Monday, May 28, 2007

Twelve Days

Its 11 am in the morning and the sun is shining in my face. A slight breeze blows and I can see the green spring leaves rustle in the wind. After satisfyingly hearing the house door lock click I step off the porch and out of the gate of our two house compound. The streets of berkeley in this area look pretty much the same, although my route tends to be the same. If you pay attention though there are slight differentations. Two days before, two blocks down I got to see a little boy do back flips on his trampoline, the next day he had a friend over although they weren't doing any spectacular tricks.

As I get onto san pablo I look down the street. The little corner cafe by Good Vibrations the sex shop is crowded confirming that yes it really is a nice day. As I round the corner down university I dodge a few window shoppers and lolly gaggers who are mesmirized by the crappy art in the windows. A few more beats of my feet on the pavement and I'm at the aquatic park. The park has been having quite a few day time parties lately. There's always little kids playing soccer now,climbing haphazardly over the jungle gym set up or with parental aid flying crappy kites. I drink some water at the public fountain and turn around for my run back.

Once I hit carleton again I start doing sprints every other block. The blocks are much longer than the block by the gym which I'm accustommed to doing sprints on. My heat beats hard as I enter back into the gate. I take off my shoes and put on my ankle supporters. I grab my wraps and walk outside to our bag set up. A while ago Aragorn and I paid for a new bag. Its not often that I actually end up working out on it but I thought that it would be worth putting in half the payment for days like today when the gym is closed but I'm still in need of a work out.

I stretch and put on my wraps and then begin doing three rounds of bag work solely with my hands. Primarily I work on hooking off my jab. I jab into the bag, once, twice, and then use my left hook. As my knuckles smash into the bag I imagine my fist bludgeoning the temple of my future opponents. Three more rounds are spent doing punch and kicking combinations. The old one, two, three, right kick. A final three rounds is spent working on my knees. I do some knuckle push ups and a set of sit ups that make me sore. I walk back inside and wonder how much longer it will be til I fight. 12 days.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Beyond the Ruins

We walked into a packed Gilman st. show. On stage a young twenty something dude in a muscle t-shirt, with a grown out bleached blonde mohawk growled into the microphone. His veins were visible as he screamed his righteous indigination to the crowd.
"The animals, the animals, alcohol is bad, blah, blah...."
A murder of gangly white trustfunders pressed up against each other and sang along to his words of didatic truth.
"The animals, the animals, alcohol is bad, blah blah ...."
With raised fists, or two pointed fingers they chanted along to the song lyrics in a manner that would bring shame to the casual sunday night choir practice at the local assembly of god.

The set ended and Violett and I went to get burritos. Picante burritos is located in an area of berkeley that is obviously being reshaped. My former roommate has a studio out there and I can remember her talking about the changes that have happened in the last five years that since she opened up her studio by the waterfront.
Initially the area was a wharehouse area but is now turning into lofts and bougerosie arts and crafts.

The picante was a good example of one of the side effects of this process of urban "revitilization." Picante is a combination between fast food and a dine in restaurant. You stand in line to get your food after which you are given a number. Then some lackey who is paid shit brings you out your food.
I have previous experience in one of these horror shops. I worked at a place called Asqew grill for 9 months. It had a similiar set up. When your order was place you got a little colored block instead of a number on a little piece of metal like at Picante.

Anyways Picante tried to give the vegans some cheese and we returned it without too much of a fuss. The manager gave us an apologetic rim job along with a coupon for a free burrito. So for all you scum bag vegans out there say that they gave you a burrito with cheese and its a buy one get one free deal!
We came back to the gilman in time to see 7 generations setting up. We had come out to see both 7 generations (from souther california... thousand oaks I believe) and gather. Both bands are straight edge vegan themed bands. For their genre they are the creme of the crop.

7 generations played a thirty minute set which was dedicated with a fair amount of sappy monologue from the singer of 7 generations to Gather.( Gather in true form dedicated their set to 7 generations) The singer to 7 generations also mentioned his high school days, which obviously means that he's awesome. Who can't get passed their days in the gauntlet that is high school without some ressentiment and trauma? He noted how in his freshman year of high school in the late 90s there were 70 vegan kids but when he graduated there were only two (one of course being him). Why can't the kids be pure these days? Why!?

One of the more interesting aspects of the night, interesting in this case meaning laughable, was the rants about the straight edge vegan community (evidently there is one!) Gather talked in between songs about how great the straight edge vegan community was. How the scene had been really great and supportive blah, blah, blah.

Anyways the music was pretty entertaining, and the fans were entertaining as well. Its not too often that I get to be packed in with so many rich, white, young kids, as I did that night. My one friend said that she felt old at the show, which was a real flair of warning as she is only 20.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Head Trauma Wednesdays

Tong, a short, and stocky lao/thai kid pushed his arms out at me. His long (tattoo) sleeve was pushing forward towards my face. I wrapped my hands onto the insides of his elbows preventing him from both elbowing (allowed in full muay thai but not in anything us underlings do) me in the face and also giving me an inside position for control. I opened up my left hip like a door and then swung the fat of my thigh into his midsection shutting the door. He twisted his right shoulder into my face, with his left hand slid his arm under my grip and clinched onto the back of my neck. I tried to pull back with all the strength in my neck but he had me in a partial lock. He pulled me to the side, dragging down and locked me up with his other hand. He opened up his hip slightly and slammed his knee into my liver.

We swam (attempting to gain a lock position) back and forth for a few rounds, kneeing each other when openings permitted. I dragged his head down with the weight of my forearms happy that he would be so distracted by the anxious feeling of having your neck crushed that he wouldn't see the knees coming into his side.

The round ended and I switched my attention to Stefan. Stefan is taller, much, much whiter, and has many more bad tattoos. Standing an inch or two taller than me he has a advantage in the clinch game. While part of knee sparring involves strength, and more on the ability to swim into a lock effectively, part of being successful has to do with leverage. Being taller allows you to have more leverage. With a longer range Stefan was able to knee from a further distance and had the annoying (for me) habit of blocking my knees. When he saw my knee coming he would lift up the same side leg so my thigh would smash into the round of his knee. I quickly figured that a change in strategy was in order and when he picked up his knee I would spin him in the opposite direction and then would throw the knee.

After knee sparring for fifteen minutes Tong and I got on our running shoes and went outside. I sprinted Tong four out of five of the block long sprints down 15th street. On the final sprint Tong pushed himself having saved up all his gas for one last hurrah. He laughed proudly as he outpaced me for the second time in two weeks.

We went inside and did one hundred kicks. Fifty on each side. Tong was getting tired so I took it upon myself to yell at him until he pushed out all the kicks.

Tong and I will be participating in the smoker at Fight and Fitness on June 9th in SF along with a few other fighters from my gym.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Slip, Weave, and Bob

"Have you ever gotten a bloody nose?" I asked one of the boxers.
"I get bloody noses all the time, my brother," the boxer replied as he swung his gloved hand next to a smaller version of himself "he never gets them."
"Hmph." I said as I shrugged my shoulders and put on the headgear and the 16 ounce gloves. I put my mouthpiece in and stepped into the ring.
"You want to finish out the round?" the boxer asked.
"Yeah let's go."

We touched gloves and began to spar. I jabbed, jabbed again and threw my cross. The boxer slipped the bunches and bobbed then came up into my body with a flurry of punches. The four plus punch flurries would start off being defended but one or two of them would always seem to slip in and whack me. I went back to my two punch combos, my fanciest assault was a one, two, three the third punch being a mixture of a hook or a long left uppercut.

My opponent came in with another flurry. I put my helmet on and tightly covered my head but became quickly confused and fustrated as punches came in from nowhere, my hands moved to the side and I recieved a uppercut right into my nose. My nose seemed to move back into my brain and when it came back down due to gravity's desire blood started dripping down as well. I took off my head gear and walked into the bathroom where I inspected my gusher. It wasn't too bad. I stuffed some toilet paper into my nose and put some vaseline in my nose to make it more difficult for my nose to bleed.

"Did you get a lot of nose bleeds when you were box sparring?" I asked John a boxer at the gym turned desk clerk.
"Yeah I used to get them a lot, your nose hurts real bad, but after a while your nose ends up getting conditioned and it quits bleeding as much."

After my nose quit bleeding I stepped back into the ring and sparred some more. This time I moved around a bit more instead of trying to go toe to toe with my opponent and moving back and forth in a straight line. One of the things that unnerved me though was my ability to move to the right against my opponent without it being dangerous. In muay thai moving to the right against an orthodox opponent is like moving into a right kick. Ouch. Maybe its the same for boxing in that you're moving into the right cross, or hook but it doesn't seem to be as nasty.

The other thing about boxing that I don't fully understand is bobbing. While I respect a boxer's ability to bob and weave its something even when box sparring specificially I never do. The sheer thought of bending over while fighting someone scares the shit out of me. One of the reasons not to bend over and bob or weave in muay thai is that you'll get kneed in the face rather quickly. I'd rather put that off for as long as I possibly can.

For whatever reason tonight after coming home from the gym I feel a little depressed. Maybe its all the blows to the head, or maybe its that I just didn't feel like I was giving it my all or something. I'll go back tomorrow and try to train harder.

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