Friday, September 28, 2007

I'm cold, no hot, no cold...

I started dry heaving in the car yesterday on the way home from Velocity. The circuit weight training was more intense than I am used to and my empty stomach wasn't pleased. Soaked with sweat, the cool morning air felt frigid, so the 30 minute ride home was a seesaw of rolling the window down to get fresh air, feeling nauseated and rolling it back up only to have my stomach turn from the heat and my own stench. I felt much better after a shower and three tuna salad sandwiches on toasted wheat bread.

I think I am going to settle into a routine of Tuesday and Thursday mornings at Velocity, Monday and Wednesday nights at Throwbacks, and Tuesday night and Saturday afternoons at Self Defense Systems. It's a lot but it will still give me four nights a week to relax and hang out with Amanda and that balance is crucial. I am taking the next couple of days off from blogging to gather my thoughts and plan the next month. I feel like I have made significant progress in areas that are likely only noticeable to me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

"Start warming up," Pat McPherson says. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer is the head trainer of a stable of professional fighters that includes Ultimate Fighting Championship veterans Chris Lytle and "Irish" Jake O'Brien as well as up and comers like Nate Moore, Johnny Rees, and Shamar Bailey.

I came down to Throwbacks Boxing & MMA gym to talk to McPherson, manager and promoter Keith Palmer, the owner of the gym, Travis, and the elusive Muay Thai instructor Adam who Amanda trained with under Sakasem Kanthawong. This group of fighters is an extension of the Integrated Fighting team founded by Pancrase veteran Jason Godsey in the mid-1990s. They are a bit nomadic, moving from gym to gym for reasons I am not privvy to. Their current home is Throwbacks, a warehouse on the back side of a strip mall on Indy's far south side.

Tonight was supposed to be an introduction. It was, but not the one I was expecting. "Walking knees around the mat," McPherson says. Shit. Several minutes later my hips are seizing up, my feet are slipping on wrestling mats soaked through with sweat, and McPherson glances over to tell me I am almost done. Adam finishes with the fighters for the night and runs me through basic body mechanics of Muay Thai punches, kicks, and knees. My second round of walking knees leaves my calves numb. I can't tell if my heels are touching the mat - I can't tell if I have legs below my fucking knees.

I explain my plans to Adam and he is on board and stoked. McPherson wanders over and give him the same spiel and ask him if I can start working in with his guys, probably in a couple of months when I am in better physical condition. "Nah, just come in Monday," he says. I express my concerns but McPherson says they'll push me until he feels I can't go and he'll ease off. "When guys say they'll start coming in when they are in shape they never do it," he says. It's interesting to consider how much slack you cut yourself without realizing it when you don't have anyone to push you. I've received martial arts instruction but I've never had a fight coach, someone to tell me that I can do another rep, I can throw 10 more kicks, I can grapple another five minutes and I will do just that.

Travis works me out for another 30 minutes, dismantling my boxing mechanics and shooting the breeze about the Sweet Science. Some stuff I like, some stuff...the jury is still out. So as of right now I'll be starting twice-weekly workouts at Throwbacks, working on boxing, Muay Thai, and submission grappling with whoever is there. "It's not like a regular school," McPherson said, "We have 20 fighters and 21 people" who train. Add one to your total, Pat.

Diet I don't want to talk about it, haha. I drank a lot of water, that's today's victory.
Conditioning Just two 30 minute sessions at Throwbacks.
Skills Worked on footwork and punching mechanics for boxing and Muay Thai and found out I lean a lot on my front foot so I need to work on correcting that.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A couple of weeks ago I admitted to my bandmates that I wasn't stoked on playing live shows anymore. I love playing music, and playing live is fun, but my focus is shifting. Music will always figure into my life but I am serious about my career, and I am serious about this project. By the time I get home, I just want to hang out with Bomber and Amanda and read a damn book. I don't want to be aggravated when I meet up with my dudes to play rock and roll. I don't want to let it go but it may be gone already. I used to think I couldn't live without it, but I've lost a lot ofthings and people I couldn't live without and here I am.

I've felt like crap for days. I can't get enough sleep, I feel listless. I already had a lot of respect for professional fighters, but I am really starting to appreciate the dedication required to pursue a career in the fight game while working a full time job and taking care of social and familial obligations.

I am heading down to Throwbacks Boxing & MMA tomorrow to work out for the first time. Ideally I will box, train Muay Thai, and work out with a group of pro fighters there on a regular basis. It's a mile from my "home" gym, SDS, and I am already somewhat familiar with the crew there, so if my training is split between SDS and Throwbacks I'll be a happy little camper.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


This weekend was a bit of a clusterfuck. My band played in Muncie, Ind. on Friday. It was kind of a pain in the ass show - we loaded in up a huge flight of stairs and the microphone shocked my face at the beginning of the last song. The bar was cool, though. The Heorot is a Beowulf-themed watering hole on the main drag. A dragon erupts from one wall and the other is stocked with obscure imported beers.

I got four good rounds of boxing in on Saturday after working with Moises for a while. I am working on pressing the gap and forcing the action, bulldogging faster or taller fighters without coming straight up the middle and exposing myself to counter attacks. After Moises' workouts John Eckles talked to him about not being an "aim and shoot" and fighter. Aim and shoot fighters see a target and make a decision to hit it. John tried to impress upon Moises the importance of being target motivatated: targets appear and you touch them. No decision making, just reactions.

Saturday night I was exhausted, and Sunday was more running around until I had to be at the Melody Inn for another show. Luckily an old bandmate and a friend came up from Bloomington, Ind. to hang out, so my spirits were lifted. I got home around midnight completely wiped out.

The last week has been frustrating. My sleep schedule was screwed up which stole time I would have used to make food for work and I ended up being rushed and tired and cranky going into the weekend. I'm getting in bed early tonight in the hopes that it will result in a good week.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Where Am I

I laid down in bed at 11 p.m. last night and woke up at 4:30 a.m. - on the couch. I very vaugely remember being woken up by Bomber but I have no idea why I decided to lay down in the living room. I went to Velocity and felt ok but my mood and energy level deteriorated throughout the day. I ended up scrapping some work I had to do tonight as well as a sparring session with Wyatt because I couldn't stay awake. I just woke up from a two to three-hour nap: I feel better but I can't say I feel good.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

When a Night Off is Not Really a Night Off

I don't know why cooking is so relaxing, but I decided I'd be better off spending tonight in the kitchen than in the gym. Preparing decent food takes time, and cooking is almost meditative for me. Years ago one of my best friends dubbed me the Angry Chef because everytime I set out to make a large meal something would go wrong and I would invariably begin cursing and slamming things on the counter. At 28, I am a little less hostile, but I am still prone to angry outbursts. Luckily, few of those outbursts occur in the kitchen.

I got home at a quarter to 8 p.m. and was in the kitchen until 10 p.m., sweating like a hog. Getting enough sleep is still an issue - it would be less of one if I didn't have to stay up writing about it, haha.

Diet 8 a.m. Yogurt with blueberries. 11:20 a.m. Two hot dogs, carrots, baked chips, water. 2:15 p.m. Two slices of pizza, field green salad with avocado and raisins, soda. 10 p.m. Jambalaya with andoulle sausage, bell peppers, and onion, greens and black eyed peas, cornbread, soda and water.

Conditioning Rode my bike to work today, felt good.

Skills Nada.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Back in the Saddle

Diet 5:30 a.m. Naked Juice smoothie. Half a gallon of water during te Velocity workout. 7:30 a.m. Two Dunkin Donuts and a 16 ounce cappucino - I swear to god it was for work, haha. 10 a.m. Chili, a hunk of French bread, carrots, green tea and water. 1:30 p.m. Roast beef sandwich, soda. 4 p.m. Small salmon filet over field greens and water. 10 p.m. Six ounces of Amanda's leftover steak on top of Spanish rice with a big bowl of steamed vegetables on the side.

Conditioning While difficult, I feel my body adapting to the Velocity workouts. My joints feel more solid, my hips feel freer, and my core, well, I can feel it, if that makes sense. I didn't use to have some of the physical sensations that I have experienced recently.

Skills More basic drilling from the back tonight, which is great. Bob Mercuri's BJJ program isn't a large, formal jiu jitsu academy and that suits me fine. I will get more bodies to roll with later, but it's essential for me to feel comfortable in the gym, and I feel comfortable at Self Defense Systems. Bob worked on the elbow escape with us partially because Wyatt and I don't want to cut corners. I want little guy jiu jitsu because that's what BJJ is. I am not a wrestler, so why learn to take a guy to the ground? I want to avoid the ground at all costs but know what to do if I end up there.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I Feel Good

Today is the first day I have felt good in a month. No soreness, no nothing. I feel strong and rested. I am taking today to recoup before hitting it hard again this week. Conditioning is my top priority - I really think that's the biggest difference between me and circuit fighters.

Diet8 a.m. Two eggs, scrambled, and grapes. Water. 11 a.m. Small portion of chicken alfredo and carrots. Water and 12 ounces of soda. 1 p.m. I was actually hungry and only had one more meal left in my bag, so I got two pieces of cheese pizza from Bazbeaux. Higher quality ingredients than Papa John's, but still, it's pizza, haha. 5 p.m. Small filet of grilled salmon over field greens. 10 p.m. Ending the day on a high note: Totino's pizza. I had something better planned but we had to go to Lowe's, yada yada yada, we didn't get home until a quarter to 10 p.m. I took t

Conditioning Rode my bike to work. Not the gnarliest ride, but I can make it a brisk 30 minute workout.

Skills Nada.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Diet Still sucks. Spending time in the lab tomorrow to prepare a meal plan and meals.

Conditioning None outside of dynamic stretching.

Skills Sparring with Wyatt is awesome. He's got decently fast hands and he provides a good template for me to go against bigger guys. I am starting to realize that I have spent years pussy-footing on the edge of the gap, trading punches with people who are bigger and/or faster than me and (understandably) coming up short in the process. I feel comfortable when I stalk on the edge of the gap, maintaining an aggressively defensive posture, launching my weight across the gap behind stiff jabs, putting those bigger and/or faster guys on their heels and punching punching punching punching. My only chance against larger heavyweights is to neutralize physical advantages with technique and overwhelming aggression.

My Shoulders Hurt Just Watching You Guys

Spent an hour in the gym on Thursday with a new kid, Wyatt Tompkins. A lifelong wrestler, Tompkins got the build I always wanted; 6'2", 220#, yoke-broad shoulders. I want to roll and spar with him because I will be fighting bodies that big in virtually every competition I enter. One of the other instructors I rarely see laughed while Wyatt and I tossed the medicine ball. "My shoulders hurt just watching you guys," he said.

Diet Sucks. Work, no sleep, bad planning added up to this week going done the toilet in terms of the quality of my feedings.

Conditioning Eh. Took Thursday off from Velocity because I had to work super late on Wednesday. Did three two-minute rounds of shadow boxing, four two-minute rounds of medicine ball throws, three two-minute rounds on the heavy bag and three two-minute rounds of sparring with Wyatt, one minute breaks between each.

Skills Worked on pushing the gap against a taller fighter and launching my jab with my chin tucked into my shoulder.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Screw Work

Pulling almost a full double shift today so no training, crap eating, and still sleep deprived. Two steps forward, one step back. Screw work.

That's Not Rolling, That's Fighting

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu reminds me of learning to box. It feels more like a spasm than a series of coordinated movements, but I am trying hard to not muscle my way into or out of anything. After all, "that's not rolling, that's fighting," Bob Mercuri says.

Diet Soda is the mindkiller. I am doing good on multiple feedings and water intake, but carbonated sugar water has its talons in me. It's hard to talk shit on junkies and crackheads when I drive around digging for spare change to get a soda and think to myself, "Just this once won't hurt, I can stop when I want to."

Conditioning Missed it. I made it almost four full weeks without skipping a morning session at Velocity but I straight up slept through Tuesday's. Dragonfly kicked my ass. I realized today that sleep really is the foundation of it all. If I don't get enough sleep, I miss workouts, I miss time to prepare food and as a result I make poor food choices and the cycle repeats itself.

Skills Last night's class was awesome. There were four newbies attending so Bob worked with us from our back, drilling the uppa, knee escape and "reacharound" escape as well as the elbow escape when your opponent has the high mount. I felt way more comfortable grappling with guys when I concentrated on working two or three escapes and maintaining good body position and didn't give a shit if I gave up the occasional submission.

Monday, September 10, 2007


"Don't circle to the left," Kenneth Bigbee, Jr. says. He points out that circle to the left when I shadow box, which would set me up to eat a lot of leg kicks in a Muay Thai or MMA fight. It's not a huge thing but it's perceptible and it needs correcting.

Diet This week I am tackling the most basic elements of the Grapple's Guide - increased water intake, elimination of empty-calorie beveages, and multiple feedings. Well, as Meatloaf said, two outta three ain't bad. I killed a gallon of water and ate five smaller meals but I lasted just 16 hours without soda. By the time I left Dragonfly I felt shaky - I didn't want sugar, I NEEDED sugar. One of my four weekly "cheats" out the window at the end of day one, haha.

Conditioning Stretched and did Hindu squats and pushups this morning. Tonight was conditioning class at Dragonfly. Punched, kicked, lunged, jumped back and forth across the room until I couldn't lift my arms or walk straight. I felt surprisingly good...after peeling off my sweat-soaked shirt.

Skills It was a conditioning class, but you have to focus harder on executing techniques when you want to fall down and take a nap.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sprained Thumb

Sprained my thumb during sparring yesterday. I'm on the board with my first "nagging injury." I iced it, compressed it, and kept it elevated while watching UFC 75 last night. This morning I rubbed a Thai boxing liniment Amanda got from her old Muay Thai teacher on it. It dulls the ache but range of movement is limited and I can tell that the soft tissue in my thumb is inflamed.

From now on training blogs will be broken up into several sections - conditioning, diet, and skills training. These sections will usually be proceeded by a narrative about anything of note that happened that day.

For the next several weeks, my routine will be as such:

Monday - AM Stretching and combat conditioning's "Royal Court." PM Muay Thai.
Tuesday - AMVelocity Sports Performance.PM Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and nine rounds of boxing work.
Wednesday - AM Stretching and combat conditioning's "Royal Court." PM Muay Thai.
Thursday - AMVelocity Sports Performance.PM Three rounds of open mat rolling and nine rounds of boxing work.
Friday - off.
Saturday - Open sparring.
Sunday - off.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Putting it All Together

I'm approximately one month into this little project and while I've taken a few significant steps I haven't put together a cohesive program for myself. This weekend I am going to map out the next four weeks worth of training and create a template for the blog. Each training day you'll get updates on what I am doing, how I feel, and what I am learning about martial arts and myself. On off days I will post essays, book reviews, fight card reviews, and interviews as I can score them. There will be pictures and videos sprinkled throughout. Each month you'll get an overall progress report and competitions will receive special treatment. A year sounds like a long time but it goes by fast when you fill it with livin'.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Velocity Sports Performance: Day Seven

Maybe I'm being paranoid but I feel like blogging about Velocity is not working in my favor. The day after I write about how I am starting to get my feet under me and feel comfortable with the training, Chris Powell unleashes some burly exercises that set every strip of soft tissue around my femur on fire. For the first time I couldn't complete whole sets of exercises and my legs were pissed at me all day.

Amanda started a new job this week and I missed two gym nights helping her get stuff to her classroom and then organize it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Grapplers Guide to Sports Nutrition

Food is more than fuel, it is community, comfort, and control. People who are ill-equipped to deal with their emotions generally use a substance or behavior as an outlet or escape. By and large, my relatives do not drink or smoke and there are no cutters in my family tree. That leaves food.

I have a history of compulsive overeating, sugar dependence, and habitually bad food choices. My eight-years as a strict vegetarian was a subconscious effor to control myself, those around me, the world at large through food. It, along with a few other long-practiced behaviors, fell by the wayside when, as my father likes to say, "the pain of staying the same exceeded the pain of changing." Moderation is my new bike and it's still got training wheels on it. For this reason I am cautious about entering into any training regimen that involves monastic devotion to dietary principles, IRS audit-worthy calorie counting or any supposedly motivational guilt or shame.

My buddy Mark handed me The Grappler's Guide to Sports Nutrition before we sat down to watch UFC 74. I knew I needed to overhaul my diet and eating patterns but I didn't think I'd be taking advice from wrestlers. Those maniacs engage in exactly the kind of obsessive behavior I can't afford to mess around with. But I got excited quickly after opening it. Rather than outline rigid standards for dietary excellence, the book is based on basic principles which you can apply as best you are able while planning for regular deviations and missteps.

This easy-to-consume dietary digest stresses three goals of sports nutrition: optimal performace, optimal body composition, and optimal health. These goals are accomplished by 1 feeding every two to three hours, 2 ingesting lean protein with every feeding, 3 ingesting vegetables with every feeding, 4 saving non-fruit/vegetable carbohydrates for feedings immediately after training, 5 consumption of healthy fats, 6 elimination of most calorie-containing drinks (soda, fruit juice, etc), 7 consumption of whole foods instead of supplements, 8 allowing yourself to deviate from the plan 10% of the time, 9 preparing food in advance so you don't fall into the rut of convenience foods, and 10 by eating a wide variety of foods.

It's more difficult than it sounds, but much simpler than a lot of other nutritional guides I've come across. Authors John Berardi and Michael Fry dismiss athletic folk wisdom and lay ideas out in a matter of fact way that makes following these principles seem like a fairly easy way to optimize performance.

It's a quick read and the authors definitely have resumes and attitudes to inspire confidence in someone without any expertise on the subject. I am going to begin applying the basic principles of the Guide to my diet in the coming weeks and we'll see if there's anything to it.

A Streetfight with Rules

The New York Times weighs in on the UFC. Almost inexplicably, the tide has turned. Publications that once ran screeds against MMA are now printing Dana White's much-repeated critiques of boxing's safety record. It's weird but I'm not complaining.

Velocity Sports Performance: Day Six

Chris Powell's refrain is starting to haunt me. He introduces each build up and conditioning exercise with "all we're gonna do is," a statement that fails to take the edge off exercises that force you into awkward positions to isolate muscles that want to be left well enough alone. At least the early morning nausea is gone. I ate before and immediately after which helped my energy level today. I'm not too far from my fourth feeding - I'll update tonight with a review of the nutrition book I just consumed.

Monday, September 3, 2007


Weight: 252#
True Waist: 45.5"
Chest: 49"
Neck: 18"
Bicep: 17"

Could be worse, should be better. I'm not as sloppy as a lot of guys but measuring yourself against the average schlub is a recipe for mediocrity. I have approximately 52 weeks to achieve excellence, to get my sleep schedule, diet, conditioning, skills training and sparring on point. Fifty-two weeks to prove myself to myself, to establish credibility as a martial artist, to build a resume as an instructor.

There is no magic pill or diet, no easy fix, just dilligent planning and faithful execution. Let's see what I can accomplish in the next thirty days.