The pursuit of mastery.
I remember as a kid when I saw something on tv, I wanted to be that guy. Fireman? Yep. Ninja? Just wait til I get to Japan. General in the Army? Where’s my rifle. Not just tv, places I went too. I’d “pretend” to be it all. One time we did a family trip to sea world, saw professional people swimming with dolphins and whales. At that moment I knew from the bottom of my heart, that was my destiny. But then I got older and discovered how much work it actually took to do something like that. Suddenly it didn’t seem so appealing. You can’t be GREAT at everything.
“What the hell do you mean I can’t be great at everything , (insert inspirational quote about doing impossible)”
You’re probably right, YOU can. But Let me tell you about Michael Jordan, arguably/not really arguable at all, the greatest basketball player of all time. Dude was amazing, broke records and dunked from the free throw line, boom, the greatest. Retires from basketball, decides he wants to play baseball for a bit, not so good at it, like, not at all. Yes he was still awesome for trying, he’s an amazing athlete, but his avg baseball skills did not measure up to his “mastery” of Basketball.
History is full of these people. Just look up any decathlon athlete. They are jacks of all trades but masters of none. They aren’t breaking records in all ten events. Bad ass athletes no doubt, they have to be good at all of the events.
Crossfitters are similar. They have their strong events and their really weak ones, some lift heavy ish but can’t swim to save their lives. They get that though, it’s part of the randomness of the sport. They are trying to master the random, or whatever they tell themselves (haha)
Now to my point!
My news feed is wonderful, lots of awesome people showing off their skills in various walks of life. Hairdressers like Gerry Brooker showing off their amazing prom client do’s, master chefs like justin Lyon cooking up amazing meals for his clients, photographers like my friend Aga bringing beauty to otherwise ugly object, like me haha.
But then we get to the bullshit. Why is everyone posting about “meal prep” and “gains”. Posing in front of mirrors like a Gahd damned bodybuilder. I’m constantly face palming when I look at my feed. Why is everyone trying to highlight fitness and exercise, when honestly it all looks like the same shit. Is it REALLY your passion? I get it, we all should exercise and eat healthy, but why are you suddenly a fitness coach selling products? Inspirational quotes with your selfie? How about go do something great first. What happened to that thing you are really good at? You’re going to trade a mastery of something for a half assed effort in the fitness industry? What’s going on here?
I remember when I trained at tiger Muay Thai in Thailand, there was a massive guy, who under the guidance of Thai hulk, a bad ass bodybuilder, lost a ton of weight. Next thing I know this same weight loss guy (but still tremendously heavy, obese) was training people. Blew my mind. I get it, you want to help people, fair enough. But that’s when you point them in the right direction, like to the Thai hulk, a MASTER of his craft. Look I’m sure I could cut someone’s hair, definitely could buzz it, but I’m not cutting hair. I’m going to point them to my favorite barber/hair stylist. I can’t do it all, and I’m ok with that.
When I was a kid I realized I couldn’t be great at it all. I’m an adult now, I can’t be a ninja warrior yoga master painting actor modeling baseball playing and a fighter at the same time. I’m good at this fighting stuff, I want mastery! I spend hour after hour trying to get better and put off everything else. I would love to do other stuff like bodybuilding or crossfit competitions, but I know the preparation for that would take away from my martial training. Why the hell would I give up my pursuit of mastery to be mediocre at a few things? I want my black belt in bjj and to kick peoples asses. How cool is it going to be in thirty years when I can show my grand kids all the cool shit I won. Do you think your grand kids are going to think it’s cool that you quit what you were good at to do half ass personal training or amateur bodybuilding?
I donno, call me crazy but the thought of being a master at something is exciting. It’s going to take me a lifetime to get there, but that’s what makes it worth getting. Can we all stop trying to BE what’s popular? If every person that loses weight is now a personal fitness/life coach, it’s diluting the product. This goes with BJJ too. Lots of bullshit teachers popping up. I wish I had a sponsor that sent me to schools to debunk these supposed “black belts” that are popping up. Why am I hating on people? Because these people are taking away from the legitimacy of our sport! If anyone can have a black belt, why the hell would you want it.
Listen, I’m pleading with you. Stop hand-standing, everyone’s doing it, remember “planking”, same shit. If you lost 10lbs, don’t call yourself a fitness pro. If you just got your blue belt, don’t open up a bjj school, and if you’re a three week white belt, don’t hashtag bjjforlife because I might run into you someday.
Pursue mastery in your PASSION, there is something you are exceptionally gifted at. Go for it and don’t be distracted or tempted by the popular stuff on the sides. Food prepping is a chore, no idea why it’s suddenly a thing, especially when you’re pounding beers on the weekend, defeats the purpose doesn’t it. Maybe I’ll start videoing when I vacuum the floor because it’s the same thing. 5 lbs on your mediocre max means nothing to anyone except you, give yourself a high five and carry on. Show off YOUR talent, the mediocre is worthless filler.
When I meet someone, I want to talk about something that makes their eyes light up, an idea, a plan etc of what they want to be, the thing they are passionate about. You can’t legitimately tell me that your mediocre gains are your passion. It’s like watching a B rated movie, kinda is a movie but not even close at the same time.
Before I get destroyed by the fitness maniacs, good for you and your weight loss. If that’s the field you want to pursue, awesome. Consider who got you there, what their qualifications were. Just make sure you’re good at what you do, taking someone’s health into your hands is a big responsibility, make sure you’re qualified.
Kuwait was amazing. The American media is one big misinforming mess of information. They don’t hate us, their hospitality was amazing and they kissed my cheeks (traditional Arab greeting). The promotion GFC put me in a pretty swank place on the beach, complete with a massive pirate ship. Every day I woke up and had my Bulletproof coffee, worked out and ate my usual fasted feast meal. Life as per usual. Made weight, fought on Friday, won the fight and met a tiger on a farm. Amazing. My last day I went to a next level palace of a spa, got a rub down from a man with very strong hands, hugged my Arab Friend, Prince Khalid and said Ma’asalama. It’s a good thing too because that Hero fighting business and dates(the fruit) were making me fat.
Moving on to India, Mumbai. I was contacted last year by Mumbai’s first Mma gym, Evolution fight team, to do a seminar. So here I am cruising the streets of Mumbai in rickshaws, the Indian equivalent of taxis.
So it’s been a week since I fought over in Kuwait, I’m still pretty sore, I jacked my arm up pretty good winging a right hand that didn’t even dent my opponents composure. I’m settling into Mumbai life. One of the gym guys soosh, I call him sooshi or sooshkabob, has been so kind as to lend me his room. I told him if he comes to America he can sleep on the couch, in someone else’s living room. He has a good sense of humor.
The weekend was eventful, I ref’d the two day grappling nationals, taught a Bollywood star how to throw properly and was taught a weird dance thing. I asked everyone if he was famous and they shrugged and said “soap opera”. I’m really stoked at the level of grappling here. It’s definitely come a long way since it’s beginnings, evolution sports a full stable of up and coming Mma fighters. One kid named “Yod” put everyone he went against to sleep. Kid had a mean grip, and is very nonchalant in everything he does, reminds me of a Fedor demeanor. Another is Chai, he reminds me of me, doesn’t talk much, just wants to train. He had a ton of questions on mma, philosophy and diet that I was happy to share my past mistakes about. “Vicki sir” is the gym owner, a very kind and welcoming person. He met all my weird requests of coffee and a chicken a day, even opening his doors for me one night to have dinner at his home. Delicious food by the way, they made it extra not spicy at all for me. Perfect.
The last guy I’m going to do a separate blog on, he wants to remain anonymous but let me tell you, thought he was some dude, turns out to be the ice cream lord of Mumbai. There were a ton of guys at the gym that left an impact on me, Rudi, I swore he wasn’t Indian, more like a Rastafarian mix of a lot of cultures, Meme, the king of the Chinese looking nagalanders, too many to name.
They schooled me a bit on the culture of cricket, Bollywood and the western fantasization of finding themselves here and the namaste hippy culture. People come here to find themselves when really it’s the same as anywhere else. After practice one day they were like “coach can we take a group photo with our shirts off”? I was like holy shit you guys are vain too? It’s universal. No one is walking around saying namaste or wearing those goofy fisher pants except tourists. People are racist here, vain, arrogant, mean, happy, loving, laughing, lost etc just like we are in America. Nothing is different as far as people go except they don’t think they are different. It’s we that assume the rest of the world is. Self centered America :)
One day they took me site seeing around Mumbai. Went to the queens necklace, a place where they built a special harbor for the queens arrival. Also we passed by the most expensive house in the world owned by the third richest man in the world. I felt it was a bit out of place, this looming skyscraper situated next to a less than ideal slum type area.
Everyone earned me about the smell, while it’s true most had BO, I’m happy to report that the gym guys did not, and I will leave reinforcing that knowledge by being stank free.
The poverty level was sad, lots of beggars and people sleeping on the sidewalk. The worst was seeing a naked boy sitting down. He was obviously positioned this way to gain sympathy for hand outs but it was still pretty rough on the eyes. Funny thing a friend said of Phuket, that it changed his outlook on life, that the best things are free. I was like yeah mfer for you, meanwhile a poor Burmese guy is working 16. Hour days paid nothing for construction or farm work and a Thai girl is sucking old dude dick. How are westerners so educated yet so dumb at the same time? Blows my mind.
A few of the gym guys got hooked on Bulletproof coffee, they were skeptical at first but now it seems to have taken off. I shattered my mason jar mid way through the trip so I had to buy a Starbucks venti shaker cup thing, works pretty good so I won’t go without.
Today’s my last day, taught class early, caught a bit of a stomach bug so I’ve been on bed rest all day. Headed to Phuket tonight for some much needed R&R and meeting up with Noah and Trent. Missed those mfers. I need a vacation from this Mma stuff. Coconuts and palm trees is all I want to see for the next few days.
Namastay over here while you idiots find yourselves ;)
When I think of professional wrestling, a few names immediately come to mind. Hulk Hogan of course, the undertaker, sting, the rock, just to name a few. I can’t say that I watch today’s wrestling. When I was a kid I believed it was real, the larger than life giants of men fought their hearts out, chasing after the glorious heavyweight title.
My brothers and I would take all the cushions off the couch, put them on the floor and stage “epic” battles. Jumping off the arm of the couch was the equivalent of the top rope. I was more of a “cruiser weight” because they were too big to lift up, so I did a lot of jumping haha. When Shawn Michaels won the belt from the hit man I remember leaping up out of my chair, clinching my fingerless leather gloved fists in triumph like it was me in there. Amazing moments for me.
It hit me like a ton of bricks when I found out pro wrestling was fake, it was the equivalent of finding out Santa wasn’t real. Terrible, earth shattering news for a twelve year old boy. I was absolutely disgusted, I quit watching cold turkey, no more wrestlemania or royal rumble ppv’s at the house, my parents were probably happy to skip that bill. I moved on to “real” wrestling in school, thus beginning my mma career.
As I got older I looked at wrestling in a different light. These men are amazing athletes. The physical demands they put on their bodies would break lesser men. The grueling schedule, the constant injury factor etc. You can only pull so many punches and slams before the impact is for real. Then you have to shake it off and keep going. Nothing but respect for these great men.
Onto the “ultimate warrior”. No one entered the building like he did. His music, the sprint to the ring, the wild hair and war paint, it was all so powerful. You can’t not get pumped up when he comes to the ring. I remember the crazy adrenaline dumps I’d get watching him perform. When he’d get clubbed and start head bashing, just awesome. Everything about him was larger than life. Even his incoherent interviews were amazing, no one could understand a word he said but it didn’t matter. This was the walking talking equivalent of Conan the barbarian, a man from a different world that was half here and half somewhere else. My long hair is a testament to “warriors” like him, a boyhood emulation in my adult life.
Hearing that he passed away, a little part of me and every wrestling fan goes with him. It made me happy hearing that he was inducted into the hall of fame. He was given his last moment under the bright lights before Valhalla called him home. I’ll never be a fan of wrestling again, I’m from the hulkamaniac days, everything after paled in comparison.there will never be another like you. Thanks for the memories Warrior, you left an impact on a small boy that will never be forgotten.
RIP James Hellwig aka The Ultimate Warrior
“No citizen has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. What a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”
I don’t make any secret of trying new diets, experimenting to find the right one. My will-power is pretty strong, I’m not the type to go smash a cake or go to a Buffett (except for post fight, then, glutton). It’s a never ending quest to find the one that suits me best, the one that will make me perform better, smash training partners and opponents alike :) . In terms of “goals” I put overall health above everything. Being mortal, I’m very concerned with this whole dying thing, it’s bothersome. I was fortunately/unfortunately blessed with a tongue that lacks taste buds. Plain oatmeal or gourmet restaurant, it’s all the same.
In mma it’s a constant struggle to control weight gain/loss. If I get too heavy, it’s a struggle to get back down to fight weight. So needless to say, I’ve tried every diet from lower calories, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, you name it. They all worked in different ways. I’ve made weight using all of them, so no doubt a controlled diet will do that job. But which one will make me perform the best? Vegetarian made me moody, it was like I was having a man-period at all times, damn near crying over spilled milk. Paleo taught me a lot, processed food robs the nutrients from food and the perimeter of the grocery store is where you want to be.
The latest thing? Warrior diet. For those of you who you don’t know, here’s a quick run down. 20 hour fast, four hour feast. I’m not going to get into the science behind it, a quick google search will give you a more in depth do’s and don’ts. So here’s what my days have been looking like…
1. 8am:Wake up, slam 16oz of water with green tea extract, vitamin d drops and half of a squeezed lemon
2. 830: #bulletproofcoffee which consists of two cups of coffee, two tbsp of grass fed butter, one tbsp of mct/brain octane oil and a tbsp of collagen protein, all blended. Taken in place of a preworkout, while calorically high, guaranteed to have a steadier state of energy with no crash.
3. 9am: workout, lifting/sprints/metabolic, one or the other.
4. 1030: post WO recovery shake, 1 scoop of #nutrilite meal replacement powder, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, tbsp chia seeds. I prefer meal replacement over protein because it has a good ratio of carbs and protein.
5. 1-130: various nuts, almonds, walnuts etc about 20 total and 1cup of mixed berries, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, whatever is on hand.
6. 3:00: salad! I chop two cups of various unimportant veggies, whatever is in the fridge, two handfuls of spinach or kale, 1 tbsp each of olive oil and apple cider vinegar.
7. 5-9pm feast! All the chicken/fish/steak I want. I don’t mix proteins so it’s one or the other. I also try to have some more fat, avocado usually. Last night I had 13oz of chicken thighs and two cups of Brussels sprouts with garlic and onions.
Training session number two varies for time, usually 630 for technical training/sparring/rolling depending on the day. Some days I have a third session earlier in the day.
Water intake: I try to finish a gallon of water with cayenne pepper, lemon and bcaa’s throughout the day.
Energy levels: thus far have been good, the bulletproofcoffee is the best pre workout I’ve ever had, no energy spikes just a steady rate, love it. I broke a deadlift PR yesterday and Last night was marathon roll, 10x5min rounds back to back. I didn’t gas at all and went at a hard pace with high level guys each round.
Hunger: So the snacks keep me satisfied throughout the day, the water keeps my belly full until feast time. Usually when you don’t have cravings for fatty/sugary/salty foods it’s a good indication that your metabolism is running efficiently. Happy to say I’m not craving anything one month in.
Weight loss: I haven’t been measuring weight loss, I don’t unless I have to make a deadlined weight. My upper body is a lot bigger as I’m doing strength training at the moment, waste size is down fortunately. If take a selfie or before and after but honestly there are enough pictures of me shirtless out there, I think you get the picture. No need for more self indulgence haha.
Overall I’m happy with this diet/style of eating. I like that I can eat a bit chaotic for four hours of the day and controlled for the rest. It’s a nice balance. I’ll need to do it for a longer period of time to really see the effects, so far so good. I’m not saying this is the best one out there and it might not fit your goals/needs/lifestyle, but it’s definitely working with mine. As always, to the death and namaste, mfers.
Rough draft and incomplete, feel free to leave me comments/suggestions. Hope you enjoy what I have so far :)
You would have thought the sky was on fire with the shades of orange and red that flashed as far as the eye could see. Clouds streaked the sky canvas, painting the heavens with dazzling shapes and colors. A brilliant sight to anyone, save the two young lovers. They stood on the sandy beach, hopelessly lost in their own world.
The man brushed the hair back from her face, stroking her cheek. Kissing her forehead, he pulled her closer. She smiled, burrowing into his chest. He squeezed tightly, feeling her crush into him, as if trying to make them one being. He exhaled deeply, leaned in, and whispered, “I’ve missed you, my love.”
The soldier flipped up the Visor on his helmet. Sweat dripped down his brow, stinging his eyes. He wiped them with his red and yellow surcoat. Dirty though it was, the stinging subsided. He looked up at the battlements, the blue flour de leis banners still rippled in the wind. French archers sent volleys of arrows down at the English invaders who scurried up ladders. Smoke still wafted from the failed siege ram, set alight by the boiling pitch. A foothold had yet to be won on any portion of the walls, a testament to the resolve of it’s defenders. He slid the whet stone down the head of his hand ax, as much for the sharpness as to keep his mind busy. The mind has a way of fighting battles before the real ones even begin. He studied the edge, confident in it’s edge, he slid it into his belt loop.
A distant horn sounded. The men around him gathered up their weapons, falling into formation. He sighed, “Just one more charge”. Flipping his visor down, the soldier drew his sword, pointing at the walls “Give me glory or give me death!” Battle cries and roars erupted around him, his men buzzing, they marched.
They held their shields high, forming a turtle shell as the arrows rained down on them. A few of the men went down, screams echoing around him, some arrows finding their mark. He finally reached a ladder and turned toward his men. “See you at the top”. He laughed at his own joke. Shield held above his head, sure footed and nimble, he climbed the rung . Nearing the top, he slowed, almost bumping into the man in front of him. Suddenly, the man in front of him screamed, a spear jutting out of his back. He pitched backwards, falling towards him. The soldier swung himself off the side of the ladder, holding on with one hand as the man plummeted down the tall ladder, knocking off others before crashing to the earth. He recovered his position, shield held high and determined, he continued his climb. At the top of ladder now, he drew a hand ax from his belt. A defender loomed in front of him, spear outstretched. The man thrust the spear toward him, narrowly missing as he swayed his head to the side. The soldier grabbed the haft of the spear, pulling the spearman closer. He thrust his head forward into the crown of his foes unprotected head, sending a crimson spray of blood as the mans nose shattered. Dropping the spear, he vaulted over the parapet and onto the wall. He raised his shield, charging the spearman into the wall. A sickening crack sounded as they hit the wall. The spearman slid to the ground, his skull leaving a trail of blood on the wall.
The soldier dropped his shield and drew his sword. Joined now by some of his comrades that had found purchase on the wall, he saw their chance. Caution to the wind, he rushed into the fray, sword and ax cleaving into flesh and bone, felling men all around him. He was in a berserkers rage, battle lust pushing all thoughts of pain and fatigue aside. Head tilted back and arms spread wide, he roared. ” to the death!” and charged into the defenders with his comrades at his side. The defense was faltering, they were losing ground now. The effect the soldier had on his enemies and his men had turned the tide. His ferocity only increased as men streamed up the ladders now, unimpeded by defenders.
He was barely aware of his surroundings, cutting and stabbing with both hands, sending men to their ruin. A sword ripped into his side, breaking through the chain-mail. Pain enveloped him but was quickly replaced by rage as he launched a riposte into the attackers face, his sword going through the mans mouth and out of his neck. He hurled his hand ax into a bowman who was notching an arrow. The bowman fell like a sack, not knowing what hit him.
The castle walls had been won, the remaining defenders retreated back into the keep, barring the doors. It would take some time to clear them out, but for now, the men lay down their arms for a moment of respite.
The soldier sat slumped against the wall, exhausted beyond belief. Bloodlust had warn off and he was keenly aware of his body now. His arms ached from the many blows thrown, jarred on metal and flesh. Blood seeped out of a score of wounds, the gash on his side bled profusely. His helmet had long been discarded, lost at some point in the battle to an errant mace blow. Lifting a water flask to his lips, he sipped the water,reflecting on the day. A hooded field aid wandered up to him and began dressing his wounds. He winced as the aids cloth dabbed at his wounds. “Hold still now warrior, this will only hurt a little longer.” He presses a cloth to his side, it stung. “The men are speaking of your valor, sir…they say you won the battle single handedly”. He smiled at this, shaking his head “Relax, close your eyes… rest…You’ve earned it”. Said the aid. The soldier stared off. He thought of her, that last night, weeks ago. He wished she were here, if only for a moment. His eyes closed.
“I don’t want you to go”! She yelled. He stared at her, long blonde hair cascaded down her back. Sheer as it was, her night gown left little to the imagination.Even with her features locked in an angry scowl, she was beautiful. Her full lips kept moving, but the soldier just stared at her, the words lost to him in his revery. Suddenly he held his hand up. “Enough… Tonight I want to forget ourselves…I want to be lost with you, let tomorrow worry about itself…This night, this moment.” Her shoulders slumped, exhaling. Smiling at her He held her cheek, kissing her full lips. He swooped her into his arms effortlessly, and carried her to the bedside. “Wait. I want you to promise me that you’ll come back to me. I need you, the thought of losing you, I couldn’t bare it. Say it, say that you will come back.” She said. “Nothing on this earth can keep me from you. I will return to you, my love. Not even death and certainly not the French could keep us apart.” She smiled. They fell onto the satin sheets, lost to the world as their bodies joined.
“A messenger for you milady!” Rushing down the steps, she could barely contain her joy. News from the last battle had reached them, the English army had overwhelmed the French defenders and they had taken the castle. She had been waiting every day since for word of his return. Reaching the doorway, she stopped. “Milady” said the grim faced messenger, bowing. Snatching the scroll from his hands, she broke the wax seal and unraveled it. Quickly scanning the parchment, her hand raised to her mouth. The paper fell to the floor. She bolted up the stairs, tears streaming from her face. Her door slammed, echoing down the stone hallway. She threw herself onto the bed, burying her face into a pillow.
Later in the evening, candles flickered in the room. Her face was pale and drawn with a grim expression. She had stopped crying, resolve had set in. Taking a quill from the desk, she dipped it into the ink well and hastily scrawled an apology onto the parchment. Setting the quill down, she walked to the window, opening the latch. Pushing them open, she stepped onto the ledge, looking down at the crashing waves below. The height was dizzying, she swooned. Steadying herself, she caught her breath, and closed her eyes. “Not even death” she whispered.
A thick haze covered the great road. He could barely see a few feet in front of him as he was guided by the small figure in front of him.
The little boy held the soldiers hand, though there were no distinguishable landmarks, he seemed to know exactly where to go. It wasn’t long before they came to a massive wooden hall. The soldier had never seen the like, it was bigger even than the great cathedral at Canterbury. Using his wooden sword, the boy rapped on the massive oaken doors and shouted “Værge,åbent! The doors swung open, allowing entry. They walked through entrance and into the hall.
The room was packed. Various drink filled the mugs of the gathered warriors. A samurai touched his small ornate cup to the foaming mugs of a giant man wearing a horned helmet and another bearded warrior wearing a conical helm.”Kanpai! Skål! Za zdorovje!” All around the hall similar scenes played out; feasting, drinking, arm wrestling, knife throwing, wrestling, all forms of manhood being tested.
Looking down at the small boy he asked “What is this place?” The boy spread his arms wide and replied “Its Valhalla! Resting place of the honored dead. Come, let us get you something to fill your belly and spirits to fill your cup.” He motioned toward the stacks of barrels containing ale and wine and the tables overflowing with all sorts of roast game. Flustered, he shook his head. “No. Where is she? Take me to my love.” He said. The boy shifted nervously, “But sir, she is in another place. This is a hall for the greatest heroes, only the noblest of warriors belong here. There is no better place for a man to rest.” Said the boy. “Valhalla be damned!” Roared the man. “There is no rest without her, we belong together!” Turning towards the door, he rushed towards it. “I will not stay another moment in this God forsaken place!” Warriors all around glanced up, interrupted from their revery. A moment passed and they quickly resumed their feasting and drinking. The boy was crestfallen as the soldier stormed out of the mead hall, slamming the great oaken doors as he left.
The lady shuffled along the misty road with the others. She had no recollection of how she had gotten there, but she was compelled to follow. One foot followed the other, methodically onward, destination unknown. Curious. She couldn’t hear the sound of her own footsteps.
His opponent was good, his strikes fast and precise. They parried back and forth, the swords clanging together loudly. He ducked under a wide sweeping strike, his hair rustled as the blow passed, narrowly missing. Recovering quickly, he thrust his sword forward, his opponents eyes widening as he leapt backwards. Both breathing heavily, he smiled, and switched his sword to the other hand. His opponent visibly shaken by the turn of events, he pressed the attack now, his strong arm prodding, jabbing for an opening. He lifted his knee as if to kick, drawing his opponents eyes towards his feet while his sword arm swung in a mighty sweep. The blow connected with the side of the wooden dummy, ending the “duel”.
Sheathing the wooden sword into his belt, he ran back into the house. His father was sitting at the table, whittling a piece of wood. “What are you making pop”? He asked. “I’m finished, here, it’s yours”. He held out the small wooden figure of a knight, sword and shield in hand. The boy grabbed it, hugging his father tightly. “Thanks, pop! I love it”. A moment passed as he stared at it in wonder. He thought for a moment.”Pop, do you think mom sees me from heaven? I miss her, I her to see me become a knight.” His father looked away. “I don’t know, son”. It had been a month since the plague had taken her. His father had been grief stricken, staring into the distance and saying very little to anyone. He had lost so much weight, his skin sunken on his face. Not knowing what to do, he walked into his room. He set the wooden knight on his bedside table, next to the other carvings of soldiers and knights. He lay down on his bed, rolling to his side. He reached behind him feeling for the lump that had steadily gotten bigger in the last few days. It ached dully, but he brushed the thought away. The sound of his mothers melodious laughter echoed in his mind. He missed her. Closing his eyes, he quickly fell asleep.
He was completely lost. After leaving the hall, anger drove him mindlessly onward. The problem was, everything looked the same on the road. The perpetual mist made seeing just a few feet in front of him difficult.
*The more I do in life the less bothered I am with dying. I think that those that grow old and look back with regret have a hard time coming to terms with it. Others that jumped at every opportunity and really lived life to the fullest seem to find a certain peace that I envy. Here’s hoping to finding the road less traveled and answering the door when opportunity knocks. To the death!
Before we talk about last night, lightning striking twice, bad luck etc. let’s talk about another hero of mine that I’ve always looked up to; Achilles, hero of the Greek Army and all around virtuoso of the battle field,struck down in his prime.
My old man would read me various books as a kid, one of them was called Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton. It’s a very good intro to Greek mythology, outlining the more well known myths and legends including the Trojan war. Achilles was my favorite character. He was peerless on the battlefield, always one step ahead of everyone. His speed, agility etc couldn’t be matched and made the rest of the soldiers seem slow in comparison. When he is reveling in battle, a chance arrow is shot, one in a million, and hits him in the leg. Boom there goes what should have been histories greatest warrior, now remembered as a weak tendon in the leg.
Now back to the present. Anderson Silva is the best fighter of our generation. He’s not only fought and beat the best in the division but has done so in seemingly easy fashion. He makes his opponents look silly, seeming bored even in his fights, dancing and goofing around in the most inappropriate of times, punches and kicks whizzing by. He went too far when he fought Weidman and his antics cost him the belt after being caught by a vicious left hand.
Last nights fight was supposed to be different. We were supposed to see a hungry and motivated legend that would redeem himself. Midway through the second round he threw the same chopping leg kick that he had thrown countless other times and was checked by a well timed Weidman shin. Silvas leg shattered and he crumpled into a heap. Everyone watching was shocked, not believing their own eyes.
The part that saddens me the most about this is not that he lost. It’s that he’s going to be remembered not for his amazing fight prowess or uncanny abilities but for his one unlucky kick he threw that ended his career. If you type the words Anderson Silva right now into a google search, “broken leg” will pop up immediately with it. Not greatest fighter of all time or longest reigning champion, just broken leg or some form of the sentence.
Instead of being remembered for being the greatest warrior on the battlefield, Achilles is remembered as the one that was killed by an arrow to the leg. He didn’t get to die on his shield as they say, he wasn’t beset on all sides by warriors, taking as many as possible with him to Tartarus. No, he was simply shot down by a lucky arrow. Fate is a cruel mistress, fans of our sport even more cruel. At Silvas age, who knows if it’s too late for him to rise from this, making a comeback. For Anderson Silvas peace of mind, his families, and his legacy, I wish him a speedy recovery.
Post script: no amount of calcium, tree kicking, or shin conditioning is going to help you prevent that happening. That same injury happens all the time in Muay Thai fights where kicks are far more numerous. It’s just never happened on that big of a stage. Hope for the best and chok dee when you throw kicks!
I’ve been hearing a very pessimistic view from a lot of people about setting a New Years resolution. Like why would you set a goal for the end of the year instead of just starting today or stating the percentage rate of successful resolutions (8%). I get it, people like deadlines, it helps us get motivated. So people try things, fail, bend the goal, make a new one etc. it’s natural. The cool thing about humans is our ability to overcome, by trial and error. We fall, get up, fall again, but eventually we reach the top of the mountain. It’s what makes us so awesome! Anyway, enough about us, let’s talk about why we fail.
So you want to quit smoking, Great! I can’t stand cigarette smoke so the less of you the better. You smoke your last cigarette New Year’s Eve, boom easy. The next morning you wake up and you feel fine. The hours at work begin to take their toll. You start stressing out, the day is rough. Forget it, you go to the store, buy a new pack. You’ll start quitting after this pack.
Is it because your addiction is stronger than your will power? Do you love these death sticks more than you love your health? I doubt it. It happens, old habits die hard. Don’t beat yourself up about it, 92% of people failed along with you. You aren’t alone.
So here’s where I think (most) people that set resolutions go wrong; lack of preparation. You waited until the very last second, quitting cold turkey. A week before you should have been wheening yourself from it, one less cigarette a day or whatever system works for you. I’m not sure how it works, but a gradual decrease in anything is better than quitting altogether. The success rate between the two is night and day.
Preparation and planning is the key. If you set a dead line for yourself, great! Regardless of the day, you need to plan well in advance for whatever it is you plan on quitting/doing. Research what has worked for others, what didn’t, and what works best for your lifestyle. If you want to climb a mountain on the other side of the world, start saving well in advance, book flights ahead of time, make a schedule etc because before you know it a year is up and things can change at any given time. No warrior worth his salt goes into battle unprepared.
Another big one is weight loss. I feel for people with this goal because it’s such a hard one and most of the time it’s genetic, not a cake addiction. With media shoving models and athletes down our throats, we have a very twisted sense of what is ideal. I want to look like Arnold in his heyday, but I know that’s pretty unrealistic for my lifestyle. My best advice for people that want to change their look is to research nutrition first, make your own meals and then when that is on point, start hitting the gym. I don’t care if it’s Zumba or crossfit, something is better than sitting on the couch, wishing your weight away.
So in closing, tell the pessimists to suck it and get after it. Start your New Years resolution preparation today, it’s not too late. Whether it’s to stop smoking, traveling to a foreign country, give up binge drinking, I guarantee there is a method that will work for you IF it’s important to you. If it’s weight loss or muscle building, come see me at Guerilla BJJ or Bodies By Amorim. I’ll help you help yourself. My resolution? UFC or bust.
To the death!
Weight cutting/body transformation week 1
I’ve been fighting for a long time, not counting the years of wrestling and boxing I did before. I turned pro in 2005 at age 18. For as long as I could remember I’ve been punching and kicking imaginary opponents/world champions.To this day when I shadow box I still do the same thing. When I first started out fighting, I’d be scheduled for a fight a month in advance, then I’d start training hard, sparring would intensify and cardio would be kicked up a notch. Then I’d fight and my opponent and I would be terribly gassed by the end of the fight. I assumed that was part of fighting.
Then the UFC started doing the countdowns, the training camps of champions and challengers leading up to the big fights. I saw guys like Sean Sherk and GSP doing all these crazy exercises and really training at a different level than what I had seen. They were in terrific shape, going 100% the entire fight and still looking strong after the. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even understand how or where to begin. I changed my ways a bit after that, doing more cardio in-between fights, cleaning up my diet a little. But it wasn’t enough.
A couple of years ago I was signed to a Bellator contract, basically the number two organization behind the UFC. In order to compete with these guys I had to take my training to another level. Not just physically but mentally. A lot of people don’t understand how much ring jitters and anxiety plays such a pivotal role in the fight business. I had to step up my game in every aspect.
I hired a great mental coach in Englishman Scott Stevenson, a sports psychology professor and all around mental Jedi. The guy knows his stuff, working with many top athletes from around the world. After many long sessions and conversations, I can attest that I have less anxiety in life and fighting, as well as not having had a Snickers bar in over a year.
Alongside Scott I worked with a couple of fitness gurus who implement Martin Rooneys Training For Warriors, a great all around program that took my fitness up to the next level. Being strong or good isn’t enough in mma, you have to have a complete package.
Since coming back to the states I’ve teamed up with a great BJJ professor, Dave Camarillo black belt and co founder of Guerilla jiu Jitsu, Matt Darcy. My technique is going through the roof and I’m actually applying proper technique, something I neglect by using more athleticism.
Last but not least my new strength and conditioning coaches, Travis and Kevin, owners of Bodies by Amorim. Since coming to them I feel like I’m going to break people. With all the tire flipping and sledgehammer swinging I’ve been doing, my body has never looked better. I’ve always had a chubbier build, strong but not ripped like others in my profession. The only time I’d see abs was the day of weigh ins. Not anymore. For the first time in my life I have a six pack. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made.
So for this camp I did a 12 week periodization training and I’m coming into my last 4 weeks. I won’t tell you about the technical sides of my training, that stuff is a secret. The first four weeks I did Olympic power lifting, basically low reps heavy weight, maximum strength. I got huge! I bulked up to about 190. The next phase I did functional weight lifting. The movement under load, so still heavy weights but more movement involved, like weighted lunges, more functional type lifts to get my power up.
These four weeks I’m going to strictly be doing conditioning, body weight exercises. Today I weighed in at 182, I’ve lost a little bit of muscle mass in the last 4 weeks from not lifting as heavy, a natural and beneficial side effect. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been going into these last four weeks. Every week I’ll be documenting my conditioning, my diet/portion control and body weight. I’m excited for oct 11th, the fighter on that day will be leaps and bounds above that cocky 18 year old kid that was in over my head when i started. Join me in my journey, fly with me. It’s time to Rise.
The ego in mma/fitness at the moment is terrible. My newsfeed is flooded with selfies and quotes like “get on my level” or stuff that points out how hard they work out compared to others. My favorite one is usually on Fridays and Saturdays when guys/girls post “I’m in the gym on Friday night, how’s the club?” My reaction? Mfer I’m at home with my kid because I did my workouts at a decent time, good for you ya trailblazer :/
In the pursuit of doing anything to be different we often become the opposite, the same as everyone else. We forget how to be individual, losing ourselves to be what we want to be. I’m not saying changing yourself for the better is bad, but the egoism that goes with it isn’t necessary. We forget why we workout in the first place, our health. It shouldn’t be about outdoing the next guy. It’s about bettering yourself. I’m terrified of dying young or of a health related disease, so I push myself in the gym and eat things that aren’t considered comfort food and tastes like dirt. Small sacrifice to see my great grand kids. I don’t give a sh*t if anyone I know sees me working out or eating healthy because I’m not doing it for them, I do it so I feel good about myself. Sometimes ill post a quick video of doing something cool, but it’s more to market the gym/team/coach that I’m working with. I’m not doing anything different than anyone else, I’m no pioneer in the fitness/mma industry. When I see power lifters post their stuff or professional body builders, that’s something else entirely. That stuff is impressive! My selfie probably looks like most guys, no need to post it. I’m not lifting extraordinary amounts of weight that I deserve a medal or a round of applause for. I love the way I feel before/during/after a training/gym session. That’s for me, not anyone else. Facebook or twitter won’t make me feel better by posting it, I don’t need “likes” to feel good about myself. Social media junkies are silly. If I inspire anyone along the way I hope it’s because of the way I carry myself, hopefully with good character.
I apologize if I pushed any buttons, I’m not tagging anyone specifically. Be happy and be you, don’t be one of those guys. Feel good about yourself, don’t rely on others to do it for you. Have a great, productive, lazy, exciting, (whatever!) weekend. Ous
Disclaimer: all characters and events in this story are purely fictional and used for entertainment purposes only. I’m certainly not as cool as the guy in the story. Thanks for reading.
I liked everything to have a plan. Everything in my life had a checklist, an order to it. I didn’t stray off the path, everything planned and accounted for. My parents perfect little school girl. Graduate college, become a lawyer,marry my high school sweet heart, raise kids. The American dream.
Of course, that would have been too easy.Just when i thought my life had been made up, fate, or my ex boyfriend, decided to shatter my plans like a broken mirror. He wanted “to do it on his own” he said. Unbelievable. Five years of my life and not a second thought. To say I was lost would be an understatement. So for the first time in my life, I did something out of the ordinary.
I put in for an immediate transfer at my law firm and would finish my internship abroad. My plane landed at Heathrow airport, London, England a week later. I figured if I was going to find a knight in shining armor, id better start from their beginnings. Chivalry was certainly dead in my neck of the woods.Having had my shoulder cried on from friends and their “boys” broken promises over the years, I decided I would not be a victim. I would survive this.
I arrived at my new residence, a small flat off of Hyde Park, across from Kensington Palace. A fitting place to find Prince Charming. A fellow American girl named Adrienne, or “A” as I nicknamed her was to be rooming with me. She was studying business at the Imperial college nearby. A mutual ballet friend of ours had suggested the rooming. I had begun dancing in ballet when I was three at my mothers behest. The stage was the one place I felt invincible, where I could truly be me. “To see me dance was to see through a window into my soul” my mother would say. Adrienne and I became fast friends, she was easy to talk to and the least judge mental person I had ever met.
We did everything together. From sunrise to sundown we took in all the sights London had to offer. Big Ben, the eye, The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, all of it. Once, while viewing the Royal Golden Carriage, we overheard a little girl say in the sweetest voice ” mommy, what can’t I be a princess “. I loved Adrienne’s reply “I was just thinking the same thing” . We all laughed and bonded in that moment. Just four peasant girls, a speck in the universe. And we were happy.
The night life was never dull in London. We would go to the different pubs and local hangouts or even a club if we wanted to stretch our dance legs. One night we attended an exclusive club in Mayfair called Mahiki. After hours of dancing we took a trip to the restroom, where I nearly ran into a tall man, who upon looking down at me I realized was none other than his Highness, Prince Harry. He smiled an apology to which I replied with a scowl and walked passed him. Seconds later I realized what I had done and kicked myself throughout the night. Nice one, there went my shot at royalty.
The months flew by, the trips to stonehenge, Bath, all the places I had read about as a little girl. My internship and time here was coming to an end. I never found my knight, for whatever reason, they all seemed to be lacking the quality I was searching for, never the right fit. Sure I was a sucker for the English accent and smooth charm the London men seemed to possess, but something was missing. Lots of first dates and gifts, nothing worth keeping. It didn’t matter, I had found myself again. I wasn’t the same heart broken girl that had first stepped off the plane. As I hugged my best friend goodbye before my trip back to America, we both promised to keep in touch, to see each other soon. We would of course, sisters would find it hard to be as close as we had become.
Back in the states little had changed, it was the same repeat of Malls,McDonalds,Target, gas stations on every corner. American culture is shopping and eating with very little history to look at. I met my friend for lunch in L.A. where over the last year she had become quite the fashionista. She was interning for a high end clothing company. That weekend she was going to be attending an event in Las Vegas for her company. She asked if I wanted to join her, not having anything better to do, I agreed.
After checking in to our hotel, we headed to the mall where my friends brand was opening a store. The turn out was really good, tons of people had shown up to check out the ripped up jeans and faded tees. I was more of a Gucci girl myself, but was happy to show off the free clothes she had given me to rock around. After the event my friend pointed excitedly to a poster of two shirtless guys staring at each other. Apparently a there was to be a UFC event that evening. My friend had been a long time fan, often going to events and being able to name all the fighters. She said we have to get tickets. Not wanting to spoil her fun, I told her I would tag along.
We got to the fights early, my friend wanting to take pictures with all of the fighters and MMA names. It was all lost on me, I had never been into the violence or sweaty men rolling around. Take me to the theatre for a musical or broadway any day. She would rush excitedly back and forth in all directions to snap a shot with this guy or that guy, all the names went over my head. The show started we sat in the nosebleeds, watching the Big screen more than the actual cage, the result of the late notice tickets. I played with my phone most of the night, feigning excitement when my cousin said something. The main event came and went, finally, it was over.
We worked our way through the crowd, I was exhausted as was, my friend buzzing with excitement still. I spotted a Starbucks near the exit. My savior! While she was snapping photos I rushed to get in line. Ordering my usual, tall vanilla latte, I paid and waited on the other end of the counter. Scanning the crowd for my friend, I finally spotted her mid cheesy smile with a fighter who had fought in the event, his cuts freshly stitched. I chuckled at her enthusiasm, she loved this stuff.
I grabbed my latte off the counter and walked back to her. Noticing someone else, she walked towards a group of guys. She chatted them up, seeming to know one of them, a short stocky guy with blonde hair and lots of tattoos. Fighters everywhere! I scanned the group, my eyes stopped on one in particular.The first thing I noticed was his neck, it was so thick, like a bull. Then his ears, they were mangled like most of the guys around, a testament to the savagery of the sport. Cauliflower or something my friend had said. He had long dark hair, a square jaw, aquiline nose that looked to be unbroken, rare for his profession. He was built like most of the guys there, well muscled, but his chin made him look even more the superhero. A regular clark kent lookalike.I envied my cousins easy outgoingness. Not the type to put myself out there, ever since the break up, my confidence had been shot. I exhaled, finally. Sour Grapes. He was probably a meat head anyway.
After a few minutes my friend wandered back to where I had been waiting. I was exhausted. I had worn heels that night, my feet were aching. My hotel bed was calling my name. As we were walking towards the exit I asked, in the most nonchalant way I could muster, who the fighter that looked like superman was. “An up and comer, not exactly in the big time but on his way” she had said. “Oh, he’s cute”I told her. Just then the fighter with the shaved head walked up and invited us to the after party. I declined, I’m really tired but thank you I said. My friend, with her mischievous smile “I bet you superman will be there”. And so we hopped in a taxi and we were off to the club.
I spent the next hour looking around, dancing, throwing back a drink when I was asked. I’m a total light weight, after one I’m buzzing. I kept looking for him. Finally I spotted my friend, dancing with the shaved head fighter from earlier. Interesting. At least I was getting warmer. I walked up to them and asked him, cooly, or so I thought, about his friend he had been with earlier. “Oh him? He never goes to these things, hates partying. He went back to the room”. God dammit, I thought. Just my luck. “Hey, you guys want to come back to mine and hang for a bit?” Um, yeah! I thought. ” sure, I guess we could come by for a little bit”.
This is not how it’s supposed to work. My knight was at home in bed while I was coming to his rescue. If I wanted a fairy tale I would have to go get it apparently.
We took a cab back to his hotel. The ride over felt like an eternity. I was a little kid all over again asking are we there yet over and over. I practically leapt out of the taxi when we arrived. I had to tell myself to calm down. It was just a guy after all. An extremely, good looking, guy. You got this girl. Keep it together. The elevator arrived at their floor, I had to stop myself from rushing them. We tiptoed into the room, the lights were out. Then I saw him. He was half under the covers, one arm dangling over the side of the bed, a tattooed arm that I had not seen earlier. Suddenly the other guy jumped onto the bed and said “hey buddy! I got a present for ya!” He groaned as he awoke. Probably not the best way to wake up. Stretching, his eyes scanned the room, he got up, no shirt. ohmygodohmygod. What a view. i told myself id start hitting the dance room again next week. I averted my eyes, My blush must have painfully obvious. I sat on the coach, kicking my heels off, finally. He walked to the bathroom without a word. The two drunks started chatting away about the fights from earlier. I had little input, it was all Greek to me. He came out of the bathroom, toothbrush in hand, brushing away absent-mindedly. He asked his buddy how the night went. They talked enthusiastically, telling him all about the after party and how a fight had broken out between two famous fighters, I had been touching up my makeup, missing the whole thing. He excused himself and went back to the bathroom. Well hello to you too, I thought.
I heard the water running from the sink. I sat on the coach in the corner of the room. He came back out, walking towards the coach. Thumpthumpthump. Stop blushing! He extended his hand, ” sorry I didn’t catch your name, or do you not have one just a pretty face.” He laughed at his own line, I smiled, telling him my name.
He sat on the other end of the coach. Think of something to ask him, come on. ” so you fight huh “? Smooth. ” yeah I try, so far so good. And you, what do you do”? I told him about my internship in London and how I had just gotten back.that seemed to spark his interest, thank God he didn’t want to talk about fighting, it would have been a short conversation. He asked me all about my travels. Did I try fish and chips, did I meet any of the royalty etc. he was surprisingly easy to talk to, I found myself relaxing more. The flirty comments back and forth were fun too. Not a meat head at all. Touché.
My friend and his friend had passed out on opposite ends of the bed. It was getting late, i wasn’t ready for this to end. He asked if I wanted to sleep on the couch, that he would lay on the floor. How about on me I thought. “I think there is enough room for the both of us”. His eyes widened. Finally off guard superman? He smiled.
I lay next to him. He didn’t make any moves, leaving his arms by his side and facing toward the couch. Ugh. You can stop being a gentlemen now, I thought. Put your arms around me already. A few long, awkward minutes passed. Finally,he turned towards me. “Miss, I know we just met, but time is just a measurement and this is terribly uncomfortable. Do you mind cuddling,for comforts sake?” Duh. “Yeah that would be fine”he put his arm under my head, curled between his chest and bicep. His body was so hard, a job requiring I assume. Nice. I breathed in deeply. His smell was different, no cologne or axe like most guys seemed to bathe in. It was more of an earthy sweaty smell. I imagined this was how a man ought to smell. So intoxicating. I wondered if he could feel my heart racing. He ran his hand through my hair. Butterflies!? I was a teenager all over again. I looked up at him. His eyes were a dark green flecked with gold. Pretty. “I’m not complaining, but why’d you brush your teeth earlier”? He glanced down, a cocky smile on his face. “Thought I might kiss a girl later”. So sure of himself, it was infuriating and attractive all at once. Fine, fair game. “Then what are you waiting-” My eyes closed as his lips met mine. His lips were soft. I felt the room spinning all around me,the light headedness overcame me. His arms pulled me in tighter, crushing me to him. I felt his hand cup my cheek, the tingling sensation was intense. I was losing myself and I didn’t care. “Damn girl, damn girl, damn girl, damn girl damn”. Mfer!The ringtone on my phone going off. This was the first time in my life I wasn’t happy about Justin Timberlake. I scrambled off the coach, rummaging through my purse. I checked the caller ID. Mom! Of all times to check on me, now!?
I answered. “Hey mom can I call you back”? I looked over at him. He grinned. Great timing mom. “I love you too, I’ll call you in the morning”. I hung up. Just as I was about to lay back down, my friends voice interrupted with ” hey what time is it? Oh my God it’s so late, sorry I passed out. We better get going.” Nooooooooooo! This can’t be happening, after all I had gone through. I wasn’t ready to say goodnight. What if I didn’t see him again? What happens in Vegas really stays in Vegas?! He sat up now. A look of annoyance crossed his face. He looked over at the bed, his friend still passed out.I wanted to tell her to go ahead without me, but she was still tipsy, I couldn’t do that to her. After a few awkward minutes watching her gather her things, I stood up, he walked us to the door. Out in the hall now, I smiled halfheartedly and waved my hand. Disappointment etched all over his features. “So I’ll see you around” I said. Turning away I felt a firm grasp on my arm and he twirled me back into him. He stood a head taller than me. He looked down. ” Don’t get short with me miss”. Ha. ” I’d like to call you tomorrow, or is your phone just for your mom to check in on you”. That same cocky smile splayed across his face. I gave him my number. Walking, Floating, one hand carrying my heels, my feet would be gross, but I didn’t care.I thought of a cheesy pick up line I had heard a long time ago. I wanted to call my mom back now. She always told me to call home when I fell in love.
First off, background on this game and I. I love history, the thought of archaeological sites excites me, pyramids, coliseum, Petra, all of it. So when a video game based on exploring these hidden away places comes out, I beg my parents to get it for me. Boom, by some dumb luck (or a lucky gambling streak by my mom) , I end up with the game. I’m hooked, this chicks a bad ass. She rides a motorcycle, has cool sunglasses (back then) you jump, climb, explore all the places I dreamt of going. Also shooting a tiger or two at the Great Wall to break up the tomb diving. This is what I want to do when I grow up, go to legendary places, climb walls, shoot stuff, find treasure and live in a mansion.
Fast forward to the present. I’ve done a lot of cool shit. I have 5 pairs of Wayfarer sunglasses, have a motorcycle, fight things, go to places worth taking pictures of, I rock climb and would gladly fight ANY tiger given the chance. I haven’t discovered anything new, I came to find out that archaeology is 95% in an office with very little field work. No thanks. I like to think that I grew up to be a lot like the heroes I looked up to.
So now to review the NEW Tomb Raider. It’s basically a reboot. It takes place during the time Lara Croft (the hero) becomes the Legend, kind of like batman begins. You find yourself ship wrecked on an island near Japan and armed with nothing. You are a scared girl with no experience in combat or survival. You are vulnerable, sneaking rather than engaging enemies, hiding and scavenging for food and shelter. It’s suspenseful, a nice change from the all powerful heroes in modern gaming like Master Chief and Kratos. Then you get your first weapon, the bow and arrow. Suddenly you have a fighting chance. Mercenaries are everywhere, but nearly getting raped has brought out something primal in her, the warrior within arises. I love this! There is something raw about humans being stripped down to the bare essentials, we revert to our animalistic survival sense that technology has suppressed in us. This is what I yearn for, to throw away my iPhone, put on my trusty backpack and set off into the world not knowing where I’m going.
The hunting segments of the game, the free climbing up mountains, the hand to hand combat that is realistic (no Kung fu bullsh*t), simply awesome. And then I found a pistol. Things got easier. Then an assault rifle, shotgun, grenade launcher etc. dammit. There goes that primitive survival mechanism. You went from scared girl to animalistic survivor to God mode. By the end of the game I could literally stand out of cover and shoot anything I saw without fear of death. Climbing even became a joke with a pick axe and rope ascender. Mfer.
The problem with technology is our reliance on it. Sure it saves us time. I can boil a pot of water in seconds, check what next weeks weather is, order a meal to be delivered and cooked to my house, all with my finger tips. But in doing this I have eliminated what is best in us, our ability to adapt and overcome. For heavens sake we outlasted the saber tooth and velociraptor! We are the worlds most cunning animal! But drop 99% of people today in the jungle, we probably won’t see them again.
So in closing, this was for the first half exactly what I wanted, a raw survivalist barely scraping by, exploring cool places. After that I lost interest. The game was perfect in my eyes until I received a gun. Game makers, please develop a game that takes place before gunpowder and modern technology. Vulnerability brings out the best in life and games.
I’ve had some pretty bad nightmares in my time, we all have. Sometimes there is a monster, others we are falling. The one with the plane crash always scares me because I fly so much. But there is one that has haunted me so many night since march. It’s the one where I go into the cage after a perfect training camp, I feel great. Then suddenly after a little bouncing on my feet, my leg pops. I’ve torn my hamstring, but I’m there, I fight anyway. Two minutes later the agony of my leg is unbearable. They carry me out of the cage in a stretcher. I wake up, I feel the pain in my leg, I toss and turn a bit, it’s real, it happened. A deep sorrow and depression threaten to overcome me.
Weeks went by before I could walk normal again. It’s been months and I still can’t run. I sat on my couch for three weeks before I got up and did anything. I began to understand why samurais commit seppuku upon defeat, the shame of defeat is too much. No amount of sessions with my mental coach Scott Stevenson were going to pull me from this. Xbox and subsistence eating were all I did, I wanted to escape. Bad.
I received an email one day. Do you want to fight the Egyptian again in may? YES. I went to Bjj class with Prof Olavo that day, I’m terrible with a gi but it’s the only thing my leg could handle. I went everyday for weeks. It was all I could do between upper body workouts with Mark Mariani and woody at TFW(training for warriors). Anger and self loathing drive me where my body couldn’t, I didn’t want to be the person that had just lost. I couldn’t live a full life, I was a shell of my former self, no superman at all.
By the time the fight rolled around I was as ready as I could be. Sparring had gone well, with rob lesita and the leone bros, and giom and Olavo overseeing everything, giving advice where they could. My leg isnt healed, not even close. I couldn’t kick, explosive movements hurt. I’m sick with a chest cold, breathing is difficult. Doesn’t matter, either live in shame or die on your shield. The shield it was.
The day of the fight I was a nervous wreck. For those who have never fought professionally, it’s not the fight that scares us, it’s the unknown. We don’t mind getting hit, it’s in the back of our minds. Anxiety is powerful, the waiting saps our energy. Even the best fighters like GSP have pre fight jitters, it’s part of the sport, it’s what separates us from bar room fighters (that and a bit of training). The internal demons are strong, they attack all of your weaknesses at once. Doubt creeps in easily.
The warm up is good, I had veteran Ray Elbe (recently moved to Kuwait to teach Bjj at Kuwait Combat Athletics) in my corner. I’m glad he was there, his experience helped a ton. Blake Grice was the referee, an experienced ref from the states. This made me feel a lot better, the last fight saw me get soccer kicked on the ground with barely a warning for my opponent.
My opponent is confident now, having beat both Ray and me (both of us took the fights injured, hubris). He has a right to be. He doesn’t respect jiu jitsu.
The fight starts, gloves touch, I shoot right out of the gate, taking the fight to the cage. My nerves were running wild, I’m sure I look calm but inside I’m churning. I secure the takedown after various punches and a knee, landing in side control. After a few transitions I take my opponents back with ease, a testament to my months in the gi that I had previously neglected for Nogi training. I secured the gable grip choke (variation of the rear naked) and my opponent taps, I hold until Blake stops me, a habit picked up from opponents tapping and protesting/acting like they didn’t. Fight until the bell rings or the ref stops you is a good rule of thumb.
I do the normal pre fight interview except with the Kuwaiti flag draped over my shoulders (they make me feel more at home than the US, we aren’t a loyal people anymore ). Fights over, I’m the welterweight champion with a pretty new belt. My soul is cleansed, I don’t have a dark shadow that will haunt me for the rest of my days. My heart can be happy again. I can lift my head up. I owe my daughter lost time. I’ve neglected her these past few months, anger and shame drove me insane. It’s time to go to the beach and build her castles to destroy again. Good days are ahead. The sun is back, it’s time to smile again.
Thanks to all that put up with me and believed in me, I appreciate you all,will see you soon. Shukran.
Why do we fall down? So we learn to pick ourselves up again.
We read quotes, watch movies, see great feats that inspire us, but until we experience something that makes it apply to us, they are just words and moments in time. When the moment comes, quotes take on a whole new meaning.
Two weeks ago I was at the peak of my fitness level. I was reveling in my new found athleticism. Coming off my win in Bellator I was exultant. Few moments in my life will rival how I felt. Then in a routine stretching exercise, my left hamstring gave out, a tear that I felt from behind my knee up to my lower butt cheek. I was in agony, not able to walk for two days. I remember when I fell down, I prayed for whatever was out there to take me, I didn’t want to live anymore. Needless to say no one answered, Jesus/Allah/Buddha/themaninthesky was either too busy with orphans or they just don’t exist. Haven’t decided which, so I’m still here.
Imagine climbing to the top of a huge mountain. You fist pump the sky, leap for joy, then suddenly you slip on a banana peel and go tumbling back down. MFER! You are back down at the bottom. You look up, the top isn’t even visible anymore, the clouds obscuring view. That’s how I felt. Despair. Why didn’t the Alien creators beam me up?
Two weeks of feeling sorry for myself, I broke out the TRX, hooked it up to the door, and started climbing a different mountain. This one is taller. I have a long way to go. Today was my second day back, I got the ok to start Boxing. I can’t really pivot, my mobility at the moment is terrible. My head movement has always been garbage, I’ve relied on my square chin to absorb more punishment than my brain cares to remember. Time to remedy that. I’m learning how to pick myself up. This mountain is taller than the last one, with more risk and more prestige at the top. Thank you to all the people who believe in me. Your support means the world. Bigger thanks to those that don’t. You fuel the fire that drives me upwards.
“Guys, make sure when you hip escape you go all the way down the mat. There is no halfway in life, you go all the way to the end just as you started.” Wow, not three minutes into Mestre Olavo Abreu’s BJJ class and I’m blown away by philosophy. It’s interesting, I’ve been taught moves in all ranges of martial arts from Muay Thai to sambo, I’ve kept some and lost more, but the professors philosophy’s always seem to resonate, etched into the mind. I might not use a single move from the gi in my MMA career, but Prof. Olavos philosophy’s on life will carry me through this journey. Abrigado Mestre. Oss.
Here’s what I want you to do, close your eyes and imagine the 1950’s. Think of the malt shops and diners from back then. The fresh, hormone free, greasy, amazing hamburgers and milk shakes that cost 25cents and actually made you full. That was the time to grow up, when men were men, dirty hands and strong backs. Now a days you can’t find that very often, its all about profit margins; in order to maximize profits you have to bring quality down. The mom and pop shops of our parents time, they are gone. My old man told me McDonalds used to be good back then, hard to believe it when today you can’t even be sure what the “meat” really is. I would have loved to have seen it.
My old man and I used to visit my uncle Brad in Lakewood California, a quiet community that has a very retro feel, all the homes are from the fifties, streets are real narrow, you can imagine kids playing stickball in better times. Around the corner from my uncles place was a restaurant called the Heritage cafe, just like the rest of the neighborhood, it was a throwback to a better time. The food was all the home cooked stuff our parents talked about, fresh everything and gigantically portioned. For ten dollars I could eat three meals. I’d order the breakfast burrito that comes with two “sides”, what an understatement. The sides were full plates of biscuits and gravy, a Loaf of cinnabon, a full stack of pancakes, etc basically a side meant a whole other meal.the place had a line that wrapped around the block, on the weekend, forget about it! Needless to say when I was in Lakewood, I was eating at the heritage. But just like any good thing, things went down hill. Owners sold, prices went up, quantity went down, quality started dwindling. The lines aren’t a mile long anymore, the food isn’t the same. I haven’t been there in years. I like to remember the good conversations with my uncle that I had over a gigantic sized burger, the one that would feed me for lunch the next day as well.
My parents were lucky. Yes they had to walk ten miles to school, one way through snow the other way through a scorching desert. But man what a time to live, chuck Taylors and jeans, plain white Tshirt with ray bans. None of this queer skinny Jean sagging down to your ankles stuff. Perez Hilton would have gotten beat up. Kim kardashian would just be another dumb whore, not the sex icon she is today. Beaver cleaver and his wholesome family. We wonder why old people are always so grumpy and calling us young punks? It’s because we let our neighborhoods be bought up, the places they used to love now sell garbage compared to what they had in their day.
I feel sorry for us. We live in a world where we work so hard for very little. Pride in our jobs are gone, whether you work at a gym that caters to dollars instead of results ;) or a restaurant that slaps ingredients together and calls it gourmet. Quality over quantity used to be a common thing, now it’s few and far between. Have you listened to our music lately? Smack that ass all on the floor smack that ass give me some more? I don’t like where we are as a society, we’ve lost touch with what is important in life. I miss the heritage. Carry on.
I’m returning home after a long weekend at the fights. Every fighter/coach/trainer knows what I’m talking about. Nothing is quite so draining as going to an mma event on the road. From the plane ride to the shady promoters(not all, but most, this weekend at ultimate beatdown was good ), it takes it’s toll on you. I hate to say it, but I think I’m done cornering, but I has nothing to do with what I just said.
A few weeks ago I had the honor to help OneFC star Adam Kayoom prepare for his fight against Gregor Gracie. It was a great, focused camp where we drilled smart and formulated a game plan that in the end worked to perfection and he won the fight. The game plan went so well that during camp he caught me with a knee that split my lip wife open. This is the part of MMA that I love, the preparation. The hardest part for a coach are the fifteen minutes watching and being able to do nothing as your friend/training partner/student tests his abilities against another. I compare it to a roller coaster, you know that it’s going to be a Thrill, but you’re never quite ready for the twists and flips that come with it. One second they are getting beat, the next they are coming from behind to steal the victory. I feel so drained after this, the victory is great, you lift the guy on your shoulders, but the cost on your nerves is ridiculous! I’ll gladly fight any day, but cornering, save that for the stronger hearted.
But I haven’t told you the part that sucks the most. A week ago a fighter asked me to corner him. This is a guy who hasn’t had the best of luck throughout his life, it’s not my story to tell, but from a fountain pen exploding on him at the airport to customs strip searching him in an office, things aren’t getting much better. I didn’t get a whole lot of time to work with him, a few training sessions, but knowing him well enough and seeing his opponent fight before, I had a pretty good game plan. Fight started off well, everything we had drilled in the locker room/ gogo dancer changing room ( yes they continued to change while we were in there without a though ) went well, we won the first round. Second and third didnt go so well, the almighty fate/poor cardio kicked in and that was that. A feeling of dejection and a very bruised face are all thats left to show from it. I hate this part. I hate seeing people lose.It’s not always like the movies, the good guy doesn’t finish first every time. So instead of having a roller coaster ride that ended with high fives, I got the roller coaster ride where someone smacks their face on the rail. Sucks! Not being able to do anything but try to say words of encouragement, terrible. Nothing you can say is going to change things, the time machine hasn’t been invented, it wasn’t a dream.
I can’t say I will never corner again, but this weekend put me awfully close. I’m much better suited to be a training partner/gym coach than a cornerman, I’m too weak for that, Its meant for stronger men. But on aug31st in Manila, you can bet your life that I’ll be in captain Americas corner as he battles a for victory against the legendary Gracie family. Carry on.
Sometimes I sit and think about what I do and ask myself “Is what I do for a living acceptable”. If I had a son and he told me he wanted to fight, I would try my hardest to talk him out of it. Sign up for jiu jitsu/westling/figure skating, anything but what I do. Yes people fight, it’s in our nature. Since the beginning of time people have been rattling each others brains with fists, feet and elbows. Yes my sport has lots of comradery in it, honor, respect are all part of being a mixed martial artist. At the gym we spar, grapple, punch, submit eachother, then smile and slap hands/ass afterwards. It’s this time that I truly enjoy, the group minded pursuit of getting better and better, pushing each other toward greatness. Training partners can be closer than family, only in the gym do you share blood sweat tears, the thrill of success and the anguish of defeat. We become brothers, like old war veterans that just one look is all that’s needed for complete understanding.
But every ying needs a yang, the darker side. We inevitably fight, producing the one glorious winner and one dejected loser. It’s not like a team sport where you can cry on each others shoulder/ point fingers at the guy that missed the game winning shot. You’re out there alone, the wrong end of a punch/kick, the submitted, the down trodden. I’ve never found more lonely a place than that of the four out of twenty one times I’ve fought. You let the people down around you, without anyone or thing to blame. The thrill of victory is what keeps us coming back for more. We can’t help ourselves, we gladly risk all To chase that intoxicating high that we feel, the exultation of victory. We put our bodies through the torturous training camp, isolating ourselves in our drive. Starvation, dehydration, depression, a lot more ion’s, it’s a rough life that we accept, in moments of clarity we sometimes see that we truly are insane, the drug addicted high chasers.
Sometimes I feel sorry for myself and my brethren who are chasing the dream. Is the reward worth the risk and Life wasted? I don’t know. The lucid part of me says hey man, you can live healthy without the brain damage, eat clean and exercise, get regular check ups, you don’t need this sport or it’s vanity. But when has right mindedness ever prevailed with man? It’s our base desires that win. Lust,hunger,Carnage. The beast will always go to what it desires most.
Am I saying mma/fighting is terrible? No, true beauty comes from it. If the world were made up of nuns and priests, there would be no need for bravery or compassion. A true paradox I find myself in. I’ll continue doing what I do because it is what I know, it is what drives me, it’s what I have been in this life and probably in lifetimes passed. Someday I’ll hang up my gloves and my cape, probably looking back on a lifetime of highs and regrets. But for now, I have to join forces with Capt. America to save the planet from injustice, posers, mcdojos, and flabby stomachs. Carry on.