So it looks like I survived…time to train

Standard

We’re at two-a-days now. Or at least trying very hard to go for two a-days.

With a much simpler, yet richer, life to keep the demons dancing.

Retired from all boss work. Fully embracing domesticity and family. Loving it so much it’s a little scary.

I realize now that I must live like an athlete in order to be the best I can be for those who love me.

But also to manage my addictions and obsessions.

If I’m going to live life 6 months at a time (at least through this blog), then I’ve decided that I’m going to live it through daily training.

I want to be super appa…but I know I will only ever keep trying and never fully succeeding.

So be it.

I will still take that glorious failure over any other success.

(Plus there’s always burpees and shadow boxing followed by a beer and cigarette to make me feel devilishly better about myself…it’s all about that edge)

Advertisements

This is my journal of very, very imminent mortality.

Standard

Mon 01.28.19

So I’ve decided that I have 6 months to live – not in any suicidal way or anything. I just want to live my life as if I have 6 months to live and so have decided that it’s the case. I’m actively trying to put myself in a mental state of assuming that come July 28, 2019, my physical form is kaput. I had a scary physical and physiological feeling a few days back that genuinely made me wonder if the next phase is nigh, or maybe the feeling was just trying to figure out this primal feeling of awe and raw emotion when thinking of one’s death, or maybe it was just really bad gas.

I’m still as fit as a goddamn commando in his prime, have been training for at least a half hour average every day for the last two years at least (try it, it’s no mean feat). But yet… I have this nagging feeling that death is just always around the corner is ever present, that I’m on borrowed time, weirdly enough when my life has never been more filled with love and fulfillment than it is now. I don’t want to do the doctor thing…would rather nature take its course with me doing whatever I can to leave behind a good looking corpse. Indeed this post is scheduled to come out midnight 6 months from today. And it will essentially be a journal of imminent mortality. There’s a high probability I’m alive to witness it’s publication and perhaps renew this experiment until I get it eventually right (which I will, of course.)

But who knows? There’s a small fear that it actually might be the case, give or take – just cos the more love and happiness I receive in my life, the shorter I fear it might be…so this is actually a very serious, somewhat scary experiment to just meet that fear head on.

Plus, you know, I’ve decided:

Imma live the way I live and Imma die the way I die…

I need to get over my fear of death and live in the present you see. But it’s hard for me to live figuratively in the present without some grounded timeline. Nothing brings the present roaring to life like the reality of a season or two left to live.

First things first – gotta ensure that my loved ones will be ok without me and, more importantly, without the labor I contribute to the upkeep of our household and sustenance.

That is all important.

Safety net for family in place. Check.

To the best of my abilities. Check.

Doing the best I can. Check. (I think?)

Grateful. Check. Definitely a big fucking check.

Daily Trifecta – workout, massage for Sus, and at least three domestic chores. Check. The third “chore” was ordering pizza for dinner, but my completely secure self is claiming it… I made sure to order salads as well.

Whatever.

Some kind of legacy in place. Meh, check I guess, but you kinda gotta look hard for it. And hopefully you’ll consider being a failed activist an honorable legacy.

Leaving the world a slightly better place than when I came in. Dang… check I hope. But who the fuck knows?

Oh well, time to sleep the sleep of the innocent, the slumber of they who hath a peaceful heart, perchance to dream such dreams of joy…as only a restless insomniac can.

Kaliamman Vazhgai.

Tue 01.29.19

Still alive and kicking. Though the extra pizza I ate late last night might just make this a 3 month thing.

Anyhoo…been mulling about making the best of these last 6 months of mine and have decided that taking care of business at home, daily warrior clown training, and satirical writing while dicking around with a doable bucket list before kicking said bucket.

I have set up a timetable of satire and revolution till my impending demise entitled Warrior Clown’s Open Mic “Journal of Imminent Demise” Wannabe Comedian and Failed Activist Tour – with tbe optimistic goal of a public comment at every Minneapolis Board of Education meeting till my demise…no idea what’ll happen, but we’re gonna find out.

Otherwise family and community chugging along, love, chaos and all.

Wed 01.29.19

It’s incumbent upon any honest soul to get a grip on one’s poisons & medicines…

Thur 01.30.19

…and when on sabbatical from the green goddess, at the very least get the trifecta out of the way.

Always do what is needed to take care of business.

Sat 02.09.19

I feel the need to be grateful. A cursory glance at the above dates in this journal of imminent demise will display a a yawning gap between the last entry and this.

Well, that is in part because I can safely confirm my first paid writing gig, which consumed my flow for a bit, rendering me unavailable for personal journaling. The job’s freelance and it doesn’t seem to be the greatest pay, but hell, it’s good enough for me. I get to write for a youthful audience about important stuff and call myself a legit Academic Journalist (my official title, which should mean dick to everyone except me).

Plus, I get to work out of my favorite place on earth – my home. I get to be with the souls I love, and carve out alone time in my own sweet little corners of the house so I can get the fuck away from them (i.e. get high and pretend to work or exercise).

I’ve decided that I’m gonna work for as long as possible before moving on to whatever the universe has in store for me – which, you know, will definitely include death but I don’t know why I need to get all morbid in a journal of imminent demise.

I’ll keep the subbing thing going (but now increasingly from a failed activist perspective – by maintaining my subbing license and presenting my research that no one will hear during the public comments section of the monthly board meetings).

It’s a pain in the ass to wake up so goddamn early in the morning every weekday, but I think it keeps me honest and I’ve decided that I’ve earned this delectable variety and choice I am setting up for myself in terms of labor sold for financial sustenance.

Maybe another part-time remote gig too. For a non-profit or something. Make me feel all good about myself and shit.

Plus I always have my strong, fit body that houses a humble ego quivering with unrequited pride, just waiting to go into beast mode in the general labor category during the non-winter months.

But all that is taking care of business only as long as I’m alive.

I’m glad to say that business has been taken care of even in the event of my imminent demise.

Through love.

The love between a man, his chosen brothers and his chosen sisters. Through promises interred spiritually. Sacred oaths to stand tall for one another’s loved ones. Blood bonds sans blood ties.

Chosen siblings.

They will protect my family. My true brothers and sisters will protect my family.

Sus and Daya (not to mention Molly and Faiz and that cranky-ass Marley) are loved, will be loved, and will always have my peeps standing tall for them.

Should the reaper visit early to take me, I will tell him to do his worst. Hell, I’m feeling so grateful and fearless right now, I’ll smoke up with the bastard before he takes me with him on that final journey.

That makes me smile deep inside.

Sun 02.10.19

Writing is going well. Getting into that flow state rather easily and regularly now (green goddess is always there for me yo).

Training is keeping up too. I love taking care of business via the remote life and the freelance life.

Now if only I could do something about the daily ciggie or three I’m kinda feeling loathe to let go, this journal of imminent demise might just be all that.

I need to get into permanent fight camp…

Fri 03.08.19

The clock is always winding down. Love is the only way. Tending to the noble daily grind for our loved ones is indeed the glorious blessing that is this life. To nurture is to live. Anything else is always in danger of being corrupted by toxic patriarchy.

Bhoomi’s Grove – honoring all human and non-human souls, nurturing our community and the land, developing inter-generational resiliency to trauma while eliminating oppression – that is the way forward.

Radheyamman Vazhgai

Susie Q Vazhgai

Daya Shakti Vazhgai

All hail Faiz and Molly (and I guess Marley too)

Sun 03.31.19

There are some souls, like Vaddu and Rumi, who are too special to stay imprisoned by the limitations of this life.

I hope I live a life that honors their glory and love.

I can’t wait to hang out with them again…

But that can wait.

Mon 04.01.19

The green goddess is a great healer. I am indeed grateful for this most glorious of plants. She helps me workout every day and gets my creative juices flowing. She calms my restless mind so I can keep my head in the game and uphold my duties to love and life. She lifts my soul, connecting my quantum being to alternate timelines and universes.

The trick is to always be mindful in honoring her glory while preventing stoner regressions.

Fri 04.05.19

Finding meaning and fulfillment the more I seek it in the most obvious places of gut and soul.

Dancing with my demons while trying to make ’em dance for love and liberation.

And I keep finding long term purpose and short term goals to keep training every goddamn day. (I guess I just like them unhealthy carbs too much…)

As always…Susie Q Vazhgai

Wed. 04.24.19

I think, therefore a substitute teacher.

Now I need to just get the poisons under control before my imminent demise.

I’ve had many close calls.

But Imma keep on walking for love…

For great evil can only be destroyed with great love.

Wed. 05.15.19

And with great love comes great responsibility and even greater truth.

Sun. 05.26.19

I just realized something I’ve known deep down in my membrane for quite a while – we got a strong, stable mama bear on our side.

And she makes me fear nothing but fear itself.

Wed. 05.29.19

Why be anxious about death when love is forever?

Why be anxious at all when we have goddesses?

Kaliamman Vazhgai

A punchers chance is a lot more than you think (and other rambling thoughts on UFC 239 and MMA strikers)

Standard

Imagine for a second that you are arguably the greatest MMA fighter to have ever been born (at least according to an MMA fan base and media community that tends to be more concerned with consuming the sport rather than learning the art). You’ve been convinced that you pioneered creative ground and pound – that most quintessential component of MMA striking, beyond the obvious standup craziness.

Imagine, if you can, that you are about to go up against a man, with admittedly shorter reach and height than your freakish genetic gifts, but nonetheless a man who seems to have power and fearlessness in equal measure when fighting in a cage. Plus he’s actually seen violence and pain in his life that you couldn’t even imagine. It’s a dangerous fight against a dangerous striker – albeit a fight in which you’re the overwhelming favorite – but a dangerous fight against a dangerous striker nonetheless.

Now imagine you are warming up for your title defense in the locker rooms fitted with large screens broadcasting the fights before your main event. Like all fighters, you’re warming up and getting rid of butterflies (or flying them in formation? Is that what it is?)…all while watching colleagues duke it out on live TV.

You’re probably hitting mitts or whatever, maybe shadow boxing to stay loose and warm. Coaches and cornermen trying to figure out what they think is the physical and mental zone you need to be in. The “people’s main event” is about to start. Then there’s the co-main where you’re good buddy and durable former champion is likely to take the defending women’s bantamweight queen through a five-round war.

You’ve likely got plenty of time, you tell yourself.

All of a sudden, a street-fighting genius nicknamed “Gamebred” decides to dial his adrenalin to somewhere between Madman and Rabid before imposing a vicious flying knee upon one of the greatest MMA wrestlers of all-time (and silver-tongued betting favorite for their fight to boot)…to end up with what?

A 5 fucking second KO victory.

The shortest in the UFC’s short, megalomaniacal, over-compensating history with profit and bloodlust at its core.

A victory that halted the breath and dropped the jaw of every fight fan watching. And that’s not even being hyperbolic or anything.

A sprinting, blasting flying knee as a trash-talking, undefeated, scholastic scholar-wrestler telegraphed a takedown attempt one second into his fight.

Forget the roaring crowds or the scarcely believable shock.

Why the fuck would you care?

You’re fighting far sooner than you thought for starters.

Gotta get your head back in the game after that shock knockout. Still plenty of time before they get Holly out for her fight. And there’s no way that ends in the first round. Amanda might still eke out a decision win, but she’s a boxer right? She’s not yet got that full blown, 8-limb, scrambling, parrying, moving, MMA striking that I have? Amirite?

But now at the back of your head is that flying knee and the knowledge that the only thing standing between you and the proper build up you probably envisioned is your training partner whose challenging the greatest female MMA fighter of all time for one of her titles.

Freeze this speculative moment and think about this now.

And really it’s only those who have been punched, kicked, elbowed, or kneed in the face at some point in time in their lives who might be able to contemplate this question in its entirety.

How hesitant are you going to be about shooting for a takedown?

Against a beast of a man with mad striking power and zero fucks given for your legacy?

When the elite-level-wrestling, betting favorite two fights prior to yours gets knocked the FUCK out by an instinctively brilliant, concussion-inducing move probably only possible in this glorious sport that you see yourself reigning over – childish lion emojis and everything?

Not to mention the fact that, holy shit, the greatest female fighter of all time just knocked your gym mate out with yet another blitz, in the first round, while you’re still warming up?

Only this time with a mad kicking game added to her boxing arsenal?

You gotta hurry up and fight.

You’re likely gonna take the safe way out and try to eke out a decision in a standup battle of wits.

(Probably banking on your history and aura a bit too much for it to be deemed truly honorable).

***end speculative imagination***

MMA striking is different than traditional boxing, kickboxing, TKD, Kyokushin Karate, or Muay Thai…though Muay Thai may come closest to providing a great striking skillset for MMA. I also think some fringe Southeast Asian sports akin to Lethwei or Muay Boran might be even better for MMA than the killer sport that is Muay Thai.

But no matter what we compare it to, and no matter how much coaches and pundits who have deep backgrounds in other striking sports might say that their chosen striking sport is the best, the fact is that MMA striking is in a league and specialty of its own, just like all other striking sports are as well.

MMA is its own fucking combat sport.

In my previous post where I gazed into the crystal ball to predict fights, I said this about MMA striking (minus the italics and bolding)…

“Usually when great MMA strikers are matched against great MMA grapplers, the grapplers have simpler paths to victory, based on grinding your opponent down to the point of tiredness and then getting a submission, TKO, or decision victory (Askren of course incorporates a lot more scrambling than just muscular grinding). Strikers on the other hand usually emerge victorious when they can match volume and power with great defensive wrestling, a slightly more complicated skill combination to master. Grappling cardio also holds up better than striking cardio in the later rounds. In the early years of MMA as a sport, the grapplers ran roughshod through the strikers for this main reason. Over the last decade or so however, one can see the tables turning. That skill combination I mentioned above is now integrated early on into training because people are starting to train from the get-go in MMA (which ultimately at its core, is a striking sport with some grappling, as opposed to the other way around – something grapplers in the early years tried). Indeed, I’d say we’re entering a new era of MMA strikers dominating the sport.”

That was from the heart, especially the last sentence. I still thought the grappling gas tank was going to beat the mercurial striker.  I actually really like both Masvidal and Askren. But from a fighting standpoint, I still thought the grappling gas tank was going to beat the mercurial striking artiste. The simplicity of the grappling path to victory held sway in the early years, and this weighted history to the sport affected my prediction. As the sport has evolved, creative MMA striking is now beginning to hold sway. (There’s a reason why I think Tony beats Khabib more often than not.)

Now, I came up 1-2 with my predictions for the three big fights of UFC 239. I predicted Santos, Nunes, and Askren to come out on top over Jones, Holm, and Masvidal. I was going with the betting favorites in Nunes and Askren, while hoping against hope with Santos. In the end, Jones eked out a very lucky split decision win against a fearless, one-kneed Santos – a decision I obviously disagree with; Nunes out-struck Holm to take a scintillating first round victory while retaining her bantamweight belt;

And of course, “Funky” got obliterated in the ultimate, awe-inducing, flash KO by “Gamebred”.

I’m still glad my prediction for that fight went so awry.

Like I said, my heart went with the striker but my head went with the grappler.

But I’m glad that my head needs to catch up with my heart this one time rather than it always being the other way round.

You see, like so many other athletes who possessed average physical gifts but nonetheless competed hard when they got the chance, I’ve only ever stood a puncher’s chance.

In MMA (and perhaps life) I now understand that’s a lot more than one might think.

Combat sports in a collapsing world (and UFC 239 predictions)

Standard

The allure is strong and yet not without intense self-reflection, even self-flagellation.

Combat sports is my escape in a collapsing world.

A world I have come to peace with because I have no choice but to do so. A world that somehow has contrived to provide a lucky bum like me a life of love, adventure, and realization. A world full of scary and glorious unknowns.

With that little intro, let’s dive into UFC 239’s crackerjack main card, while I dust off my crystal ball.

(Hey, way back in May 2016 I predicted that the comb-over rapist would occupy the White House. Now that’s one helluva start to my crystal ball gazing. Admittedly, my fight predictions haven’t been as on point. I lost my “zero” solely because of a sociopathic man-child who also happens to be the greatest light heavyweight mixed martial artist of all time…more on that soon.)

So, the UFC 239 main card takes place in a few hours today, Saturday, July 6th, 9pm central. I’m only doing three big fights of the main card because I have some sense of all the fighters and have seen a few fights of each – in addition to their styles, strengths etc.

Let’s start with the main event, Jon “Bones” Jones (the aforementioned man-child and fighting savant) versus Thiago “Marreta” Santos (whose nickname means hammer…he even has a sledge variation of the same tattooed on his torso). Jones is a -600 betting favorite, which for the gambling-uninformed means he is MASSIVELY favored to win this fight. Jones is the reason for my sole loss in the crystal ball gazing, back when I predicted Gustaffson to defeat him in UFC 232 in Jones’ title defense.

Well, I’m risking another loss by going with Santos. I don’t know. It’s just a feeling, most likely just hope. In addition, I almost always want the underdog to win. Mind you, he’s only got the proverbial puncher’s chance, which really should be changed to “striker’s chance” in MMA but what a chance he is giving himself. Brawling power with absolute fearlessness in the cage. And from what I can tell, he seems to be a really caring, honorable guy who gives back to his community without the usual fanfare. I like good human beings winning nice things for themselves and their people. Vamos Marreta, fight your fight and wrench hope from the bowels of darkness…

***Santos by TKO (and NEW UFC Light Heavyweight Champion)***

The co-main event is for the women’s bantamweight title with my favorite female fighter, the awe-inspiring, two-weight champion, Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes (the greatest female MMA fighter of all time in case you were wondering) versus another all-time great, former bantamweight champion, Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm. This will be a stand up, striking battle unless one is getting thoroughly outclassed in a round and shoots for a takedown in order to survive. I think Holm will bring the fight to Nunes and it will go the distance, but I think Nunes will take a solid decision. Holm has phenomenal striking no doubt, great boxing and muay thai, with decent movement, but Nunes has two exquisite weapons that any striker dreams of having in tandem – sniper accuracy with serious power. She stalks, throws accurate bombs without going crazy, and then when she’s hurt her opponent, she has one of the greatest blitzes in the game. Her first round TKO of Cyborg, where she came in as a betting underdog only to became the first female two-weight champion, was a knockout artiste’s dream. The scary thing is that I think she still has a while to go before she hits her peak. Imagine a killer submission game along with powerful leg kicks added to her arsenal. She can keep those two belts a while and very soon, seriously lay claim to being the greatest MMA fighter ever. Even if Holm pulls off the upset (which would put her easily in the top two or three greatest female fighters of all time), Nunes still has the featherweight title, not to mention an automatic rematch for the bantamweight crown. She is in a rare position to stake a claim and continue her path to all-time greatness without losing too much of a step, even if she loses this fight. But I don’t think that’s gonna happen…

***Nunes by unanimous decision (and STILL UFC Bantamweight Champion)***

Prior to the two title bouts, is the apparent “people’s main event” (so dubbed because mindless social media traffic constitutes “people”). Nonetheless it’s a mouth-watering affair and I’ll admit that this is the fight I’m most looking forward to in the card. A welterweight fight and a possible shot at the belt up for grabs, with “Funky” Ben Askren and his scrambling-heavy, elite-level wrestling style taking on “Gamebred” Jorge Masvidal’s street-fighting background and excellent, technical boxing skills. Both of these guys are colorful characters to say the least, but in very, very different ways. Suburban scholastic meets urban rough and tumble with all the internecine frictions. Masvidal needs to keep the fight standing while Askren will do everything he can to get the takedown and a submission or TKO. In the cage I love the strikers in stylistic matchups, but that’s only because I came into martial arts via striking sports like boxing and kickboxing and NOT because I think the grappling arts are any less effective (though they can be boring as fuck at times).

Usually when great MMA strikers are matched against great MMA grapplers, the grapplers have simpler paths to victory, based on grinding your opponent down to the point of tiredness and then getting a submission, TKO, or decision victory (Askren of course incorporates a lot more scrambling than just muscular grinding). Strikers on the other hand usually emerge victorious when they can match volume and power with great defensive wrestling, a slightly more complicated skill combination to master. Grappling cardio also holds up better than striking cardio in the later rounds. In the early years of MMA as a sport, the grapplers ran roughshod through the strikers for this main reason. Over the last decade or so however, one can see the tables turning. That skill combination I mentioned above is now integrated early on into training because people are starting to train from the get-go in MMA (which ultimately at its core, is a striking sport with some grappling, as opposed to the other way around – something grapplers in the early years tried). Indeed, I’d say we’re entering a new era of MMA strikers dominating the sport.

Having said that, I’m leaning towards the grappler here. I think Masvidal has great technical striking and defensive wrestling, but is not as powerful as many of the other welterweights around. He also likes brawling occasionally, which plays right into Askren’s game. From what I’ve seen in past fights, Askren can take a hit and keep coming. He is also a takedown artiste. I think Gamebred will catch Funky with some shots, enough to make this a serious fight and maybe even prove me wrong, but I think ultimately Askren gets the takedown and a submission win.

***Askren by submission (with a shot at the welterweight title as reward, or, wait for this – a shot at the inaugural title for the spanking new 165 pound division!)***

MMA is a sport where adult human beings, usually with families and responsibilities, get into a cage to beat each other up under controlled circumstances for performative glory and apparent reward.

I can appreciate that because I understand the fear and pain of getting hit.

But I also know I’m finding ways to rationalize my escape…