I’m running late! It’s my first day back in the country and after getting a few bits sorted in town I really wanted to drop by my original Manchester gym – Fighting Fit Martial Arts.
The timing of the drop isn’t ideal….my sleeping and eating patterns are still all over the place, but with the holidays coming up and my plans on darting around to see people this is going to be the only chance I get…..just going to have to suck it up :-)
I arrive, 2 minutes before class starts and check out the familiar surroundings of the impressive gym area. The gym space itself is inside a refurbished archway of the old rail track. It’s a really cool looking gym, once you walk in you get a tunnel view down: reception area, chill out area, changing rooms, weights area, all the way down to the 120m² matted area and boxing ring at the far end.
“Hello stranger”, I hear to my right and see Jay, the owner of the gym in the new café area.
We have a quick chat and a catch up, and she kindly waves off the drop in fee considering I’m no longer a member, grabs me a spare gi that I can borrow for the class, and I arrive on the mat a few minutes late as people are pairing up for the technique drill.
“How you doing buddy? You have a good time?”, Martin asks. Martin is head coach at the gym, BJJ black belt, and my former instructor for privates.
“Really good thanks. Sorry I’m late. Am I ok to jump in?”
The lesson for the day is open guard passing concepts. Some examples for each concept. I pair up and we go through the drills. At the end of the technique session Martin asks us to do some free drilling, just experiment with the different concepts, different styles of passing with minimal resistance.
After the technique session we start some rolling rounds. It was really nice seeing some of the guys again, although it’s such a strange way to catch up….having a chat about how each other’s years have been while at the same time trying to avoid sweeps and armlocks :-)
About the 3rd round in and I start to really feel it. I always loved how hard and fast paced the training is here, but the combination of sleeping and eating at the wrong time with my jet-lag has just kicked in…..my stomach feels like it going…..I think this is the first time I have ever tapped in bottom position just to the pure fear of not wanting to throw up on my opponent! :-)
“You ok?”, my partner asks looking confused.
“Yeah, just need a breather..give me 2 mins?”. The round is coming to an end anyway so we decide to just pair up again for the next session.
“Craig!”, I hear Martin shout as the clock displays the last 10 seconds of the recovery time in between rounds. He points to the space in front of him “Let’s roll”.
“I’m already paired up”, I say.
“No, you’re not”, Martin smiles, pulling rank, and points my partner towards another opponent for this round.
My stomach is feeling ok again and I go over for the familiar, effortless, and elegant crushing that Martin puts on me for the next 5 minutes :-)
A few more rounds and then the class wraps up. Thanks Jay and Martin for having me down. A great gym with a great group of guys! Can’t wait to see you again next time I’m back in Manchester for any considerable length of time :-)