nowishere has been dabbling in the martial arts lately. Today was her first time sparring, and she was scared so she convinced me to come with her. I was a tad hesitant at first. I'm old. And I have done this sort of thing in like 4 or 5 years. But what the hell. beststephi came along to watch. She said the whole thing was less interesting than even she thought it was going to be and pretty boring. I beg to differ. I actually did a lot better than I expected, given how out of practice I was.
First fight was against a guy named Matt. Relative beginner. But a much bigger guy than me. He's clearly more practiced than I am, and he should have used that to his advantage. But he doesn't have the instinct to step in and take the attacks yet. He's very defensive, which is fine. I prefer a defensive style myself. But he lacks the ability to throw together counters on the fly. Very good at blocking, and parrying but doesn't know what to do then. I found that I could usually tag him if I threw combinations of 3-4 strikes. I could totally send out two strikes as decoys just to get him into a blocking pattern and then come with a real attack. Good warm up fight. Got my blood pumping. He uses a very Taktarov style ("I am Rock!" -- Hi jameel) But can't choose his moments like Oleg does. I stay on his knee with low sweeping kicks and quick fore kicks. If I was trying to hurt someone I think I could have eventually gotten the break.
Second fight was against Marc the instructor. Clearly old school kung fu. Very slow. Very methodical. I watched a bunch of his students before getting involved and I can see where they get it from. He was definitely all about choosing his moment. I usually prefer to do that myself. Just keep parrying, blocking and evading til someone makes a critical mistake and capitalize on it. In a real fight, the two of us would have stared at each other for 20 minutes, until I realized that he wasn't going to make a mistake and in fact was not going to attack me at all, and I would have left, which he would have let me do because he's an easy going guy and unwilling to want to get into that kind of confrontation. This was not a real fight, so I decided that maybe I would attack and learn something. He actually did teach me a bit about fighting someone from their style. If I get up close and personal, I can get inside and usually fire off a few shots before they react. Long as I'm not afraid and count on my speed to keep me safe (Marc acknowledged that I was faster than most of them) I should be ok. It worked, I was abled to get inside and hit him quite a few times (I did a lot better than I would against, say Meron), but I clearly wasn't going to be able to take him down so we eventually just ended it. Did pull out the good old strike, let him hit me, absorb, ukemi backroll and spring at knee. I think he was impressed but he wasn't going to let me win on that. But dammit.. it was so very Tekken. He's interested in Shinai... so we might do some swords next time I go back. I brought mine today, but we never got a chance to play with them.
Next I fought James for the first of two times. I had been looking forward to trying him from my first walk into the door. He's very fluid. Very graceful, and strings movements together very well. Each block into a strike, each strike into a block. Not only is he clean, but he was quite beautiful to watch. Analyzing him from watching him, I decided I wanted to see if I could outspeed his grace. I had noticed one fatal flaw of his. He doesn't stop moving. Ever. Yes graceful. But lots of wasted strikes. He's so into chaining things together that he uses moves when he doesn't need to and leaves himself open during very brief recovery phases. I looked for those. At first I tried the same tricks I'd used on Marc and Matt. Throw two or three bullshit attacks and try to get him off guard with with his counters for a final strike. No good. He's too graceful. New technique. Match him speed for grace. Strike he counters. He counter strikes, I counter and counter strike. He counterstrikes a lot more fluidly than I do... god, I'm so old and out of practice... and wastes less energy doing it. We chain together some decent combinations. He manages to connect quite a few times, including one very nice gut shot. I hit him, but less often. He out graces my speed...time to adapt styles again. I remember that James naturally chains moves, even when he shouldn't.... so the trick, throw one bogus attack (not 2 or three) and let him counter it then attack him during his counterattack. Bingo. Fake a punch hit him with a kick. Kick to the knee let him sweep it out the way and use a lunging punch concurrent with his right cross. I get hit some, but I connect a lot more. I find out that despite a bad knee and a bad ankle, I can still pull a pretty damn good enziguri kick. I kinda wish he had ducked it. I want to know if I can still do the double. Finally I take him down. Pretty silly really. Modified basic boxing technique. Left jab, let him counter with a strike to the gut, but try to beat him there with a right cross. Only I don't use a right cross. I grab for the neck instead and hold the artery. He folds really fast, and I feel bad, I really just meant to tap it to see if I could, and was afraid I had hurt him, but he's fine and basically tells me it was impressive.
I rest for a bit and decide that I want to try one more fight. James volunteers again. Damn, he adapted fast. He won't counter attack now. Bastard. That ruins my entire strategy. I try to fake him out with the enziguri again, but he drops my leg. Oh well... one time trick there, I guess. He's definitely not going to leave his neck open again... not the same way, so I need to change it up, and adapt myself. Don't know what to do at first, so we keep testing each other out a bit and I finally decide to channel Phil Stroffolino. I lung for the leg and get inside pretty easily. Grab and lift the knee. And yes, he bites. He goes for the head lock so I now have the leverage to hit the backdrop. 21 years of watching professional wrestling was good for something dammit. Ok, he's down now, but he didn't release the headlock, so what to do next. well I still have his leg, so I try to flip him thiking maybe I can get an ankle lot, or better a half crab. He literally drags me over to the wall, and off the mats, so I break the hold. He informs me that he sucks at ground fighting, so I quickly decide that that's how I'm going to finish this fight. Actually... he's not that bad. He gets caught really easy, and he doesn't appear to know many holds, but he can escape better than I could in my young spry days. I go back and forth with him several times trying to work his left leg (which he tended to lead with) but he becomes more and more protective of it. I go after the back but his counters are too good for that. Now I'm starting to get tired and he's showing no sign of stopping, but I don't want to just quit so I needed to find a way to end it fast. I decide to go back to basics again like last fight. I have a really goofy idea, and decide why the hell not. Lunge for the stomach. Bear hug. Force him to grab me to pull me off. Great now I have leverage. Arms around shoulders and neck. Lift myself up. Brace feet and knees against chest and fall backwards. Yes, a very ugly monkey flip. Ugly why? Because I hold on and keep rolling that lands me straddling his chest knees over his arms and I can take as many punches to his face as I want. Everyones friends here, so I don't actually hit him. He acknowledges the beauty and elegance of my really cheap trick. Somewhere William Shatner smiles and I let him go.
Afterwards I ask James why he didn't just drop me when I lifted myself onto his shoulders and he said he basically was shocked and wanted to know what I was gonna do. Ok, I can greatly respect that.
In other news the government continues to be stupid. The DMV being as stupid as the unemployment office. I went in to get the title transferred on the truck. Only apparently the state of Pennsylvania will not allow me to pay $1.00 for a car. I can be given a car, but if I want to buy it I have to pay $100 or more. So I call my dad and he says... "ummm fine... I'm giving you the car." Only if he gives me the car, then Pennsylvania requires that he provide me with his original bill of sale or receipt so that we can prove he actually paid taxes on the truck when he first bought it. Yes... in 1992. In Texas. So he says. Yeah, ok... then you gave me $100 for the car. So now I have to mail the title back to him so that he can get a new title that says the car was bought for $100, so that he can mail it back to me, so that I can pay the state of Pennsylvania $7.00 in sales tax so that I can put my license plate on it, so that I can mail him his plates back. This is really stupid.