Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Stack: March 2014 Edition

Remember, dear reader, when I was working through "The Stack"?

Submitted without further comment, here it is now:

rear row, from left: Los Angeles Magazine, National Geographic, Scientific American, The New Yorker, Westways, various U. Chicago publications, The Economist Special Reports. front row: single issue randoms (NYT Magazine, n+1, Historic Nantucket)

Monday, March 24, 2014

0-1: The Fight

This is how the fight was for me. It's the next day, and this is unfiltered.

I got into the ring too early, maybe? I'm not sure if it was nerves on my or Coach's or both of our parts -- I was "sealing the ring" (walking the perimeter; a small ritual of Muay Thai fights) before I was even announced and the announcer said "already in the ring, in the red corner..."

I was acutely aware of the audience, and faces, and people. It didn't do to look at them. I was up and elevated in this ring, and about to fight this guy. I did not feel nervous-nervous per se, but I felt something, for certain. I found my girlfriend and blew her a kiss, which she saw. Shortly after that I tried to focus in and forget about the crowd, with reasonable success.

There was some absurdity involving my headgear. I barely even remember -- they had to fix the tape and then fix the fixed tape and then cut the fixed fixed tape. It was probalby no more than 90 seconds, in the end, and I was just kind of waiting. L--- was across the ring, and I for a bit thought he was not going to wear headgear and this sent me for a spin: it meant he had 3+ fights, it meant I was the only guy in headgear (I'm not sure that's even possible, I think if one party insists on wearing headgear the other has to), then I saw the guys in his corner preparing his they just hadn't started yet.

I don't recall when Coach put Vaseline all over my face. Maybe back in the prep room.

The ref calls you in to the center, soon than you expect. He says what you'd expect: clean fight, protect yourself at all times, wants a full clean fight doesn't want to have to stop it.

You return to your corners. He checks in with the judges (3), then the bell.

Round 1: You tap gloves and start in pretty aggressively; you think "I've got this guy" because he just doesn't seem that confident. But also pretty soon he's landing some punches, and you can hear from your corner that you're not really throwing enough action, and you're probably taking some punches. But you're landing some kicks for sure; some low-kicks that are buckling his legs.

This is the round you get tired, because it's a different kind of tired. It's a comprehensive tired from the crowd and the pressure and the environment and taking some hits (I'm not sure he kicked at all; there was one hard-ish punch this round, I think) and you're amazed that you're "tired" though you also know it's not your conditioning failing but this other thing.

The round is over fast.

Coach says stuff to you about stick and move, use the feint, move around, hook low-kick hook low-kick. Coach says if you're going to advance advance smart, throw the upper cut.

Round 2: You are eager for this round to start and pop back out into it. You're advancing but maybe not advancing smart -- you're taking hits. This round is confusing. Later, when people -- which many do -- tell you that they think you won the fight, it is most often cited as the round they think you clearly won. But it is also, in your retrospectively, the round in which you lost. Here are the salient bits:

Lost -- you almost get knocked out. In one of the flurries where you are trading and pretty close and you are landing more kicks and he is landing more punches, he hits you with what must be [given the soreness in your right jaw the following day] a left hard enough to dazzle, wobble your legs. You come back on it strong -- you hear the people from your gym shout approval at that, how you come out from it -- but it's a strong hit.

Won -- you overwhelm him at some point, and have him back on the ropes, and are going at him. But you don't really close it out. But it looks pretty good, and after the dazzler you are mostly pushing forward, although again, per Coach, apparently not doing enough as you push forward.

Round 3: This is -- I just shrugged, writing this. He seems more tired than you. You're kicking alot; he's still a better boxer, but he's tired. You're landing a lot of low kicks, you're moving him around. You land a head-kick; not hard but definitely land it, it's good. At one point you think "I've won this fight" but you also hear Coach D--- saying never let up, never assume you've won and you don't, you keep at him till the last bell.

You embrace. L---, class act that he is, says something about showing them what two old guys can do. It was a good fight and you both know it. You also think you've won, and think you are being both friendly and magnanimous. It's a good, long embrace.

You go back to your corner, get out of your headgear, get cut out of your gloves. It takes a minute to tabulate the judges decision. You are feeling good about your fight, particularly that last round. You're feeling like you won.

You go to the center and both take the refs hand as the announcer does his loooong drawn out thing about how the judges have come to a decision. You look down during the wait, entertaining -- because you are confident it's not the case -- the possibility that you've lost, because it's important to countenance that.

The announcer announces: blue corner. You've lost. You're sure something passes over your face, something bad, but it passes and you embrace L--- and congratulate him and go and again bow to his corner men and then leave the ring.

You go to the doctor to get checked out - this is regulation, of course. L--- is there; you perch somewhat companionably behind him, although you don't look at or talk to each other, perhaps because he is respecting the energy you may be projecting. The doctor makes an odd joke to L--- about his being suspended, "no sex for a week." L--- rolls with it though it's opaque to you. Your turn: the doctor feels your hands, looks in your eyes, sounds you out as fine. You get a yellow "Post-Bout Evaluation." You go back to the waiting room to towel down, and get cut out of your wraps.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

0-1: Fight Day and The State of California

This post is a "how the day was."

Its purpose is: were I you, imaginary reader, and when I say "imaginary reader" I am imagining a a physically active person with no particular interest or exposure to the world of amateur Muay Thai/boxing/&c., I might have some misapprehensions about how the whole things works.

"How the whole thing works" is basically this: friendly bureaucracy, and lines.

Herewith: Fight Day, March 22nd 2014.

Wake up around 930 a.m. I slept in till then deliberately, because Coach said "don't eat anything on fight day" and I knew I'd be hungry. Friday night, I'd had a personal pizza at Evo Kitchen (terrific); I was hoping that'd see me through and that the complex carbs (multigrain crust) would give me some much-needed energy on the day. Everything was feeling gassed out and tired, particularly my quads, which concerned me given that the right leg is kind of important in "kick"boxing.

[long sidenote: my right shin was all f***ed up, anyway; not the shin exactly, but kind of the meat outside the shin, soft-tissue swelling deep in the leg that hummmmed painfully for the first few kicks of the day, and after that when I contacted wrong on a kick, meaning struck too much towards the outside of the leg... which is actually how you contact right on a low kick, which was bad news because low kicks are something I like to do:



end long sidenote]

Woke up around 930 a.m. Tussled around, sort of pre-packed. I had a piece of paper with all the things I'd need for fight day written on it:

-- towel
-- cup*
-- $$
-- shingaurds
-- bananas**
-- music, reading, 3DS
-- shorts***
-- shirt
-- change of shirt
-- change of boxers

* athletic cup
** this came to mean "that food bag" that I had in the fridge: bananas and some whey protein for muscle recovery after weigh-in that I wound up needing before weigh-in to make sure I wasn't too under weight
*** traditional Muay Thai shorts, for the fight

I drank 1/3 of a chocolate almond drink thing. Then I went to yoga from 1030-12, which may or may not have been smart.

I did another thing before coming home from yoga. I don't know what it was. I was kind of delirious by this point. I had about 8 fl. oz. of water: all I was going to allow myself to consume before weigh-in because I am a moron who trains for a fight without owning a m*****f***ing scale and didn't really realize I was seven pounds under weight.

2pm: headed out. Plan was to meet Coach and N--- at TBI at 2:30 for Coach to drive us up; weigh-in was scheduled for 3 p.m., long before the scheduled 8 p.m. start, which itself could be long before our fights (we knew there were 11-12 fights on the night, but did not know where we'd be in the lineup).

2:15 p.m.: arrive TBI. N--- arrives around 2:25. Coach is a few minutes after, arriving a little stressed, and something is wrong with his tire so we take my car which means we listen to my "fight" mix which means Coach and N--- get to make oblique and then direct comments about my musical taste throughout the rest of the day.

3:10 p.m.: arrive at the venue. Ostensibly 10 minutes late, but earlier than most, clearly.

Now: lines.

So, here's a thing you may not know. The difference between a "smoker" and a "fight" is this: a "smoker" is an informal event, a back-alley brawl, an arrangement between two gyms run under whatever rules they like. I don't know that it's illegal -- you're allowed to spar at a gym, of course, so why not fight with another gym? -- but it's definitely not a licensed event. There's no regulation, no state officials, and it doesn't go on anyone's "sanctioned" record, though people do record their wins and losses.

A "fight," on the other hand, goes on your sanctioned record (0-1 0-1 0-1), because it is -- wait for it -- sanctioned by the state of California. And what that means is that people from the California State Athletic Commission are running the show.

So, you get to the gym in Van Nuys. It's nice: an elevated ring in the center of a large warehouse space, folding chairs set up around it maybe 150 or so, bags around the side all marked with tape "OUT OF ORDER" "DO NOT HIT", I assume especially for the event or else this is a pretty bad gym.

They mark your hand up at the door when you register; I think the "K" is for people who are participants (fighters and coaches).

In the gym, you're guided to a small waiting room off to the side where officious but friendly people from the Commission sit behind a fold-out table. There's an avuncular middle-aged-old guy whom everyone knows, wearing a polo shirt with the Commission's logo. You get some forms. You fill them out. By this point more fighters are arriving; lean guys in hoodies with sharp eyes, everyone talking to their own people, a lot of nervous energy.

Gradually the mood thaws, because waiting on lots of lines together does that to people.

You fill out the forms and wait on line to show them to the Commission people. Then you get on line to get the required physical from a doctor. Here's where everyone begins to thaw; it's going to be a long wait. You meet some other competitors. At one point, one of the Commission people -- a small young-faced guy who will be the announcer on the night, driving everyone a little crazy with the length of his pauses before announcing the judges' decisions (every fight but the first is decided on decision) -- checks you in again, and he has a sheet with all the fights in order on it. You ask your order: 6th, out of 11 fights (there are always cancellations). You take a peek at his sheet and find your opponents' name; you've heard some talk behind you and are pretty sure that he's three behind you in the line to see the doctor: blue hoodie, kind face. You've got half-an-inch on him, and he really does have a kind face. You feel good about your chances.

You get your physical. It's quick; the doctor is friendly and efficient. You're nervous and concerned that your heart rate -- a self-accelerating problem -- is going to make him think you can't fight. Turns out a blister on 2nd right knuckle from bag work is a bigger problem; you have to answer several questions about it, as well as about your lymph nodes, which seem inflamed because they have always seemed inflamed your whole entire life since you were a little kid, which is exactly what you tell the doctor.

You get a clean bill of health. You head back out to the gym. On the way, you introduce yourself to your guy: "L---? Hi, I'm James. I think we're fighting." You shake hands and he wishes you luck, which strikes you as classy.

45 minutes pass, sitting in folding chairs with Coach and an old friend of his who knows a lot about luxury watches. The fighters have mostly arrived and there's now a scraggly long line to see the doctor. You start calculating how long the line will take, because you are hungry as hell and want time to eat and then eat and digest after weigh-in. At 5 minutes/person, because apparently they aren't going to do weigh in until everyone's had a physical, it's going to take a long time. You start to get irritated and concerned about eating and food.

L--- and his coach come and sit with you guys at some point; the coaches know each other, and it's a sort of collegial atmosphere. L--- is friendly and easy and you feel friendly and easy with him. You're both honest about how long you've been training, about being "old guys" in this game. It's relaxed.

Around 5 p.m., the folks from the Commission -- the avuncular older guy in the Polo leading -- actually do smartly start weigh-in before everyone's had their physical. At this point you've switched tactics after L--- weighed himself and was much heavier than you; you've snarfled some food in order not to be too much under weight. You go up for weigh in together, whipping off your warm-up gear to get down to boxers. L--- @ 164.x lbs. You @ 161.4 lbs. You're among the first to get weigh-in over with, and afterwards the coaches take a couple pictures of you together. L--- continues to be conspicuously classy, wishing you "good luck, brother" as you part.

N--- weighs in, and then you, he and Coach go get thai food at a delicious place nearby. Coach hassles you about ordering spicy catfish, because he's over and over said nothing spicy about this carb-loading pre-fight meal, so you ask them to make it mild, and you save half of it and half of your Pad Thai. In about 4.5 hours, after your fight and feeling sad about 0-1, you will nonetheless voraciously inhale these leftovers in the parking lot outside the gym with a need that surprises you. Coach gets a Beef Fried Rice and takes it to go. The future fate of his leftovers is this: he will forget them in your car, and the following evening, while writing this blog post, you will pick the beef out and feed it to your cats while eating the greasy rice yourself.

During dinner, Coach and N---'s opinion of your music is piquantly expressed. You call Coach a "curmudgeon," get flack for using the word (later: "what'd you call me? a 'turducken'?"), then flack for remarking that it isn't that unusual a word. Apparently, something about it sticks in Coach's impressions of the day.

You're feeling good about your fight.

Everyone is supposed to be there by 630 p.m. for check-in no exceptions or we cut your fight. You get back well before then and relax at the back of the gym until 645 or so, when the Commission folks (Polo daddy, once again) come out and give a pretty expected rules talk: do what they say, fight fair, don't be a jerk and jump around if you win, safety safety safety safety safety. Then D, a trainer who's important in the Muay Thai community, talks about the rules in a more technical detail: elbows [not unless agreed on], when can you knee someone in the head [only if they duck out of the clinch], etc.

You're confident.

After a little more shilly-shally and waiting around, the corners separate to prep: you are "red corner", which means you go to the rooms where the Commissioner were set up; "blue corner" preps at the back of the gym where all these rules meetings have been taking place.

More waiting. Waiting waiting waiting. Then hand-wrapping begins. This is it's own thing. Here is how hand-wrapping usually works: time to train a little late okay four minutes here we go whap-whap-whapwhapwhap hands are wrapped cool good to go. Here is how hand-wrapping works under the care of the Commission, the Commission's dual intentions being (insofar as I could tell) to assure the safety of both fighters with wraps that are stable (wrists, knuckles of the person hitting) and not packed/edged/hard (bad for the person getting hit): Coach has gauze and gauze and medical tape and scissors like a freaking paramedic. There is an ongoing rigmarole regarding whether he has the right kind of gauze (he does not, apparently, but it's "okay this time"), how tightly he should be wrapping, how these odd little tape lines that he puts between the fingers to stabilize the knuckles should be, etc. etc. etc. A woman from the Commission, jocular but particular, oversees all of it, and makes Coach repeat things several times as he wraps up N---. This irritates Coach.

Once the wraps are done to the Commission's satisfaction, the woman takes a marker and makes a remarkably complicated sigil over them, validating her approval in what I suppose is a hard to reproduce fashion.

You get your wraps done after N----'s.

The fights start, not too late: by 8:15 or so. You are still fight six, so you kind of loosen and warm and half-watch the first 2 or 3, then begin more actively stretching. By fights four and five you are gearing up. The woman from the Commission checks: cup [you tap it twice knock knock], mouthpiece [you have to put it in, show that it fits], shin guards [not broken -- you can tape the top but not the bottom], and toenails [Commission lady: "I've seen things: cuts, cut eyes."]. Then a man from the Commission does your gloves. It's all standard issue, you don't bring your own: regulation red Everlast Pro-Fight gloves, smaller than you're used but fine. The Commissioner tapes you in, checking that it's tight-enough-not-too-tight, adjusting to your requests, checking in again that it's good. Then more bizarre marker glyphs on the tape he's just used to wrap you into your gloves, verifying that you are safe and that, presumably, he has overseen these gloves and there's nothing shady going on.

Then you warm up: pads pads pads, stick and move, light to get the blood flowing with some hard hits to get it rolling.

And that's about it. It's 9:25pm or so. Time to fight.

0-1: Rest

I'm not sure I handled this well. The "rest" question.

Oh, to anyone reading this anytime ever. I am not writing out these mistakes/areas for improvement as some kind of excuse or explanation. I wish I'd won this fight decisively. I think I could have. I'm pissed I didn't. I applaud L--- for his victory. This is me sorting out moving forward, and managing the fact that I am f***ing deeply upset at this loss.

So, rest. Basically, I'm not sure what's right for me. There is a ton written about this, obviously.

I think the idea is more of a total rest before the fight. But that didn't feel right to me.

My coach had us (me and N---, my fellow fighter from my gym, who now possesses a well-earned 1-0 record) train for the last time on Thursday, with the fight Friday.

I took an easy yoga class Friday at Maha Yoga; then a hard yoga class Saturday morning. (For anyone reading this under misapprehension that "hard yoga class" may not mean "hard": good grief.) It is partially true that my motives for doing this were not good, meaning they were part of the confused approach I had to making weight. But my motivation was also somewhat smart. I don't do well with total rest, often: I stiffen up and feel weak and jerky. Also I had a few mild injuries that I wanted to stretch out rather than let tighten. And lastly I do think I was sensibly optimistically looking at this as part of a process, and thinking that building myself conditioning-wise as keeping momentum throughout the fight prep would be smart.

But I wonder about that, and not just because 0-1. I wonder if I could've been stronger, fresher and faster. This is one of the things to think about.

0-1: Diet and Making Weight

Holy crap, this is definitely the thing I most severely underestimated in terms of importance and challenge in fight preparation.

I fought at 165.

This isn't a crazy weight for me -- before training actively for Muay Thai, I weighed between 170 and 180. Closer to 170 usually. I don't really know. I never weighed myself. 

I was nervous about making weight. Partially because I never weigh myself. And partially because it felt like it'd be such a failure of will and preparation and the spirit of the fight to come in heavy. So, it's probably also true, I got into a mindset of making sure I got as low as possible rather than as close as possible to my weight. This isn't good, in case that's not clear to you. If your opponent is 165, you wanna be 165. You don't wanna be 161. You don't wanna be 168, sure -- but you also don't wanna be 161.

It also really, really did not help that I do not own a scale. Because it meant that I'd spend the latter half of my days not eating in order to weigh myself not-full-of-food before training, which was unpleasant and also not nutritionally optimal. It also meant that I had one data point, the moment of weighing myself before training (after training, you've lost so much water through sweat that it's misleading), and so things would all hinge around that data point. This was a dumb way to handle a big part of the weeks leading up to the fight. For fight two: buy a scale, you crazy kid.

So here's the deal, which you have read/thought/heard many times if you've been anywhere near any level of competitive fighting. Making weight kind of sucks. It sucks because
-- you are anxious about not making it and being an a**hole
-- you are occasionally wondering if your guy is/is not making the sacrifices you are, and getting preemptively angry at him about that
-- you are thinking about food at a time when you just want to be eating a lot, fueling your hardest training, all accelerating as fight day approaches (before, thankfully, tapering off in the days immediately leading up to the fight).

So, it sucks.

It also truly does not help not to have a scale. People, if you ever fight, get a damn scale. That's a solid gold lesson.

In the days leading up to the fight, I would eat
-- a bowl of cereal in the morning
-- two small protein-y meals throughout the day (a piece of chicken and some greens; a piece of fish and some greens)
-- then, at night before training, something for energy (a potato; a protein/sports drink)
-- and afterwards or during some protein powder in water.

I'd snack on cashew nuts. It felt like I was doing this a lot, but in the eight days or whatever leading up to the fight I didn't even make it through a bag of Trader Joe's Thai Lime and Chili Cashews (which are awesome).

It sucked. In comparison: today, the day after the fight, I have eaten
-- two fried eggs
-- a BLTA (veggie bacon, lettuce & tomato, avocado)
-- a serving of fries
-- a serving of homefries (my girlfriend didn't want hers)
-- 5-6 cookies worth of unbaked cookie dough
-- handfuls and handfuls of Japanese rice cracker snacks
-- 1/2 a tangerine

If we add the post-midnight meal I had after the fight early this morning, then I have also eaten
-- a large flour quesadilla
-- a small huatlacoche corn quesadilla
-- a tamarind aqua fresca
-- 1/2 of a papaya shake

That's more than I usually eat, but not honestly a ton. I eat a lot.

So, to make weight I was really cutting my diet. Thing was, I overdid it and cut it dumb. I should have bought a scale, and swapped to maybe a leaned out version of something like this.
Instead, I did the crazy diet noted above even though I was pretty much on-weight throughout fight prep and was hungry/light feeling the whole time. Then, aided by a yoga class that I took in a dubious move the morning of my fight, I weighted in at 158.8 when we all met a few hours before weigh-in to drive up. This lead to an opposite concern: that I'd be too much under weight to fight, as there are lots of official rules governing these matches, and one is apparently that there cannot be a more than 4-or-5 (we weren't sure) lb. difference between opponents. No one wanted to see the fight cancelled, and my guy L--- was weighing in right at 165.

I had brought all this food that I was psyched to eat after weigh-in. I wound up scarfing it before, to gain a couple quick pounds. I ate
--1.5 bananas (big bananas)
--1/2 of a coconut water shake from Pressed Juicery
-- a serving of plain tera's whey protein in about 10 fl. oz. of water,
-- some more water.

I weighed in at 161.4; L--- weighed in at 164.x.

Lessons: get a scale. Be strategic and thoughtful about your diet so you are not tired, dazey, and out of sorts in the days leading up to a fight. And remember: it's not some competition to be as much below your weight as possible. It's a competition to hit it exactly; the have as much mass and strength and energy as you can possibly have at the correct weight.

Handling this like a novice got in the way of my prep, for sure: I trained okay, but I could and should and would have trained better had I managed this better.

Lessons learned. Next time.


That's my fight record, above. It means that I will never, never be an undefeated fighter.

It also means that I'm frightened. I'm frightened that I'll never win, and this will happen a few more times, and then no one will be interested in fighting me -- the guy who can't win.

And I'm frightened because I liked doing the fight SO MUCH. I enjoyed it so much. Waiting in my corner between rounds, I was excited -- excited -- to hear the bell ring again and go back at it. I wanted more rounds. I wanted more fight. Still do.

I'm also frustrated, and upset. Frustrated at losing, and upset at myself. Or vice versa.

In the strange world world where ever anyone reads this, and if that anyone-ever has anything to do with me or my fighting, I'd like to outright give respect to my opponent, the guy who beat me on March 22nd 2014, whom we'll call L---. L--- was a gentleman before and after. He fought really well -- be outboxed me ten-to-one. Frankly, I'm upset about the outcome and the moment of decision was a surprise (I outkicked him). But I was inside the fight, not watching. I don't want to take anything away from L---'s victory. He nearly knocked me out in Round 2; he's a gentleman and a fighter, and it'd be a privilege to match with him again.

I lost on decision, which means that we fought through 3 rounds, 2 minutes each (standard for an amateur kickboxing bout). Then the judges made a selection. The announcer did not say whether or not it was unanimous, I don't think.

I suspect I lost -- I don't know, really; one reason I'm scared is that as I said I really thought I'd won in that moment before the decision came down, standing in the middle of the ring with the ref holding both my and L---'s gloved hands -- back to this: I suspect I lost in Round 2. And, perhaps in general, from taking too many shots to the head.face. They weren't so hard, most of them, but like I said L--- clearly outboxed me throughout (I think. Still haven't seen the video). And in Round 2, one of those punches was hard: a real dazzler that stang my brain, wobbled my legs, etc. I came back right after it, right after it, but that may not have been enough.

I thought I'd won because, while he was boxing more effectively, I was kicking better and more and generally being more aggressive with respect to advancing on him and pushing the fight. Coach, afterward, said that sure you were being aggressive but you weren't throwing anything, weren't doing anything, not enough action. That could well be right. I mean, I'm sure it is right. But again, there was that feeling.

I got off a decent head kick in the 3rd Round. It wasn't a barnstormer, but it landed. I was pleased with that.

In the weeks leading up to the fight -- actually months before, but it only became relevant as the fight approached -- I had this document on my computer's desktop with one sentence:

The thing is to stop thinking of fighting as something you do together.

I was worried about not doing this. I was worried that my tendency to look for brotherhood in sparring -- which I think is a good thing -- would extend to the fight. As S---, a terrific boxer at TBI told me about the fight mentality: you're not friends. I was thinking about this in the lead-up to the fight, when both L--- and I were being courteous to the point of friendliness to each other.

I guess if I'm pleased about something, in addition to the fact that I didn't know poop myself or whatever, it's that I think I succeeded in that. I felt good about how I conducted myself towards my opponent. And then I feel good about my intention of aggression in the ring. Obviously -- per Coach, per the judges -- the execution was insufficient. But I don't think it was a failure of will, or "fight." I think I brought a good first-blood sense of attack. I want to bring that again next time, better, more focused, more devastatingly.

And for goodness' sake get hit in the face less.

I'm looking forward to seeing the video. Rather: I'm not looking forward to it, but I want to. To study it. I suspect I know what needs doing for the next fight. I hope there's a next. If there's a next, here's the list:
-- get rigorous about diet and making weight.
-- get rigorous about how/whether to rest before the fight.
-- work my boxing defense: chin-down-hands up, hands not too high, parry and move. Again, this is probably why I lost the fight... a lot of points lost trading hits and getting the worse with the boxing.
-- more subtly: my legs are strong and I use them all right, but I don't feel on them all the time. Like, I don't feel relentlessly confident against catches and sweeps, in particular, which can hold back my aggression. I want to figure out how to center and lower my balance, while still kicking as much.
-- I discovered too late that my knees are good weapons. Work knees.
-- I want to be stronger. I lift, but I lift light for 10-15 reps. I think I should, at least sometimes, shift to heavy for 5-8.

I thought this post would go on forever, but that's kind of all I want to say.