Sunday, April 29, 2007

Samkor in Spades

Today was a somewhat normal saturday. I went to the gym for two hours. An hour of class then an hour of extracurricular activity. I sparred with a new rather large guy and Nelson. Unlike yesterday, today Nelson didn't beat the shit out of me, instead I was able to hold me own. Nelson has better technique than me but doesn't always have power in his hands. In fact his punches are like gnats, its like being swatted. However, his kicks are very hard. He's a very good partner as he's looking to make not only himself better but his partner. We've been working together for a while whenever he's in the gym. Today we worked on his punching some and did the combo Mike had us do. One of his problems is that he doesn't sink into his punches and he doesn't pivot on the ball of his foot when he punches. He rolls up onto his toes and doesn't use the lower half of his body to put power into his punch.

When it was my half I worked on power. My forte is stamina, and heart. I'll fight until the bell rings, but that doesn't mean that I always have power... or speed. Today I was kicking pretty hard. I think one of my problems is that I don't use the top part of my body enough... I don't throw myself into the kick enough. I'm also not particularly speedy.

The sparring was alright. The guy had about 30 pounds on me and several inches. He was extremely tense and would often over muscle his punches which Nelson avoided and I just blocked. When he left kicked I would left kick back immediately but wouldn't reach him as I didn't step forward into him enough.

The other excitement of my day involved playing cards again at the Oaks club . Today I doubled up. I bought in for $110 and walked out with $206 after about two hours of play. I initially started my bank roll at $160 and so that's a profit of $46 after about 5 hours of play or so. Which isn't too bad, but its a start. I think I can probably make $12 an hour playing 3-6. The players tonight initially seemed tougher but ended up being easy. Lots of multi-way pots and shitty calls. I backed into a flush with a jack ten suited that I limped in with in late position. I took a big pot from a short armed man (every time I've played at the Oaks there's always been a table with a man with a fucked up arm, weird) with pocket aces. I hit a full house on the flop and slow played him for money. The pots are pretty big when you win, over $30 usually which is nice. I played well although I still have some trouble hands and should probably refresh myself on some of my poker knowledge.

After poker I went and wrote down some notes in my notebook. During this I was seated at the bar. I ordered a beer and sat next to a plan who just had gotten up off my table. I'd take a big pot from him with some hand that I couldn't remember. Well maybe it was a couple pots. We casually chatted and I bought him a beer. I'm trying to more seriously rethink my relationship to alcohol and moments like tonight, talking to some random guy for a while, they make me want to drink. Not that the conversation was that great, mainly the guy had a slightly skewed horatio alger view of things ("some regular guys if they gut lucky with the cards, they can make it big"), but rather meeting an d being able to talk to people from completely different worlds. To me that's important. Sure this guy's life wasn't that exciting, he worked as a electrician, he fucked some girl who lost her virginity to him, he played poker very occassionally and was a japanese, german mix. I guess I just like being around everyday people sometime, no matter how mediocre they are. Drinking beer facilitates these meetings, these chance encounters and creates a bonding during the drinking. Would this guy have talked as freely to me if I hadn't bought him a beer? Would we have talked at all if we were just drinking water? Would we have even sat at a watering hole? I can't fully answer those sorts of questions.

Alcohol is losing some of its appeal to me. While I still like the feeling of drunkeness I don't particularly like the effects that are associated with it anymore. Hang overs being one of them. Another being the ambiguous relationships you end up having with people. Nothing has happened recently but I can remember being drunk hitting on people or being inappriopriate. Afterwards, in the morning I would feel embarassed, other times I wouldn't care. Now I guess I don't want to lose that control over my life. Its not that I care anymore what people think of me, its just that I wouldn't want to have to do any extra damage control.

Not drinking at all seems like it would have some pretty serious health benefits, and certainly I'd get a lot of support from the current social circle that I run in, minus one or two others, but I just don't know if I could make a real commitment to not drinking. I may try to do a month without drinking, but we'll see. Let's just hope the girl doesn't break my heart in that month or its back to the bottle.

Added is a youtube showing of samkor. Samkor is a famous muay thai fighter. He is particuarly famous for his left kick (he's south paw). He may come over to America soon and Mike Regnier might get him to train at our gym although who really knows with these things.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Win some, lose some, its all the same to me

The oaks card club is nestled in the mid town of the east bay area. Located across the street from a bank of america and a slight swagger away from one of the east bay's largest liquor stores (that also stays open the latest at 1:45am), the Oaks card club is home to Oakland's dreamers, and losers.
The club itself contains about thirty tables of poker, hold'em, omaha, stud are on the menu along with Pow Gai an Asian card game which I am completely unfamiliar with. A large section of the gamblers are asian and or african american. Scattered around are caucasians, college students, and slumming professionals.

After about a twenty minute wait I sat down at table 10 to a game of 3-6 limit texas hold em. Texas hold em is the cadillac of poker, and limit is like cruising down the highway. You're dealt two pocket cards face down. After an initial round of betting with two forced antes (called blinds, one large, one small) three community cards are dealt face up. If you've made it to the flop (to the round of betting where the three cards are shown) you know have five cards in your "hand." Regular poker rules apply. Straight flush is the nuts, and your deuce seven don't mean shit especially if the board don't match you up. After another round of betting the turn comes (the fourth card). Another round of betting, and then the river (the fifth and final card). You now engage in a final round of betting in which you make the best possible 5 card hand that you can out of the two cards in your sausage like fingers and the 5 on the table. If you've got the winning hands, well congratulations you're a lucky fuck. If not, well you're a loser, and we all need losers to make money in poker so keep on playing.

When I was playing (much more regularly) in Vegas I would usually stick to the 2-4 game, not having much of a bank roll to move up and being pretty comfortable with the amount of money I won, and lost. I decided to move up in my limit mainly because they didn't have a 2-4 game open. For the most part the play is the same. The type of players are the same, the action is usually about the same, its just a little more money that you're playing for. This means that as a player I need to bring in a little more of a bankroll and be a little better about taking bigger swings in my stack of chips. For example I lost thirty three dollars on a second best hand tonight, whereas in 2-4 if I'd lost with the same hand I would have only lost twenty two dollars. Taking bigger losses also can mean raking in bigger wins. I ended up being down to twenty four dollars but then in one hand won over sixty dollars.

I had a bad run of cards tonight, the highest pair I got was a pair of pocket tens in three hours, the best high card dance I got was Ace Jack off suit. I won a hand (the fifty plus dollar hand) with pocket threes. I limped in and hit a third three on the flop which I ended up slow playing to win a shit ton of money. The other winning hand I had (I only won two hands I think the entire stint) was with an Ace ten suited that I played in late position for fun (playing for fun is usually a bad idea, in this case not a horrible idea, but not something that I would usually do). I scored on the flop though with X, 10, 10. I slowplayed the flop and raked in a little bit of money.

A lot of my bank went into blinds and limping or calling raises with pocket pair. One early money loser was with a Jack-Ten suited that I limped in with on the small blind. The flop was X, 9, 8, no one bet on the flop and the turn showed a queen. I bet with the nut straight. I got two callers. The turn showed a jack. I bet heavy again and again I got the two callers. One of them had King ten for a shitty hand. The other drawed out on me and won with a king high straight versus my queen high straight. Fucktard, what's he doing playing with those shitty cards. Actually I should congratulate him as most of the time in a situation like that I played correctly and he played incorrectly. If we can remember one of the fundamental thereoms of poker we'll remember that everytime our opponents make a mistake we gain.

Maybe I should make sunday night game night for a while. I haven't been playing much go, backgammon, or any of the other games I enjoy. When Sabrina moves in maybe she'll bring a chess set...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

How can you say I go about things in the wrong way?

Today was my fifth fight. One step closer to fighting at an amateur level, one more lesson(s) to be learned, one more "real" showcase of my experience. I'm a relatively cool fighter, as in I don't get real nervous, however, there are a multitude of things I could work on. First of is being dynamic, putting more power into the kicks and punches and also into the knees that I threw. A lot of the fight was tied up in the clinch and was pretty fruitless as my opponent clung on to me in a boxer's clinch making it difficult for me to knee him. Mike (my instructor) after the first round asked me how I was;
"I'm fine."
"He's gassed."
"Try to make more space when you knee."
The second round had us tied up a lot. I looked at the crowd and saw the eyes' of duck (Jason's girl,) Shalon, and others, then my eyes turned towards Mike and he made the shovel motion, less than two seconds later I dumped my opponent onto the ground. He clung onto me really tight thus going down with me. We stood back up and I hit him hard with a right kick which landed but before I pulled it back he caught and so I turned my knee inwards and hopped around. I felt at the time that I was a superior fighter, which is a weird feeling. That was one of those moments.
"You caught my leg but it doesn't matter." Is what I said to him in my head.
Its over so soon. Its only 6 minutes, sometimes its a lifetime, sometimes like right now its just a bleep. I didn't gas out, I didn't have as much power as I would have liked, I did listen to Mike very attentively, I did throw SOLID knees, I did face a decent opponent....
One step closer to something more....

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I crashed into his fist pt. 2

The bike ride to the gym takes me about twenty minutes, fifteen to ten if I'm riding fast, usually I am not. My bike, after a year of dicking around with it, is finally comfortable enough for these rides. The bike used to have constant problems with the derailer and the chain would frequently click in and out of gears. Eventually I stripped off the derailer along with most of the gears and made it into a simple single speed conversion. I even took off the free wheel, which is the mechanism that allows the cyclist to coast without pedalling. I did so in order to merge more into the mucky mire that is hipsterdom. My desire for upward mobility got me when I made that decision. As we all know its not about what you are, nor what you have, no, not anymore. What's important is what you appear to have, who you appear to be. Hipsters are notoriously, and nauseously middle class. Blending in with hipsters will get me more pussy. There's more cute hipster girls than there are cute girls that work at shitty burger joints. The restaraunt is just a baby step away from being McDonald's or Carl Jr's.
The gym I go to is located downtown. Its pretty old and in one of the more poor sections of town, which is part of why I like it. I actually passed it one day while I was running. I live about 15 blocks away from the gym in a shitty two bedroom apartment that I share with some dude I found off of craigslist. The gym is in an old wharehouse type building, which means there is a ton of floor space. It has a pretty large ring set in the corner, about ten heavy swinging bags, an open matted area, some speed bags, and a small weight room off to the side.
I'd checked out the gym a few times before I decided to go. My girlfriend had recently broken up with me because I drank too much and would get rather surly with her when I was drunk so I figured I needed something to preoccupy my time rather than with cheap domestic lagers. Now I don't drink so much but I need a girl to preoccupy my time with rather than my anxieties about fighting.
Its been six months since I first stepped into the gym and signed up for the muay thai boxing classes. Six months and a five day a week schedule at the gym. In the mornings I go running before work and then I work at the restaraunt from nine to five. I'd make more money at the restaraunts if I worked the nights and weekends but then my training schedule would be thrown off. I don't give a shit about the money anymore, it will just make help me appear like something I'm not. The more money I make the more money I waste. I've decided instead to just throw myself into training, into fighting. Besides I pretty much have a six pack, not the kind you drink now and bitches love that shit.
When I get to the gym I skip rope for about ten minutes before the class. The class starts at 6 and I usually get to the gym around 5:30. After skipping rope I'll shadow box for another ten minutes or so. In the mirror I'll pretend I'm fighting myself, or I'll practice my form. Sometimes I'll just look at myself and think about how good looking I am for an acne ridden burger flipper.
The class follows a pretty set routine, some jump rope, some stretching, three rounds of pad work with a partner, then three rounds of bag work. Afterwards I'll usually spar with someone, do more bag work, do sprints, or extra calenthestics.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

pom ja ben Nak Muay

In a few minutes laying on my bed I'll rest some frozen peas, the bag was left over from my vasectomy, on my right shin. As valuable as my junk, my shin was further damaged in sparring today along with my left knee. They both feel stiff and sore. The worry and anxiety are beginning to set in.

Today while sparring, I slipped... maybe I slipped too much. Will my footing be so unsure during the fight? Will I become gassed out in the second round? Will my kicks lack power? Will I lazily drop my hands? Will my knee still hurt? My shin feel weak? Has my ability to parry the teep significantly improved? What about my ability to knee spar? Will I remember to plant my right foot when I left hook? Will I crunch my body too far down when I block?

I tell myself not to worry about these things but they cross my mind. Mike Regnier said that all fighters get nervous before their fights. Maybe the first one you get more nervous than the others, but this is my fifth fight and still the nerves. Its not until I step into the ring that I get unbearably nervous, right now I'm just badly nervous.

There's a real surreallness to fighting. It just feels like an out of the ordinary experience, an almost of the body experience. Suddenly I'm no longer fighting but my body moves. I imagine that I'm Samkor as my hips switch and I throw a left kick. I'm Bukaw as I grab onto my opponent's shoulder and pull him into my knee. I'm Raymond Dekker, the turbines of hell, as I hook my opponent. I'm Mike Regnier as I fake, fake, and throw a right kick into my foe. Where once there was a dorky, cynical skinny vegan boy is now a stick figure who believes he's someone else.

There are some good points to this smoker (my fifth). Its at pacific ring, where I train, in Oakland. There are a ton of fighters from my gym fighting, some of whom I am very excited about seeing in the ring. There's Nelson, an extremely technical fighter (but he has poor hands), David the ex-cal football player, possibly Shalon (if she gets a match up) and Byron a hard hitting south paw. It is also another step towards fighting at an amateur level. In all probability I will be fighting at an amateur level at the end of the summer, or early fall. My hope is to fight a few times (once, twice, maybe three times) before I go to thailand. By then I'll have my arsenal of weapons and will turn the sticks and stones I may have into spears and hammers.

The next few days will mainly be more cardio work. Resting up and maintaining my conditioning. In the morning I'll go running with Stefan then go to the class tomorrow night. Thursday I'll go into the gym and skip rope for a five rounds, and shadow box for five rounds. Friday will look the same.

Maybe I'll be lucky and break a leg, his.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

I crashed into his fist

Its almost five o'clock. I look at the clock on the far side of the wall, behind the glass screen between the grill and the restaraunt floor. Five minutes until I'm out of this shit hole. Another ticket comes up, for a cheeseburger with american, well done. After slipping my hands into the plastic gloves and throwing on the chunky meat patty I scratch my ass. My ass is covered by a thin blue overall, the management team thought it would be cute for all the staff to wear blue overalls. It gives the staff the look of mechanics, hamburger mechanics.
The little dive of a restaraunt, all capitalist kitchens are dives if you spend any time in them, is part of a small chain. The chain started about seven years ago and now includes four restaraunts within the county. It originally started in the city as an attempt to combine old style diner food, with new healthy living values. So instead of chunks of cow flesh we have shredded turkey, we only use organic tomatoes and lettuce on our burgers, and our canola oil for our french fries contains little trans fat, but a decent helping of Douglas' spit.
Douglas has been working here for almost a year now. He's trying to put himself through community college and is 19. His step father won't give him any financial aid, rather stating that he'd given him plenty of aid in the form of a roof over his head and all the kraft macaroni and cheese he could eat. According to Douglas' stepfather he should be happy for "All the fucking pink hot tubes (cheap ass hot dogs) of love he'd gotten in his mac and cheese."
The clock now says three of five, and I poke at the burger with a spatula. About one third of the burger are burnt, no matter what the customer orders. Making only nine bucks an hour plus tips doesn't make me, and most of the rest of the staff, care about food quality. The tip structure is pretty sad. We have a small tub by the cash register. If we're lucky we'll get the change off the sale. Getting tipped is as much about how sunny it is outside as the food quality, and most of the days seem pretty fucking grey.
The burger is getting to get a little black around the corners. Not wanting to have to remake the burger before leaving I ingeniously cover the char with double the amount of cheese. The cheese melts like velveeta, but higher quality. Slipping the burger onto a toasted oat bun I put it up on the counter. I shake the tub that contains the fries and dump some onto the plate.
"Food up. I'm off." I yell to the front of the house staff.
I walk to the back of the restaraunt, away from the grill, away from the tickets, away from that greasy dump. I can hear tickets start to come up as I walk away. Guess they should have had the 5:30 cook come in at five instead of thinking the five o'clock cook would stay late out of obligation. I walk into the small staff room with its lockers, half table (for staff to eat our free staff meal), poster of the year 2000 labor laws and a bin for our dirty overalls. I zip down the overalls and shrug out of them. I open up my locker and throw on some wind pants and a hoodie. Off to the gym.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Sing for Freedom

Thai prisoner boxes for freedom
Thai prisoner boxer, Samson Sor Siriporn
Siriporn's victory could see her walk free three years early
A female Thai prisoner has boosted her chances of freedom by winning the world light flyweight boxing title.

Samson Sor Siriporn, a convicted drug dealer, beat Japan's Ayaka Miyano in a bout staged at the mixed Klong Prem jail, known as the "Bangkok Hilton".

Watched by dozens of prison staff, Siriporn won on points after 10 rounds in the ring, kick-starting parole proceedings for her early release.

The 24-year-old took up boxing to protect herself from violent inmates.

"I'm so happy with the way I performed today. I'm very proud. I've been in jail for a long time now, I hope this will see me released early," said Siriporn after the fight.

"When I'm free I'll carry on fighting. I want to fight all over the world."

'Changed woman'

The match took place in a makeshift ring in the grounds of the Klong Prem prison, in front of a crowd of about 700 people, including a few prison inmates.

Thai prisoner boxer Samson Sor Siriporn (L) and Japanese boxer Miyano Ayaka
Siriporn was jailed for selling methamphetamine pills
Transvestites released from their cells for the event paraded in high heels around the ring with placards.

Siriporn, serving a 10-year sentence for selling small amounts of drugs, dominated the fight, taking the World Boxing Council title 97-93, 98-92, 100-91.

A Thai corrections department official said the parole process would start immediately.

"I think it's very likely she will be released as a result of this victory, maybe in a couple of months. We gave her a chance to show us her talent, and she has done that," said Natti Jitsawang.

"She is a changed woman, and now she has the chance to be free and fight around the world."

Organisers believe the win makes Siriporn the first inmate to clinch a world title in prison.

This side, that side, you can't side me

Erich and I were riding back together in my small honda crx. I'd bought the little two door go cart of a car for three hundred dollars and sold it later for five hundred. Making a tidy profit, and leaving my girlfriend's pukey mess on the passenger seat floor for the new owner. I'd picked up Erich who was a year older than me from the albany greyhound station. He was coming home for christmas vacation, or something to spend time with his family. He put on one of his casette tapes, a punk mix with the band Crass on it.

I bought my first Crass cd at a record store in albany. It took me forever to find the record store, being out of the rural area that I was from put me out of sorts. I picked up their worst album too, whatever their last one was. I think its "Ten notes on a summer's day" or something like that. Its a conceptual album, an ode to their days of being awesome, and now being just old. Eventually I picked up Best Before 1984. That's when my anarcho punk days really began....

Seven years later, I'm hardly punk. No mohawk, no studded belt, no dye in my hair, nor facial piercings. My denim jacket has been collecting dust for the past year in my closet and when I pulled it out last night I noticed it only had two patches, and one pin. A sorry sight to be seen in for any young rocker. I even had to borrow a bullet belt for the show (although I forgot it anyways).

I'd seen Conflict several years before in 2002 at CBGB's with an Aus Rotten spin off band. I can't remember too much of the show. I think Colin (the lead singer) was wearing sweat pants and the drummer looked like he sat around eating McDonald's all day. Jake, April, and Tony all drove down together and then went out for burritos. Jake and April were nice enough to buy me a burrito.

Conflict has been on tour again. Playing a bunch of different locales in the US, and some in Europe including some pretty sweet looking shows with some other old Anarcho punk bands. I got to the venue (the oakland metro) at eleven. Outside of the little dive hall was a swarm of crusty looking punk kids dressed in black. Inside more leather coats, studs, bad fashion mohawks and all the other signifiers of american conspicious outrage. I caught up with some friends and saw most of the second to last band "Scarred for Life." They played a decent set and I was impressed with the lead singer's facial tattoo. A straight line ran across the top of his cheek bones and over the bridge of his nose. Obviously getting a job in straight society would be pretty difficult after that choice.

Conflict themselves put on a decent show. I'd like to say that I remembered more of their lyrics, but I actually haven't bothered to listen to them in months. Never the less some of their songs sounded familiar and they had a female vocalist to add many of their songs. The crowd was pretty standard fair, there was a forty something year old punk who looked like a rat, and who carried one too (just like he was out of the decline of western civilization), there was a busty, brash punk girl who fondled her boobs and pushed scrawny punk boys out of her way, there was a short napleon who stomped around the pit with his shirt off, and a slew of drunk passed out punks outside of the venue.

I don't go to shows that much anymore. The bands usually suck, its usually pretty boring just standing around (unless your drunk), and music for the most part has lost its edge. The sound goes in and out, the mikes accidentally shut off. There isn't much of a stream lined experience that you get with most technologies, and now we're no longer used to that choas. Where would we be without our electricity? And after twenty years of playing, the passion sounds a little canned, or at least the audience responce to the invocative lyrics. What was once an exciting phenomenon now sounds better on one's home stereo. I guess that's one of the problems of today, everything becomes recuperated, everything turns gray.

The Serenade is Dead
Conflict 1983

She wakes up in the morning; the sun is shining in her face
She turns her head around; she shares the blanket on which the love embraced
She looks out of the window; it's a lovely day outside
She tells herself that things are fine, he pulls the sheets to cover his eyes
The essence of the fresh air, that garden held the love affair
Thinking back their minds are torn in muddle and confusion
So far away another sits, who tries to make the best of it
He don't know quite what's hit him, it's another love illusion
He gazes in his empty room eyes fixed upon her picture
The loneliness, dejectedness, God how the fuck he's missed her
His eyes turn turn to the window, the military roar by
He wonders how much hatred could evolve out of the sky
What God had done for peace on earth, what man destroyed from day of birth
They are concerned with feelings; they're just ashamed to cry
And one mans plan to push the button makes other sacrifice
The serenade is dead and now the only question's why?
Why when we are young, we're told it's right to love
Told it's human nature and that comes from God above
As time moves on we realise that we all look from the pit
While a plan hangs above us, to keep us in the shit
Because the minute we are born, we're told what's right and wrong
Raised with certain morals, never mentioned in their songs
As we grow up, we find out that the paths been neatly set
In a world of such destruction, we only can regret
Regret that is the word of it, as we look for our way out of it
Why can't they understand we don't want any part of it?
The pain they create everyday, that just ain't gonna go away
We've got to stick together, but still you're asking why?
The system stands strong, as our movement starts to crumble
The pressure we once held, has just turned into a rumble
They've got us where they want us, and you all just accept that
Well don't you think its time; we started to hit back
They are the enemy; they want a rope around your neck
And if they will go that far, then what the fuck is next?
Forget the revolution, we've heard it all before
Heard all of the promises of nineteen-eighty-four
Its an impossible task, "oh yes", it stands before us all
Well maybe you'll believe it when your back's against the wall