June 26, 2012

King of the Hill

After much consideration, I've decided that I'm most definitely not a fan of "King of the Hill," which we often close out the Wednesday night class with. Why? Well, because I seem to be the only white belt in that class right now, which means that I last about 5-10 seconds before some blue, purple or brown belt flips me onto my head and boots me to the back of the line. Again and again.

Aside from the normally pitiful finish to the night, Wednesdays are still among my favorites. Last week, I ended up doing a warmup roll with Spike which, considering he's the biggest guy at the gym, was not so much a "warmup" as a OMG, can't breathe, so tired...wait, we still have a whole class left?! kind of roll. Afterwards, Carlo brought everyone together to demonstrate the first technique, which involved this complicated flipping and rolling of your partner straight over your face. When we broke to practice the move, Spike came over all motivated and enthusiastic, saying "Okay, let's do it!" I gave him the look - you know, the bitch, u out ur damn mind?! look - and paired up with Liz instead. Spike looked all let down that his warmup buddy had abandoned him, but considering I had enough trouble pulling off the move on Liz, it was indisputably the best decision for us both.

Speaking of which, it's like...raining X chromosomes here at Ronin lately. Where the hell are all of these women suddenly coming from? Besides me and Liz, there is now badass Kung Fu Xena and two new girls who joined the Fundamentals class, and others have been dropping by for kickboxing and weekend sessions here and there. I mean, at this rate we're really taking over the gym. Xena has officially become my favorite partner for standup work and if she decided to grapple, I think she'd be a great person to train jiu jitsu with as well. She's not sure about the whole slip-n'-slide sweating rivers of nastiness all over each other thing though. I'm still trying to convince her.

BJJ champ Felipe Costa came in to teach jiu jitsu all last week and sadly, I missed the first two days because I had to get more of that disgusting allergy testing done. I made up for it by working extra hard and staying super late on Wednesday, although it was hard to find space since the mats were so packed. I worked with Liz for most of the class, during which Felipe taught us a few new tricks. We closed out the class by rolling, so I had a few intense rounds with The Kid and Birdie (I'm so used to working with more experienced grapplers that it's always slightly disconcerting when I remember I'm actually up against someone newer for a change and need to stop abusing them), and then a slower flow roll with Diesel, which was a welcome relief.

As we bowed out, Brickling got promoted to blue belt (yay) and then almost everyone stayed for open mat, going one lengthy round after another, nonstop, until I thought my lungs were going to explode from the strain of breathing so hard. I went another round with The Kid and then took on KGB, who managed to tap me out with an americana right at the end, but I played very well against him otherwise. I still can't get over how much of a change I feel rolling with him now as opposed to a few months ago. To finish, I finally got to go a round with Trek for the first time in ages. He's great about working hard on his technique instead of resorting to powering through moves like some other big guys do. I got to play offense for the most part and although he swept me a few times, it was a pretty even game and I actually surprised him with a successful kimura from half guard...thank you Liz for making me practice the move during warmups earlier that evening!

On Thursday, we had an in-house blue belt tournament with snacks, soda, pizza, alcohol and lots of good-natured competitive spirit. Everyone was betting on the same two people to win but I told them it would be Diesel and LJack who came out on top and guess what...I was right. Diesel came over afterwards and asked if he'd made me a rich lady. Don't I wish. Considering the odds, if I'd bet actual money, I would've cleaned house! Next time I'll know better.

Side note: I was rolling with Frodo the other day, flipped up and totally landed on his junk. Luckily, he was wearing a good cup so there wasn't too much screaming. Honestly, I can't believe there are so many guys who grapple without wearing titanium. It seems reckless when doing a sport that involves so much close contact in and around the groin area. Not that I go out of my way to kick between the legs or anything but clearly, accidents do happen...

June 14, 2012

I Can Haz Groove Back (again)?

Oh lawdy, I've been reborn! After nearly a month of spiraling into sin, I've had almost a month of good, hard training to balance it out and am once more feeling great and on the road to healthy lifestyle salvation.

I've also been doing a lot more conditioning work lately since, as much as I love grappling and as much as it makes me sweat, the standup stuff kicks your ass into shape like nothing else. Saturday morning kickboxing has become a routine for me now. It's a smaller, more informal class than the weekday sessions but just as intense. Once, when Dom was teaching, I partnered up with a tall, lanky youngster that I've decided to call Kicker. The reason for this is that he decided - I'm still not clear on why - that he did not care to wear shin pads like everyone else, and spent the whole class kicking the same spot on my thigh with his bony shins...quite hard. I didn't want to be one of those whiny partners that bitches and moans about being too rough, but after a while it really started to hurt and I started to get irritated. So I began kicking him extra hard in return. He's a nice kid and we get along just fine, but I have some anger management issues and very low patience levels so I'm guessing we both went home with giant black and blue patches covering our legs that day. In retrospect, I probably could've handled it better, but what's the point of doing MMA if you can't get a little violent sometimes?

Last week was one of those lazy mornings and only two other students came. Jazz, presumably not wanting to inflict my epic levels of incompetence on either Archie or Kicker, paired them up together and took on the task of working with me, which was almost as good as getting a private lesson. He pushed me like a boot camp sergeant to work extra hard, focusing purely on developing my technique, which is often nonexistent. After 45 minutes, my punches were getting more technical and less flaily, and felt a bit more solid. I was even starting to get that warm fuzzy feeling one experiences when it seems like you're finally doing something right. Then came a bit of live sparring and it all fell apart. Once he realized what a particular disaster I was, Jazz started from scratch to teach me some basic defense, which was a big help although I still left with my ears hurting from failing to block too many times. On the upside, Xena is coming in once or twice a week now, which is nice considering she's 1) a much more experienced kickboxer than me and 2) actually in my weight class, so I don't stumble halfway across the gym every time she throws a kick.

Jiu Jitsu is continuing to go well. I've developed more of an appreciation for gi training now. The grips still piss me off since I can't do half of them with my right hand, but I try to mix and match gi and no-gi approaches to certain moves, which helps. There are a ton - and I mean a freakin ton - of new people coming in lately. It's funny how quickly you get used to introducing yourself in the most ridiculous positions. Like oops, sorry, didn't mean to grab that! Let me just get my arm around here and through the legs and...hi! I'm Reese! What's your name? Been training long? But it's great to be training with so many hard-working and enthusiastic people of all different levels. See picture above: me in the middle, in the back, in blue, in mount, beating up on brand newbie for a change.

After Fundamentals this week, I was trying to leave but Liz convinced me to stay for the start of the late class and do a "light warmup roll" with her, "just until Carlo's ready." I should've known not to trust either of them. Liz took the opportunity to kick my ass up and down the mat, enjoying herself way too much as she threw on one ridiculous submission after another, with Carlo sitting a few feet away, enjoying the show as he slowly ate an energy bar. Every time Liz started cranking my arm in this or that direction, I would call out asking if he was ready to take over yet. He just smiled and shrugged, and kept fucking eating. I think he's still bitter that I never gave him a proper nickname.

Best night ever: Christian, after seeing a bunch of updates on Facebook about my love for Backstreet Boys and NKOTB, decided to loop the same three Backstreet songs for an entire class, much to the dismay of everyone else. While I was rocking out to "Larger Than Life" over and over...and over...the boys looked like they were ready to have some kind of group meltdown. I have to say, it just doesn't get better than watching a bunch of badass tough guys kickboxing to "I Want It That Way" and "The One." It really doesn't. Frodo was the only one who wasn't tearing his hair out and that's because he was too busy laughing. Doubled over, nearly in tears, he was so entertained by the fact that I like old school boybands so much that he's still joking with me about it a month later.

June 1, 2012

The Return of Reese

So...I'm back! From my unofficial hiatus. It was totally unintentional but I only made it to the gym a few times last month. First, I lost a week due to skin allergy testing that resulted in me not being allowed to sweat lest all the disgusting chemicals plastered to my back mixed together into a toxic mess. Then I had some major projects to finish up for work and was so stressed out that I couldn't even conceive of taking an hour or two to train, even with the gym being just 15 minutes away. And then...well, okay, I admit it. I GOT LAZY. There, I said it. I got out of my routine and became an unmotivated couch potato, only hitting the gym four times in the space of 3-4 weeks. It was like a flashback to my past life...and it was totally unacceptable. NEVER AGAIN.

Luckily, this story has a happy ending. As of two weeks ago, I got my lazy ass back on track and have picked up my routine again. Of course, every muscle in my body atrophied during this stupid month of sin and I feel like a total fatass for the moment, so I'm building back up to where I was a month before. It sucks. People...if you're ever thinking of taking time off from training and you don't have the luxury of an excuse involving broken bones or surgically altered body parts, don't do it! It's not worth the misery, regret and total shame!

Anyway, it feels great to be back on the mats and working my ass off once more. There are a lot of new faces lately and there's even a new chick in the mix who beat me up during kickboxing today, so I should have some fun new stories soon. Thanks for bearing with me during this embarrassing time and man, it's good to be blogging again. I had no idea everyone at the gym was so fucking concerned by my lack of updates but rest easy, guys, it's business as usual from here on out.