23 March 2005

Training Log: MMA

(Having already hurt my toe, rather pathetically, at the Kwooner Meeting, I decided to pick up some more debilitating injuries...)

The Mauler's Cage Fighters Gym, (MMA), Steve Dempsey, Harrow, UK - 23/03/2005

I’d forgotten just how tough Steve’s class was! As last time, my clothes gradually transformed from a t-shirt and gi-trousers to a damp dishcloth, and I once again succeeding in ripping the skin off my left knuckles (though that was probably rather heavily affected by crappy punching technique and 4 ounce MMA gloves). Also, Rayner’s Lane remains a very irritating station to get home to Amersham from, particularly if the train you’re planning to get is cancelled, as happened this time. Grr.

The warm up was the same as before – running on the spot, lots of sprawling, supporting your back and cycling your legs, press-ups, sit-ups, and seal crawls both with and without people holding your ankles. I was so good at that last exercise that my progress went into minus figures, while when it was my turn to do the holding, my grip left much to be desired – the ankles in question swiftly slipped out of my grasp and scampered up the length of the hall.

We then moved into the arduous stand-up padwork, again, as before. The person with pads would simply change positions to indicate different strikes, but none were called, only implied. This seemed to go on forever, until eventually we switched round, which happened twice, though I think it was shorter on the repetition. More specifically MMA drills were included, such as taking down the person with the pads and working strikes from the mount and from guard. Punches moved to kicks, with two people holding kick shields while one person was literally bounced from one to another on the same principles of the punching drills (i.e., pad position was supposed to indicate the strike rather than verbal instructions, although the two people called out ‘knees’ , ‘elbows’ and ‘front kick’ anyway).

To finish off with, Steve moved on to groundwork. For the first section, one person defended and the other tried to submit them. I was initially quite pleased with myself, successfully holding off my opponent by clinging as tightly as I could to a full and then a half-guard, but judging by the next section, the opponent in question wasn’t all that versed in groundwork (apologies to nebulous ‘person’ if he in fact was). The second section proved to me once again just how much my grappling sucks, as this time, both partners attacked. I was thoroughly schooled by a BJJ guy in the fine art of leaping under someone’s full mount in record time; my usual cling-like-a-terrified-barnacle tactic failed to have any effect.

All in all, the same factors dissuade me from training there again anytime soon as they did before – late finish, distance, and I'm a wuss. I could also do with more specific technique training, like I get at the Heathrow club. However, also as I said last time, I would recommend Steve Dempsey’s club, especially if you’re keen to get fit, and the atmosphere was entirely lacking in the machismo which occasionally mars MMA clubs – Steve is actively involved in training fighters for the women’s competitive circuit (there was a woman training that night, but I’m not sure if she was part of the fight team or not). Finally, as always with MMA clubs (in my limited experience so far, at least), the 2 hours only cost £5. Undoubtedly value for money, a gallon of sweat for each pound!

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