Monday, December 8, 2008

My intro to mixed martial arts class

The owner of the gym I belong to is an ex-Marine special ops guy (yet another one, the fourth I've met). He teaches a mixed martial arts class on Monday and Wednesday nights, which I've observed but have been too chicken to participate in because it looked really difficult. I saw him today on my way to the beach and he asked me when I was going to check out his class, so I hesitantly agreed to participate tonight.

It was a blast!

The class started out with a thirty minute boot camp-esque "warmup," which was ass-kickingly exhausting, followed by boxing practice with a partner complete with gloves and sparring pads. The person on defense calls the shots. "One. One-two. Two two one." One means your forward jab, two is your power arm, your hook. I never knew this stuff. Then came a more traditional martial arts class where our instructor showed us defensive jujitsu moves. We then paired up and practiced being the attacker and the victim, and when you're the victim, you get thrown down on the mat and have to "tap out." I wasn't so hot at being the attacker, but it was fun trying to be a badass.

I learned a lot, for instance if a guy grabs your arm, how to twist out and break his arm. Our instructor showed us tons of moves. My brain was on sensory overload by the end of the hour-and-a-half session, and although my jujitsu skills pretty much sucked, I was really impressed by the moves of some of the advanced students.

The coolest part of the class, however, occurred when the instructor told the following story.

A wanna-be martial arts student sought out a renowned retired instructor, whom he managed to convince to teach him. On the first day of their scheduled class, which was to take place on the shore of a lake, the student was a half hour late. The instructor told him to return the following morning. The following morning, the student showed up twenty minutes late. The instructor told him to return the following morning. The next morning the student then showed up five minutes late.

The instructor agreed to begin class. He told the student, "Walk into the lake, and I will hold you under the water. When you can no longer hold your breath, tap me and I will let you up so you can breathe."

After a minute the student taps the instructor, who keeps holding him under the water. Ninety seconds go by, and the student taps more furiously, but the intructor holds him under. Two minutes go by, and the student is flailing and panicking, tapping like mad. The instructor finally lets him up.

"Why didn't you let me up when I tapped you?" the furious student asks, gasping for breath.

The instructor responds, "When you want to learn from me as badly as you wanted to breathe, come back and find me. Only then will you be ready to learn."

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