Today was my official first day at Fight Team LLC and to be completely honest, I was pretty intimidated due to the fact that this would be the first MMA gym I would attend. Also, I had no experience whatsoever so I had no idea what to expect for my first class. When the class began I felt comfortable because they understood that I had no previous experience and instructed me correctly on how certain punches were supposed to be done. All the other members were also pretty inviting and did not make me feel like I didn’t belong. Rather, I gained motivation from seeing them excel throughout the class and seeing myself in their place someday in the future. The head coaches Brandon an Rich were also motivating me throughout the class to give it my absolute best no matter what the task was. As they both instructed me, I felt as if I was progressing every passing moment with their support and the support of my training partner. Although I had no expectations of what I was getting myself into, I found the first day at the gym to be very exciting and a lot of fun and knew I wanted to return to continuously learn more.
Every year there is a National San Shou tournament held in Baltimore, Maryland and the coach has taken fighters from our gym to compete in it for many years. During our MMA conditioning class, coach decided to ask all the members present who was interested in going to this tournament. Of course I was one of many to raise my hand. It was not that I feel prepared currently to attend, but rather that I know I will have improved by the time the tournament rolls around and coach will take every step in preparing me for the tournament.
Now that I have been able to attend these submission classes, I believe that this has become my strength as an MMA fighter. I have learned so much in such a short period of time when it comes to submissions and defending them. It is very satisfying for our coach to notice improvement because every class I am always trying to give my all and it definitely shows. Recently the gym coach has announced that starting the month of December he will be introducing an MMA sparring class where it is going to be a combination of all that we learn in the striking class and in the submission class. Due to the fact that on most submission class days it is me and maybe only two other people, I feel as if I have gained a slight advantage over some of the fighters who have been unable to attend the submission class. Since submissions will now be allowed, I can attempt them and see just how good I can apply it if it were a real MMA fight. If I end up doing something incorrectly, I can always depend on my coach to show me the right way of doing it.
Throughout this journey I continue to feel as if I am part of a family more than just part of a gym. Each class is about improvement and applying the skills learned during either the sparring or rolling. So far I have enjoyed every single class I have been able to attend and felt like I have progressed exponentially. When I first walked into the gym I had no idea what I was getting myself into but as I have remained consistent in showing up to classes, I have gained a new passion for MMA. Everyday I strive to become better thanks to all the assistance I get at the gym from other fighters who believe in me and my ability to improve. I know that it is not an easy feat to become a great MMA fighter, it takes dedication and consistency. But I believe that I can become a great MMA fighter as long as I continue to be consistent and feed off of all the positive energy at the gym. No matter what you want to do, whether it may be a sport or even playing an instrument, you can not improve if you do not practice frequently. As I have heard from my coach and other gym members, consistency is key.
Last week, coach announced that on Mondays and Wednesdays he would begin instructing a submission offense and defense class. I grew very excited because ever since I learned those few submissions during the wrestling class, I had been hoping to learn more. I had expected more people who attend the other MMA conditioning class to show up, but it ended up being just me and two other people. Although not many people attended, I found the class extremely fun and felt like I had learned so much.One of the submissions we learned was the Guillotine choke, which restricts the opponents breathing, causing them to either tap out or knock out. I realized quickly that this was becoming my favorite of the submissions we learned because of how easily I got the hang of it. In the class we went over many drills in order to learn step-by-step how to correctly do each submission. Afterwards comes the “rolling” part of the class which is basically submission sparring. This was the absolute most fun part of the entire class because I got to put into use what I had learned that same day, and knowing that you are doing it right and progressing is a very satisfying feeling to me.
I was finally able to attend a wrestling class that happens on Saturdays from 10-1pm. Before even getting to the gym I was already excited because it would be different than the normal striking classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. To begin I just started to warm up and stretch, but after a while of being there, I noticed some other people from the gym working on Jiu Jitsu. At first I just entered the cage to observe what they were doing, but once they offered to show us, I wasn’t going to refuse. The triangle choke was the first submission I can say that I have ever learned now, and I feel like every time I attend the gym, it is always about learning. I enjoyed the fact that if there was anything throughout the process of getting the choke that I would do wrong, there was the team mate there to show me what I was doing wrong, and how to correct it. We also learned a couple of other Jiu Jitsu submissions such as the D,arce choke and the Armbar. Although the wrestling class ended up being canceled, I thought that what I had learned from the short session we had was a great learning experience.
Today was the first day that Coach let us stay for the sparring class after the MMA conditioning class had ended. I felt like I was advancing as a fighter to know that the coach thought I could at least hold my own against fighters that had been part of Fight Team LLC for months, and some even years. During the sparring session, I felt as if I could finally put what I’ve been taught throughout the classes into action. Of course, it was no easy task to be able to hold my own against the others on the team but I felt confident in myself. No matter how much I was pushed throughout the sparring session I knew never to give up and to keep fighting. The one thing that I knew I was having trouble with was control because some team mates mentioned it to me. It is very important throughout sparring to maintain control because these are your team mates and you shouldn’t be attempting to hurt them in any way. But me being new to sparring, I was not exactly sure how hard I should punch or kick. Eventually through the sparring session I realized how hard I should be trying because the point of sparring is to learn and get better, not to hurt your team.
Tonight I knew was gonna be great because I knew that the two fighters from Fight Team LLC were ready for their fights because every class session I saw how hard they were training and how hard the coaches pushed them to do their best. Arriving to the event, again, I had no idea what to expect, but once I walked in and saw that octagon ring, I was so glad I was able to make it. Even though most of the fights were pretty quick and completed by submission, they were still very entertaining to watch and interesting to see how each fighter had their own unique style. As each match ended I became more and more excited to see the fighters from Fight Team LLC compete for AFC titles. First up from Fight Team LLC was our Jiu-Jitsu Coach, Joe Boxer who is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I thought Coach Joe gave a great performance and he actually won the fight by submission in the middle of round one. Then as the night progressed I got more excited to see the main event which was another title fight with another one of Fight Team LLC’s fighters, Kevin. Seeing this fight live was the highlight of my entire day because there was never a dull moment and Kevin never gave up and gave it his absolute best to come out the victor of the fight. I felt great to be there and show support for our team and the night was great with our gym coming out with two of two wins. I realized that all that training served a very important purpose for each of the fighters and saw them use their training to their advantage throughout their fights.