Saturday, August 29, 2009

Guess Who is Back

Ok, Ok. I have been a horrible blogger as of late. I will try to quickly sum up my reasons for not posting anything for a while and attempt to not whine in the process. If at any point this post begins to take on a whining, complaining tone, please reach thru your screen and slap me. Not to hard though please I have a meeting this morning.

So, my blog has undergone quite a metamorphosis. I have covered a wide range of topics. The blog started out as a training log and a place for me to vent my frustrations with the things that keep me from training, namely work. Then earlier this year when I had stroke number 5, it became a log of my journey to get healed. I documented my hospitalization wherein I learned that I had a PFO (hole in my heart). I chronicled my search for the right doctor to fix the issue, taking me from UCLA and finally to Cedars Sinai where I had my surgery on April 24th. I wrote about my procedure and recovery, my frustrations in being out of action for about six months of this year and finally I told the tale of my return to the mats. Very long story short, it’s been quite a year.

Last week my blog turned one year old. The one thing that strikes me as particularly funny is the fact that it has in many ways come full circle. Now it’s not my heart or a stroke keeping me off the mats but the same things I wrote about in my blogs inception. And frankly, isn’t that better? I think so. I am healthy. For the first time I am now living without the constant fear of migraines or of suffering another stroke. I had felt like a ticking time bomb over the past three years and now I feel as though I have permission to be optimistic, to live without limits. That is a pretty cool thing and I don’t take it for granted.

So here we are. I mentioned full circle, well here it is. Over the past month and change I have been working odd and inconvenient shifts in support of a special project at work. This has meant sometimes working from 10pm to 7 am or from 6pm to 4am or even 3 pm to 1am. You get the point; I’ve been all over the place.

I have not been totally inactive during this time. I have been taking a number of the conditioning kickboxing classes when possible and I have been at open mat on a few Saturdays, so not a total slouch. I did have a little scare though. Over the past few weeks I would occasionally get a slight chest pain during some of the more exertive moments of the conditioning classes when sudden bursts of strength and speed were required. Those pains would last throughout the remainder of the class and sometimes persist thereafter for a while. You can see why I had been hesitant to re-join BJJ lately as it is entirely moments of exertion of strength and speed.

So I contacted my wonderful Doctors and they assured me that all is well. I have my 6 month post-surgery checkup at the end of November so if anything is wrong we will find out for sure. Until then I will continue to try and get / stay in shape and listen to my body while doing so. Basically I am back, I plan to post like a madman and keep everyone updated.

Thanks to everyone who dropped me a line to make sure I was doing well because of my conspicuous absence in posting. I really do appreciate everyone’s concern. So now, you can get sick of me because I will be back to posting all the time.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

(Un)restful Saturday

(8/15/09 9:30am) Fitness Kickboxing

Ok here was the plan. I was going to hit the 9:30am kickboxing class. This would get out at 10:30 so I could rest up a bit, change and hit the 11:00 BJJ class and stay for open mat at 12:00 if I were feeling good and there were people to train with.

Here is what happened. I showed up a bit early and sat in the truck waiting for someone to come along and open the gym. Just before 9:30 Renee showed up walking like he was 105 years old (threw his back out). There was a bit of banter and then we were doing our normal warm-ups without having wrapped our hands. "We are going to do something different" Renee muttered as we warmed up for what felt like forever.

After the warm ups we headed to the weight area to perform some circuits. Here is the order of things.

Circuit #1:
  1. Straight punches with dumbbell (1 minute)
  2. Rest (30 seconds)
  3. Uppercuts with dumbbell (1 minute)
  4. Rest (30 seconds)
  5. Hooks with dumbbell (1 minute)
  6. Rest (30 seconds)
  7. Push-ups (1 minute)

We rested for another 30 seconds and began the circuit again 2 more times. After the third go round we moved on to the next circuit.

Circuit #2

  1. Hanging leg raises (1 minute)
  2. Rest (30 seconds)
  3. Cable rows (1 minute)
  4. Rest (30 seconds)
  5. Triceps extensions (1 minute)
  6. Rest (30 seconds)
  7. Lat pull-downs (1 minute)

As with the previous circuit, we did this one three times. Again we rested for another 30 seconds after the last set and then it was time for another burst of cardio. A few sets of sprints and shuffles were followed by a bevy of ab exercises.

When we finally finished up and were doing the cool-down stretches, I was sitting in the middle of lake Jay just wiped out. I looked up outside of the cage and saw one of my good friends watching from outside. I whispered "what time is it?" and the response shocked me. It was already after 11:00. By the time all was said and done it was just about 11:30. Yeah, that's right two hours of weights, cardio and other various levels of hell. I love it!

The only problem was I was tooo worn out to partake in BJJ, that was half over and I could not even think about open mat. I had nothing left to give. My shoulders were burning with lactic acid and it was all I could do to drive home. What a way to start a Saturday!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Same Work Outs; Different Ways

(8/13/09 5:00pm) Fitness Kickboxing
(8/13/09 6:00pm) Open Mat

Tonight Renee led the class so it was a bit different. It’s good to change it up now and then so that makes three different class leaders and I like that. They all have a different style and that helps keep you from getting comfortable. We did many things that I’ve never done before and I look forward to actually being somewhat sore over the next few days! Wow, I need help.

There was no BJJ class tonight because a couple of our guys were supposed to fight in the King of the Cage event. One of them is still fighting but the other one had a cut above his eye and the commission would not let him fight. I’ll provide updates on outcomes tomorrow.

So we had an open mat session and I just did a couple of very, very, very long rolls. I went against a really big guy who said he weighed in at 200. How do I put this delicately…..LIAR! Big, over 200# Liar! Maybe he was embarrassed to admit his real weight, maybe he didn’t know, maybe where he’s from has a different gravitational pull making his equivalent mass “lighter” there or maybe he just lied. No matter the reason, I know that if my good buddy Neil clocks in at about 220 and this guy is bigger; I’m guessing he weighs more than Neil. Call it a hunch.

Anyway, we rolled for probably a good 12-15 minutes. Of course against someone like him I was in total survival mode most of the time. I was able to sweep and get to dominant position a few times. But as per usual as soon as I got into good position he proceeded to use his “200#’s” worth of strength and just pick me up and move me to suit his needs. I am quite proud at how well I did. I was controlling my breathing and remaining so very calm during the entire exchange.

I’ve said it before and here I go again, I think all the time away from the mats has helped my “game”. Not that I have a game, it’s more a random scramble with a couple of moments of brilliance sprinkled in occasionally. But I have a much better mind and feel for what I am doing now. I don’t get mat anxiety any more, I am feeling good.

Open (mat) Your Mind: Teach and Learn

(8/8/09 12:00pm) Open Mat

I’ve talked before about just how much I love open mat time. Its my time. My time to work on anything that I feel I need to. Time to work with friends I don’t get to see that often (cause they rarely get to class anymore…Neil). It’s also a much more relaxed atmosphere that works well for me. My brain tends to learn the best in that kind of environment. When you can experiment without fear of getting killed, and are free to swap ideas and moves, that just clicks.

As you might have gathered from my allusion above, my buddy Neil made a special guest appearance. Ok enough bagging on him for now. As I was waiting for Neil to show up, I started talking to a new guy named Jason. I didn’t recognize him (due to a fresh shave he said) but I had worked with him on his very first night just a couple of weeks ago. He mistook the schedule and thought that class began at 12 when in actuality it ends at 12 and then becomes open mat. So I invited him to work in with Neil and I.

I’m glad I did. It was good for Neil and I to teach someone many of the things we have learned and in return we relearned some of the details we had lost. We showed him many of the good ol basics, including armbar from the mount, how to apply good pressure from half guard, side control and mount. That was especially fun. I love demonstrating the very difficult to understand concept of getting “heavy”. It made me feel quite good that here was something that I have totally gotten thru my training that people find very difficult to describe let alone pull off in the beginning of their training.

We did a few rolling sessions and some positional drills. We did a round robin style bit of rolls in which one guy would start in guard, half guard, side control or mount. The winner stayed on the mats and a fresh guy rotated in. This is the kind of training I love to do. I felt that my movement was very good. Neil was monkey strong and I struggled against him only pulling off one Americana.

Poor Jason on the other hand was tapping like Gregory Hines (you know, if the tap dancing legend were still alive and all). I know he learned a lot during the experience. It was good for me to be able to feel free and attempt some submissions I rarely go for, so thanks Jason. I know before long, he’ll start to find his game and I’ll have trouble rolling against him.

Sharing the Pain

(8/5/09 5:00pm) Fitness Kickboxing

Good session. I didn’t have nearly as much energy as last night. I guess that’s to be expected because last night was just crazy and the body needs some regeneration time. Unlike last night, there was no contemplation of doing the double. I had just enough to survive the one session.

The class was like most. A lot of sweat, a lot of punches, a lot of leg and ab work and a lot of gratification when it was all over. One of the more notable aspects was having my co-worker and cube mate Derick in the class for the first time along with a few other familiar faces. It was fun to watch some of the pain I had gone thru in previous sessions showing up on his face. Good job Derick, proud of you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

First Real Rolls Since My Last Stroke

(8/4/09 5:00pm) Fitness Kickboxing
(8/4/09 6:00pm) BJJ

That's right, another double. Another chance to prove to myself that I am getting better by the day. Another chance to put the memories of strokes and heart problems far behind. Don't get me wrong, I will never forget those things, I wont forget that they helped shape me into who I am today. But I need to move on from them, find out who I am now without them and whenever I can, help others struggling with the same problems.

Kickboxing was the normal, @$$ kicking good time. I actually felt really good all they way thru and at the end was confident that I could press on to BJJ and do well. I ran to the back, changed into my gi and hit the BJJ warm-ups just after they started. I powered thru them the best I could though my body was still a wreck from Kickboxing.

The drills we did focused on sweeps when your opponent is standing to pass your guard. We did quite a few good ones including one that sends the guy flying overhead and allows you to roll to mount. I have done this one before but it was the first time I had "learned" it. It was good to see what I did right and more importantly what I did wrong.

This was my first session of real rolling. Not limiting myself, not holding back. It was awesome. First I went against George who is a good 3 or 4 stripe white belt. He is about my same size. We had a back and forth battle with no submissions. We traded good position a number of times and when we ended I was actually in mount. Not too bad for a first roll back.

Next I went against Sarge. He always owns me. 4 stripes and a lot of strength. I only got tapped a few times and I was actually able to sweep a couple of times. So again for me, this soon back, that's a win.

The last roll was with a newer guy whose name I don't remember. He is very tall and luckily for me very easy to take down and control. I was able to shoot in for singles and doubles at will and get to side control right away. The times I landed in half guard I just used shoulder pressure to his jaw to open up the pass to mount. I don't want to go over each and every short roll so I'll just list what I caught him in.
  • Americana
  • Ezekiel
  • Ezekiel
  • Armbar
  • Americana
  • Ezekiel

I'm pretty sure that's it. It was a great session to have my first real roll since being back. The really cool thing was that I had to wait for him to catch his breath between rolls. That made me feel like I am making progress.