I guess I am doing it.
That blow kept me out for another two weeks of the summer. I could run so I kept running and going to the gym. This helped me maintain my weight level at least. I was still fat and heavy, but at least I wasn’t getting heavier. I actually lost some weight down to 215 in those two weeks.
I spent the rest of the summer trying to lose more weight. It was just not working too well. I was running a lot more and working out three times per week at an hour per workout. I was going to the gym in the mornings and was feeling good. My wife said, “You’re looking good honey”. She always said I looked good, probably trying to convince her that I did, but now she was saying it like she was actually attracted to me which was surprising and a little exciting. I mean we already had children, but now she had this twinkle in her eye. My wife is a hottie. She was a ballerina when we met and had an incredible body and is beautiful. She’s still hot even with a few extra pounds from the last baby. She will lose it when the baby is weaned. Between this baby and the last one, she returned to her previously svelte self. I’m not sure why she married me in my previous condition, but at the time I wasn’t thinking about why, only that she was excited. Men don’t need much to get them excited and married men even less.
I was still not feeling too good about my fighting though. I did well some days and then other days I was getting killed. Yantcy was always a big problem. I spent most of my time grappling with him trying to keep from getting tapped out or losing a limb. I had always counted on my standup and now I was seeing that it was lacking as well. Fighting Jeremy was like trying to swat flies. I threw a lot of punches at thin air. He was like a ghost, I would throw and he would be gone. I would get hit 10 times as many times as I hit him. My kicks which have always served me well were slow and indecisive. I felt like one of those robots in the “Rock em Sockem” toy I had as a kid with the two robots fighting each other. When one of them got hit in the jaw the head would pop off. Many nights I went home after fight club with a headache from getting hit so much.
I spent extra time on the bag. Kicking and punching until my legs and arms felt like they would fall off. I bought a bag to work on at home. I would run for a few miles and come home and work the bag. I started timing myself on punch out drills. I would jump rope and do my stretch bands on the weekends and I continued to run with Jeremy on the off days. My stamina was getting better and I was starting to see some improvement in my weight loss and was down to a steady 215.
Jeremy’s schedule was getting very tight and he was having trouble making it to train us. Jeremy had talked about his mentor Charlie Pearson up from Everett to run the club. One day I came in and Charlie was there with Jeremy talking to Shayne about the school and the club. Charlie could only come in Tuesday and Friday nights. He probably looked at me and thought I would die if he had more nights open anyway. He was very busy with his other gyms and he had a lot of fighters depending on him. I was grateful that he felt our club was big enough for him to take time and come up.
Jeremy warned me that Charlie was tough. He said the classes would be harder than his and I felt like puking after most every class with Jeremy. I was a little nervous about our first class. I had heard some stories about Charlie’s fights and had looked him up on his website. His experience is impressive. I was pleased that I would get a chance to work with him.
Our first class was hard, but not as hard as I had expected. In the next class, we did some fighting. Charlie beat the snot out of me. I felt like a white belt again. I was so stressed out that I made all of the same white belt mistakes and paid for them too. I was exhausted in no time even though my stamina was better. I had thought I would do so much better, but I was getting hammered and stressed out. I was sure my first encounter with Charlie was as disappointing for him as it was for me. I was surprised when he came back the next week. Probably not as surprised as he was that I came back though.
He worked with me on my boxing and my grappling. I was trying too hard and it was wearing me out. I was too stiff and trying to punch with my muscles not with my hips and technique. My kicks were slow because I was trying to use my muscles instead of technique. Charlie made some suggestions on my workouts such as not working out as much which surprised me. I asked him about my diet and he thought I was doing fine. I took his suggestion on not working out so much and it worked. I dropped to 205 in no time. My stamina got worse though. I had trouble doing higher rep workouts when I wasn’t working out more often. My body works better when it is under constant stress. Balancing the stress response with enough rest was difficult.
I had trouble relaxing when I was fighting. Seems the older I get the more tense I become. Perhaps it’s an old age thing. We should call it age accelerated hypertension or something fancy like that. I’ve never been afraid of getting hit. I just hate losing and when I start getting beat I get tense. When I get tense I burn twice as much energy and have a hard time getting my breath under control. I went back to my earliest breathing lessens in the martial arts. I worked hard to control my breathing. It was a lesson I had to relearn. So many years out of hard competition and it was completely foreign to me. It took several weeks to relearn.
I was fighting one of Charlie’s guy’s that he brings up from Everett. Charlie introduced him as one of his “Gym Rats”. I wasn’t sure if that meant he was a cheese connoisseur or he was there so much he stunk. One thing I was sure of, he wasn’t the typical fighter. He wasn’t made of muscles and he wasn’t covered in tattoos. I wasn’t sure what to make of him. We grappled a few times and he was very comfortable on his back, he didn’t seem too troubled to be bent in half, he wasn’t into tapping out. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him tap out. I hadn’t seen him stand up. We sparred and I was doing great. I was giving him combos and keeping him tied up with punches.
I felt great, I was relaxed and quick. I wasn’t getting hit and I was putting a lot of pressure on Cole. Charlie came by and asked, “Who are you and what have you done with Jay?” I looked at him and said, “What”. He said don’t look at me look at Cole. Just then I looked at Cole and he hit me dead in the eye. I felt the eyeball squish as they do when compressed. Then I felt this searing pain in the back of my sinus’. I lay down on the mat, threw off my gloves and lay there with my hand on my eye. I couldn’t see out of it and it hurt like hell. Not like a normal black eye would hurt, much worse and I couldn’t see out of it. I couldn’t work the eye muscles. I managed to drive myself home with the eye shut. I put ice on it immediately when I got home. I was dizzy and could tell from the sinus pressure that the back of the eye was really swollen. Saturday was hell on wheels. I spent the whole day in bed with ice on my eye. My wife got me an eye patch which I wore to keep the light out. I could see fuzzy images by the end of the day. I was really afraid I would lose the site in that eye. I had 20/15 vision. By Monday, the eye was still a wreck. I was concerned because it wasn’t black. The eyeball itself was red and bloodshot, but there was no swelling around the outside of it. I went to the eye doctor. He gave me some good news and some bad news. The good news was that the eye socket had broken in the back and that reduced the pressure on the optic nerve. The bad news was that the retina was damaged and could be seriously injured. He ordered me not to run or workout for a week. I had to come see him before I could return to training. In one week I went back and he said the retina was still swollen and it may take weeks or months to get my eyesight back to normal. He agreed to let me run, but no fighting or I may damage the eye irreparably.
My wife thought that maybe this was a sign. I seem to have more than the normal amount of doctors visits since I have been training. Perhaps its my age, perhaps it was a sign, but I said I was going to do this thing and by god I am going to do it. I kept my workout schedule after the initial week. My eye hurt and I had to protect it at all cost, but I also had to keep my word.
Charlie helped by giving me other things to work on that wouldn’t injure my eye. I had time to work on my ground game. Charlie gave me some advice that worked wonders. I won’t tell you what it is. You’ll have to ask Charlie. However, my game improved and I was feeling better about my grappling.
We were doing Friday night grappling. Yantcy and I rolled and I actually did pretty well. I wasn’t getting tapped out and while I had to work hard, he wasn’t having as easy of a time with me. I actually took his back and was able to reverse him a few times. Adrian who is a great grappler had problems with me too. I was a lot more comfortable on the ground that day and spent more time attacking and less time defending.
Yantcy had his first fight coming up. He was working hard and was losing weight for the fight. He had to fight at 190 and he was my size. He was stoked about the fight and I was sure he was going to win. There was no way he loses that fight. He is too good on the ground and too tough to get knocked out. He had been working with some of the state grapplers at the University and was going to fighters training in Arlington.
His fight was quick. He hit the guy and they went to the ground. Yantcy was on him and quickly finished him with an armbar. The guy looked like he had the mumps when the fight was over. Yantcy only hit him two or three times, but they swelled his face up something fierce. I was glad I wasn’t fighting him.
One of the other fighters that came to Bellingham from Charlie’s Everett school was Josh. He had several fights under his belt and was winning steadily in Kickboxing. He had just won a belt and a shot at a K1 appearance in a K1 tournament in Colorado. Josh is a tall lean guy who kicks like a mule and has long arms that reach out and touch you. Josh helped me with my slipping and countering. His long arms make me work harder to get inside. He also helped me with my kicks. He kicks so well and it’s effortless, yet the effect is devastating. If you’re going to survive in the ring, you need to throw damage without gassing out. I can throw damage, but I always gas out. Charlie was trying to show me how to throw without as much effort. Josh helped me see that distance is the critical element in the damage not the effort to throw. With the correct distance and snap at eh end of the technique its just as effective as throwing hard.
More than likely, I would fight someone who is less of a standup person than I am and wants to go to the ground. I had to work on standup and defense of takedowns. When I am strong, it is hard to take me down, but when I am gassed out it’s a lot easier. So with 9 minutes of fighting, I have to either knock the guy out, or control the fight on the ground for two rounds and then give it all I have in the third round. I worked on my takedown defense every chance I got. We did a lot of takedown tournaments and I was doing great. I even took Yantcy down once which is almost impossible to do.
Charlie told me to be ready to fight in November. I said I would be. I upped my running and worked 110% on all of the really gas sucking exercises we had. Jumps, leapfrogs and back carries. Cole mentioned one night that my stamina was great after I outdid him on speed and sets of leapfrogs. I went three rounds in a row with guys form the school in kickboxing and was fine. The key for me was to relax when I could and then go hard and then relax. The more I relax, the more strength I have.
Charlie suggested one night that I fight a guy from his Everett school. I thought this was a good idea. Charlie trained him and so I know the guy knows what he is doing, but Charlie also knows how good he is and says he is a perfect match-up for me. Charlie wouldn’t let me get in the ring with someone who was going to kill me. I told Charlie I would fight whoever he says and he was hot on this guy so I am too. Apparently he is a mailman and is in really great shape. He’s walking 5-8 miles per day carrying a bag of mail. He is apparently better than me on the ground and an even match at standup. Charlie says he thinks it is a 50/50 fight who wins. He told me he thinks I will either knock the guy out in round one or lose to a decision if it goes to round 3.
I had to cut 15 pounds to make weight. I am in the throws of that now. Its Thanksgiving night and I have 3 pounds to go. I have been running and boxing for 4 days straight with very little food. I didn’t partake in Dinner today. I had a little protein this afternoon when I came back from my run. I rode the bike for 2 hours and have been measuring my water output and taking in exactly what I pissed out plus 20% for sweat. I have been losing 2 pounds per day this whole week. I will run tomorrow morning and hit the sauna in the afternoon if I need to lose some water, but I am still strong. When I wrestled in high school and when I boxed, I was constantly weakened by trying to fight at lower weights than my optimal. I am fighting at 190 and I still have lots of strength left. I boxed for an hour and a half with Bryce who is a big brawler who may also be fighting on the 26th. Bryce is a great guy and has fought several times in the ring. He is a great boxer and helped me work on slipping and checking. I sweated off 4 pounds with him on Wednesday night and still had enough energy to ride the bike for an hour. No problem making weight tomorrow. I shouldn’t be too dehydrated tomorrow and should have no problem getting rehydrated. Most of the fighters have told me to eat whatever I want after weigh in, but I think I will be more scientific about this. I feel great at this lower weight. The lighter I get, the more energy I am sure to have in the ring. I will rehydrate with water until I can piss. Then I have a protein shake mix that I will use to prep my system. I will eat some white fish and rice tomorrow evening. Saturday morning I will do more protein powder and fried rice with fish in the morning. I will eat some pasta before I leave for the fights and will just water up until the fight. That way I have rebuilt any damaged muscle and replaced the water. The protein will carry the water back to my system. I can fight at 195 or so and feel great. The water and pasta will give me energy without weighing me down. I can eat whatever I want after Saturday. One more day is easy.
After all of this hard work, there is no way I go back to my previously fat bloated self. I told my wife that and she smiled bright and said she was glad to hear it. (I got excited again…….. well I can’t help it.) She said she really didn’t notice I was fat before, but she would now that I so much thinner. (This is a nice way of saying yes you were a big fat tub of goo and I really don’t want to have sex with the “Blob” every night.) (Hell I would settle for once a week.) (Hey, were married with 3 kids. Time and sleep are at a minimum.) I feel so much better. I suffered from depression and anxiety severely when I was heavy. The extra weight really affects your psychology even if it doesn’t bother you consciously; your physiology is all out of whack. As I have gone through losing fat, I get bouts of depression, which I am convinced is leftover chemicals and hormones from those previous episodes. Peal back the layers of an onion; if the onion grew in bad soil for the last few months, the outer layers are smaller and weaker. Your body uses fat to store negative chemicals so it doesn’t all go into your system at once. As you burn the fat, those chemicals get re-released. It’s much better to stay lean and just go through it once. I know that just with my increased physical activity and my new diet, I will have no problem keeping the weight off. Even if I never fight again, I would keep training for the physical effect and the psychological gain.
I’m not he best fighter out there, but through all of this training, I have learned to deal with that hole in the pit of my stomach called “fear”. I can suck it up and work. I may not work as well as some better fighters, but at least I’m fighting. Fear is really a lack of confidence in yourself or in the outcome. No one really knows the outcome of a fight, everyone has some trepidation about fights, but I am relaxed and not stressed out. I’m not losing sleep. I have some good tools and can bang hard. I’ll get more nervous from the crowd than I will from the opponent. He can knock me out, but he can’t eat me. Charlie promised he wouldn’t let him.
When I thought I would start doing this, I was anticipating something completely different than what it is. This experience has made me a better person. I am Stronger in the mind and body which has carried over into my career and my home. While I don’t recommend that everyone be a fighter, this sport forces you to see yourself for who you are. You can talk all you want, but when you get on the mat, everyone can see who you really are and what you’re made of. The one thing that I have admired is that as long as I kept coming back for more and didn’t quit, Jeremy, Charlie and the other fighters began to have some respect for me. Not because I was a great fighter, but because I wasn’t a quitter. That’s life in a barrel. If you keep going after life with all your heart, eventually you will get some success and some respect. Maybe you’re not the richest or the most famous, but you know in your heart that you aren’t a quitter and that you can keep banging.