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.