Monday, June 16, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I got up at 6:30 this morning. Its hard for me to wake up so early now. I have a hard time motivating myself. When I was in Thailand, I woke up because I wanted it, because I paid for it, because I wasn't going to back down, not after crossing the ocean, not after having saved for a year. Its really the little choices in life that make you who you are. Its waking up at 6:20am to go to the gym, its pushing yourself harder and harder every day that makes you stronger.

I got up after smashing the snooze button into oblivion. I put in my contacts, tried to wipe the sleep off my face and hopped on my bike. Its been really nice, weather wise, here in Berkeley. The ride down to the gym was pleasant but all I could think about is how the gym is going to move 30 blocks closer to my house.

I got to the gym a little after 7. Joe Lacap was skipping rope and looked at me as I came in. We nodded at each other and I changed my clothes in the locker room. I came out and sat on the bench. I wrapped my hands while hearing the pitter patter of the ropes on the mats. When I got done with my wraps I stretched a little then put on my shin pads and put some thai pads on my arms. When the bell rang I told Joe that we'd start our pad work.

I've been holding pads for people for a while now. I think that I'm getting better at it. I treat it more like a sparring session than holding for certain kicks, punches or sequences. I'm looking for my "opponents' weaknesses" the slow movements, the laziness, the bad technique. While looking for the soft points I'm also looking for the hard. What makes the fighter strong? What are her strong points? Is it her hands, her footwork, her kicking, her kneeing? I try to think, think, think.

We started off slowly with no set combinations. The longest punch combinations was two punches, usually a jab cross. Joe's kicks have gotten stronger even as he's dropped weight. He's still a bit triangularly shaped (having a bigger upper body than his legs) and leans forward a little with his pushing punches.

In the first round I told him not to drop his heel on the ground. Dropping the kicking heel (usually the right) prevents one from kicking twice in a row and impedes upon footwork. Even blocking when the heel is flat on the ground is slightly more difficult. Muay Thai is not an elaborate sport with fancy moves, which means that the moves engaged in must be solid, and efficient.

The end of the round I made Joe do ten kicks on each side. He started off slow. I told him to go; "Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang!" His thirty second break was short and we started again. I made him do five kicks in succession on each side. We worked a little more with the knees in this round. When he kneed he would grab with both arms and when done kneeing he just let go. The great thing about kneeing someone is turning them out, pushing out or dumping/throwing them. You basically get a free shot if you can whip them around a little (what doesn't end a fight like a kick while your opponent is down (after a throw?)).

The third round I focused a little more on knees, making sure that he wasn't backing straight up when punches came in and was either countering with an inside leg kick or wrapping up into a clinch.

After the third round of thai pads I held focus mitts for him. His punches are okay but I feel like they're a little pushy. Its pretty common to push one's punches. Basically this means that one is not recoiling fast enough on the punch. You're exaggerating the punch too much. Power is based on speed times mass. You change your mass via weight lifting (making your muscles bigger) than you change your speed through practice. You want to throw your punch out and bring it back as quck as you can. Its "explosion." I didn't make him do that much defensive work but focused primarily on simple combinations: Jab, cross, or hook cross.

You don't throw long combinations in muay thai as doing so exposes you to elbows or getting wrapped up in the clinch. In K-1, which has no elbows, doing long combinations is a good thing. Its about percentages. The more you throw the more likely you are to land a good clean shot. Whereas in Muay Thai everything is about timing and power. You don't get a ton of chances to throw lots of shots so the chances you do have need to be good clean and hard as fuck.

After we did four rounds we switched and I did pad work with Joe. I think that he's a little too short for me. I'm trying to switch the way in which I kick. I've been taught primarily by Mike how to kick. He is much larger than me and so I kick in a way that a large bodied person should kick--- hard but slow. Coke wants me to kick differently, faster with more spring. Having Joe hold pads for me, I leaned towards Mike's style of kicking. That might be me blaming Joe for my technical insufficiencies.

We sparred for a few rounds after padwork and then knee sparred. During knee sparring I thought of Coke and how he beats me in knee sparring. When he is hitting me in the stomach he says "Tong!" or stomach. He'll talk aloud to himself in thai and won't give us breaks. I kept imaging myself as Coke as I knee sparred with Joe. Certainly part of it was my dominance over him mirroring Coke's dominance over me. I yanked the shit out of his neck and threw him around. I made him continue to knee spar with me even when he wanted a break.

I'm training to keep a better log of my fighting training. I doubt that this will be place in which I will keep it as I don't want the heavy eye of the public on me. "Don't show the enemy your position, the first rule of battleship." I do want to keep writing about training though.

We ended our hour long session and I went home on my bicycle. I came home and cleaned the house and went to work.

Monday, June 2, 2008


When I was in college I lived in a house off campus. The house was attached to another house. Our house was filled with vegan lefty "anarchists" with awful politics (one of whom was me). Next door were more regular college ilk. There was a girl who lived next door, I can't remember her name, maybe it was Sarah, I'll call her Sarah. Sarah's room was on the second floor. When you exited the front door and turned left you could see her bedroom window. If she was up at night you could see the light coming out of her room. I saw her on campus one day and asked if I could throw rocks at her window one night and read her crappy love poetry. I did in fact do such a thing. The angle of her bedroom to the ground was perfect. I remember her opening up her window and leaning out of it a little to hear me. The setting demanded I read her crappy poetry late at night.

A week or two ago I was outside of my friend's house. I looked up at her window and that memory came to me again. Coinciding with that memory was thinking about John Cusack in "Say Anything," which is arguably one of the most romantic movies ever, ever! That was the major inspiration to the last two pieces "If you sing to me in French..." and "What are we doing here..." They are also the same "story" told from two different viewpoints. I was hoping to practice trying to develop different character views.

"Writer's block" came up after I tried to write a blog about some punk kids. The short piece is on the blog. My computer froze up and I figured I'd write something about getting writer's block. My output hasn't been that much lately because I haven't been prioritizing writing and instead been prioritizing feeling sorry for myself. Its more than when I was dating though. Another argument about how girls will make you fat and lazy! I like the line about the computer having AIDS.

"Much Luck" is an almost exact replica of a conversation I was having with one of my friends who works in the service industry. Its a pretty typical conversation to have with another waiter or waitress. I've been using more "real" dialogue that I've had in my stories, or at least these last few.

Most of my writing isn't far off from my everyday life. The characters, the events, the settings, are all reflections in a murky mirror. Let's hope that I don't upset anyone with my characters (as in lets hope the real kids can't tell who they are) but than again I'm under read as it is. They'll be happy when I've achieved posthumous fame. "Hey I was in a story by Matt Lucas," will be on everybody's lips.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

What are we doing here if Romance isn't Dead?

I'd been listening to Peter Gabriel's hit "In your eyes," repeatedly while dancing in my underwear. Gazing at myself in the mirror, faux microphone in hand, I was trying to master a succulent, vixen image. We'd recently had a dance party at my house. I was basically the only one dancing. My friends Liz, and Anne were there but they didn't deliver the moves like I thought they were gonna, they mostly just looked at me like I was crazy. I wanted to make sure that for the next dance party I would burn the kids out the room with my sweet moves.

It was during the 10th rotation of "In your eyes" that I heard the phone buzzing on my bed but I missed the call. I jammed on the buttons and saw that Neil had called. "Shit," I said aloud. I threw on some pants, my black flats, a t-shirt, and a blue American Apparel sweater. I ran down the stairs and saw Neil standing outside. He had his usual forlorn look. His brown hair, even though it was only an inch long, seemed to be downcast, giving him a mopey look. He was wearing his usual outfit of jeans, a t-shirt, converse, and a black hoodie.

"You ready," I asked him. He nodded as a reply and we made our way to Tuk Tuk Thai. Our walk there was in silence. He'd invited me to dinner a couple days ago. I said yes hoping that something interesting might happen. Despite being in a band, which my friend Liz said was uber mopey Joy Divisionesque trash, he was an utter bore.

I used to frequent Dolores park with my friend Anne. We'd go there to see and be seen by the hipsters. Actually that was just our joke between the two of us. The two of us would sit on the lawn and read books. After hanging out there on the daily, we acquired a flock of admirers. At some point Neil and I met. I didn't really see him that much at the park. Once in a while I'd see him in the city. When I moved to the east bay a few months ago I ran into him more. It was at Reel Video where he asked me out.

"Hey, Courtney," he said to me as I was looking at a video. I turned around not recognizing the voice.

"Oh, hey Neil. How's it going," I replied.

"Okay. What are you getting?"

"Well I was thinking about this movie "The Orphanage," its by Del Toro. He was the guy who did "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Devil's Backbone." Those moves were tight."

"Yeah. I saw them. They were good."


"Uh so what do you think you're going to get?"

"Didn't you ask me that already?"

"Uh, I guess I did." He looked around for a minute and I wondered if I should just walk away. "Have you seen that movie 'Teeth,'" he asked barring my escape with more conversation.

"My roommate got it a week or two ago. Its so great. That was the best climax for a movie ever."

"When I saw the girl drop the guy's wiener, and then the dog ate it, I got phantom pains."

"Ha. Phantom pains."


"Yup." I stood there for a second or two then started towards the counter. "I think I'm gonna get this one." I waved the dvd copy of "The Orphanage" in my hand.

"Yeah, that's a good one. Hey, do you want to go out to dinner or something, sometime, maybe?"

"Uh, sure." I took a receipt out of my wallet to write on. "Do you have a pen?"

He shook his head and went to the counter and got a pen. He came back a second later. I decided I'd give him my number because it took him so long to finally ask me out that I bet he wouldn't give me a call for months. By that time I'd probably change my number at least three times in order to evade Sallie Mae, my college loan collection agency. I scribbled down my number on the receipt and said goodbye. It took him a week to call me. By that time Sallie Mae had called me four times and I was on the verge of changing my number or moving to Thailand to shake the bastards. Our conversation on the phone was just as stilted as the one at Reel Video.

The dinner at Tuk Tuk was mediocre. I asked him about his band but he didn't elaborate much further than saying they were getting a new bassist or something. He paid the bill and we left. Our walk home was in silence and I gave him a half of a hug than ran up to my room. As I was running up the stairs I thought about how he should have played "In your eyes" on a boombox from the street.