Workout Recap - Week of March 19, 2023
This week was a bit of a roller-coaster for me. There were highs, lows, and moments that were just weird. That all said, if nothing else, I'm starting to get more comfortable with some of my takedowns, and I think I'm starting to understand some of the concepts behind what makes certain actions good or bad in grappling, so there is definite progress being made in my mind, if nothing else.
Attendance was rather scant this day (there were only two other trainees to start out, and one of them left partway through to help with introducing a new person who showed up for a trial), so I got to once again work with the aspiring fighter I've partnered with a few times (which I like; as with my Muay Thai gym, I find partnering with someone of higher skill helpful because they can point out details that I'm missing). The class itself was a good one, too; we worked a few different set-ups and escapes for body locks, and for a splash of extra zing at the end, we practiced going into an anaconda choke off of the defense ending in a front headlock. I did better during the sparring round to finish, managing to avoid giving up my back this time (though I'll admit I almost did that on accident during a side control escape because I got mixed up about which way to turn, so I'm sure the fighter was also holding back on their skill output) and only getting submitted once. Checking out a lot of YouTube videos over the weekend certainly helped, especially this one from Gordon Ryan about how to think about guard retention (since, even though I obvious lack his skills, those key points both give me something useful to focus on and help with reducing the anxiety of having no clue what to do).
Muay Thai class
This was a boxing-heavy class, though I'm pleased that my calves weren't completely dead by the end of it; minor evidence that my conditioning continues to improve. We kept things simple and practical, focusing on just doing basic two-to-four punch sequences with an emphasis on form. It may not be particularly fun or sexy, but I actually enjoy this sort of fundamental work because it's important to build that stuff up to the point of the physical execution being thoughtless reaction.
This class was about maintaining and finishing from back control, which definitely felt nice to learn about since it also finally gave me guidance on what I should be doing to get out of that position when I'm on the other end of it. Granted, it was kind of obnoxious that one of the finishing options we worked on was an armlock and my partner had clips on the cuffs of their pants that kept biting into my face when it was their turn on offense, but that was an irritant I could put up with for whatever handful of minutes we did the drills. More exciting is that I had my best sparring performance yet; granted that I was going against someone who seemed a little less skilled than most of the people I've sparred with, but they were more skilled than me, so I felt good about lasting through two five-minute rounds without any submissions despite how actively they kept finishing for triangle chokes and armlocks. I even managed to open things up with a (clumsy but effective) single-leg takedown and had a moment where I managed to turn a scramble into taking their back, using one of the retention techniques we learned in the class, and threatening a rear naked choke before they finally got out. It was also really frustrating that, between the two rounds, the coach told me to focus on taking grips when I'm in their guard, but he didn't give any indications about what kind of grips to seek or why I should want them because we've done barely any guard escape practice in my time at this gym.
Muay Thai class
To balance out Tuesday's boxing class, this class was almost all about working on low kicks. Aside from it being another fundamental skill that I'm always happy to work on, I'd had a knot in my left quadriceps all day, so having someone who outweighs me by about 50% slamming on a kick shield for several minutes was a nice massage to relieve that. And frankly, if I can have some ego for a moment, the fact that that was my reaction to the situation speaks well of my toughness, I think.
This was an interesting class, focusing on takedown entries and defending them. I was partnered up with one of my common BJJ partners (since we're probably both the smallest and least-experienced trainees in the grappling classes), but I hadn't worked with them before in a class that involved striking, so there was some learning curve to getting on the same wavelength. It also didn't help matters that I was having a bad day for my coordination, so there were times when I'd attack the wrong leg or turn the wrong way for "punching" their shoulders with my hips, but they didn't seem to show any visible frustration, so maybe I felt like I was doing worse than I really was. There was also a bizarre moment towards the end of the class where the coach put a hand on both of our shoulders and said something like, "I'm proud of both of you." I just kind of nodded and went back to work in the moment, but it felt so random and condescending, as if we were so awful that he had to say something to encourage us (I mean, admittedly, we very well might've been that awful, but I much prefer my Muay Thai kru's approach of handling newbies by shouting praise when they get something right, offering bite-sized advice when they're struggling, and using beginner mistakes as an excuse to tell the whole class we suck at everything and shouldn't be getting fancy).