The day started off well enough. Took my step son to some thing at his school where Santa was there. We waited our turn in line and took him to meet Santa and get his picture taken. Santa then asked him if I was a wrestler. I thought it was funny and of course it did wonders for my ego. However, it wouldn’t last.
So unlike class the other night, Thursday was much different. We did some offense defense drills, where one person hits and then the other person hits and we take turns working on defense. The guy I was working with was new, so I only went around 40/50% power and speed. I did ok, my defense is really crap though. Mainly because up till this point, I’ve mostly done bag and mitt work. They don’t hit back, so you can’t work your defense there. It becomes easy to get sloppy.
So next, we did cage drills. One person is up against the wall, the other has to take them down. Both can kick or punch to gain the edge on the other. This time I was paired with Gabe, one of my instructors/mentors. I go to move in, and he instantly popped me in the gut with a front teep. That stunned me but I kept moving in, threw a couple loose jabs and moved in for a take down.
Got him against the wall, and he punched me hard a few times in the side of the face, in the sides of my stomach, then blasted me pretty good right in the nose. Now granted, I know he wasn’t hitting as hard as he could, and wasn’t trying to knock me out. But he wasn’t playing patty cake with me either. He definitely didn’t apologize like Tiana had done the night before. The nose shot rang my bell good. In addition to being really out of breath, the nose punch sent me reeling backwards. I stumbled back and took a knee. I was dazed, tired and also pissed at myself. I told myself when we started to keep my hands up and not to let myself get caught, then I turned around and did the opposite.
Plus the realization hit me then, that play time was over. My training was moving to a new level and the training wheels were coming off. Jason, the gym’s owner told me to get up and get back in there. I took a minute to get my bearings and went back in. This time I went in hard, laying some good blows into Gabe’s face and body. I went in for the take down, he sprawled, but I got his legs enough to hold on to, we rolled on the floor a bit, but I was able to pull his legs in and get the takedown.
The third round, I was pretty spent, and went in again, this time he got a big sprawl and was able to get my back. But still, 1 out of 3 against someone of Gabe’s skill, and the fact that Gabe is a pro fighter, I’d say is a pretty cool thing in my book.
After class, Gabe and I did some live sparring for about three rounds. I got a few good shots in, he got a lot more in on me than I got on him. He caught me hard in the side once, knocking the wind out of me. He gave me a bit to catch my breath and I was ok.
One of the coaches earlier were showing me some of the bob and weave defenses. That is hard for me as I’m still pretty big and thick through the middle. I don’t have a lot of mobility in my waist, so it’s hard for me to turn right, and when I do, its hard for me to see as I can’t crank my neck around back to my opponent that far. Gabe showed me the more basic Muay Thai method of just keep my hands up and swatting away the punches.
This is where training gets confusing sometimes. I took Muay Thai the first few months and learning the traditional Muay Thai stance, more upright with your hands up and palms out. Then through MMA class where some of the coaches teach a more traditional boxing stance. So a lot of times when I train I’m told to do something different. It does get confusing, but I try to listen to whichever coaches I’m working with at the time. I have to say, I’m most comfortable in the Muay Thai stance. for my size and such, it feels the most comfortable and most natural. Especially if I’m going to be swatting at punches for my defense.
We did that for a bit, slow at first then faster. It got harder as we got faster, though and I’d often lose my balance, or get out of my stance, or get caught in the nose and have my bell rung. By the time we were done, I was really exhausted, but I was glad to finally get some real training in.
Jason told me he was proud of how I did. I felt like I got my ass kicked, so didn’t see much to proud of. Jason said he could see in my face after those first hard hits I took, that I was frustrated and wanted to stop. Yet I got right back in there and went after it. He said that is the part in training where a lot of guys give up and quit. I didn’t, I kept going. One of the other coaches told me he’s seen guys come in who look much more fit than I do, who don’t make it through a whole class, let along after getting hit hard a few times. He said it’s all about what’s inside, not what kind of shape you’re in. Though some could say that my need to do MMA and get beat up has something to do with the amount of self loathing I’ve expressed in this blog at times.
So once I rested a bit and got my wits about me, I felt much better about how things went. I felt as if I just passed a big test of sorts. One of my big fears was how well I’d do when I started getting hit, and while it wasn’t great, I hung in there. Next week we will do more sparring. Gabe said after, he wanted me to start getting a feel for real fight situations. He said in May or so, our gym is having a smoker, which is like an unsanctioned fight or all out sparring match with a referee. By then, I could easily be down to my target weight and in much better condition.
In the meantime, I feel this was a big step. Just three months ago, I was in the same gym, crawling around on my hands and knees, throwing up and lying in a fetal position on the floor as the room kept spinning while Gabe stood by me holding a barf bucket. All that after just 15 minutes of bag and mitt work. Now I’m not only doing full hour sessions, but staying after for additional sparring.
The whole thing makes me think of this clip:
it’s cheesy, but I love that part, one of the best scenes ever and totally true. In life an MMA, you are going to get hit. Question is, can we keep going or will we quit? So far I’m still hanging around. I’ve come too far to look back now. That and I see who I am now, who I am becoming and who I was. I’m liking who I am becoming much more than who I was. I hope to complete the transformation and see this journey through. Only nine more months until I step inside the cage. I will be ready.