Workout Recap - Week of April 23, 2023
The end of my time at the second gym is nearing, and I'm happy about that. While I do still think it was good to try a different place and a different martial arts discipline, and my sparring experience there has been very useful in general, I find myself feeling increasingly marginalized there lately, especially compared to my continued positive experiences at my first gym. Plus, the simple fact of the matter is that I personally enjoy striking more. I think there are absolutely people for whom my second gym would be the right place, so I'm not trying to shit on the place categorically, but it's not been a good fit for me.
We did an odd mix of working on side smash passes and standing sweeps in this class, plus a little transition into some MMA-style ground-and-pound off of the latter, which was a useful addition. Having not really been in that position before, I needed a little guidance on how to maintain my base while striking in that position, but it seemed clear enough once I made the mental adjustment for it. Anyway, with only two other trainees this day, we finished with some untimed sparring rounds with the winner (by submission or best position earned prior to disengaging) staying in. I managed to do a back take into a rear naked choke during my first round in, which was my first time getting a submission in open sparring against someone bigger than me (my previous submissions were all either in situational sparring or against smaller people), and then it felt like I lasted about eight or ten minutes with the next person until we disengaged enough for the coach to stop us. All in all, that feels like great progress from where I'd started with grappling.
Muay Thai class
This class was focused entirely on kicks and knees, including a different drill of moving along the length of the gym while executing constant advancing teeps or round kicks, which was a nice way of focusing closely on those techniques while still incorporating movement and footwork. I felt like I was getting nice pop on most of my strikes, though I struggled with the coordination of pulling someone into a pivot and kneeing before they could stop their momentum when we did some clinched knee work, especially on my left side. Still, the raw impact I was getting on the pad felt like it would still be capable of doing damage, so I'm not going to beat myself up too much about being inefficient with it for now.
Following up on other recent classes, we worked a few different options for escaping from side control in this class, and I definitely appreciated getting some idea of what to do against someone who's bearing down tightly enough to make the usual forearm framing/hip escape route challenging. From there, we also worked on some offensive options from mount, which was also good to start learning even if my main interest in that would be to better understand how to resist them since I'm too small for mount to be a good position for me. When we got to sparring, I had a few nice positional switches/escapes (including going from being on the bottom of closed guard to getting on top of half guard at one point, which the other person complimented me on afterwards), and I managed to get another submission (by rear naked choke, which is by far what I'm most comfortable with). I've still got plenty of room for improvement, but things are starting to come together to some degree, which feels good.
Muay Thai class
This was a fun class, working on mixing elbows, knees, and doubled round kicks with punching and a little defense. I got to work with a few of the competitive fighters, too, including one who I hadn't done padwork with before (though we've done head-to-head defense drills and sparring), which was cool. I had a few moments of needing to focus on maintaining balance during the doubled kicks, but I got into the groove of things after a bit of time with each drill and felt not-incompetent overall. It was once again a remarkably positive experience, and I'm excited about being back here fully soon.
This class focused on mixing strikes and grapple attempts, mostly by throwing some punches to raise the other person's guard to open up a wrestling shot. We also did some work attacking/defending while against a wall, and I think I had some improvement compared to how I had done with that the last time I tried; I was much better at clearing the legs to come firmly into side control while attacking, and I managed a couple of reversals while defending (once sweeping into guard and once getting a front headlock and riding down into a tripod). We finished with taking turns sharktanking to maintain position from mount. Afterward, I asked the coach about what could be done to respond if the bottom person is trying to turn to stack their hips, and while he tried to answer, his approach of showing some techniques instead of getting at the underlying concepts left me dissatisfied. Even so, I was able to follow along with what he was saying, and that alone is a sign of better understanding from where I'd started, so it was good to recognize some progress even in a moment of frustration.