Friday, June 26, 2009

Trained in the parking garage last night because the class was so big we couldn't all fit in room 1. I think I counted 36 people. It was hot, noisy, and the floor was slippery. It was a nice change, actually, and I'd like to utilize the garage using attacks that might actually happen there. So...say the defender is walking along minding his own business & the attacker darts out from behind a car to put the choke on, something like that. That wouldn't have worked last night, though, way too many people for us to keep an eye on everyone when they're as spread out as they'd have to be to pull that off.

I think I might be toughening up a little. While holding a kick shield for the Gentleman to demonstrate front kicks, I held it too close to my body & ended up getting kicked in the solar plexus. From his fighting stance, he quickly froze & asked if I could keep going & I insisted that I could, so he continued. In the past I would have crunched up like I'd been shot with a bow & arrow, but I can keep going now. Of course, I had to bring it up 50 times later on, to torment him, but that's what friends are for. The Gentleman goes hard with me, he doesn't baby me, & I love that.

Last night we had a girl come in for her first lesson, she's the friend of a new student & he brought her in to try it out. She didn't last 10 minutes! I saw her sitting on one of the little concrete things that prevent your car from going further forward in a parking space & asked if she was alright. She told me, "This stuff is not for me. Everything can't be for everybody, & I don't like this." Well, in spite of my belief that everyone needs to be capable of basic self defense, I've always respected people who can just say, "NO, I don't care what everyone else in the room is doing, I'm doing what I want." That's very difficult for most people, so good for her.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I'm Back, Baby!

So glad to be doing something approximating my old schedule! Went back for teacher training, not knowing what to expect now that Phase is over. The Gorgeous Bastard had Bam Bam teach me cardio, as she's learning to teach bag class. Then he had me teach "any level 2 technique" to her - I chose side kick, which I haven't done since I was a fetus. So I had to relearn how to do it, and the funny thing was the easiest part was picking out what the teaching points would be. I liked that.

Next hour I had the choice of attending GB's level 3/4 class or assisting The Gentleman as he taught level 1/2. That was a tough call, as I reeeeally miss GB's classes, but I'm still having so much fun teaching (the shine hasn't wore off it yet, as my aunt would say), and the class was so enormous, that I decided to teach. It was fun! The Gentleman kicked me so hard when I held a kick shield to my abdomen for round kicks that it reverberated up into my throat & made me feel just for an instant like he was going to kick my lunch back up out of me. The class was ginormous. I'm beginning to wonder how long this location will hold us all, the classes are busting at the seams.

Next was yoga, yay! My body is tight as a drum right now, and Dr. J fixed me right up. I can pop into handstands against the wall quite easily now, so you know what that means - time to scoot away from the wall.

Last hour was MMA. Felt like a dork because I learned that a student from level 1 has been letting me call her the wrong name for at least a month. Worked the pads, worked the ground, got my ass handed to me from sidemount yet again. I have never successfully escaped from sidemount. Its a flaw. I prefer punching people in the face to letting them squish me.

I'm in such a good mood now, even though I've been home for a week, now I feel like I'm "back home" and it feels really good.

Good Question

A friend on Facebook asked me what, knowing what I know now, I would change about my preparation for Phase. And you know what? I have to say I wouldn't change a thing. I would actually say that The Pen & I were probably some of the best prepared people there. That doesn't change the fact that I was sick with fear or that I had a lot of corrections to make once I got there or that it was one of the most difficult weeks I've ever been through. All those things were very much the case. But the people who trained me are very good at what they do, and whether I wanted to or not, I did as I was told, and it paid off.

If you are considering going to Phase A, here are some things you should be doing to ensure your success:

*Memorize your teaching points. I wrote out copies of the points - all of them - on flash cards & used them to study. I probably made a total of 4, maybe 5 sets.

I tried a million different ways to say things, but my instructors always brought me back to the basics. Simpler is better. No one but The Pen & I had been drilled on the points this way, and it made it more difficult for them when it came time to teach.

*Practice teach in front of your instructors - a lot. This is a nightmare. It was my least favorite thing to do. Flopping around like a flounder in front of people who are very good at what you still suck at is no fun, but if you can do it right in front of them, you can do it right in front of anybody.

*Teach real students in a real class. You will do make more stupid mistakes than you ever thought possible. Good for you. Now is the time to do that.

*Teach when you are exhausted, because then your brain is not functioning properly. The Gentleman used to put me through a particularly horrific training session where he would wear me out with a general workout, then make me strike the heavy bag while he continually whacked me & dragged me away from it, forcing me to fight to get back to the bag. Then he'd start non-stop chokes, hard. Then, when I was really having to force myself not to beg him to stop, he'd yell, "Teach choke from the side, NOW!". This single tactic was one of the most useful things I practiced, because in Phase they will wear you out past anything you have ever endured (unless maybe you're in the military), and still expect you to perform. So you might as well get used to it.

*Train with people who have no problem tormenting you and screwing with your head. The Gorgeous Bastard specialized in mentally torturing me (all for my own good, I can assure you), while Relentless & The General loved to tell me to prepare to teach one thing in front of the class, then at the last possible second tell me to teach something totally different RIGHT NOW. All this was enormously helpful to me, as a great portion of getting through Phase is mental. You have to be like the Black Knight in Monty Python's Search For The Holy Grail. When your Phase instructor chops your arm off, you simply say, "It's only a flesh wound!" and keep going. This is easier said than done.

*Learn how to eat, drink, & supplement in the best way to support your body. Then make that a habit well before you leave.

*Train hard and do it consistently. I think I only missed one session in 8 months, when I went out of town. That day was awesome!

*Decide before you go why you're doing this, and you'd better have a damn good reason. It's not fun. It's hard. It's painful. The odds of you being injured are high. Having a meaningful why makes it possible to get through the horrible how.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Some Notes on Phase A

I usually prefer to write fairly coherently, but I'm not sure I'm capable of that right now. Here are some observations:

*On instructors:

I was really pleased to find out that Pete is not the Demon of Crossroads Boulevard. He has actually been incredibly sweet and supportive. I like him.

Matt Romon was also a pleasure to learn from. There's none of the mind games I was told of, he's just teaching you and helping you to grow. Again, I like him.

There's a muscular & pretty girl here named L----- who is kind of mean. I'm sure she's very nice when you get to know her, but I'm staying away from her for now. She got really snippy with me on the first day & I was just about to get snippy back when I remembered Mami K told me, "They will know just how to get under your skin. Don't let them." So I shut the hell up. Besides, L----- looks like she could kill me with one hand, roll me up in a low-carb tortilla with the other hand & swallow me whole. And let's face it, she did take the time to come over & correct me a couple of times, which I appreciate. But when she looks at me she always appears to want to slap the shit out of me, so I try to stay out of arm's reach. They always say female instructors are hardest on potential female instructors, as a way of toughening them up, so I'm not taking it personally, I'm just staying out of her way.

*People break and then bounce back: On the 2nd or 3rd day (already they are blurring together, today was day 4) we had to do an absorbing drill at the end of the day where you cover your head & absorb constant punches to the gut. My partner was backing up & saying quietly, "I can't, I can't, I can't..." and I was yelling, "Yes, you can!" I was worried about her that night, but the next morning she showed up bright eyed & bushy tailed, ready to go. I like the fact that she punches hard & keeps going, even though her tendonitis is giving her a very hard time. She's also an experienced groundfighter, so she was great to partner with today on the ground. I mean freaking fantastic, also because she's only 5'2" & light as a feather. However, she gets sloppy on her standup sometimes & I've taken many hard hits to the head & ribs, which is making me grind my teeth a bit. She's not doing it on purpose, though, so whatever.

*All those problems I've always had punching my friends in the face, all my little internal struggles with that, are no issue here. I like these people, but they're not my friends & I punch them without hesitation. Hurray!

*Christian is having a bad day. Day 4 is traditionally the Bad Day, & he is suffering, but he has such a great attitude. I'm incredibly lucky to be here with him. Also, he is continuing to perform very well, even though today it was really taking everything he had. He has a black toenail (from an injury yesterday) that will eventually fall off, massive cuts and bruises everywhere, a large cut on the inside of his top lip, and his thigh is completely covered with a giant bruise from absorbing kicks. His partner is training to be a professional MMA fighter & kicks like Wayne, meaning even his soft kicks feel like you've been hit with a bat.
I looked over at him today to see how he was doing & he was going at it with his partner on the focus mitts & Christian had a look on his face like he was a total fucking psychopath. I mean scary! It was awesome.

*Last night I had the Bad Night. The only time we actually get to eat real food is in the evening. You have to have a very light breakfast & maybe just a protein bar and a piece of fruit for lunch or you won't keep it down when the workout starts. Last night I waited too long to eat (filthy lying host at the restaurant!!!! An hour and a half is NOT half an hour!) By the time the food got there it was too late, my blood sugar had crashed too much & I was choking back vomit at the table while I shoved a melted protein bar in my mouth with tears streaming down my face. I wasn't actually "crying" but there was water coming out of my eyes, if that makes sense. I was just SO hungry from the workout. When dinner finally came I shoved as much of the food into my belly as I could then literally staggered out of there & fell asleep the instant my butt hit the car seat. (Jackie was driving, he came to see me & take me out to a special dinner, the sweet thing.) La Fogata can go straight to Hell and take their delicious Mexican food with them.

*Today Big Daddy J came to visit us! It was such a nice surprise, like a ray of sunshine, but I also felt really self conscious at first. (Dork.) He gave me some good advice on what I was doing wrong during an exercise, but now I have no idea what it was, or even what we were doing. Everything is blurring together into a haze of pain and sweat.

*Matt R. & Pete have left us now, and AJ & Todd will begin teaching us tomorrow. I was very sad to see Matt & Pete go, and am a little bit nervous about how AJ & Todd will be, but frankly I'm just too tired to work up much anxiety about that or anything else.

*I look like a refugee, I smell like a barn, and I haven't had a full night's sleep in days. None of us have. I'm dropping weight quickly. And until today I've been doing all this with a cold, which worked out to my advantage, because it lowered my voice & forced me to focus harder because I was trying not to faint. Now I'm off to take a cold shower. Thank you and good night!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I find I usually respond nicely to a well-timed slap in the face.

Another thing I've noticed about myself is that my emotions rarely are muddled. If I like someone, I adore them. If I don't like them, I'm grinding my teeth and looking for sharp objects the moment they speak. So it wasn't enough for me to just be nervous about going to Phase. I had to freak out. Mission accomplished.

So many people have been so incredibly generous to me, and I had myself convinced that every mistake I made was clear evidence that I was going to let them all down and that they would respond by locking me in the studio and burning it to the ground.

I saw The General in the Box today & he asked me how I was doing. I told him I was a wreck, and told him why. God bless him. He looked at me like he'd just caught me eating a cockroach and said, "That's stupid."

And I felt so much better!