It is almost 5 pm; my bus should be leaving soon. I’m heading back up to Baguio after three eventful days in Manila.
As you may have read in the first part of my MMA journey, I started my 30-day free trial at B.A.M.F. (that’s Bad A-word Mother F-word) back in July but only got three of my eight sessions in before my family and I went to Baguio. I was also a bit sick at the time so I couldn’t push myself too hard.
Once in Baguio, we stayed with friends in La Trinidad and I had the golden opportunity to train at Team Lakay. I had to pull together everything I had learned from my boxing and Muay Thai lessons to hold my ground in the sparring rounds, but on grappling day I had nothing; no knowledge, no experience, no idea what to do.
When a window opened up for me to come back to Manila on my own for a few days to take care of a few things, I seized my chance to return to B.A.M.F. to learn a little bit of Riberio jiu-jitsu and finish my free trial before it expires this Saturday.
My first three sessions back in the first two weeks of July were mostly Muay Thai. I did drills with Harmon and Oliver. What I liked about Harmon’s warm-up especially was the focus on footwork. With Coach Oliver’s help, I learn how to shift my weight and throw the force of my whole body into my kicks.
For my third session, I joined Kiko Matos’ MMA training, which started with an hour or two of running and suicide drills in a cemetery.
I’ve always found that to be a funny thing about the Philippines: I’ve never seen a park or green space of any kind as nice as a cemetery. Since B.A.M.F. is located on a busy, smoggy road I suppose it makes sense that the fighters walk down to the graveyard to run.
Back at the gym, I joined in on warm-up part two: MMA drills. After that, since the guys were all paired up to spar in the cage and I sadly had no one to partner up with, I did a Muay Thai training,
The workout was concluded with a yoga session led by Maria Martinez of Pinay Fitness.
I biked home after a good five hours of training at the gym and a fair amount of time exposed to unforgiving midday sun and collapsed. It’s probably best to work up to things like this.
I attempted to go back to the gym a few days later with a borrowed gi in my backpack for a stab at jiu-jitsu–something I figured would be easygoing, what with all the laying around and rolling on the ground–but the 30-minute bike ride already had me wiped out so I made an intelligent (as opposed to stupidly stubborn and arrogant) decision to pass. Instead, I biked into BF Homes and picked up some travel food at the deli and bakery for our trip to Baguio the next morning.
After two weeks in the mountains then, and one more session at Lakay on Monday morning, I took the bus back down with plans to train at B.A.M.F. morning and evening until my five remaining sessions were up. On Tuesday morning there was no jiu-jitsu class so I did Muay Thai with coach Oliver.
That evening I had my first Brazilian Ribeiro jiu-jitsu class with coach Gian. Both the coach and my rolling partner took me where I was at, were patient, and gave me helpful instructions as I learned all the basic moves from headquarters.
First up: getting into headquarters. Your opponent is in guard, meaning they are laying on their back with their legs up and bent, and your mission is to pass guard. To get into headquarters, you grab (if you’re right-handed) their right foot with your left hand and push it down while stepping forward and wedging your right leg into their left knee-pit. From there, you sit on their left foot and settle into a squat, one leg pushing their leg and the other keeping you balanced.
Now that’s as far as I will go with trying to explain these moves here. I think it’s a better use of all of our time to check out some YouTube videos instead.
From headquarters, we learned the X-pass to side mount, the cross pass to side mount on both sides, the smash pass to full mount, and as a bonus, the leg grab which skips headquarters altogether and goes straight to mount.
All of these moves were extremely helpful because when I grappled at Lakay I literally had no idea where to start.
The next very helpful lesson was yesterday morning when we learned how to get out of back control. Having gotten into it once or twice and quite badly choked, I have a solid interest in learning how to get out.
This time our coach was Curvin and I practiced with a fun-loving Fil-Am who had served in the marines (or was it the navy?) in Afganistan. I may have missed a few such facts during our conversation due to the gripping pain in my lower back and rib cage. Anyway, he too was a helpful rolling partner.
Where I had gone home after practice yesterday evening, this time I stayed to roll. I figured it might be my last chance and I wasn’t going to let some discomfort stop me. I rolled a little bit with a girl who had a blue belt. Instead of whooping my ass, she actually let me practice my moves on her.
Later I watched her roll with a purple belt from Korea and she held her own; go, girl!
Because of a seminar Wednesday and Thursday evening, and a shoot Friday morning there will be no other jiu-jitsu classes before I leave Manila, so I did one boxing lesson this morning and, after resting a little, headed for the bus terminal.
Yesterday a male masseuse, today a female Uber driver; I love it!
I had intended to do one last session of Muay Thai with coach Oliver this morning but he was sick and couldn’t make it to the gym. After I had done a bit of work on the bags, middleweight champion Chris Hofmann invited me to join the boxing session which I did and enjoyed. Before leaving I watched him spar in the cage and reminisced of the days at my old boxing gym, Elorde, where my coach and I would put our headgear on and he would let me wail at him.
Sparring at Lakay has been fun, but we don’t wear headgear; only mouthguards.
To conclude this winding tale and my review of B.A.M.F., I’ve had some helpful guidance in fine-tuning my kicks and punches and in only two sessions I’ve not only learned some very helpful basics in jiu-jitsu but I’ve developed a deep respect of an interest in the sport. I could definitely see myself getting into it one day when things settle down.
What I missed is the same thing I’ve missed in practically every gym in Manila and that’s defensive work. I need a trainer who will throw the mitts at me over and over until I start developing some sense of how to deflect them.
Finally, I missed sparring. There are plenty of men training in MMA at B.A.M.F. who are actual fighters and they spar with each other, but it seems that most of the women who come here merely do the training for exercise and not to get punched in the face. And hey, that’s completely understandable. If only the guys would spar with me! But that’s what Lakay is for and I can’t wait to come back.
That being said, what’s stopping you from coming over to B.A.M.F. and checking out the free trial for yourself? You get eight sessions in a 30-day period and you can choose from jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, MMA, wrestling, and boxing. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or an advanced professional, they will accommodate you! It’s a great community and team to be a part of.
Well, that’s all I have for today. It took this bus three hours just to get out of the city so it’s going to be a long trip and I can’t wait to crawl into bed and cuddle my daughter.