Monday, June 28, 2010

An Up and Down Day, But More Up Than Down

I got back yesterday from a Jiu Jitsu tournament outside of Seoul.  In true Korean fashion, I wasn't informed of the tournament until the week before.  Also in true Korean fashion I wasn't told that this tournament was the Korean Pro Abu Dhabi qualifier and the biggest BJJ tourny of the year in Korea until I got in the van to go to the tournament.  Since I've been focusing on my upcoming fight I haven't really been training in the gi at all and I asked our coach if I could enter the no gi tournament only.  He wasn't buying it and entered me into the gi, gi absolute and no gi divisions.  Tough luck for me.
The tournament was on Sunday in a city called Bucheon which is about a three and a half hour drive from Daegu.  We left from the club at 5:30 am to get there in time to weigh in and start competing at 10:00.  Once our team was weighed in I put my gi on for the first time in three weeks and headed down to the mat where I was the second match of the day.  My first match was against a guy I had beaten handily at an earlier tournament.  I proceeded to get flying armbarred less than 10 seconds into the match.  I'm not sure if I've ever been that embarrassed at a tournament before.  Not only did I lose, I was out of the tournament and had to watch as a guy I've beat before worked his way through the bracket and won the division.  It was frustrating, but I earned that loss.  I simply was not ready for that match. Luckily I still had the gi absolute division coming up.  What chance would I have against the monsters and winners from all of the other weight classes if I couldn't even last 10 seconds in my own weight class?  Plenty it turns out.  I think I just needed a good kick in the pants to get going and that first loss was just what the doctor ordered.
In my first absolute match I fought a guy who had competed in the heavyweight (100 kg) division.  He smirked at me when the drawmaster put us together, kind of like he thought it was funny.  He thought it was a lot less funny when I rolled up an 8-0 lead before submitting him with a north/south choke.  If the first guy I fought was big, the next guy was an absolute terror.  He was a member of the U.S. Airforce and was a superheavyweight who probably had the same body fat percentage that I did.  To say he was intimidating was an understatement.  I heard someone refer to him as "Black Hercules".  Luckily he was considerably less intimidating when he put his gi on.

I don't think many people gave me much of a chance to beat him (he steamrolled a pretty tough dude in his previous match) but I had a decent game plan.  I had watched a few of his matches through out the day.  He had pretty much bullied his way through the tournament by using a bull rush double leg, leaning on people until they collapsed and doing nothing on top except not get submitted.  I knew that as hard as he pushed on his opponents he would be in trouble if he ever came up against anyone who could throw well.  It never occurred to me that it might be me.  Sure enough, about a minute into the match I caught him pushing too hard and launched him with a hip toss going out of bounds.  He got up, dusted himself off and said "good job".  Then he came at me even harder.  He blasted me out of bounds and into some spectators 3 or 4 times, but I kept my feet moving and didn't let him in on my legs.  At one point he shot a double and had me scrambling. In desperation I turned and threw my hips into a whizzer as hard as I could and threw him onto his back again.  This time he did not tell me "good job".  He was getting pretty cheezed at losing to a 68 kg. geek.   I tried my luck one more time and tried to hit him with a shoulder throw. I was very close to scoring the takedown but we went out of bounds.  I thought.  You can't see it on the tape, but I landed with both knees and feet completely on the wood floor.  Little did I know that one of his feet was still on the edge of the mat, making us still in bounds.  I stopped fighting and he took the opportunity to take back mount.  We eventually went out of bounds and got re started in the center with him in back mount.  I knew if I could sneak my way out of danger and hold him off for under a minute I'd win on points.  I managed to do just that.

After that match I had exactly  5 minutes to get ready for the final.  In the final I fought one of my teammates who competed at and won the 90kg. division.  The match was a little slow but I ended up submitting him with an Americana.

What I Really Came For
After the gi portion was done I suited up for the no gi open division which was what I was really excited for.  getting to test myself against the best grapplers in the country in the style that I like best appealed to me.  In my first match I submitted a blue belt with a D'arce choke and in my second match I beat a purple belt on points, 10-2.  In the final I met a very strong blue belt that sometimes comes to our club to train.  I was leading for a good chunk of the match but eventually got my back taken in a scramble and submitted to a choke after fighting it off for what felt like an hour.
A gold in the Gi absolute and a silver in open no-gi was a good way to finish off the day after a tanking out of my first division.

Mfight (a Korean MMA website) was at the event taking video and pictures.  They also handed out a "Fighter of the Day" award. They apparently thought that my win in the absolute division was worthy of the award.  I was honored to get the award but I know there were lots of better performances and better fighters at the event.  For example, my buddy Bo Kue won the Abu Dhabi Trials and the absolute no-gi tournament.  In the semi final he got caught in a deep triangle choke that looked like game over.  He somehow fought it off for over 2 minutes (he told me later that he was very close to going to sleep) before storming back and wining on points.  In the final he dug himself an 11-0 deficit (which I'm sure had something to do with being gassed from his last match) before submitting his opponent with a kimura.  To me that kind of fighting spirit is what should earn "Fighter of the Day".  But the trophy sure is nice and shiny.

Champions One and All
Daegu MMA won the team title, even without Heung Kul and Un Sik, our two best jiu jitsu players competing.  As far as grappling goes, we've won everything in sight this year.  Looking at all of the studs in the team picture below makes me realize what a stacked team Daegu MMA actually is.  Lots of guys train at different times and you rarely see all of the best guys together in one place, but when you do it's a hell of a team to deal with.

Our team with some hardware

It's Not Mother's Day But... 
It's my mom's birthday!  Happy Birthday Mom!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Konglish n' Korean Kids

here are four good examples of Engrish that I found on one ten minute walk to a restaurant in my neighborhood the other day.
This is one of my favourites. It's actually in a restaurant called "New York, New York".  Someone should tell them that Google translator is not 100% accurate. Click on the picture for a bigger view.

So close... So close.

The best thing about this is that it's a big chain.

Chicken in the home?  Chick in the home? Chick and the home?  I have no idea.

I haven't posted or talked much about my school or the kids I teach so I thought I'd give you guys a little view of what I do everyday. The kids I teach are pretty much awesome.  Teaching kindergarten has been a lot of fun and obviously very different from teaching highschool.  One thing that is undeniable is that these kids are deathly cute.  Here's a few pictures and a video as proof. 

7b class.  Pretty Awesome.  They speak enough English that we can have a lot of fun. 

7a class.  Yes, the girl on the right (Catherine) is wearing an "Extreme Couture" shirt. How wild is that? 

Yeah, I taught my kids how to "high five and pound it" and yeah, I have a kid in that class who's name is "Lion"

MMA Update
I'll be travelling to Seoul for a Jiu Jitsu tournament next weekend. I told the guys from my club that I only wanted to do the no-gi division.  With a fight coming up i've only been doing about one day of gi training per week, and even then I try to stick to techniques that will work without the gi and not rely on the grips and cloth too much in sparring.  My idea of competing in only the no-gi division was duly noted before they registered me in the gi, no-gi, gi absolute and no-gi absolute divisions.  Might be a long day.

Training has been going very well lately.  I'm still doing mostly general training as far as technical work but we are starting to work out a basic game plan and isolate some situations that I can exploit and some that I should avoid.  the intensity and volume of my training has been much higher over the last 6 weeks and with a little over 10 weeks until fight time I feel god about where I am physically, technically and mentally.  Having a focus and goal for my training has done wonders for my training.  the increased volume and intensity of training coupled with better attention to nutrition has seen my weight come down a lot.  I am walking around leaner and meaner than I have in a long time.

Happy Father's Day
Happy Father's Day to my dad.  When I was younger lots of people used to tell me how much I was like my dad and it used to drive me crazy.  It's easy to see now that that's one of the biggest compliments I could get.  I've been lucky to have lots of positive influences in my life but without a doubt my dad taught me the most about... everything.  I couldn't ask for a better dad.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monsoon Season is here. It's Raining Fights.

It's Raining men Fights!
Saying "when it rains, it pours" is about as cliched as it gets, but sometimes the cliche fits. The actual monsoon season is approaching in Korea and along with it I've been flooded with fight opportunities.  First I was offered a spot in the Sengoku Asian Bantamweight Grand Prix, but was pulled because I wasn't Korean.  Then I was offered a very tough fight in DEEP at the end of August which I accepted.  Last week I was offered another fight in DEEP: Grachan to fight on the same card as my friend and training partner Un Sik.  I had to decline because of previous commitments that couldn't be changed.  saturday I was offered a spot as a short notice opponent for Ikuo Usuda on the Sengoku 13 card.  The event is this coming Sunday. Even though I initially jumped at the chance to fight in Sengoku the more I thought about this fight, the more I didn't like it.  First of all it is a very big fight on very short notice and I have only been training hard again for a little over a month.  As much as I'd like to think that my athleticism would carry me through I know that there are lots of things I need to iron out before I fight a high level fight.  I fought once on a lot less preparation than I should have had and told myself I would never do it again.  The next thing is that the fight is at 65 kg.  This is the weight I have fought at before but I am much leaner right now and will be fighting at a lower weight in the future.  After practice today I was 66.5 kg.  Usuda on the other hand is coming down for his first fight at 65 kgs. after going 6-0 in Shooto and Sengoku as a 70 kg. fighter.  He would be a huge 65 kg fighter and I would be pretty small for that weight. This is the kind of fight I am looking for in the future, but I don't think is a good decision for me right now.  Coincidentally, Usuda's original opponent was suposed to be a guy I fought and beat at the East Asian Sambo Championships. On the plus side, it's good to know that I am finally on the radar of some of the bigger Asian promotions.

Some things never change.
Jim Liguori, who owns and coaches Ho Shin Sool MMA used to go crazy because I would leave my stuff all over the place.  I would forget my shirt on the floor, leave my hand-wraps hanging on a doorknob, leave my mouthguard on the windowsill... you name it, I forgot it at the club.  Well, Jim will be happy to know that it's just not him, I do it to the coach/owner at Daegu MMA too.  Usually it's not a big deal because I can pick it up the next day, but about a month ago I lost my custom fit mouthguard that my dentist friend Riley made for me.  I finally found it today and was super pumped; I never knew how much better a custom mouthguard was until I tried one.  While I'm on the topic, it's great to have a friend as your dentist.  How many times have you wanted to swear at your dentist?  I can do it freelyWhen she says dentist-y things like "Hmmm, your gums are bleeding a little bit."  I can say things like "No kidding, you just stabbed them with a sharp metal poker; I'm pretty sure I'd bleed anywhere if you did that."

Where Am I and How Did I Get Here?
After a few amateur MMA fights I decided it was time to step things up and fight as a pro.  In two years I racked up a 4-1 record as a pro.  I can honestly say that none of the opponents I fought were particular studs, even the one opponent I lost to.  All of my wins came via TKO or submission stoppage, with none of my opponents making it past the 3rd minute of the first round.  The lone loss on my record was disappointing but I don't think reflects on my skills as a fighter.  It was a fight I took unprepared.  I went into the fight in not great shape and without having put in the training time I should have.  Even still, I was dominating my opponent for most of the fight.  I picked him up and took him down with a slam and was delivering some ground and pound.  As I was standing in his guard I got sloppy (overconfident?) and hung my head lazily, getting caught in a guillotine in the process. I got back on the winning track shortly after, but promised myself I would never fight unprepared like that again. Regardless of the results, I felt like it was time to step up the level of my competition.  I had a tough time doing so, in large part because of the expense of getting me from Sault Ste. Marie to a place where big fights happen.  Sault Ste. Marie is not exactly a travel hub and organizations weren't very willing to spend big money to fly me to their fights.  That's why I decided to temporarily relocate to a place where bigger fights might come my way.  Hence, Korea.
While some people might think I'm jumping into the deep end of the pool with my upcoming fight, that was exactly my goal in coming here.  I always felt like I could compete at  a much higher level than I was and now I'm getting the chance to prove it. I've always thought that testing your limits is an important part of life.  How can you really know who you are if you don't know what you're capable of?

Picnic Time!
The Daegu MMA family often goes on weekend outings together and this weekend I was lucky enough to attend my first team/family outing.  We drove a ways out of town and hiked up a mountain towards a stream and some mountain top pools.  This place was amazing.  There were dozens of pools of crystal clear cold mountain water and you could slide down the rocks into them.  Here's some pics of the main pool that we spent most of our time at.
View from above the main pool.

Left to right: Po Kue, Jae Hoon and Me.

At one point Jae Hoon dove down to the bottom of the pool and came up saying "pink hat! pink hat!".  I wasn't sure why he was so amazed about a hat at the bottom of a pool of water but he eventually said "I get it!" and dove down to retrieve the object in question.  When he came back up he was holding a SEVERED PIG'S HEAD.   No joke.   "Pig head", not "pink hat".  Then he threw it at someone.
After swimming we set up our grill and proceeded to eat ridiculous amounts of samguipsal and galbi.  If we had twice as many people as were actually there we still would have had way too much food,  but that's pretty typical of eating with Koreans.

Quick Question
Who doesn't have a story that starts with "So I'm juggling cans of paint in class..".  I'll let you guess how that turned out.

Monday, June 7, 2010


SENGOKU, DEEP, DREAM;  It's been a Crazy Ride
For the last three and a half weeks I've been sitting on the knowledge that I would soon be fighting in one of the biggest MMA organizations in the world and competing in their bantamweight Grand Prix.  I had been accepted as one of the participants in the tournament and was set to compete in SENGOKU on July 4th.  I almost spilled the beans last week, but decided to hold off because SENGOKU hadn't officially announced the participant list.  It's a good thing I did hold off because when I got to the club today for training I found out that I was out of the tournament.  Someone somewhere along the line had complained that even though I trained and fought out of a Korean gym I didn't meet the criteria to compete in the Asian Grand Prix.  That thought had crossed my mind but I was reassured that it would be no problem when I brought it up.  Apparently it was a problem.
All is not lost however.  I've been offered a fight with a very good fighter later in the summer. The fight offer is against Daiki Hata, a very good kickboxer with a 11-6-3 MMA record.  He has beaten some big name fighters, but his last two losses came to opponents who were 7-7 and 3-4 at the time of their fights.  He has much more experience than I do, but style wise, the match up is good.  He seems to have trouble with grinding type wrestlers.  He also looks like an anime character from some kind of Japanese neo-samurai cartoon.  The fight will be in late August for the DEEP organization. The bonus is that the winner of the fight earns a spot on the nest DREAM event.  DREAM is arguably the second largest MMA organization in the world.  It's where the big dogs live.  Some people spend their whole careers waiting for an opportunity like this.  It's pretty crazy now that it's here.  TopMMAnews posted a story about the fight on their main page. Go check it out.

Submission of the year?
Some people have been talking about this submission by Dan Hornbuckle at a recent Bellator event as a potential submission of the year. It's a nice Kimura into a modified armbar. Go to the 45 second mark of the video and then...
... look at this picture.

This was one of my matches at the Korea Machado Open. Look familiar? I know, I know, I didn't do it to  professional fighter in a major event... I'm just saying.  What am I saying?  I don't know, probably something about me being awesome.

Un Sik Song
Un Sik lost his fight at DEEP: Cage Impact last night.  He lost what sounds like a boring decision to someone who mostly pressed him against the cage.  I knew that cage skills might be an issue for Un Sik.  His wrestling is getting much better, but there is absolutely nowhere to practice anything against a cage or wall.  We don't even have any padded walls right now.  People have been saying for quite a while but Asian fighters who want to fight in a cage have to practice in a cage.  I think it makes a much bigger impact than people think.  So many techniques change next to the cage, and learning to use it and get off of it is a skill you have to practice, it does happen magically.

New Ho Shin Sool Website
Ray started a new Ho Shin Sool website and it's pretty awesome.  It has lots of cool stuff on it, go check it out.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Squatters, Gymnastics and Tough Training

Gymnastics in Wrestling, MMA, Jiu Jitsu
I stumbled across the video below by chance, but it reinforces what I've always believed.  Athletes with gymnastics backgrounds or skills have an enormous advantage in any sport that requires balance, kinesthethic awareness, agility and explosiveness.  When I run gymnastic type warm ups when I coach wrestling or grappling at home lots of people complain.  Some people cop out and don't even try.  It's frustrating because those people can't see the benefits of these types of skills.  I'm fond of telling those people "If you can't control your own body, how in hell are you going to control your opponents body?"
When people say "Why are we doing this?  We're not going to do a cartwheel or handstand in a match."
I respond with "Why do you lift weights? You're not going to bench press or clean and jerk in a match."  The answer is the same for both activities.  They both develop and enhance physical characteristics that are important to wrestling, jiu jitsu and fighting.  I would go so far as to say that if you had to pick only one, gymnastics training trumps weightlifting.  My girlfriend used to coach at the National Training center for mens gymnastics.  Some of the guys there were the most jacked guys I've ever seen and they never lifted a weight in their life.  
Consider the following
  • In Russia and Turkey (where wrestling is the national sport and athletes start in the sport at a very young age) youth programs focus mostly on gymnastics before introducing much actual wrestling technique.  They believe it's important to develop a strong physical foundation before trying to learn things that your body is not prepared to do.
  • Most big time BJJ dudes from Brazil practice what they call "gymnastica naturel"  which is basically just tumbling.  They say it gives them a much better awareness of their body.
  • The sheer number of high level wrestlers I have met that have some sort of gymnastics background is staggering.  It can't be a coincidence.
A little background... AACC is a wrestling and MMA school.  Lots of top MMA guys (and girls ie. Megumi Fuji) train there.  It's one of the places that lots of pros stop in to train when they are in Jaoan for fights.  The youth wrestling club is also world famous, having produced world and Olympic medalists.

New Gym, Hard Work
The new gym has been up and running for a few weeks now.  It's a smaller space, but there is much less wasted space.  The main mat area is bigger than at the old club, but we don't have a ring at the new location.  We still have a bag area, weight area, an office and (a big improvement) showers with hot water.
View of the new club
Un Sik has a big fight coming up in DEEP against a very tough Yasuaki Kishimoto (10-3) and the two of us have been working out together a lot lately. We've been working on lots of wrestling and lots of situational sparring.  I've been getting as much out of it as he has, which is good as I'm looking to fight sooner than later.  My body is definitely feeling it.  Today is Sunday, and my 7th day in a row of training with Un Sik.  We'll go in tomorrow and do some work and then I'm going to take Tuesday off and try to explain the concept of "tapering" to him.  Hopefully someone with decent English will be there to help translate.
There are a few young guys that train at Daegu MMA that have really enjoy the wrestling training and are getting pretty good.  A few of them heard Un Sik and I were training on the weekend they came in to work on their wrestling too.  The smaller guy in the video is only 15 and has better jiu jitsu technique than I do. When we roll I have to be a bully and muscle him around to avoid getting beat. Add in some solid takedowns and defense and that's a tough kid to beat. The bigger guy is about 20 and has a great single leg.  When we scrimmage he can score if I'm not really focused on defending the leg hard.   I think I've been able to leave a few of the older guys and two or three of the younger kids with some much improved takedowns and takedown defense and I think that makes them a lot more dangerous, whether in Jiu Jitsu or MMA

Korean Crappers
This is a "squatter".  If you can't see why it's called that please use your browser's back button and go back to whatever internet hole you crawled out of, your presence alone is hurting the average IQ of visitors to this blog and I have standards to uphold around here.
Squatters are a bit intimidating at first.  Which direction do you face?  What do you hold on to?  It's a bit like the old "grab a tree in the woods and squat", but with no tree to grab.  For these reasons I was pretty apprehensive of squatters during my first few months in Korea.  Sometimes there just isn't a regular toilet to be found though.  In these cases I usually just take my pants right off to avoid a stain that would be very tough to explain to your friends.  Everyone's heard the story of the guy who answered nature's call in the woods and ended up with a present in the hood of his snow-suit right?  Nobody wants to be that guy.
Despite the awkwardness and potential danger of using a squatter there are some benefits.  My friend Margot mentioned a while ago that there is absolutely no skin to seat contact and you flush with your shoe covered foot, not your bare hand. Hygienic!  I guess if you're a germophobe using a squatter is the way to go, although it definitely takes some getting used to.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Has Anyone Seen my Battle Pants?

The Bolt Strikes Daegu
The Daegu "World Challenge" Track meet was here on Wednesday and a stack of world and Olympic stars showed up.  Daegu didn't disappoint and put a LOT of people in the stands for this event. Without a doubt, Usain Bolt was the biggest star.  He looked like he barely broke a sweat in winning with a time of 9.84 seconds.  Crazy to think that in 1996 that time would have not only won him an Olympic gold, but also broken the world record.  These days that's not even in the ballpark when compared to the mind-bending 9.58s that Bolt ran last year.  For my money Bolt is one of the best pure athletes living on this planet right now.  The funny thing is, I read an interesting article about how if Bolt had grown up in the U.S. he would never had been a 100m/200m runner.  The thinking that his height put him at a huge disadvantage in the starting blocks would have pushed him into the 400m and 800m races where the effects of a bad start are a bit less.  Interesting stuff.  Here's a video of the race I shot on my camera.  I wasn't sure if I got it all because the display on the camera bit the dust, so no chirps about the bad angle. At least we had pretty good seats near the finish line.

Usain Bolt in Daegu from Brent Fryia on Vimeo.

Crowd Shot.  Good turnout.

Missing Gloves and "Battle Pants"
I brought a nice pair of red Twins sparring gloves to Korea with me.  A few weeks before we moved the gym they disappeared.  I had been leaving them around for some of the other fighters and sparring partners to use in their preparation (there's really only 2 other pairs of gloves you can spar with at the club).  The problem is that, like every MMA gym, there's a revolving door of highschool and college kids who come in thinking they're tough and leave after a few weeks of getting their limbs tied in knots and their bottoms spanked like toddlers. At least in Korea they don't show up in TAPOUT and Affliction gear to show how serious they are about MMA.  I'm sure one of these wannabes took the gloves. Given the family environment at Daegu MMA I can't imagine any of the regulars touching them.   On Monday I was hitting pads with Un Sik and he asked where my gloves were.  When he heard what happened he was pissed.  He pulled all of the highschool kids to the side as a group and absolutely reamed them out.  I'm not sure what he said, but they looked scared.  I felt a bit bad because all of the kids that were there are regulars and I'm sure they didn't touch the gloves.  I hope he was just mobilizing the troops to find out where the gloves ended up.
Side Note: While I was looking on the net for some replacement gloves that would ship from inside Korea I noticed that Koreans use the term "Battle Pants" instead of "Fight Shorts".  I think that sounds way cooler and, effective immediately, I will be referring to all of my shorts as "Battle Pants".

New GYM Location
The new Daegu MMA location is set up ad we've been using it all week.  It's a little smaller than the last place but much nicer, a little more open and in a much better location to attract traffic.  Being on the fourth floor with no air conditioning makes the new gym a bit of a sweat box. Temperatures are hitting 30 + degrees these days and it's only going to get hotter.  When you're training in a gi it's not such a big deal, because the gi soaks up most of the sweat, but no-gi, MMA or kickboxing is a different story.  The mats get pretty slick and I've seen a few cases of "bambi legs" already.  I'm not looking forward to the temperature in there during the hot and humid monsoon season.  I'll post some pics of training at the new place in the next week.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cans, Bottles, Pets.

Increased Training
I've picked up my training again in the last few weeks.  I have an injury that limits what I can do in certain situations but certainly does not prevent me from training.  I got a little caught up in feeling sorry for myself and was letting the things I couldn't do get in the way of the things I could do, and that should never happen.  I'm not sure what shook me out of it but my workouts have been a lot better lately.  I've been doing a lot more stand up sparring lately, especially because a lot of the guys have had kickboxing fights to get ready for.  There are a lot more opportunities to fight for our club right now and I think that I'll take a fight before I leave.  I won't be fighting at 100%, but no one really ever does and I've competed with worse injuries.  I think if I went home without fighting at least once I'd be mad at myself for a long time.

Usain Bolt and Company
The World Track and Field Championships are coming to Daegu in 2011 and to lead up to it the venue is hosting a few preparation meets to get the logistics ironed out.  The last of these meets is this Wednesday.  The lineup for the meet is pretty wild.  4 former Olympic Champions and about a bazillion world champs, olympic medalists and world medalists.  Usain Bolt will be here to run the 100m which should be pretty awesome.  I'm pretty excited for this.  I love track and field and I love watching people who are the best at what they do. Watching the best track athletes in the world is double +++ in my books.

I found a few more good Konglish signs lately.  These are two of my favourites.

Man, they recycle everything here.

This is either a place where a dude can get his hair cut by another dude, or one of `those` barbershops.

New club, New Weekend Job
Daegu MMA is moving it's location to an area that is a little more advantageous as far as visibility and passing traffic.  Daegu MMA is also starting a weekend kids program for elementary school students.  A little bit of wrestling, a little bit of jiu jitsu, and a little bit of kickboxing.  In Korea having English speaking instructors is a big deal and a major draw so they asked if I would coach the program. I really like coaching kids, especially in an environment where we can run around, roll around and play combative games. and said yes before I even knew they were going to pay me.

Things Koreans are Awesome at: Parking
Because space is at such a premium in Korea Koreans are amazing at parking.  They fit cars vans and trucks ito spaces you would never even attempt in the western world, and they usually do it on the first try.
Today I saw a guy park his van so close to a wall he couldn't even open the sliding door.  No joke.  Fact is, if you can't park like this, you proabably can't drive in Korea.
Things Koreans Suck at: Signaling
Koreans don't feel the need to signal anything.  Instead they just fly their car into the smallest opening and lay on the horn if someone looks like they're coming too close or weren't able to telepathically anticipate the lane change or turn.  If you see someone with their blinker on it simply means "Hey loser, quit riding my bumper and go around."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Korea vs. Japan(MMA), Korea vs. Europe (Christmas Trees)

Here's the Un Sik Song's first fight after coming back from active military service.  There's a short video profile of him before the fight starts. If anyone out there speaks Japanese let me know what it says. The guy he fights here (Atushi Ueda, 8-3-3) is no bum, although he is obviously not on Un Sik's level.  
As for the fight, Un Sik was really embarrassed about it. He really didn't want me to see the fight on video. It was his first fight in over 2 years and he fought only 2 weeks after being discharged from the Army, so I think everyone would understand the ring rust. Even still he was really mad at himself for gassing and not being able to finish a few of the submission opportunities he had. The fight was probably perfect for what he wanted; shake off some ring rust against an opponent that was game, but didn't pose a major threat.  I think his next fight, in DEEP: Cage Impact, will be much crisper and cleaner.
 Intro and Round 1

Round 2

How the Grinchy Europeans Stole Christmas (Trees)
Koreans are a very proud people. And they should be.  They have managed to accomplish a lot of amazing things without outside help.  There are a lot of things that Korea just does better than the rest of the world (or at least the parts I've been to).  Sometimes though, Korean pride and nationalism can get a little carried away.
Exhibit A:  A few weeks ago I went on a tour of the area surrounding Yeongcheon.  The tour included a hike up a mountain guided by a university biology/horticulture student.  The mountain had some pretty unique flora, but to say it was mildly interesting would be flattering.  The only interesting part was when our guide showed us a tree (looked like a white pine) and told us that 150 years ago Europeans came to Korea and stole this tree.  They took it back to europe where it flourished and eventually led to the creation of the Christmas tree, a symbol which spread around the world, thanks to Korea. 
Think about it for a second.  This guy is saying that there were no pine trees in Europe before 150 years ago and that the Christmas tree is younger than that.  I think these guys would disagree.
Like I said, Koreans have a huge amount of stuff to be proud of, but sometimes they lack a little perspective.  If you move to Korea you may be shocked to discover that Korea created the I Phone and cloned the first human, among other things.  I don't know if it's comforting or scary to know that blind nationalism is a worldwide phenomenon.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Big MMA Weekend. Plus, Fate is Garbage

Everybody's Kung Fu Fighting.
Last weekend was a big one as far as MMA is concerned.  Most people are well aware of the Machida vs. Shogun results from the UFC event, but there was a lot of stuff going on that hits a lot closer to home.
The Ho Shin Sool boys were in action at King of the Cage on Saturday and didn't disappoint.  The guys went 4-0 with none of their opponents making it out of the first round.
  • Trevor Manchester picked up his opponent and slammed him before finishing him with strikes in 24 seconds.
  • John Veltri hit his opponent with a straight counter right on the button and dropped him.  He pounced on his opponent and finished with an official TKO in 20 seconds, but the fight was over as soon as the first punch landed.
  • Ray Gowlett was just as dominant but wanted to enjoy his time int he spotlight a little bit more than Trevor and Johnny.  He picked up and slammed his opponent, dropped some shots from the top position and took the back of his opponent and almost choked him out.  After a scramble he went back to the feet and dropped his opponent with a four strike combo, finishing with a body shot that crumbled his opponent.  Ray followed him to the ground and dropped some shots for the first round stoppage.
  • Jeff Elliot looked good in his second pro fight.  He managed to control his larger opponent in the clinch and score a takedown.  he eventually passed to full mount and started dropping down punches from the top position.  Afte a quick scramble, Jeff found himself on his back where he immediately sunk a triangle choke to get the win.  A good win showing some god wrestling an jiu jitsu to go with is well known striking.
Ho Shin Sool has fought for KOTC 5 times now.  This is the fourth time that the club has gone undefeated, having gone 3-0 and 5-0 twice in addition to this weekends festivities.  We have been set up with tougher and tougher opponents and have responded every time.  You can watch all of the fights on the Ho Shin Sool Facebook page here.
Next up for Ho Shin Sool, Mitch and Adrian fight at XCC:58 Battle at the Border, Canada vs. USA.

 Three guys from Daegu MMA also fought this weekend in kickboxing fights.  Un Sik Song fought his second pro kickboxing fight in the last 4 months and won, although I don't know how because he wasn't at the club last night.  John, a Korean kid who just graduated from highschool fought his first kickboxing fight and won by decision.  "Korean GSP", as he likes to be known, also won his first kickboxing fight.  In his own words he won via "duhty boxshing uppacut, uppacut, uppacut TKO."  He's 16.  Both of these young guys have really slick jiu jitsu and it's fun to watch them expand their arsenals as they work towards becoming MMA fighters.  The next generation of fighters from Daegu MMA looks pretty strong.

Daegu MMA is also moving to a new location this weekend.  I've heard that the new location is not any bigger, but a "better environment".  I'm anxious to see what it's like.

Pulling a Runner

Some people get to Korea and realize it's not for them.  Some get homesick, some can't handle their first real responsibility after University and some can't handle the culture shock.  For whatever reason some people leave in the middle of the night, skipping out on their contract, their students and their coworkers.  I suppose sometimes there are reasons why someone has to leave, even though the life here is pretty easy.  It's one thing to admit to yourself that you can't handle it and you cant stick it out for a year.  What I don't get is bailing on your friends and co-workers and leaving them in the lurch.
Last week it happened to us.  There are only three foreign teachers at our school and the other one bailed on Thursday.  Packed up and left in the middle of the night.  Left us high and dry, short-staffed and having to clean up the mess she left behind.  Didn't even have the courtesy to give us short notice so we could find someone to fill in for her in the short term. Pretty lame.
The only positive side to it is that I got my friend Scott to fill in at our school in the mornings starting this week.  Scott's one of nicest dudes I've ever met  and it's nice to have another guy in the office every now and then.

Destiny, Fate
I hate the idea of Destiny and Fate.  I find the idea that you are not in control of your life stupid.  Fate and Destiny are convenient excuses for people who are too lazy to get up and make something happen.  I'm sure nobody who ever accomplished anything great ever attributed it to Fate or Destiny.  Those people got up and worked their asses off. They earned every bit of their accomplishments.  I saw this commercial on youtube today and loved it for that exact reason.  The commercial is about Destiny and Fate as they relate to sports, but like so many other things in sports it can be applied to the rest of life as well.  Get up and make your own destiny.

Click Here!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Brush with Bushwackers, Baseball Games and Boring Workouts

The Bushwhackers
I saw this hilarious clip of Eddie Bravo giving The Iron Sheik a ride to the airport and it reminded me of one of my favorite PG stories from highschool.

When I was in the 11th or 12 grade the regional wrestling championships were in the small town of Sturgeon Falls, which most people know as the speedtrap on the way to North Bay.  The night we arrived and weighed in happened to coincide with the arrival of some mostly washed up "professional" wrestlers who were doing a low budget tour of Northern Ontario.  I don't think anyone thought much of it until one of my teammates came running into my room yelling "the ^%*&ing BUSHWHACKERS are in our hotel!"  To a bunch of kids who grew up watching WWF superstars pound on the Ted Smiths and John Richards (always in plain black singlets of course) in the 80's and 90's, the Bushwhackers were a big deal.  Forget that as real wrestlers we had always made fun of the "actors"  that populated the pro ranks; this was our brush with greatness, our claim to fame, our 15 minutes.  Maybe they would lick our heads!  Maybe they would show us the "double gut buster"!  Maybe they would come watch our matches the next day!

Three of us went down to the lobby to see if it was true and sure enough, there were the Bushwhackers, along with The Iron Sheik and some other guy named "The Wolf" (never heard of him).  We didn't tell anyone else because we wanted to have these guys to ourselves. Turns out the Bushwhackers were really cool dudes.  We sat up and chatted with them until about 2:00 am, getting all kinds of funny stories.  One of the Bushwhackers even DID lick my friend`s head after he got the guts to ask. The Iron Sheik was a little more quiet, but he actually knew tonnes about actual wrestling (turns out he was a pretty good greco wrestler back in the day).   We hassled all of the wrestlers to come watch us wrestle the next day since they didn't have to perform until the next night.  They said they would think about it, but we were pretty sure they were just being nice.
The next day though, as I was sitting in the stands between matches, I heard a big commotion outside of the gym.  Sure enough, the Bushwhackers showed up.  They came over to say hello and tell us that they couldn't stay long but wanted to pop in to say hi. I was lucky enough to have a match coming up and asked one of them if he would stand in my corner with my coach. And he did.  How radical is that?  Super radical, that's how radical.  Let's recap.  I met the Bushwhackers in a seedy small town motel.  I stayed up talking shop with them all night.  The next day they came to watch me wrestle and were in my corner for one of my matches. Pretty sweet.

Note:  The Iron Sheik is a legitimate bad ass.  He was born in Iran, wrestled there and worked as a bodygaurd for the Emperor of Iran.  He missed making the Iranian Olympic team and moved to the U.S.  While in the U.S. he won the National Greco Roman Championships and was the assistant coach of the U.S. greco team.

YeongCheon Starlight Festival
Lisa and I were lucky enough to grab two spots on a free trip put on by a local magazine called Daegu Pockets.  The Trip was organized by the government of a city called YeongCheon to promote their "Starlight Festival" to foreigners.  It was two days packed full of activities in the area and it was absolutely free.  Transportation, accommodations and all of the activities.  We started by going to a 500 year old school where a famous Korean poet went to school and taught.  After that we went to check out some burial mounds.  In Korea the size of the burial mound denotes how important you and your family are.  These ones were pretty big, but not the biggest I've seen.
Our third stop was at a local winery and wine school.  We got a tour of the place and a free wine school lesson, which no one understood because it was completely in Korean.  We got to do some wine tasting (Korean wine is not my cup of .... wine) and then got to bottle and cork our own wine.  Again, this was all free, including a few bottles of take home wine.  They even made wine labels with our pictures on them.
The only part of the tour that was in English.  A little Konglishy, but true.

Our next stop was way up in some of the highest mountains in Korea (almost 6000 feet).  We were taken to the largest telescope and observatory in Asia.  I guess if you're into astronomy it would be pretty awesome.  It was all Korean to me though.  being so high in the mountains was pretty spectacular, but the pictures don't really do it justice.  There was a bunch of photographers on top of the mountain taking pictures of all the foreigners.  They were probably commissioned by the city to show how much fun the foreigners were having. It was pretty funny.  There were guys following us around climbing over railings and hiding in the bushes to get good shots.  I'm sure we'll all be in the brochures for next year.

 View from the top.

The last stop of the day was at a small resort that was in the first stage of development.  There were some pensions (big Korean style cabins to sleep in) on a man made lake and some riding stables. This was one of the nicest places I've seen in Korea.  The people who were organizing the tour put on a concert for us with all kinds of traditional singers and dancers.  There were also a bunch of huge telescopes set up for anyone to look through. 
Best scenery in Korea? 

Our sweet pensions.

The next day we were all pretty wiped from the activities of the day and night before, but still managed to make it horseback riding (which amounted to being led around in a circle for 10 minutes), to museum of modern art and to the actual starlight festival.  The weather was great and it was solid trip. Can't beat it for free.

Children's Day
Wednesday was Children's Day, a national holiday in Korea.  Having the day off in the middle of the week seems strange but since Wednesday is my worst day of the week, work wise, it was a welcome break.  Me, Lisa and Brian took advantage of the nice weather to catch a baseball game.  Our home team is the Samsung Lions, and they smoked the visiting Lotte Giants. Because of the holiday the game was packed and we had to pay a shocking $13 for our tickets from a scalper.  I can say this about Korean fans, they are organized. There were about 20 different cheers and all of the fans new them perfectly.  An interesting fact about professional baseball in Korea is that almost none of the teams actually make money.  The companies that own them write them off as advertising expenses.  That's why the teams are known by their corporate names and not their city names.  Oh yeah, EVERY ticket to the games is general admission, so if you want to get a good seat you just have to show up early.  Strange for a a country has has assigned seating on cross country buses.
Small Stadium, but packed.

Stale Workouts
It looks like I'm pretty much on the shelf as far as training goes until I get home and get some medical attention.  I had a few appointments with surgeons who think I have a sports hernia, but would have to do an MRI to be sure.  I opted to skip the MRI because if it is a sports hernia, I'm not paying thousands of dollars for the surgery out of pocket and will wait to get it done for free at home anyways.  If it's not a sports hernia I'll just be letting it heal on it's own, which is what I'm doing anyways, and I'll have wasted a huge chunk of cash on the MRI.  None of this stuff is covered through my insurance because it's all elective tests and surgery. boo-urns.  I still go in to Daegu MMA once in a while to coach Un Sik's wrestling and hit some pads. I can do a few things as far as working out, but can't do anything dynamic which is extremely frustrating.  I've been really streaky with my workouts for the last month, mostly because I'm getting so bored of doing the few things I can do over and over and over and over again.  I'll have a good week where I get 5 good sessions in (sad that that's a good week for me now) and then a week where I can't stand the thought of doing the same stuff any more and won't workout at all.  I think I can hear myself getting fatter.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Suspicious Happenings in the World of MMA

I realized that I haven't written much about living in Korea lately. It's not that I've run out of things to write about, it's just that I've been here for long enough that everything seems normal now. Getting pushed around by old ladies in the subway?  Normal.  Being buzzed by motorbikes when walking on the sidewalk?  Par for the course.  Kamikaze cab drivers? I don't even bat an eye.  Twelve bucks for a dinner for two... what the? Expensive!
My day to day life here is pretty much like at home.  Go to work, go to the gym, eat, sleep, repeat until weekend.  The only real difference is that I can't read most of the street signs and I can swear in public as much as I please because nobody can understand me anyways. I'm going to have to try and curb that one before I come back to save myself some trouble. 
We've been lucky with nice weekend weather and have been out and about most days off.  Last weekend we went to the Daegu Sports Museum (we happened to be walking by), which should have been called the World Cup Stadium Museum as it ignored some of the professional sports teams in the city and only dealt with teams and events connected to the stadium.  There were a few interactive displays inside that were kind of cool, but otherwise it was a little on the boring side.

This thing timed your first 10m and averaged how fast you would be over 100m.  yeah, it says 10.72.  I felt pretty awesome about that until Lisa intentionally jumped the gun and ran  8.72.  Whatever Lisa, why is everything a competition with you?

The WEC put on their first pay per view card on the weekend.  The event was pretty damn good, definitely better than any of the recent UFC or Strikeforce cards.  Come to think of it, every WEC card that I've seen has been really good.  I hope they got a good number of PPV buys.  If the WEC can do a few PPV shows per year that do well it means that the smaller fighters can start earning what they're worth.  For the first time this event had the same amount of bonus money for KO, submission and fight of the night as UFC events (65 g's) instead of the usual 25 grand that they get in the WEC.  I also heard that fight money for this event was much better as well.
On a side note, Korean fighter Chang Sung Jung "The Korean Zombie" got robbed in a decision vs. Leonard Garcia.  It was a bit of a slobberknocker to say the least.  The fighters pretty much stood in front of each other and threw punches, kicks and knees at each other to see who would go down first. I watched it twice to make sure living in Korea wasn't giving me a bias towards Chang, but I don't think it did.  Don't take my word that Chang got robbed though, check it out for yourself here and see what you think. On a side note to the side note. Chang Sung Jung beat my teammate Heung Kol, in the finals of the Korean "Super Tournament" a few years ago by split decision.

Fedor's little brother Aleksander Emelyanenko is a pretty tough dude.  He was a pretty good heavyweight in the PRIDE days.  Unfortunately, Aleks has Hepatitis and can't get medical clearance to fight in countries or organizations that use legit athletic commissions.  He still fights though. Usually against no namers in countries you'd be hard pressed to find on the map.  On the weekend he fought a guy named Eddy Bengsston.  He knocked the guy out with a jab that I'm pretty sure didn't even connect.  If the guy was getting paid to take a dive he could have made it look a lot better than that.  Even Emelyanenko looked confused when the guy went down.  Here's the fight, go to the 1:35 mark to see the punch in question.

By popular demand... ENGRISH!
This one kind of makes sense... I see kids in my class eating bugers all the time. Props to Lisa for spotting this one.

Just in case it's your first day on your new legs and you need some detailed, colour coded  instructions on how to WALK!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Tornado is Back... Big Time
Un Sik "Tornado" Song (8-0) finished his mandatory military service about a month ago.  It didn't take him long to get back in the action. Un Sik fought two weeks ago in DEEP: Grachan against Atsushi Ueda (8-3) and won via unanimous decision.  He said he had his opponent in a deep triangle and an armbar and had the guy fully mounted but couldn't finish him.  He seemed a bit embarassed that he gassed towards the end of the fight, but give the guy a break, he hadn't fought in two years.  Now that he's back to training full time his conditioning shouldn't be a factor for long.  Un Sik isn't working a part time job, and is instead focusing on fighting.  He has set himself a pretty tough schedule for his first months back.  After his last fight he has a pro kickboxing match next month and then another fight in DEEP the month after that.  If he wins that fight it looks like he'll be getting a title shot against Katsunori Kikuno (13-2), who also fights in DREAM.  The return of 'Tornado San" has been getting some decent attention on the interwebs, with articles and people commenting about his fight here, here and here.

Un Sik has really been working on his wrestling a lot lately.  I haven't been able to scrimmage with him lately but we work technique together and then I run him through drills and situational scrimmaging with other guys.  the speed that he picks up techniques is mind blowing.  His kinesthetic memory is probably the best I've ever seen.  He can see a complicated technique once and use it in a live situation almost immediately. Scary.  he's really jacked about the improvement in his wrestling.  Yesterday he told me that in 20 amateur and professional fights he has never scored a takedown on a leg attack and that is going to do it in his next fight.  We've also been doing a lot of pummeling and clinch work, especially against the wall.  His last fight and his next one are in a cage and it's an area of MMA he's never really worked on before.  It seems like more and more Japanese organizations are starting to use cages and Asian fighters definitely need to learn that part of the game.

Here's a video of me, Heung Kol and Un Sik in between matches at a tournament.

Un Sik and John warming up before some kickboxing sparring.

In other Daegu MMA news "Little GSP" as he's known, has his first kcikboxing match coming up next month.  he's been working pretty hard with a lot of the older guys.  It's kind of fun to watch a 16 year old kid go from total goofball to focused fighter training for a fight.  This kid has really stepped up his training in the last while and I'll be keeping my eye on him when I leave Korea.

I spotted a good piece of Konglish on my drink the other day. Koreans love their vitamin drinks. I don't even know what kind of vitamins are in these drinks but they must be good right?  Even if there's nothing in it at least I'll feel more confident, at least according to the copy on the can.

Ho Shin Sool, KING OF THE CAGE and XCC

The boys are ready to rock again.  Jeff, Ray, Trevor and Johnny are going to represent Ho Shin Sool at King of the Cage on May 8th at the Dreamakes Theater.  Everything I heard about the last event was great, here's hoping this one is just as good and better.  My brother, Mitch, and Adrian Vilaca are also going to be fighting soon in Birch Run, under the MUTT MMA banner.  Here's the poster for the KOTC event, with Trevor and Jeff on it.  I heard that there are some renovations coming up at Ho Shin Sool.  After seeing that poster I hope they put a tanning bed in the basement.

Genki Sudo Appreciation

Living in Asia I've really learned a lot about the Asian MMA scene.  I've learned a lot about a lot of differnt fighters and seen a lot of awesome fights that have never been broadcasted in North America.  One fighterthat I've become a huge fan of is Genki Sudo.  I always knew who he was, but never knew much about him until  recently.  The guy is a phenomenal fighter, carries a positive message with him all the time and is very interesting to listen to in his inerviews.  Sudo started as a wrestler, but developed all around MMA skills so quickly that he was soon taking on and beating World Class kickboxers in Striking only K1 matches.  His fighting style is impossible to pin down.  He might switch from a pure grappling style into drunken boxing before throwing in "the robot" and using his Muay Thai to finish a fight.  That's to say nothing of his ring entrances that make Mayhem Miller look like he's walking in off the street in jeans and a T Shirt. Genki Sudo fought in the UFC three times, going 2-1 but fought most of his fights in Asia, which is too bad for North American fans.  Do yourself a favour and watch the documentary that I posted at the top right.  It's about 40 minutes long and split into 5 parts.  I posted the first two.  It's a cool documentary with good fight highlights and interviews and it's well produced.  I have a tough time imagining that any MMA fan could watch the documentary and not be a fan of the guy.  As a matter of fact I think everyone, fight fan or not, would appreciate a lot of the interview sections.  After all, Sudo mentions that to him MMA was a in many ways just the medium to get his message across to as large an audience as possible.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jiu Jitsu Jim, He's a Good Guy.
I've got this buddy named Jim Alers, he's a pretty bad dude.  He's a professional 145 lb mma fighter, like me.  We didn't meet fighting though. We met quite a few years ago when we were working at the same summer camp in Pennsylvania.  At the time Jim had recently finished his highschool wrestling career and was starting his journey into Jiu Jitsu.  I had pretty much wrapped up my University wrestling career, but hadn't started training in MMA yet.  Fast forward about five years and we both have 4-1 pro MMA records in the featherweight divisions as well as some victories in assorted grappling competitions. We still talk fairly regularly, especially when one of us has an upcoming fight.
Recently Jim did something spectacular. Fighting as a purple belt and representing Gracie Barra Orlando, Jim won the purple belt division of the Abu Dhabi World Championships qualifier.  Pretty awesome, but not as awesome as what happened after that.  Winning his division earned him an invite into the brown/black belt division, which he proceeded to win.  Winning the brown/black division punched Jim's all expenses paid trip to the World Championships in Abu Dhabi.  WILD!  Now Jim will surely be in deep water when he heads to Abu Dhabi  today but you gotta love his attitude.  Talking to him last week, Jim is pumped about the tournament and is going with a nothing to lose outlook and the intention of giving hell to each of his opponents.  Good luck dude, can't wait to hear about it.  Check out the video below.  It has a few highlights of Jim's last two matches at the trials and some awesome shots of him after his win.
Highlights of Jim Alers at the Abu Dhabi World Cup Trials from Panic Pulse on Vimeo.

 And Now, More About Me.
I haven't written much lately because, to be honest, there hasn't been much to write about.  A little over a month ago I started having some general pain.  I didn't think much of it, sucked it up and kept training. After all, I'm a man, man. After a few weeks the pain started to get a lot worse and I had to drop the training completely.  I went to the hospital and have had appointments with two surgeons.  I have no solid information on the problem, just an educated guess and an appointment booked for a very expensive MRI.  It's been over three weeks of no real training (plus a few weeks of very light training) and it's starting to feel a little bit better, but I still can't do much.
As of right now I'm in the difficult position deciding which course of action to take.  I could get the costly MRI and wait to get surgery at home if needed (as an elective surgery it won't be covered by my insurance here).  I could also skip the MRI altogether and hope the injury heals itself.  If it doesn't get better I can wait to get home and get everything done then.  The obvious drawback to that is the long wait times at home. Decisions, decisions.

On a more positive side, the weather has been starting to warm up and we've been able to get out and travel a bit more.  Every city, town and gas station in Korea seems to have their own festival of some kind so we've started checking a few of them out.  A few weeks ago we went to the Chungdo Bullfighting festival.  This wasn't man vs. bull fighting though, it was two bulls that smashed their heads and horns together until one ran away scared and tired.  Some of the fights went for 15 or 20 minutes with a lot of stalemating.  Some people thought it was lame.  I thought it was fantastic.
On the same trip we also went to an abandoned train tunnel that had been converted into a winery and restaurant/bar.  Not shabby.
A couple of stubborn bulls fighting

A couple of stubborn bulls fighting

Wine tunnel

Last weekend we traveled to Gyeungu to check out the cherry blossom festival.  Lisa and I went with our friends Freddie and Kaelegh and just happened to meet up with two other friends, Tim and Vee, on the bus. When we got to the city we rented some bikes and ripped around town. We saw some cool monuments and temples, but nothing mind blowing. 
 Kaelegh, Lisa and Freddie riding under the cherry blossoms

Canadian Wrestling Championships
Special shout out to Reyanna Sangestino who wrestles for the Sault Wrestling Club. For the second year in a row Reyanna advanced to the championship match at the National Wrestling Championships.  This year she one-upped her performance from last season to become the Canadian Champion.  She`s the first national champ from the Sault in a while.  Way to go.

A Couple of old Teammates Squaring off for all the Marbles.
When I was in highschool our wrestling team was one of better girls teams around.  One of my teammates from those days is Amanda Gerhart who recently won the Senior National Championships at the 59 kg weight class.  The tricky thing about the nationals this year is that the women`s national team was competing at the World Cup while the nationals were going on.  This means that there will be a special wrestle off between the national team member and the winner of the National Championships to determine this year`s national team member.  Interestingly enough, the girl that Amanda will be wrestling is Katie Patroch, a teammate of mine from University.  Who to root for?  Nobody and both, I guess.  Both girls have competed internationally at the World Championships, the Pan Ams and the World Cup and are among the toughest people that I know.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Various Assorted Miscelania...

A few months ago someone spilled a drink on my computer and fried it.  We'll call this guy B. Vance.  No, no, that's too obvious, let's call him Brian V.  The computer itself was pretty much garbage but I was bummed out about all the files that were on there that I had lost. I finally brought my computer to the "magic Korean computer man" that runs a shop in our neighbourhood and he lived up to his reputation.  Not only did he recover the files, he also fixed the computer and cleaned it up to make it run way faster.  Total cost?  About $40.  Nobody does service industry like Koreans, that's for sure.  Since I've got all of my files back I've got way more videos and pictures to post.  Like this one.
This is a banner that one of my sponsors made from some pictures of some of their fighters.  The cool part isn't that I'm in ad (okay, I thought that was pretty cool too), it's that the guy beside me on the right is Jon Jones.  Yeah, the same Jon Jones that just busted up Brandon Vera and is making a statement as one of the toughest 205 lbers in the UFC.

The Fight Scene
Before last week I had put in real solid few weeks of training.  Good jiu jitsu classes, wrestling and kickboxing with Un Sik and lots of MMA sparring.  Heung Kul is leaving this friday to represent Korea at the Abu Dhabi Asian tournament.  Usually all of good jiu jitsu guys come in at different times, but lately everyone's been in all together to help get Heung Kul ready for the tournament.  The training has been pretty awesome, and I like Heung Kul's chances. 
There has also been a fighter from one of our affiliate clubs in Daejeon up training for the last week.  He has a title fight in a minor Japanese organization next month and has been around to get some good sparring in.  Over the last while I became one of his main training and sparring partners which has been great for me.
Unfortunately all of the training hasn't been great for a nagging injury that just won't go away.  Over the last few weeks it has become worse and worse to the point that walking up stairs is a bit of a challenge.  I'm going to take a little time away from training because I am apparently incapable of going to the club and not getting sucked into a few sparring sessions.  Hopefully it's nothing serious, but we'll have to see how the injury settles down over the next little while.  In the meantime I'll be hitting the local outdoor gym to keep my sanity and to make sure that when I feel good I'll still be ready to go.

Still Konglish
Here are a few pictures of funny Korean signs that I've run across lately.  I wish I had my camera on me all the time, unless you live here it's almost impossible to understand how often you see hilariously misspelled or miss worded signs and advertisements.
  I feel it baby, I feel it.

This one is in every subway station in the city.

I'm glad the Korean toothpaste industry is finally standing up to the evil forces of calculus, algebra and trigonometry.

Our second season of Ultimate Frisbee is underway and the league has a different look than last season.  The league is growing.  We have six teams of 14 or 15 players and there are players that travel from Busan and Deajeon every week just to play in the league. The quality of play is much higher this season and the games are a lot closer than in the past.  There are a lot of really good athletes in the league and some people with some serious disc skills.  Most of our friends play in the league and more than anything it's a great way to get together with a bunch of other foreigners and spend an active Sunday afternoon.  Here are some shots of all the action.
 Daegu Hurricane.  You might notice I'm the captain.  I'm kind of a big deal.  Ha.  I'm actually about the 5th or 6th best player on our team. I just got the job because no one else wanted it.

Freddie and Yeung Min, two of the speediest guys in the league.  I always get matched up on these guys when we play their teams.  Good times.

Edwin, a nice addition to the Hurricanes this season, stretches for a grab.

 This is my teammate Steve after Vance broke his nose.  Yeah, the same Vance that broke my computer.  
That guy is a menace.