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.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

By popular demand, 
Other People's Pain: Pt. II
People seemed to really like the story I posted about karma and the guy who got it where it counts.  Everybody loves hearing about other people's pain.  With that thought in mind I'd like to tell you a little story I was recently reminded me of.  Don't worry, it doesn't involve the mutilation of any sexual organs this time.

Me and my brother, Mitch, were born four years apart.  That seems like nothing now that I'm 28 and he's 24.  People who meet us now assume that he's the older one as often as they get it right.  He's a pretty big guy these days and a National Champion as a wrestler.  He can generally handle himself.  That wasn't the case  when I was 10 and he was 6, though.  I was by no means a big kid, but my brother was definitely small at that age.
During these years we took the school bus across town to go to school.  Some of the kids on our bus were less than class acts.  One kid in particular, Tanner was his name, fancied himself a tough guy and was a bit of a bully.  Tanner was right between me and my brother age wise, meaning he wouldn't mess with me but had no problem picking on my younger, smaller brother.  I didn't know this had been going on until my brother said something about it.
The jist of it was that my brother wanted me  to beat up the older kid who was picking on him.  This was something that I wasn't opposed to; my brother and I had been taught, even at this early age, that you always stick up for your family, no mater what.  I told him that I would handle it but he should try sticking up for himself first.  I told him that I would watch and if something happened I'd drop the hammer.
The next day as we got off the bus I hung back but stayed close enough to my brother to see what would happen.  I watched as Tanner walked up behind Mitch and pushed in the back, knocking him down with the palms of his hands skidding on the loose concrete.  As if he was in a movie, Mitch slowly picked himself out of the dust and turned towards his antagonizer.  In one hand he had his backpack that had fallen off his back during the tumble.  In the other he held his marble bag. His 'David's sling', if you will.
It's important to remember that in the year 1991 the best marble player was king of the playground.  By this point in the evolution of competitive marble playing all of the good action was in 'Jumbos' and 'Super Jumbo's' that were about the size of golf balls.
Mitch stood there, hesitating for a few seconds, and let the marble bag slide through his hand until he was holding it by the end of the drawstring; a full two feet of slack holding five or six 'Super Jumbos' at the end.  When Mitch finally swung that marble bag at Tanners head he did so with every ounce of strength his six year old body could muster.  The sound the marble bag made when it hit Tanner in the temple is what I imagine it would sound like if you hit a watermelon with a ball peen hammer.  Tanner dropped like a sack of wet noodles.  If there was a referee hiding in the bushes he would surely have stopped the fight because of the flash KO.  If there was a fight doctor on the scene he would have stopped the fight because of the massive cut on the side of Tanners head.
There was a lot of blood right away.  Tanner was just lying there and Mitch was standing there staring at him, not sure what to do next.  I decided for him.
"Run!" was the only logical thing I could think of.  Mitch came back from whatever place he was mentally visiting and ran home as fast as he could.  Tanner eventually picked himself up and carried himself home, wailing like a banshee the whole way.
I don't remember the exact time frame, but eventually Tanner's mother called our house to raise hell.  Mom was pissed.  Dad was pissed.  Mitch got it pretty good.  Eventually my parents came around to ask me what exactly happened.  I told the whole story, right from the start, and that changed things.  Sticking up for yourself and giving a bully his deservesies was different than smacking some kid in the head with a sack of marbles for no reason.  That was pretty much the end of Tanner picking on Mitch or anyone else for that matter.  Once everyone knew that the bully had been dethroned kids weren't as scared of him anymore. As for Tanner I have no idea what he's up to in life but I know that he has a permanent reminder about the dangers of bullying in the form of a scar from eight stitches in the side of his head.
I guess this could be another story about karma, but I like to think of it in terms of a funny T-shirt I saw once.  "Violence is never the answer, but sometimes it's the solution"
I'm fully against fighting outside of a sanctioned, organized and refereed sports event, but sometimes sticking up for yourself or others trumps that.

Frustration Mounts
I still haven't found a fight in Asia.  I have a line on a few possible events in May, but still nothing solid.  It's frustrating on it's own, but even more so because I just found  out that a guy (Kyung Ho Kang) that I stomped in Combat Sambo not too long ago just fought in Sengoku.  The guy didn't even last three minutes with me and he followed that up by fighting in one of the bigger MMA events in the world.  He lost, but he sure had his moments, almost catching his opponent in an omoplata.  Further investigation reveals that this guy has also fought in DEEP and the Art of War promotions.  Seriously... somebody give me a shot somewhere... please.

Alternative Treatment
I'm not really into holistic medicine as a rule but I'd been having some back pain that was nagging and making it hard to sleep at night.  I'm sure that there are solid physiolog9ical reasons why a lot of eastern remedies work, I could just do without all of the airy fairyness that goes along with it.  A few friends had recommended a local acupuncturist so I figured I'd give it a try, despite not wanting to listen to someone tell me about why my chi is out of alignment, my chakra is all wrong and my aura is suffering. 
I was pleasantly surprised when I got the the office.  Dr. Lim (I know, it would be funnier if it was spelled Limb, but still funny) is a western trained M.D. who happens to have some other certifications including acupuncture.  To boot, the guy spoke great English.  I was in to his office with some needles stuck in various parts of my body within 10 minutes.  I was out the door in 20, feeling amazing and didn't have to listen to anything about my physical/spiritual balance.  The pain isn't completely gone, but there was a definite and immediate improvement.  There are lots of different kinds of acupuncture and I can't say much about  most of them but Intramuscular acupuncture sure has it's place.

Monday, March 8, 2010

DREAM FC is having their first event outside of Japan in April and luckily for me it's going to be in Seoul.  Daegu MMA is planning a big "family trip" to go watch which should be tons of fun.  No idea yet about who's on the card but hopefully they put some of the big names on it.

Real Korean Dinner
On Friday I stayed and trained at the club pretty late.  As I was leaving some of the Koreans asked if I wanted to go for family dinner with them.  They took me to a little restaurant down the street.  The word restaurant is a bit flattering.  The place had two actual walls while the other two were made from a heavy duty clear plastic tarp.  The tables were old oil drums flipped upside down with a coal burner in the middle.  These places are pretty common in Korea, but it's hard to go in and order if you don;t speak Korean very well.  I like having Korean friends who take me to legitimately Korean places.  I know some people here who pretty much stick to the foreign community and never experience a lot of the cool things Korea has to offer.

Monkey Boy
There are four 15 and 16 year old kids that train at Daegu MMA everyday.  They're pretty damn good.  Before I leave I`ll be writing down their names to keep for future reference; I think we might be hearing from some of them in the future.  One kid in particular cracks me up.  He calls himself `little GSP`.  I call him `monkey boy`.  He loves the UFC more than anything and makes me laugh all the time.  He does some hilarious impressions of some UFC fighters.   I tried to get him to do a few but he was a little camera shy and only did two of them.  Check it out, I think his Anderson Silva and Dan Henderson takes are pretty on point.

Lil' Korean buddy from Brent Fryia on Vimeo.

Belt Testing
For the last few months all of the guys from Daegu MMA have been telling me that I should test for my blue belt before I leave to go home.  I thought that would be a great idea and told them that I would do it.  Then they kept hassling me about.  Again.        And again.       And.       Again.     At least once a week someone would remind me about it.  I know there are belt tests every two months so I wasn't too worried about it.  Last Tuesday they told me that there was a test on Sunday that I should go to.  I told them that I didn't think I was ready to test for my blue belt at which point they informed me that I had to test for my FIRST STRIPE on my white belt.  Silly me, I was under the impression that you tested for your blue belt and if you didn't get it you were awarded however many stripes the instructors thought you deserved.  I don't know why I thought that, but i did.  I should have known there was no cutting the line here, especially since there's guys here who have been white belts for over two years.
The belt test was administered by a visiting black belt, Jae Hoon (brown belt) and Un Sik (purple belt).  There were a few guys from our club testing for various stripes and my friend Yeung Sey testing for his blue belt.  there were also 8 or 10 guys from other clubs who were testing for various stripes of white and another guy who was testing for his blue belt.  The group was split into 2.  The first group was for anyone testing for their first or second stripe white belt and everyone else was in the second group.  Each group had about a half hour technique session where they were asked by the upper belts to demonstrate various guard passes, sweeps, submission and proper positional control.  Even thought the test for one stripe was very basic it was actually nice to spend that much time working on some fundamental stuff.
After the technique session each group had a 25 minute sparring session with rotating partners.  This is where Being with the lower level group I felt a little bit like Adam Sandler in 'Billy Madison'.  You know that scene where he says `now you`re all in BIG, BIG trouble!`   That`s how I felt.  When I spar with the younger or less experienced guys I usually give up some positions and work from a disadvantage.  This day was a little different because of the testing. I went pretty hard and didn`t cut anybody any slack.  When my group was finished the evaluators moved me into the more advanced group for sparring.  That was fine by me as I wasn`t too keen to sit around watching for a half hour and I usually spar with the upper level belts anyways.
After the evaluation the instructors conferred for a while while we layed around and stretched out.  Eventually they called everyone t line up for the awarding of belts and stripes.  There was a lot of bowing and traditional stuff going on that I had no idea about.  I did my best to just follow what the guys next to me were doing and not look like a pumpkin in a watermelon patch.  When I was awarded my sad, lonely little stripe on my belt all of the older guys from the club laughed at me.  Fair enough, I think most of the guys that I tested with were more concerned about their 10th grade math test than their jiu jitsu belt test.  When Un Sik gave me the stripe on my belt he said Ì think you four stripes but today one stripe`, which at least let me know were I stood in terms of actual ability.  At least if I test every two months until I leave I`ll have all 4 stripes and will be able to test for my blue belt as soon as I get back to Canada.
It`s interesting to note that not everyone was awarded the rank they were testing for.  Yeung Sey did get his blue belt which was a pretty big deal, but the guy who came from one of the other clubs did not.  It`s nice to know that it isn`t a `pay and get your belt`kind of deal and that everything has to be earned.

Something I love about Korea.
Dedicated space to run and play.  Space is at a premium in Korea.  The country is about the size of southern Ontario, is 70% mountains and has 50 million people.  Needless to say buildings expand vertically, not horizontally.  Despite this, almost every middle and high school has beautiful full sized turf fields and fully rubberized tracks.  When not being used by the schools these playgrounds are a freee for al for anyone to play whatever game or sport they choose.  There are always young kids with their parents playing some games, old folks walking the track and some serious athletes training all in the same place.  it`s pretty cool to see a country recognize the importance of physical activity and set aside space specifically for that purpose, even when it would be wildly profitable to use the space for something else.
A typical school field near my house where I occasionally go to run, kick a ball or throw a frisbee.

Something I hate about Korea
Bath towels.  Towels here are about the size of a dollar bill and just as absorbent.  That`s fine if you`re Korean.  Koreans have less body hair as adults than I did  when I was born.  Most of them could probably just dry themselves with a squeegee, so the tiny towels are probably ok.  If, on the other hand, youve ever been mistaken for a throw rug, like I have, these things just don`t cut it.  I`m glad we brought a few regular towels when we came.