Sunday, October 25, 2009

House of Pain!

A word of advice: Any time a Marine tells you that he's planning to put your BJJ class through the "House of Pain", take him at his word.

This past Saturday, when I came into class, the whole atmosphere was different. Neither of our instructors wore their gis. And Mario, who is normally soft spoken and friendly, was in Marine mode. He was all business.

I smelled something burning. When I asked Mario, what it was he smiled and said, "It's the heater." We live in Florida and, even though it's October, there has been no heater-worthy weather yet this year. It wasn't until my other instructor, Ben, told Mario to turn it up a little higher that I realized why.

House of Pain.

They had stations set up all around the room with a boxing ring taped into the middle of the mat. Mario went over the few strikes that we know: lead hand jabs, rear hand punches, upper cuts, hooks, etc. Then he explained we would be going through the circuit and taking turns boxing in the center for two minutes each against him. There would be no head shots, only body shots, and we would be wearing gloves and protective gear. The House of Pain would go until everyone had been through the whole circuit and had their two minutes against Mario OR until someone hit Mario hard enough to end the House of Pain. If anyone at any of the stations got caught flaking out on their assigned station, 30 seconds would be added onto the clock for the guy in the middle and everyone else on the circuits.

Everyone was intimidated. Mario isn't a big guy, but he is definitely tough. Especially when he has his game face on.

They turned off most of the lights and then we started. I was surprised that Mario was yelling at the people in the ring. "Come on, Fighter! Hit me! Come on!" I got to see most of my team mates go before I did. Mario was obviously not going all out, but he was still taking shots. I think everyone got the wind popped out of them at least once.

My turn was no different. I wanted to give it all I had, so I came out aggressive. It was my first experience with this sort of thing and it was weird to have Mario yelling at me and punching me. Once, he popped me hard right in the gut. Boom. Couldn't breath. Mario's yelling at me. "Can you keep fighting, fighter? Can you fight?" As soon as I said yes, the fight started again.

I was both surprised and disappointed by how fast I got winded. We only went for 2 minutes. By by the end of the first minute, I was gassed. It gives me a new appreciation for boxers! Not only did I get winded fast, but all the technique Mario taught us about punching went right out the window. I was trying to think about what I was doing, but everything was going so fast. That's what practice and muscle memory are for, I guess!

After everyone had gone through, Mario turned the lights and the AC on (that you Lord) and had us all sit down. He read us a story about a Marine who led men throughout the night defending an area against an enemy attack, despite several serious injuries to himself. The guy went on fighting even after he was tired because he knew his own life and the lives of him men would be ended if he quit. He also reminded us that we are a team. Everyone who trains together should be working to help each other, not competing against one another.

After that, we worked 3 similar sweeps to use when someone stands up, holding onto your legs. I don't remember if there's a specific name for when someone does that. ;) Then we grappled. Because of the House of Pain, we only got two grapples in, but I was happy with how they went.

Safe to say I was exhausted by the end of the class.


leslie said...

I am so glad that Tim is not a Marine. :o

slideyfoot said...

Very interesting (and nicely written, by the way): there is definitely something about instructors with a military background that makes for a tough warm-up.

Personally, I wouldn't like it, and not just because I'm an unfit wimp (though that sure as hell is a big part of the reason! ;p).

In my humble opinion, a warm-up should be exactly that, just 'warming up' the muscles and joints to prevent injury. Fitness should come from sparring and drilling, specific to BJJ, rather than things like push-ups or whatever.

A.D. McClish said...

lol, Leslie, Mario being a Marine definitely has it's benefits and it's drawbacks! His game is completely different than our other instructors. It has a little extra spice to it. ;)

And Slideyfoot, yeah it definitely was a warm up to remember! But, usually our warm ups do consist of BJJ specific exercises like "yes, no, maybies" and hip-outs. This past Saturday was more of an object lesson, I think. There are a few people in our class who are sort of gunning for submissions. You know, getting their egos up and stuff and I think Mario was using this as a team building exercise. Whatever his reasoning, it was a cool experience. I'd never actually tried to punch anyone before. ;)