Sunday, September 27, 2009

Punching, Kicking, Rocking, Relaxing.

Punching the MMA timecard
A few people have asked how much I've been training and what kind of training I'm doing. To tell the truth I'm only training about 4 times a week right now. I usually go to jiu jitsu three times a week, either 2 days in the gi and one no-gi or vice versa. I usually go a little early or stay a little late to hit the bag or do some lifting/conditioning. On Saturdays I go in to do some light sparring, hit pads and do some rolling. Saturdays is mostly foreigners, most who don't know much, but there's always a few quality guys to work with.
Now that I've been here a month and am pretty well settled in I'll probably start gradually increasing the number of hours I train each week. Looks like our first pay check will be coming this week which means I'll also have some cash to join a gym. The gyms are everywhere here but they are pretty much garbage. And expensive. I've actually never paid for a gym membership in my life so I find paying anywhere from 70 - 100 bucks a month for some treadmills, weider machines from the 80's and a smith machine a bit hard to swallow. The gyms here actually have those belts from the 1960's that wrap around your stomach and shake like crazy to try and "break up the fat cells". Hilarious to watch.

World Class Athletes and Koreans Who Can't Clap
Friday night Lisa and I went to Daegu Stadium to watch the Daegu Pre-World Championships track meet. The stadium is only a 20 minute walk from school so we left right after work and got some street meat on the way there. Korean street meat is awesome, by the way.
The stadium wasn't filled but I bet there were ten thousand people there to watch.
The format of the track meet was cool. They only ran about half of the normal track events and only four field events. There were no heats or prelims. Only world or olympic medalists and placers were invited to this event. Where there was room, the the field was filled out with Korean athletes. Unfortunately most of Korean competitors got dusted. The only exceptions were a women's long jumper and a women's javelin thrower who both grabbed bronze medals.
The crowd was awesome, they knew who all of the big names were and they cheered hard for the foreign competitors and the Koreans, even when they were crossing the finish line dead last.
Koreans are love and are fascinated by anyone with blond hair. Some of the biggest cheers were reserved for a women's pole vaulter from Germany. She definitely wasn't one of the best vaulters competing, but when she was up she always got the biggest cheers. Another interesting thing about Korean spectators is that they just don't know how to do the "slow clap". You know the one where everyone starts off slow and gradually gets faster until some crucial moment in the sport where everyone erupts into general applause. They do it at baseball games before the pitchers delivers a pitch. A few of the long jumpers and pole vaulters were trying to get the crowd involved by starting the slow clap before their jumps. It just wasn't happening and I was getting a kick out of it. Maybe next year they should have a slow clap instructional seminar for spectators before the world championships.
The 100m final was by far the major attraction of the night. Tyson Gay and Atto Bolden were both here and finished one - two. Gay ran a 9.89 and Bolden ran 10.00 on the money.
The picture quality from the track meet is terrible because we forgot to bring a camera and took the pics on our cell phone. The pic here is of the 100m.

Saturday's Alright for Fighting, Jimjilabangs and Rockin' Out
Saturday Mitch took me and Scott, another guy from the club, to our first Jimjilbang, something that goes pretty high on my "list of things Koreans have figured out way better than Canadians". A Jimjilbang is a public sauna/bathhouse. For you Thunder Bayers it's kind of like Kengas Saunas, but way better. You go in, pay five bucks and get issued a locker key and a uniform. The first part is gender specific. You go into the guys or girls section to get washed. The washing/ relaxing area is HUGE. There are about 6 different pools. There's a cold tub (great for healing injuries), a cool tub, a lukewarm tub, a hot tub and what I can only describe as a molten hot magma tub. There's also a big sauna and lots of showers. You can hang out here as long as you want. There were some old dudes sleeping in lounge chairs when we were there (They probably didn't want to go home to their wives, which is pretty comon here but a whole other post altogether). When you've had your fill of the tubs you go put on your uniform and can go into the main area. here you can get a bite to eat from the restaurant, a beer if you so desire or go into any of the hot or cold rooms. The guy at the restaurant was loving that there were some foreigners at the Jimjalbang. He thought we were Russian for some reason (maybe the ears?) and watched us eat very closely. The hot rooms in this section are pretty cool. They have a pretty low ceiling, straw mats, stone ceiling and wooden pillows if you want to take a nap. This area is co-ed and there are lots of people wlking around ad going from one room to another. You can also get a haircut a shave and a massage if you want. The jimjilbang was awesomely relaxing and since it is just down the street from the club there was some talk of making it a Saturday afternoon tradition after training. I dig it.

The Jimjilbang was great, but Saturday had more to offer. The 14th annual Daegu Rock Festival (or something like that) was going on all day. We made our way down at about 11:00 to catch the last 4 or 5 bands. The bands were good, even though we couldn't understand what they were saying. There was every kind of rock band from ska and screamo to straight up rock. It was a nice change from the K pop that is everywhere in Korea. Think overly produced boy bands and from the mid to late 90's and that's pretty close to what you hear here all the time. The crowd wasn't huge but they all seemed to know the words to the songs so I'd have to guess the bands were at least a little well known. The last band of the night even singled us out in the crowd. It was a Korean Emo/Screamo band (not kidding) and the lead singer knew some English. Or he at least knew a few punk rock catch phrases that he heard English bands use like "Lets rock and roll!" and "Everybody SCREAM!!!!!". Regardless, at one point he looked at us and said "You Americans like EMO?!?!" I think that telling the truth and saying "Meh... it's okay, and we're Canadian by the way." would have ruined the vibe so we just put our hands up and and said "YEAHH!"

I Need THIS MUCH [------------------------------] Space!
Since I already told you about something that Koreans have figured out better than North Americans, I'll tell you about something they don't have figured out. Personal Space. If you're waiting in line for something Koreans will squish right up against you. Even if you're the only two people in line. If you are sitting on the subway and it's busy it's pretty normal for someone to stand in front of you, facing you with their crotch right in your face. I don't mean a foot away from your face, I'm talking about if the train stops quickly you're getting a face full of Korean baby maker. I've been violated so bad on the subway I feel like somebody owes me some money or something.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Miscellaneous Miscellania (Miscellanii?)

Train Time
One of my favourite things to do in Korea is ride the subway. It's 14 stops from my house (about half an hour) to the MMA club. When I get on I put my I pod in and watch everyone come and go. It's interesting to watch all of the different types of people come and go. Businessmen, students, market salespeople, mothers, kids and fashionistas. It's interesting to watch how they interact with and treat each other. I often make up stories in my head about where they're going and what they're doing. I love people watching.
Plugging into my Ipod is also one of the only times that I can tune out the constant noise and clatter of Korea. There are so many people and it is so busy all the time, even at night, that it is always noisy. Being on the train listening to my own music (instead of K-Pop) is by far the most peaceful part of my day.
Ever hear the perfect song at the perfect moment? Today on the subway Soungarden's "superunknown" came through my earphones. In the song the phrase "alone in the superunknown" is repeated dozens of times. There's something so cool about being alone on the subway in a city of milions of people that has a culture and customs that are so unknown to me.

Training Time
None of the guys at Daegu MMA wear a cup when they roll, and, you know, when in Rome... I've been pretty lucky so far but I took a wicked knee shot today. This reminds me of a conversation I had with my old teamate Alex Jeffrey who has also crossed over into jiu jtsu and mma. He said "Don't you find it crazy that we wrestled for ten years with no cup or mouthgaurd?" My reply. "Yeah, but remember how we got sacked just about everyday and always had chipped teeth?"
"Hmm, true."

Square peg?
I recently discovered that in Korea you can force your key into the keyhole upside down in the dark if you try hard enough and are too stubborn to just take a second to turn on the light and actually look at what's going on. I feel like this is probably some kind of metaphor for my life. I'll let you guys try and figure it out.

Hardcore Spectating
It looks like I won't be making the trip to Seoul to watch the K1 Grand Prix finals this weekend. It's a bummer but I won't have been paid by then and just can't afford the trip right now. I do plan on going to Japan to watch some Dream and/or Sengoku MMA events later in the year. Instead of K1 I'll stay in Daegu and watch the pre-world championships track meet. There's a bunch of world champs and olympic medalists here so it should be awesome to watch. If it's on TV we'll be the ones with no shirts on, maple leafs painted on our chests and waving Canadian flags. I sure hope there's some Canadian athletes at the meet.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Which Way To Da Beach?

International Relations
In the past 2 weeks I've experienced a few cases of really feeling like an outsider. The mother who stopped her car in the middle of a busy intersection and rolled down her window to point us out to her kids takes the cake. Being a "waygukin" sure gives you a new perspective on what it must like to be an immigrant in Canada.
On the whole, though, Korean hospitality has been outstanding. Last week our landlords (a very old Korean couple) invited us up to their place for birthday cake. It was the Ajima's (old lady, basically) birthday. They didn't speak any English but they had lots of family over and one of their daughters spoke English pretty well. Their hospitality was fantastic and could be best compared to an Italian family (eat, eat!) We also made friends with some Korean swimmers at the beach who fed us watermelon, cake, galbi and kept us stocked with makali, a Korean wine. While sitting outside a corner store having a few drinks some friends were talking about how small of a world it really is. As if on cue an older Korean man came up and asked if we knew David. Sure enough, someone did. It turns out the man is a physics professor at a local University and was meeting some of his students for a social drink. In Korea having a couple of drinks outside of the corner store is normal and they have tables set up for this. The professor and his students sat down at our table and hung out all night. Cool guys.

Busan
Pusan was great last weekend. There were eight of us that were going to go but we almost cancelled the trip because of bad weatehr in the morning. When the skies started to clear in the early afternoon on Saturday we got our act together and headed across town to the train station. We took the high speed train (Korea Transit Xpress or KTX). The train only took an hour and was $17 ROUND TRIP. Amazing. We went to two beaches, both of which were fantastic. Both beaches were on the sea of Japan, although that's not what the Koreans call it. We wanted to give surfing a try since this was the prime area to do it, but there was no surf to speak of this weekend. Apparently last weekend had four foot rollers, which might have been a bit much for me anyways. In the end we just layed in the sun, read some books, walked around to check out the shops and got sunburned. We also met some new friends from "Busan Aquatica", an open water swimming club that seemed to do everything at the beach except swim. We invited them to play frisbee with us which was hilarious. Frisbees are not common in Korea and by the end of an hour only a couple of them were starting to get the hang of it.

The Busan nightlife was great. Without getting into too much detail, we checked out a few restaurants, a few open air bars, a few vendors, a casino and, of course, lit off a ton of fireworks. When we finally hit the sack the night time view from our hotel window was awesome. For $30 we got a 5th floor room with a view of the Sea of Japan and the huge lit up bridge that crosses the bay where we were staying.

On Sunday we went to another beach which was a bit better than the first. Right before we left some of us were going to take one last dip to cool off. As we waded into the water I saw a HUGE jellyfish next to Mitch. We ran like OJ circa 1994. Actually we ran like scared little girls, not a heisman trophy winning tailback. Turns out the jellyfish was dead and ones that big don't usually come to shore. it eventually washed up and we snapped some pics before it got torn apart by the surf.


MMA
Training has been going well, except for the fact that a week of no-gi practice gave me a false sense of ability. Without the gi I've been able to use my wrestling, speed and athleticism to be competitive in sparring with most of the best guys at the club. Last night was the first time we were back in the gi for a week. I think the last time I had my ass handed to me that badly was when I scrimmaged with Gia Sissauori (World Champion, Olympic Silver medalist wrestler) in 2004. Most of the time I can feel myself being set up for something but I don't even know what that something is. The best way to describe it is to say that it feels like you're drowning in the gi and all you can do is try and keep your head above water. At one point I notced there was only 1 minute left in the 5 minute session and I set a mental goal to not get tapped for the last minute. I didn't care if I got totally dominated positionally, I just wanted to survive. I didn't make it.

Saturdays there's a "Fight Club" for foreigners at Daegu MMA. It's pretty low key; a bunch of people who want to get a workout in or give boxing or jiu jitsu a try. Most of the people don't know anything about anything as far as MMA goes and but this week I met two East Coast Canadian guys who are pretty good boxers. One of them has fought ten times and has super fast hands. They're cool guys and were happy that there was another guy around who knew something. I'm glad I found those guys, since my Muay Thai gym didn't pan out.

Turns out the Muay Thai gym owner and the owner of Daegu MMA have some bad blood and I wouldn't be allowed to train at both places. It sounds dumb but gets even dumber when you consider the fact that the two gyms teach completely different styles of fighting. They are not in direct competition with each other and don't take business from each other. Although I was disappointed, I wasn't shocked. This is an all too familiar story in the martial arts community. So and so doesn't like so and so which means none of his guys can go to those tournaments etc, etc... This drives me crazy because I don't care about the issues these guys have, my only interest is in getting better and if both places can make me better at different things then I want to train at both clubs.

This mentality seems even crazier coming from a wrestling background. I wrestled at one of the top Universities in Canada. There were teams we didn't get along with. There were teams we hated, but you can be sure that any wrestler anywhere could walk into any other wrestling room in the world, regardless of affiliation, and be welcomed. The idea is that having a good wrestler and another sparring partner in the room is beneficial to everyone else in the room and that you can always learn something from somebody who has a different style. It's the "steel sharpens steel" idea. In the martial arts community there often seems to be resistance to new people coming in with new ideas, a sort of "our way is the best way" mentality that can only take you so far before you have to branch out.

Misc. I forgot to mention that last week we went to Daegu World Cup Stadium to watch a Daegu FC soccer game. The stadium is amazing. They've hosted the world cup (Duh) in 2002 and the 2003 World University Games. Next year they're hosting the World Track and Field Championships. The game was okay I guess, but a 0-0 tie isn't really my cup of tea. The stadium itself is amazing and set right at the bottom of a mountain which gives you a pretty spectacular view.


Next week the K1 kickboxing World Grand Prix Final 16 is in Seoul. I' hoping I'll make it up there for that one. I'm getting pretty broke as I haven,t been paid yet, but I'll try and make it work. There's also a pre-world championship track and field test meet with a lot of Olympic medalists coming up. Cost? $5. I think I can swing that one.

Shout Outs:
My buddy Wade and the rest of the Sault Steelers for wining the National Football championships. Way to go guys.
All of the Canadian wrestlers at the world championships this week. Special shout out to former Thunderwolves teammate and all around killer Katie Patroch.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Quick style

I recorded a message from my 5 year old kindergarten class; here it is. Yes, that's the whole class, and yes, they might be the cutest kids in the world. from left to right that's Mario, Alice, Sam and Amy. I can't wait to give my first Korean kid an English name. Darth will be a cool kid I'm sure.
video

Also, last night I went with an acquaintance to a Muay Thai gym in my neighbourhood that has a reputation for developing some great fighters. The owner seemed very happy to have me working out at their gym... until he found out I was also training at Daegu MMA. They hate each other and I was told I'd have to pick one place or the other. Even in Korea it is impossible to avoid martial arts politics. More on this later...

I'm heading to Busan (Pusan) to hit the beach while the temp is still in the high 20's and give surfing a try. Some beverages may also be in order.

Thought for Today:
I know why there are no male kindergarten teachers. You get bagged ALL THE TIME! Kids love to run up to you and hug at all times of the day. Unfortunately their heads are at just the right height that a running hug turns into a running head butt in the cajones. When they run up and hug you from behind their little fists wrap around and bag you just as hard. I don't wear my cup to jiu-jitsu but I may start wearing it to school.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cauliflower ear is universal and your food will stare back at you.

currently editing and attaching pictures... stay tuned

The Gastric Revolution

I never thought I'd find myself shopping in the "foreign foods" section of the supermarket. Generally, I'll eat just about anything but I really had no idea what to expect in Korea. I did a little research before we came to Korea, but that just meant I knew what things were called, not what they taste like. So far, I haven't had any problems.

The coolest thing about Siji, the area where we live, is the outdoor markets. Everyday the market is full of local farmers selling all kinds of fresh produce, pastries, dried foods and seafood. There's lots of familiar vegetables and fruits as well as all kinds of things I've never seen before. The markets are also cheap. Yesterday Lisa and I bought 8 green peppers for just under one Canadian dollar. They also have lots of seafood that you don't see in Canada. Eel, octopus and squid are often kept alive in the market along with all kinds of interesting looking fish. They'll hack the heads off and give them to you in a bag on the spot. Sometimes they'll leave the head right on; Koreans don't usually waste any part of the animal. At lunch the other day I realized that the soft, squishy part of the little squid I was eating was the head... eyes and brain fully. At the same meal I realized what I thought was some kind of sprout was staring at me with hundreds of tiny eyes and was actually a huge batch of tiny minnows. Check out the new videos on the side of the page to see some of the cool seafood in the market.

Lisa and I eat the free lunch everyday at school. Our school has a full time cook who makes traditional Korean food. The meals are definitely well balanced. Every day we get some rice, some meat, some vegetables and some soup. The British teachers who were here before us couldn't stomach but we've eaten it everyday so far and haven't had any problems, although Lisa could think of things she'd rather eat than brains and eyes.

It's also really cheap to eat out in Korea. A decent dinner shouldn't cost you more than ten bucks, including beer. The Koran barbeque, called galbi, is great and no matter what you order it's always served with tons of sides, usually different kinds of vegetables, sprouts and kimchee (one of the healthiest foods in the world according to mens health). If you want to eat out and get a taste of home Daegu has Burger King, Macdonalds, The Outback, Pizza Hut, Bennigans, Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robins although everything tastes just a little different and is usually more expensive than Korean food.










A Few Nights on the Town

It sure wouldn't be stretching things to say that our first weekend here was a success. We met up with Mitch and a few other westerners on friday eveing and headed downtown. Our small group quickly grew into a full blown herd as we walked through downtown picking friends and friends of friends as we went. The expat community here is large and everybody knows everyone or knows someone who knows everyone.

Downtown Daegu is awesome, but not what you'd expect from a city of almost 3 million. Instead of wide streets like you find in North American downtowns the streets are wide enough for one car to squeeze through the mass of walking weekenders. The rules of being on the town are a little different too. If you're ever here feel free to take your drink out of whatever bar you were in, walk around the streets with it and then wander into another bar still carrying it. This is perfectly ok. Don't wait for last call to tell you when you should call it a night. There isn't one and being "cut off" is a term that has no Korean translation. Beer is cheap, soju is cheap and dong dong ju is cheap. Liquor is very expensive. The dong dong ju is an rice wine that is served chilled and is quite delicious on a hot Daegu night.

Warning: Do not ignore the warning about the dong dong ju sneaking up on you. I did, and it did. Big time.

While hanging out downtown buying my drink in a bag from the walk through window (yeah, you read that right) one of the workers at the drink in a bag store shoved a roman candle in my hand and lit it. There I was, shooting off fireworks in the middle of a bustling downtown party square. I was a little worried until everyone starting lighting them off. I guess this is why you can buy fireworks just about anywhere in Korea.

The very same night I was coming out of the bathroom at a bar and there were two little Korean guys waiting outise the stall for me. One of them pointed at me and yelled something like "RASW-AHHH!". Great. My first night out and I'm going to get attacked in a bar, have to fight back and probably get deported. I put my hands in the air (the universal sign for "whoah dude, I didn't do anything) and tried to look as harmless as possible. The shortest of the two came at me and grabbed my ear, again saying "Wras-wah!
Ohhhhhhhhh.... "Wrest-ler"
"Ya, ya Wraswah"
Phew. Through some bastardization of sign language I figured out that he was also a wrestler and competed at 55 kg. After coming to an understanding that we were in some way brothers through sport the guy gave me a very animated two thumbs up and left me with "you good guy!", probably the only English he knew.


Jiu Jitsu/MMA

training at Daegu MMA has great. I've had a few gi classes and a few no-go classes so far. I've been getting really good sparring as well as great lots of good technique work and drills that seem to already be making a difference in my game. I've been sparring ("spahh-ing", as they call it) with Yeung Gal, one of the purple belt instructors who competes at 62 kg. He's a super cool guy, speaks decent English and is extremely athletic. In the two short weeks I've been here had some crzay scrambles and have developed a nice friendly rivalry. Yeung Gal's also has a great sense of humour, he likes yelling thinsg in English like "squeej yah ashahole!" just to give me chuckle, knowing I'm the only one who understands. I had to do a double take the first time I heard him say that one.

The competition Jiu Jitsu team were in Seoul last weekend at a tournament. It sounds like just about everyone won their division and the team won the overall championship. There's lots of studs in the room, that's for sure.

The owner of the club also gave me a very nice Daegu MMA/Machado Jiu Jitsu competition shirt as a gift. The shirt is very big but some of the other guys in the club have said that this is a very great sign of respect. The feeling is definitely mutual.


Random Thoughts:

The level of respect at Daegu MMA is great and I'm glad I've been accepted there, but being bowed to by another dude in the shower is a bit unerving. Double that feeling when you're expected to do the same.

The Korean version of frat boy types getting tattoos with oriental writing they don't understand? Every Korean under 30 wearing shirts with English sentences on them that they don't understand and don't make sense. Some of my favourites... "Place take your stare down" and "Revolution cups drink for the coming big time"

I experienced the sharp end of racism for the first time the other day. A couple of drunk businessmen on the subway singled me out to hassle. I was the only white guy on the train and was aparently asking for it. It was a long 15 minutes and gave me a lot of food for thought.

A few people have asked about the schools here... hold on people, don't get your knickers in a
bunch. I'll post about it eventually but the different education systems here are complicated and I feel like I shouldn't go posting my first impressions which are probably wrong.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Stranger in a Strange Land

Arrival and Accommodations
Well, we've been in Daegu for about five days now. We received a phone call at 2:00 pm on Thursday telling us we had to be at the airport at 4:00 am the next morning to leave for Korea. We knew it might happen and luckily we were already packed and ready to go. Our arrival was surprisingly without incident considering we had to take two planes totaling 17 hours of flying time, a bus from Seoul to Daegu and meet up with someone to drive us to our hotel. Seems easy but is much more difficult when you can't speak the language or read the signs. Our hotel, where we stayed for 3 nights, was something to see. In Korea they are known as "love motels". They're not as dirty as they sound but they do have some interesting "features". Ask me about them sometime. We moved into our permanent apartment yesterday. We were led to believe that we'd likely be staying in a small box suitable to house a toaster oven. The apartment is actually not a bad size (quite big by Korean standards). We have a bathroom, bedroom, lounge room and a combined kitchen/dining room. Living large, some might say.


Korean Traffic

Traffic in Korea is insane. Lots of streets don't have names. This obviously makes giving directions tough. Especially when your cab driver doesn't speak English and you don't speak Korean. Red lights are a suggestion; feel free to blow through, just make sure to honk so everyone knows you're coming. We think that Canadian cabbies are crazy but they don't even play in the same league of crazy as Korean cab drivers. These guys can squeeze a full sized car through an empty toilet paper tube at 90km an hour while watching their favourite Korean game show on the TV installed under their rearview mirror. Close your eyes, it's best that way.

Parking anywhere you can fit your car is fair game. On the sidewalk? Ok. Front end of the car in a parking lot and back end blocking traffic? Not a problem. Parking on a traffic island between east and westbound lanes? Sure. Double parking? Yep, just leave your phone number so the person you blocked in can call you. Parked on the side of the street facing the wrong way and blocking an entrance-way? No problemo.

Motorcycles have a completely separate set of rules, by which I mean they have absolutely no rules. Motorcycle riders can drive in a regular lane with the rest of traffic. If traffic is heavy they just hop up on the sidewalk and weave in and out of the pedestrians. I've already seen one rider riding next to the curb going the opposite way of traffic in his lane. Through parks, over curbs, across lanes.. wherever your bike can take you, you can go.

The subway system in Daegu is good. I live on one extreme side of the city and being on the subway line means I can get to the other side in about half an hour. Keep in mind the city is 2.5 million people... sometimes it takes that long to get from one side of Sault Ste. Marie to the other; population 75 000. The subway also takes me directly from my appartment to Daegu MMA, where I will spend a lot of time training.

Daegu MMA
Going to a new MMA gym or jiu jitsu club can be a little strange. Every club has its' own protocol and rules, much of which are unwritten. Nobody ever wants to be the guy who shows up and looks like he has no clue what's going on. Just as bad is showing up and being the guy who goes too hard and is trying to prove how tough he is. It's a delicate balancing act to show that you are competent but not an ego monster. It often takes months to be fully accepted at a place like this. Luckilly for me, my brother Mitch has been in Daegu for a year and training at Daegu MMA for just as long. Mitch did all the hard work and they obviously love him there. Mitch brought me to the club to meet everyone on one of the first nights we were in town.

When we walked through the doors Mitch got a very warm reception from everyone who was in the gym at the time. The owner of the club came our way, pointed at me and said "Mitchie brother?" My answer was followed by a very large and very unexpected bear hug, which speaks to the reputation that Mitch has built at Daegu MMA. Every person I met asked the same question; "Mitchie brother?" and saying yes was the secret passward into the club. The club has extremely good jiu-jitsu (it is a J.J. Machado affiliate) and good kickboxing. Their weakest point seems to be wrestling which explains why Mitch was so popular and why I was welcomed so quickly. Mitch has been helping some of their fighters, like Un Sik Song, with their wrestling. He also dislocated his elbow recently but assured everyone at the club that his brother would be soon be in Daegu to teach wrestling.

I met and rolled with a lot of really good guys; Yung Gul, Bogu, Superman and John, who has an English name because he went to an English school. I was pretty nervous as my first live scrimmage was with Yung Gul... John pointed towards him and said "you go master". Scary. How hard should I go? %100? Russian drill? Light scrimmage? I decided to hit a quick takedown and then feel things out. The takedown came quick and I heard some "ohhhh"s and quiet murmuring in Korean. We got into a quick scramble which I wrestled my way out of, ending up in top open guard. More murmuring and some "Ahhhhhh"s, this time a little louder. Looking up, I saw that everyone had stopped rolling and was watching us. We had pretty much the whole mat to ourselves. The rest of the 5 minute scrimmage was me trying to pass his guard and defend submissions while he threw all kinds of submission at me. I was barely staying alive to be honest and eventually fell into a well set up triangle. I knew it was coming but couldn't stop it. While the rest of the class finished with conditioning I rolled with Bogu, an 81 kg. competitor. I got tapped a lot. He was big and strong but wasn't using size or strength, he was just good.

I went back to Daegu MMA on my own two days later. It was a Gi class, which was great. I approached the class as if I knew nothing (which in the Gi is pretty much true) and was able to get some good work in Gi fundamentals during the technical portion of the class. We did some hard sparring at the end of class. I was able to handle most of the people in the class as they were all whitebelts. At the end of class I got some good sctrapping in with John and Yung Gul which quickly put me in my place. I think in the two days I've been at the club I've been tapped out 15 times. This tells me I'm in the right place... I'm not sure if I got tapped out 15 times in the last 6 months.

Any of you LU wrestlers remember doing Korean pushups? Well here they just call them pushups. (Ha! Fran would like that joke.) We did 130 of them AFTER 25 minutes of sparring. Talk about bulletproof shoulders.