Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fighting in Korea tomorrow!

Small-town Korean love motels are a lot nicer than you would think. While the hallways are so impossibly dark that you can barely find your room, once you do find it, you'll find your $40 US has afforded you a decent-sized and well-appointed room with a big flat-screen TV, water cooler, heated wooden floors, and even some personal hygiene products for your use. And even a personal computer, which I'm using to write you on (after figuring out that I need to copy/paste URLs from Word to get them to show up in English in Internet Explorer).

Makeup stand with shaving cream, lotions, hair product, perfumes and colognes, so you can get back to your significant other without leaving a trace of evidence!

The only downside is that there are no windows to the outside world, but that's because you wouldn't want any, if you are patronizing this hotel for its intended use. But all things considered, I would definitely take this $40/night room over a lot of similarly priced hotels and extended stays in Las Vegas. By a landslide.

Why do I know so much about Korean love motels, you might ask? Sorry, I'm not here to provide any details on a sordid affair with a mistress or an orgy with scores of prostitutes. My purpose is no less animalistic, though. I'm here to get in a fight.

Taking a step back a bit: As I wrote before, I came to Korea to play in the APPT Seoul. I knew we were going to play 8 levels and had to get rid of at least half the field. If I was part of that half, I was going to participate in the Road FC Southern League qualifying event. I have to admit it was very tough to play my A-game after all. I certainly wasn't too spewy, but I definitely got it in a few spots where I suspected my opponents were probably a little stronger than they normally would be in that spot. Overall my money mostly went in when I was behind. But I certainly didn't punt and I'm at least happy for that.

Having said that, I'm pretty thrilled to be fighting in what is now about 18 hours' time. But it wasn't all giddy excitement. Up until yesterday, I was still feeling pretty stressed and apprehensive about it. Having a fight is a stressful situation under any circumstances. You're cutting weight, which is miserable. And you're trying to stay in a good mental state, wanting to stay cool, relaxed and focused, and thinking about the game plan. But after busting out of the tournament and having to face the reality I would be fighting for sure, I was presented with a new set of issues. How was I going to get to this small town of Suncheon, all the way at the opposite end of Korea? Where would I stay once I got there? How would I find the gym? Was there a sauna where I could cut off the last few pounds, and would it be open early enough in the morning to be useful for the 10am weigh-in? I don't speak the language and I don't understand the organization of the event, when I would be fighting or any of the things that would be going on. I would be totally out of my element and that creates a tremendous amount of stress when a fight is involved. I like to know everything that is going on and this simply wasn't going to happen this time out.

All of that was alleviated when David Jung told me he was going with me though, which is awesome of him -- I didn't even ask because I didn't think it would be possible; he simply volunteered himself. My friend Daniel, the guy who actually first got me interested in BJJ, will be coming up from Seoul on Sunday morning to be my cornerman. So still, I'm fighting in a foreign country where I don't speak the language against an unknown opponent with a BJJ blue belt with zero standup as my cornerman! Contrast this with my first ever fight back in September with supportive teammates, experienced coaches, tons of friends and family in attendance, and oh yeah, was held 6 blocks from my apartment,

It got better once I arrived. David and I were greeted by the owner of the gym where the event is being held, and even though he struggles with English, he is clearly a nice, friendly, hospitable guy. He took me up to the gym where the fight will be, allowed me to check my weight on the official scales, try on the gloves, and feel out the cage where the fights will be held.

Where the magic will happen

I checked myself on the scale and I came in at a svelte 62.55 kg (137.6 lbs). Since I actually get a 0.99kg allowance on the official 61kg limit, that means I will likely be on weight simply by going to bed and waking up in the morning. It will be fantastic to do this without sauna time, although in fairness I have had just 300 mL of water all day and won't have any more until tomorrow morning. My dinner tonight will consist of two protein bars, which each just weigh 85 grams but densely pack a solid 296 calories. My mouth is dry, I have a bit of a headache and some light cramps and I'm just generally quite thirsty and hungry. But all in all, this is what the pros would consider "an easy cut". This should give an idea of why weight-cutting is by far the most miserable aspect of fighting.

It's a silly thing, but seeing the gym where the fight will be held is a big thing, psychologically. It just removes so much uncertainty and doubt that isn't rational. Now to me this thing is real, it will happen, and it is something that is familiar to me. Everything is the way it should be.

After leaving the gym, I checked into the love motel. The love motel experience is certainly an awesome thing. The reception desk is basically a window that is almost entirely shaded off, so that you can't see the desk clerk and he can't see you. He gives you the room keys and you give him the money. That's it. The dark hallways I mentioned are that way so that in the event you were to run into someone you know, you wouldn't be able to make out his or her face in the darkness. For obvious reasons, I don't have any pictures to show you.

The tournament organizer -- he asked me to call him "Master PCK", as "PCK" is the name of the gym -- then showed us around for a few blocks of Suncheon. Master PCK took David out to dinner and I politely excused myself (at least, I hope it was polite -- I don't know anything about Korean culture, after all) since I obviously can't eat. I wandered around a bit more but the walking was starting to make my cramping worse, so I decided to head back to the hotel and blog a bit for you all. Hope my dehydrated ramblings still make sense when I read this again tomorrow.

Well, that is all. 3 rounds of 3 minutes. No elbows or knees to the head and no heel hooks. Pretty much exactly Battlefield rules. Same shit, new venue...and that's a good thing!

(And now if you'll excuse me, I think I have to go wash my hands after using this computer.)