Why daily martial arts matters to me…

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Mostly in the form of shadow boxing to music or doing circuits of pushups, burpees, and squats…but still.

It keeps me grounded, humble even. Has me dancing with my demons rather than fearing them.

But it’s tough to train every day. Just go ahead and try it. A week. A month. When you get past a year let me know what it felt like, then go for one more.

Then imagine doing it for life.

It is now necessarily part of the noble grind, shorn of romance but yet filled with perennial learning and hope.

I’m in that place now. Poisons and all. I’ve been making them count, and training every day for the last two years. As you can tell I’m proud but also see a long journey ahead and want to ensure there are more adventures to mark the endless path in front of me.

Every goddamn day. I’ve fixed it at a modest half hour (cos I walk a crap load too, what with a puppy now being my everything, including a daily 90 minute constitutional).

I prep for my training with the green goddess, me great healing plant. She has helped me be as successful as I’ve been in keeping it going these last two years.

Sure there will be days when stomach bugs and sabbaticals from said goddess change the “training” to basically messing around with easy drills while watching TopTenzNet on YouTube. Some shitty workout days will have to be balanced out with better ones.

It’s ok. I’m not aiming for perfection.

Just peace of mind and clarity of soul.

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Wow…is Tyson Fury my homeboy?

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Tyson Fury is a heavyweight boxing star, a former world champion from proud, humble roots, who also happens to have said some atrociously sexist, homophobic things in the past that prove yet again why us men are truly the weakest of the genders.

Sorry, I’m one of those sports nuts who cannot separate the personhood of the athlete from their athletic achievements. Or whatever personhood I can garner from reading between the lines with cursory reads of articles on my phone.

So I kinda felt a little disgusted by Tyson Fury with my initial introductions to him from the media. But I also remember feeling a touch of pity. Toxic masculinity is usually interred with trauma and mental health struggles. All men know this to some degree or the other.

It was almost too easy to predict and eventually witness the inevitable fall once he reached his pinnacle. Considering the trauma he had taken in (and possibly inflicted on the world in a myriad ways), it played out like tragicomic theater.

For fame, wealth, status, and glory – unlike love and liberation – are but fleeting, no matter at what level they’re first experienced.

But they’re heady drugs nonetheless.

And fall he did from those highs.

Depression. Abuse. Deathliness.

Until he changed the script.

Embraced his vulnerabilities. Learnt to walk before he could get back to doing road work and train.

Paid heed to the knowledge of others but trusted his heart. Got his comeback title bid.

Fought like a dancer tossing away diamond-encrusted shackles.

And got up before the 10 count like he was waking up to an alarm clock – almost like he had trained himself to wake up, every morning, getting ahead of the dark clouds day after day in his comeback bid.

Tyson Fury came away with a draw that didn’t get him the belt but got him as deep a smile as I’ve ever seen on a man who’s really trying to dance with his demons.

And this time around, after the rush of the fight, he seems ready for the struggle to commence.

The righteous struggle.

The noble daily grind for love and liberation that all of us must find our peace in.

I think this sexist homophobe might just be a homeboy of mine.

(Well…as long as he don’t mind arguing while we spar.)

2-1 (or really 3-1) on the crystal ball fights

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At least Nunes won.

But so did that roided shell of a human being.

3-1 on crystal ball fights for me.

Yeah I’m taking the Donald Trump prediction as 2 wins. Especially after the equal parts elation-sadness with the fights last night.

Fine, I’ve lost my undefeated record.

But at least I got realization (which is the point of human existence if you think about it).

MMA, like politics, is seeped in bullshit, greed, and toxic masculinity.

It is an obsession I think I’m over.

Like any addiction for me I’ll never ever fully let go of MMA, especially the training part (and the pre fight press conferences).

But the misogynistic, racist, predatory machinations of promotions like the UFC? Gotta keep from supporting crap like that.

Good thing I believe more in the anarcho democracy of information access in today’s internet age over capitalism I guess.

After all, I have a mortgage to pay…

[Check out my previous post if you want to know what the fuck I’m talking about here.]

The moral, ethical bankruptcy that is the UFC – a psychosocial deconstruction of the UFC 232 Pre-Fight Press Conference (and predictions for Jones-Gustaffson 2|Cyborg-Nunes)

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[Published hours before UFC 232]

First off, as a test of mind against the chaos machine that is life, I’ve decided to use my personal blog occasionally to test my crystal ball skills.

I’ve done this before when I predicted, in May 2016, that Donald Trump would be elected president, further giving 9 scary reasons why. So I have a crystal ball fight record of 1-0, aiming to make it 3-0 in one night. (Though the Trump prediction was so bold and big at the time that I feel like I deserve to have a 2-0 record. But whatever.)

This time around, instead of politics, I’ve decided to go with another sociological obsession of mine – mixed martial arts, or MMA for short. And I’m predicting seriously against the odds. So if MMA’s not even marginally your thing, you might not be interested in this piece. But who knows? Maybe something about it will tickle your fancy.

Regardless, you do you.

Getting back to it…For the layperson, MMA is a combat sport – usually taking place in a cage but occasionally in a ring – that incorporates stand-up striking with punches, kicks, elbows and knees, as well as grappling, both offensive and defensive, on the ground and against the cage, with strikes incorporated whenever possible. MMA is essentially as close to a school yard brawl as you can get with rules and settings that favor bigger, stronger fighters (though, I do believe volume striking with great defensive grappling and a gas tank that can go on for ages is the future of MMA, which, with even a slight tweak in the rules can even the playing field between weight classes).

The Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC for short, is synonymous with the sport, not because it isn’t a reprehensible organization run by a reprehensible individual, but because it has the largest brand-name value in the current wild, wild west first few decades of the sport.

And yes, despite the fact that it’s a morally, ethically bankrupt organization (more on that in a subsequent point), I’m drawn to the sport like a moth to a flame and thus to whatever matchups I can access via shady Reddit stream links replete with NSFW ads.

UFC 232 takes place tonight (December 29th, 2018). In the main event, the sociopathic maniac who leaves his entire soul in the cage leaving an empty shell to walk the rest of his time on earth, Jon “Bones” Jones, takes on a rangy Swede, Alexander Gustaffson, going by the rather to-the-point nickname “Mauler” – for the UFC Light Heavyweight World Championship. Jon Jones is undefeated, considered by many to be one of the greatest fighters ever, and a heavy betting favorite at somewhere around -300 in the latest odds. In the co-main event, for the women’s 145lb featherweight world title, 135lb pound bantamweight champion, Amanda “Lioness” Nunes (one of my personal favorites, and also the first openly queer MMA world champion – completely under promoted by the misogynistic and racist Dana White in my honest and admittedly sharp opinion) goes up a weight class to take on Cris Cyborg, an absolute beast of a champion at 145lb, whom many consider to be the greatest female fighter ever. Cyborg is almost as much of a favorite as Jones is at -260 betting odds.

I predict that both Gustaffson and Nunes will win tonight. They will both be very, very close fights, likely great fights, and will both be won by the underdogs.

I’m laying my undefeated prediction record on the line for two predictions that both run against the betting odds (for the uninformed, heavier negative odds means a heavier favorite. Any fighter at -200 or lesser is considered a heavy favorite.)

I am of course, just having fun here and am more than happy to take the 1-2 record to my crystal ball bouts. But I’m just making some points for predicting against the odds; points that I’m straight pulling out of my ass.

I’m going by the age old adage of fighting being 90% mental and 10% physical, them being professional fighters and thus as close to each other in terms of physical preparation, as can be done in this age. All four fighters seem to have access to great training, and seem ready. I’m utilizing the pre-fight press conference as well as videos, interviews etc. as the most recent, kinda stressful events they have to go through to see who has the mental edge, and thus the fighting edge.

So here goes:

(1) The pre-pubescent sociopathy that is Jon Jones is matched by the pre-pubescent megalomania that is UFC prez, Dana White. Ok, this isn’t a great reason for Gustaffson winning, but let me just get this out of my system. It’s out. I’m not gonna dwell on it cos the UFC, White, and capitalism in general assigns value only on profit and couldn’t care less about humanity. They’re scum and they often don’t care if their star fighters are scum. Rant over. Onward.

(2) Jones is a nervous shell of a person, incapable of being a genuine human being and surviving on pure id. That shit eventually crumbles. Maybe not this fight. But eventually It will. It has crumbled all around him except in the cage where his outrageous physical gifts, talent, grit, and hard work keep the shell intact. But no fighter can just be a fighter, for it is nothing more than an identity. They have to be human beings whether they like it or not.

(3) His opponent seems chill, eager to fight, and focused on only what he can control. Whatever little information I’ve been able to glean from UFC Embedded videos, pre-fight press conferences and the like, Gustaffson seems chill and ready to rock. Even when the UFC pulled the outrageous stunt of moving the entire card on a week’s notice from Vegas to LA because the Nevada State Athletic Commission wouldn’t license Jones after he tested positive for steroids yet again (yeah, the dude’s a cheater in addition to being a fake-ass sociopath), Gustaffson seemed to just focus on getting what he wanted, a fight with Jones, and not on shit he couldn’t control. A fighter with that kind of a mindset is a dangerous fighter.

(4) I just want it to happen, both Gustaffson and Nunes to win, which is why I’m kinda spell casting here. I don’t really give a crap about Gustaffson as a fighter, I just want him to defeat Jones. Fuck, I want Jones to lose so bad so he can be less of a sociopath that I’m actually rooting for the white guy here. With Nunes, I actually want her to win. I think she’s a phenomenal and completely under-appreciated pioneer in the sport whom history will treat very kindly. I saw the same mental and energy differences with Nunes-Cyborg as I saw with Jones-Gustaffson, albeit with less intensity. Nunes seemed calm, ready to go, embracing the underdog status, while Cyborg seemed just a tad more under pressure.

But who the fuck knows, amiright?

Regardless, a change in my crystal ball record awaits in another few hours

I’ll follow this with post-fight post…all for myself and the larger universe…therapeutic blogging and dreamy shadow boxing.

PS: Ok, gotta get this out of my system too – Fuck the misogyny and racism in MMA…it makes the sport shittier by allowing scum like Dana White to rise to the top.

PPS: Up is probably on of the best animated movies out there on positive masculinity. I realized that as we saw it, as a family, for the fourth time last night.

Training Diary – on the difficult lessons of honorable manhood

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Sadness is always ok.

Fear is to be accepted.

Frustration is but a part of this noble grind called life.

Anger, so easy to deploy but so very dangerous, must be used as nothing more than fuel to defend love, justice, and higher knowledge.

But never to hurt.

Or control.

That is one of the struggles towards honorable manhood that dismantles the patriarchy.

(The earthen green goddess will help with the rest)

***SUSAMMAN VAZHGAI***

***RADHAMMAN VAZHGAI***

***KALIAMMAN VAZHGAI***

Training Diary – manhood, family, and MMA.

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My heart has been stolen by this most glorious and visceral sport that is MMA. I am truly quite grateful for it’s existence and my ability to access it in multiple forms.

And I often ask myself why?

Combat sports are without a doubt the closest we have in the sporting world to brute self realization.

And with that comes a brief glimpse into a larger realization of personhood…who we are deep down.

MMA is my guilty pleasure because it can sometimes provide battle theatre for the noble struggles of life itself.

Fatherhood and domesticity asks similar questions for myself.

Who am I as a man and a human being?

What am I made of to take on the struggles of tomorrow with as little whining as possible?

What do I stand for and what am I willing to die for?

***Kaliamman Vazhgai***

Training Diary – Time to be grateful again

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While on the job yesterday, I was inadvertently and fortuitously reminded that I had a lot to be grateful for.

It’s been a while since I put it out there and I know it’s a practice that helps deal with life’s tougher times. Since my training is just as much about balancing mind and spirit with heart and body, it feels like it’s time to be grateful again.

I am indeed grateful for the life the goddesses have blessed me with. For while life’s struggles will always present themselves from now till the end of time, I swim in an ocean of love while dealing with those struggles head on…

Every day I’m reminded of just how lucky I am when I see the brilliance of my partner’s soul, the glory of my daughter’s spirit, the impishness of my cat’s being.

Every day I am in awe of the plenitude of our first world lives even as I navigate the guilt of wallowing in it with nary an understanding of poverty or hunger.

Every day I live with the unbearable truth that tomorrow it could (and indeed, eventually will) all come crumbling down to the never ending march of time.

So I guess I’m grateful for the timelessness of today.

Kaliamman Vazhgai