort of sport other than the gym. Partly because while I enjoy the gym, it’s not somewhere I go to socialise, and partly due to the fact that I study Viking Studies and there’s an expectation of toughness I feel I need to live up to.

Gloves, wraps and mouth guard
Gloves, wraps and mouth guard

I went in a little apprehensive, I’ve never really fought before and I am not a very confrontational person so I wasn’t quite sure how well I was going to fit in.

First thing’s first, it is hard work. I come out of every session with sweat dripping off me – though I do always manage to get a seat on the T-Bane home afterwards! One of the things this boxing society focuses on is technique rather than force – aka it’s not about how hard you punch, it’s about how good your form is. And that takes a lot of time, a lot of repetition, a lot of stamina – and it’s absolutely exhausting (but in a good way).

Second thing, it’s one of the best groups of people I have ever come across. We had our first social a couple of Fridays ago at the Underwater Pub. It’s not actually a pub underwater but it’s decorated like a ship with fish tanks and videos of sea life on the walls (and apparently they have opera on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I’m not sure whether it’s a performance or karaoke). It was a brilliant evening; everyone was very chill and open and it did not take long for the conversation to escalate from drinking home-made beer in Norwegian villages to comparing similarities between Russia and Sauron in Lord of the Rings.

It’s also pretty diverse. Of course there are a lot of Norwegians, but there are a good number of other foreign students and it’s always interesting to hear about where they come from and their own experiences in Norway.

Usually Shelby and I only go to boxing on Tuesdays, after class. There is also training on Thursday and free training (e.g. without an instructor) on Sundays but we have an overlapping class on Thursdays and have yet to check out the Sunday training. This past week however, I went to all three due to a cancelled class on Thursday and a ring practice on Sunday.

Let me just explain exactly what went down in ring practice on Sunday. The society has bought a new ring for us to use – which meant that we had to get there earlier to set it up. Our leader, Anne, thought that an hour would be more than enough, with plenty of time left over to chill and chat.

It took us two hours to put this ring together. As it was new, it was all in wrapping and stored in pieces downstairs. We commandeered a trolley and carted all the stuff upstairs, navigating our way semi-skillfully through the corridors and random small children. We then spent half an hour convinced that it didn’t look like we had all the right pieces – only to be proved correct when we found the other half of the stuff in a separate locker beyond a volleyball match.

Once we had all the pieces, we spent another hour unconvinced of how to put the thing together. It didn’t come with instructions, which meant we were left with a lot of trial and error, guesswork and a picture of the finished thing on Google.

But despite our amateur skills, it was still pretty good fun, the Mulan soundtrack proved particularly inspiring, and we did put the thing together and it did look really awesome and I was very proud if in slight need of a nap.

It should be noted that it only took half an hour for us to dismantle the damn thing, but hopefully it should be a smoother process putting it together for next time.

As a beginner, I wasn’t really expecting to fight in the ring. Mostly to watch the advanced people and cheer them on and wince every time someone got socked in the face (a nosebleed did occur). I did do a couple of rounds with Anne though – as a training exercise rather than a serious fight. It’s so different when you’re actually in the ring than practising set punches or set combinations. Everything I’d learnt so far immediately dropped out of my head (thanks brain), so I think it’s going to be awhile before I can actually hold my own in the ring.

We had Vietnamese at a local restaurant afterwards which was much appreciated and well deserved, if I do say so myself.

So there you go, just to give you some context so far on something that will probably be mentioned a lot in future blogs and to reassure that if I come home with a black eye or a missing tooth or something at Christmas then it’s probably nothing to worry about – I probably wasn’t even punched and just fell on my own boxing glove or something ridiculous.

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