I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been doing some real life meetups with some guys, Active Club style, if not actually affiliated with them. We decided after our last meetup that we should get together at the local MMA gym. Friday was wrestling/BJJ, Saturday was kickboxing. I was eager to get back on the mats, but when Friday came around it was simply too nice outside, and I decided to go for a beach run in the sun. Instead, we opted for the Saturday morning kickboxing class.
The class itself was run very well. Like many gyms, they segregate the teams into competition classes and more regular classes, and this was the latter. However, it wasn’t pure cardio conditioning stuff, which I’ve always hated. There was a lot of that stuff, but the class ended with some controlled light sparring, which I thought was productive and great fun.
After the class there was some free time, so we asked the instructor if we could spar BJJ for a while. I had spent about a decade off the mats, but I had almost reached blue belt way back in the day. In contrast, my opponent, who is /ourgoy/, had less than a month experience, albeit much more recent.
While rusty, the grappling was what I remember, just with what felt like an extra layer of butter or slime covering the two of us due to the intense sweating. Kickboxing class had taken it out of the both of us, and we pretty much gassed immediately. I took the first round by armbar, he took the second by rear naked choke, and then he took the third when I tapped out while in half guard not even facing a submission.
Honestly I think it was the right move. I’d been keeping myself in good shape, at least from the perspective of a non-professional athlete, running the mile in around six minutes, and hitting the weights fairly regularly. Despite this, I was aware that a new activity has a habit of leading to soreness, especially wrestling. Little did I know how right I was.
After the gym we hit the beach, which was a bit disappointing. My shirt was beyond soaked with sweat, and I hadn’t brought a change of clothes other than the bathing suit, so I walked around in just the bathing suit on the cloudy, and just a smidge below room temperature strip. Not many people were at the beach, so we ended up just skipping that part and heading home, although the promenade was still enjoyable.
The first inkling that I might have pushed myself a bit too hard came after getting home when I went to take my shirt off. I had taken a much appreciated shower and thrown a new shirt on without much issue. Only a few minutes later I decided to hop into the hot tub. When taking the shirt off I realized that both of my shoulders were sore to the point of being almost useless. I stood there for a minute, trapped inside of my own shirt, before eventually figuring out an alternate way of undressing myself. Even still, while I was feeling it in the abs and back as well, that first day didn’t seem so bad.
Fast forward to this morning and my whole body is hurting. It would be easier for me to find some muscles that aren’t sore. To the best of my knowledge, this is true only for my feet, and even that’s not true for my right foot, which is a bit sore on the top from accidentally kicking the pads the wrong way. Everything else is pain. Hands, forearms, neck, jaw, abs, chest, back, calves, and especially shoulders. I don’t even know how my jaw got sore, since I don’t remember taking any shots to the jaw, but it’s sore nonetheless. And raising my hands above my head is now a struggle.
And in a weird way, I find this enjoyable, or at least partially enjoyable. On Saturday I remembered just how exhausting kickboxing and wrestling is. Today I remembered just how sore you can be the next day, especially if you haven’t done it for a while. It’s all just part of the experience, hopefully without serious injury, and something you need to work past when getting back on the mats. For anyone reading this who’s thinking of doing combat sports, my number one piece of advice would be to go as easy as possible that very first session. Even if your body isn’t feeling it at the time, and you just feel tired, force yourself to go lighter than you feel like.
My second piece of advice would be that you should do it anyway. There’s something different about combat sports, even sloppily done, as anyone who watched us yesterday would conclude. I run almost every day, and think it’s a great activity for keeping in shape. I work out with weights every other day, and that’s great as well. But there’s something that just hits differently when you’re doing some form of fighting. Not to mention the potential practical benefit of being able to defend yourself. This may be more politically relevant than immediately believed, since you never know when the spiteful mutants are going to freak out and attack you.
So head on down to the local MMA gym with a change of clothes and some humility and get crackin. Your body might protest, but your mind will love it.