After a busy week, I was unable to return for a consecutive week to Central PA MMA on South Atherton in State College, PA.
When I did return though, I was punished for my absence not as a malicious act of revenge from the trainers, but instead from my lack of physical activity during the off time.
I began with some combination drills. Up until this point, I had a round kick to the legs and some very simplistic jab-cross combinations. I was far from a complete striker.
The trainer on hand was Alec Castro and he would give instructions to the large group of experienced students then walk over to my lonely corner to see how my lead hook to the body was coming along. “Really bend your knees in to it,” he reminded me. He found a joke in everything and even when he would criticize my form, I felt as though a friend was letting me in on a secret rather than a coach chastising my performance.
I learned four new combinations this class which included hooks to the body and working in uppercuts in the middle of my combos. The combinations went from a simple three-punch combo all the way to a six-punch combination that put together each punch I had already learned.
He helped me through each one until I could shadow box each combination with fluidity, maintaining proper form throughout. One of the things he reminded me of was to not lean forward on my cross. Having such lanky arms, if I lean forward incorrectly, I could open myself up for a big knee or uppercut, as he cited Dan Harris’ last fight that, if you read part one, was set for February 8th, just a few days after I published it.
“Don’t lean in too much or you could get countered with a big knee, like in Dan’s fight,” Castro said. He was under the assumption that I knew how Dan’s fight had gone but I actually did not. I lowered my voice, almost to a whisper, “how did he do?” I asked in an effort to avoid an awkward moment in asking Dan how it went, god forbid he lost. He did not. The picture below (courtesy of http://www.roelfleuren.com) is taken as the referee steps in to stop the fight, notice Dan’s feet still just above the mat, a product of his mauling over his opponent.
“From the time the bell rang, to the time the referee pulled him off, 10-seconds,” Castro said with a grin creeping up on his face in pleasant remembrance. You can catch a slow-motion replay of Dan’s win here, a head kick after a barrage of kicks and knees.
Since I held the lowest rank in the gym, I was paired with two of the more experienced fighters, one of whom was Dan. He helped me through each, fine tuning my technique even further.
We finished with a brutal (at least for me) cardio session which helped me earn that day in practice.
The next class this week was a cardio session.
Applying the same techniques and combinations from last class, we tied in cardio in intervals as we ran circuits. Pad-work, body squats, pad-work, push-ups, pad-work, burpees, rinse repeat.
This time I was paired with a slightly taller student, Alistair. He had a light accent and certainly looked the part. His head was shaved around the sides and the long parts on top flailed as he whipped kicks around in to pads, letting out an exuberant “HAH!” just as his leg met the pad.
I was half-past dead at the end of practice and a full bottle of water was exactly what I needed.
For Part 3 of the series visit SciFighting.com