The journey of an aspiring fighter #22

Published On June 15, 2013 | By Helen Harper | Blog

I can’t believe this week has only been a week! How does time go so quick? Before anyone tells me I am getting old, I am very aware of the situation….
The week started off emotional but got much better. As I keep telling myself, if we didn’t go through bad times we would never appreciate the good times. Sometimes I do just need to man up though….

Monday 10th June 2013

MMA Sparring class
I don’t know what to say about this class without sounding like an 8 year old child. I sat out the first round because there was an odd number, then as I was getting up for the second round, everyone swapped between themselves really quickly, and I was left without a partner again. This made me feel so stupid, like no one wanted to train with me, I am the liability of the group, why am I even here? Should I just go home? No one wants me here anyway. Maybe I should just go and come back for jits later? These are such real feelings for me, and I know being the only girl in a mans world is tough at times but sometimes I don’t think I anticipated just how tough it can get. I don’t blame the guys for not wanting to train with me, I mean I am about 30kg lighter than most of them, and about a foot shorter. It’s not a great round for them. I totally understand and don’t blame them one bit. Then you have the guy’s who think they are being really nice but just don’t get how much this comment hurts, “Helen, can I go with you, I need an easy round”. Thanks, I don’t know whether to be happy because someone actually wants to train with me or feel stupid because the only reason is because I am not very good. I know, I know, I need to man up and just deal with it. Usually it doesn’t bother as much as it did today. I don’t have any valid excuse for it, I am a women, we get emotional about stupid stuff, deal with it! We have good points too….
Anyway when I actually got to spar with a few people, I realised why no one wanted to spar with me before, I was worse than useless. I missed so many shots, my timing was appalling, my speed was nonexistent, everything pretty much felt awful. Also, for some reason, today every single punch hurt so so badly, I felt like my body was made of glass, every single punch came shattering through me like lightening. It never hurts that bad usually! I don’t know what was wrong today. Eventually, the mats became too wet (with sweat) to carry on sparring anyway, so we just grappled for the last bit – I was so glad! Back to my comfort zone and something I can have a vague amount of confidence about. I didn’t feel myself by the end of it, but I certainly felt better than I had done at the start.

BJJ gi class
I still felt pretty useless coming in to BJJ class, I really had to talk myself in to going which is unheard of for me. Olavo was in a great mood though, and I think he could see I wasn’t 100% but he was fantastic. It was a smallish class with only about 14 of us on the mats but this was great for me because it meant we could get a little more time with Olavo. He helped me loads with the jiu-jitsu technique which started as a set-up for a shoulder lock and then the shoulder lock itself, followed by a couple of arm bars. The rolling was fun too, I got some good partners, and managed to use the ankle lock that I didn’t think I knew how to do properly (when they cross their feet when they take your back and you triangle your legs over their crossed feet) it worked not once, but twice! So I was pretty happy about that. I’ve tried it loads recently but I haven’t been able to get it on at all.
I had a lovely dinner with Ruby after training too, which was amazing. Jiu-jitsu and a girly chat NEVER fails to make everything better!! Thanks Olavo and thanks Ruby!

Tuesday 11th June 2013

Wrestling class
Andrew put on a fantastic wrestling class again, and I felt a lot better at training than yesterday so I was able to enjoy it a little more too! We started off with some take down defense work, by blocking our opponents shoulder when they go to do the take down. We then moved on to the take down off the defense: Person 1 goes to take their opponent down, person 2 blocks their shoulder but then comes straight in to a double leg of their own. From here we worked a defense, take down, defense: Person 1 goes to take down their opponent, person 2 blocks their shoulder and then goes straight for the take down. Person 1 then firstly tries to scramble back up, and then we also did a sweep where you take control of their torso and on the other side their ankle. Roll back over so they are rolling over you and you sort of twizzle round into side control (twizzle isn’t a very MMA-like word, I do apologise…. I can’t think of a better word to describe the motion!)
We then looked at another wrestling technique which was against the wall. I believe it is called a lateral drop and I hadn’t done it before but I really liked it! I want to try and use it in sparring, need to grow a pair first though. We did do some wrestling sparring but I forgot to count my take downs… The good thing is, I got at least 2, but I think I got more than that but they sort of melted in to one…. so I got somewhere between 2-4. Which is good enough for me! I am starting to grow a little in confidence so something must be going right… wish I knew what it was so I could do it more!

Muay Thai class
I wanted to do some pad work, but Muay Thai was already half way through, however Brad was lovely and asked the Thai trainers if they wouldn’t mind me jumping in half way through, They didn’t so I jumped in and finished off the session with them. I got 3 rounds of pads, and 4 rounds of sparring. The trainers helped me so so much with my Muay Thai technique, showing me how to better my elbows and kicks in particular, and showing me some new techniques mainly involving sweeps (which I didn’t even know you could do in a Muay Thai fight!) The Muay Thai trainers are so nice when we spar, it’s quite a nice break from being smashed in the face by the boys in MMA (although usually I do enjoy this also) I am hoping to jump in more often – finally getting a buzz from Muay Thai which has been a long time coming, I mean I am in Thailand! I should get on it while I can!!

Wednesday 12th June 2013

MMA sparring class
The full session was run in MMA gloves again today, and we started off with three rounds of boxing with take downs, the idea being that you get up once your position is secured with the take down. We then did three rounds off the wall, in which I got a lateral drop! The take down we learnt yesterday!! I tried it 3 times, the first of which was a complete success and I was super proud of myself, however the next two times I got a bit too cocky and failed completely…. served me right didn’t it! I was still happy to get it once. The session was a little short because everyone did a shark tank for Brad at the beginning but obviously I am too small to join in with shark tanks for 80kg guys! Brad did pretty well though with an 8 minute shark tank: Hardcore!!

BJJ gi class
One of the best jits classes I have been to since I have been here, and Olavo was throwing me compliments this evening, it was insane! The Jiu-jitsu technique was from back control, we started off with our far side hook in, and a cross collar grip. We then took control of the far side gi pant and rolled over to a gi choke. The next variation started off the same but instead of controlling the collar and gi pants, we under hooked their far side arm from the back and posted on the other arm. Whilst doing this, we also put our knee over their head and into their neck to secure them. The knees must be tightened to each other and we controlled the arm to bring it back for the arm bar. We did another technique after this but I am afraid to say I didn’t write it down quick enough so couldn’t properly remember it. Slacking I know, I am sorry!! The rolling was awesome though, 5 rounds starting with one other than a brown belt!! Some really good technical rolls from everyone I rolled with though which is always great.
Thursday 13th June 2013

No-gi class
I had to work late today, so no wrestling however no-gi was absolutely insane! Easily my favourite class so far this week for only one reason: Andrew Leone. I had the most absolutely amazing roll with him. It was like rolling with liquid gold, Andrew has about 25 legs and at least 12 arms, it’s incredible. Anyway, we also did some technique and drilling, which started as a sit out from turtle, and progressed nicely into taking the back. I really like Anthony’s style of teaching because it is all the “small man” game which obviously being a “small woman” it suits me well. We actually got about 7 or 8 rolls in tonight, and I not only got to roll with Andrew but also JJ which was awesome as always. Last time I rolled with JJ I felt like it was my first time on the mat, but he gave me some good advice which was when you roll with someone better than you, you should always try out new stuff because they will most likely know the stuff you already know (standard white belt stuff). I figured that I am going to get tapped a few times each roll with him so why not try some new stuff? So I did, and for once it didn’t feel like my first time on the mat when we rolled, I actually felt good! I mean, I still got tapped about 4 times, but I don’t really care about that, the fact I was trying new stuff was what that roll was about for me. There was also a selection of white/blue belts of various different sizes and shapes, quite a few of which I got to roll with, so it was a really varied group today. Still on a massive high after that roll with Andrew!!!! The man is a legend!!

Friday 14th June 2013

Wrestling class
Revision session for the past couple of sessions: Defend; Defend, shoot; Defend, shoot, double under hooks; Defend, shoot, take the back. Getting reps in, Andrew took the class. Only 5 of us in it, all the other 4 were massive guys. They were pretty cool though and we got some good reps completed. Had 4 X 2 minute rounds at the end but I only managed one take down. Rubbish. It was a messy one at that…. A little disappointed with myself but I am sure I can pick my game up for next time.

BJJ gi class
Today Olavo decided to put on an open mat, which was cool. I got some awesome rolls in with Anthony and a Welsh blue belt.
I actually forgot with all the excitement of my roll with Andrew: There was a grading at Top Team yesterday! No less than three of my friends got graded which was amazing. Firstly, Jane Clohissey got awarded her blue belt!! Then Matt Dallaire also got awarded his blue belt!! Unbelievable!! You guys are inspiring. Last but not least Benji Canning, my fountain of all knowledge got awarded 4 stripes on his white belt. So proud of all three of you, you are amazing.

Saturday 15th June 2013

Muay Thai class

I think I am getting a bit addicted to this class now. I know that’s a good thing, of course it is, but for someone who is predominantly a grappler, I have started coming away from every Muay Thai class wanting more, and I can’t wait until the next time I can jump in the ring. This is most unexpected for me! I started off my martial arts journey as a boxer, and was completely unwilling to try anything else for a while, maybe a whole year. This was until I was almost forced into going to a no-gi class by a friend of mine. After a few sessions, I found myself addicted to jiu-jitsu, both gi and no-gi. I found this funny at the time because I had been so against the idea of rolling around with a load of smelly men (which is essentially what jiu-jitsu is). While I was in Sheffield, I tried a little Muay Thai at Wicker Camp (one of the best Muay Thai gyms in England) and enjoyed myself but I wasn’t addicted. I have been in Thailand for 10 months now and have not felt this addiction at all, and have pretty much avoided Muay Thai for as long as I could get away with even though I am in Thailand. It seems pretty silly right? Training MMA in Thailand has its bonuses though, believe me. Anyway, just recently the curiosity has got the better of me, I realised quite how much after the session on Tuesday, because all week I have been thinking about my next Muay Thai session! All week! I think it’s the first week I have been here when my brain hasn’t been 99.9% full of jiu-jitsu! (Obviously I have to keep 0.1% for food and sleep)
Today, at Muay Thai I found this sudden thirst within myself to learn more, absorb more of my trainers knowledge. I worked with Kru Saeng who I have worked with a few times before and his attention to detail was fantastic. The 3 rounds of pads were so technique orientated I felt like it was a private lesson. He worked hard to improve both my knees and my elbows, both of which need great attention given to them – mainly because I just haven’t done too much of it before – and threw in some punches and kicks for good measure. We then moved on to bag work and a couple of the trainers came over and helped me with my elbows: I thought that as I had just gone over elbows in the pad work I should practice while it was fresh in my head. After the bag work came a Muay Thai based circuit: 20 kicks, 30 fast punches, 20 knees, 20 elbows, 10 low kicks, with one trainer per station – we did the circuit twice.
I have been trying to work out the next time I can get to a Muay Thai session and I think it will be Tuesday straight after wrestling I CAN’T WAIT!! Maybe this will lead to big things, who knows what the future holds?! I am excited for it, that’s for sure.

Wrestling class
The only bad side of Muay Thai right before wrestling? My arms ached so bad when I went to wrestling! During the warm up we were bear crawling and crab walking and I felt like my arms were actually going to give way… they are so weak! I thought I had strong arms from wrestling but I was so wrong! Hoping this changes soon, I need to get some strength in them sharpish! We did a technique filled session today with Andrew, going over a lot of the stuff we have done this week, as well as adding a little more to it at points. Wrestling technique Saturday run-down: Single leg, run the pipe; single leg, double leg; single leg take the side of the back; single leg, take the back, come round to the other side and single leg run the pipe. At the end we also looked at the take down defense we did on Tuesday: Someone takes you down, controls your legs. You sit up and put one had on their stomach (aim for the belly button) and the other under hook their ankle. Roll them over you and twizzle (there’s that word again) into side control. I really like this and I really should be able to put it into my sparring sessions because I get taken down A LOT. So I will get enough chance to practice it!


So it turned out to be an awesome week! What could possibly make it better I hear you ask? Well it’s only the first ever Island Fight Night hosted by Phuket Top Team! We have fights, BBQ and live music going on here, lets hope it becomes a regular occasion. This one marks the 2nd birthday of Phuket Top Team – and the team is getting stronger and stronger by the day.

Happy birthday Phuket Top Team!

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About The Author

English Mixed Martial Artist fighting out of Andy Roberts BJJ and Legacy BJJ with a pro record of 4-1.

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