Wednesdays I work double shifts at two jobs and can only make it to LA Fitness for a quick workout between jobs. I run home, let the dog out and grab some lunch (pre-made) and eat in the car on the way to the gym. I'll get a workout from my conditioning coach or one off Onnit Academy. Coach Wally uses a lot of their workouts which utilize more strength-in-motion training...sort of. It uses things like mace bells, weighted bats, and sandbags. Awesome for form.
Thursdays, however, is sparring night. This morning I woke up at 4AM sick and was still sick by 8AM so called into work. It was either I could make it through work ( though I'd done most of today's work yesterday) or I could probably rest and make it through sparring. Our coaches are strict on not showing up sick because you could infect your training partners and put them out enough to miss their fight which is the worst thing you can do to someone half-way through camp. But I felt like if I slept, drank a lot of water, and medicated myself with oregano oil, Sambucol, Corelife Eatery with a lot of local red miso in it... I could be all right by 6PM for striking. It worked. I probably would have gotten sicker being at work. I read some Wendell Berry essays this morning which really helped me relax (something I rarely make a prioritize- actually, make that never prioritize...), watched "Warrior" and read A Fighter's Heart by Sam Sheridan for a couple seconds.
Sparring went the best it could have. Coach Wally sparred with me twice and went over teeps again which might be invaluable this fight. Malik pummeled me again. This was the first time I'd felt like I just wanted it to be over. Like, if this were a fight, I'd be thinking, "Is this ever going to end? How long can he keep this up for?" That's What She Said jokes aside, you really don't give a fuck when you're getting punched over and over and over. It wasn't hard, just constant pressure that makes it hard to get punches in. I felt less sloppy overall. More controlled. Last week Coach said I'm aggressive enough, which women tend to have a hard time with usually, but I get emotional and am easier to read when he's hit me so I tried to keep my cool more. Kept my hands up. Looked for openings, read where a combo might work...
There's a line somewhere of going all out too soon and gassing yourself and then holding back too much.
It was the last night my friend Caroline, who has fought five times, was at the gym before leaving for the state trooper academy in Albany. She is the only girl with enough experience to spar with. There's several benefits of sparring with her:
1) She is shorter, as my opponent will be
2) She has experience fighting
3) She has a woman's perspective on fighting
Guys are fine to train with- they're awesome. You get used to pressure, being hit hard by someone sometimes a lot bigger than you or more skilled is invaluable. But women fight differently than men and size makes a difference. My opponent is so much shorter I could kick over her head and miss entirely. Or, I could go to throw a cross to the body but she's much lower so I get nailed in the face. In this case, an upper has been a lot more effective. It's not on the guys, but on Caroline it works.
To be honest for a second, watching "Warrior" and reading helped me slow down and think about what I'm doing. I'm a huge asker of why. Why are we here? What are we doing with our time, our money? What is important? Does what we think is important and what we want line up with how we use our time/money/energy?
I started training because of curiosity; it was something I'd considered for a long time. Self-defense is priceless to women. But then it became an escape for this ongoing heartbreaking relationship I had with a guy I worked with. Now it's become something I need and love. My team is a family to me. This would probably break my mom's heart, but I am closer with my coaches and teammates than anyone in my family now. They're what families should be. They push you, choke you and crush you, knee you in the gut so you drop to the mat gasping, support you, and laugh and cry with you.
My one coach constantly teases me about dumb questions I already know and gets on me about shit, like not remembering the warm-ups. But when I sobbed pathetically after losing my first grappling tournament he hugged me and said I did well. My dad wasn't interested in coming. It still hurt a little, but I've mostly accepted he has his own issues and there's other people I'm lucky enough to have. Anytime I can I attend teammate's fights because I've watched them work hard, trained alongside them, and want to be in their corner for them on their day.
After sparring tonight, I was considering that if I by some miracle got this job I'm applying for that would send me overseas for 2 years, would I go? And is the gym a good enough reason to stay? Would I be leaving something I deeply value and love too early? Caroline was at the gym for four years and fought five times. Would one fight be enough for me, I wonder?