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Scrapper
6/09/2007 3:55pm,
The Wandering Monk in the frigid North…

After waging war with mutant mosquitoes in the balmy depths of Texas, my travels took me 2,000 miles north and east, to the land of moose and Tim Sylvia. Yes, dear reader…I went to Maine.

Maine is an interesting place. They have trees, spring water, mountains and mullets. Dear god do they have mullets. It was as if I had died and gone to mullet hell. But I digress. While in Maine, I hade the opportunity to visit the Academy of Mixed Martial Arts in Portland. It speaks well of Bullshido when the initial reaction of one of the owners (Jay JacK) was “Oh God…why do THEY want to come here?” After convincing him that he was not under investigation, I sat down to watch his advanced Jujitsu class. It was impressive stuff. As I have come to expect from a good BJJ program, the technical aspects of several guard passes were drilled to mechanical perfection. Jay is an energetic and charismatic instructor, and the class (about 6 people) defiantly appeared to have significant skill. It is always exciting to watch truly competent grapplers work the technical minutiae of what (for all intents and purposes) appears to be a simple movement; until it is put together into a dynamic whirlwind of full-speed application. To have to know and understand that having your leg 15° off angle is necessary is one thing; to make it happen at full speed is quite another.

7955 The instructor that night was Jay Jack.; a pro fighter and judo/BJJ black belt. We chatted a bit about the martial arts and Bullshido. He is a personable, approachable guy, and his approach to martial arts and MMA is quite refreshing. He would rather take a complete wuss and help them become a decent fighter, than breed one champion from an already talented individual. He and I definitely shared the opinion that for our sport to thrive, we need mainstream participation. And with guys like this leading the charge, the sport becomes more and more accessible to the regular guy. It was a great conversation.

They did several guard passes, and then several position drills at full speed. Afterwards, some of the students graciously offered to roll with me. My first roll was with a purple belt named Arthur Haines. I would like to say that I acquitted myself well in our roll…but that may in fact be an exaggeration. I can say with full confidence that I participated. That’s about it though.

Complete ownage. *sigh* I am getting out of shape.

I also rolled with Donny Flowers, a blue belt who I felt I had a better chance with…because I appeared to have 40 pounds on him. This one did go longer. I felt I hung in there with some positional transitions, mounted some offense, and generally tried to give him as hard a time as I could. He got me though: with a nicely set up spinning juji gatame.

At this time I am forced to point out that this may be the first time a BJJ blue has ever tapped me out. It is certainly the first time that I can think of. I don’t know what they are feeding them in Maine…but I want some.

Next was John Bronson. Nice guy. He had a T-shirt on that said “I’m the guy that sucks.” I felt this was a good sign.

I was wrong. Once again I did all I could to give him a hard time. I muscled, I stalled, I tried cheap offensive tactics. But basically I just delayed the inevitable. I ended up tapping to a near-side-hook-ankle-lock off a twister attempt. God damn Eddie Bravo…

After that…It was Jay Jack. 21 pro MMA fights. Machado black belt. Judo black belt. All-around nice guy.

Everything I did after we shook hands was stall. Poorly. It was pathetic. Remember that time your 4-year-old cousin wanted to wrestle you? That’s what it looked like. I was never even in this one. But I tried. Complete positional dominance and technical destruction. I was playing out of my league and I knew it. Ah well. It was fun and educational.

After tapping out about 3956 times, we all sat around and talked technique. They helped me out with the twister, I told them stories about how good I USED to be. I swear to god if I was in better shape I woulda done better, I swear! Dammit!

I can’t say enough good things about this place. The gym is large, with lots of mat space and a regulation boxing ring. There are plenty of heavy bags and equipment, as well as weight training equipment. The instruction is top-notch, the people are top-notch, the lobster is top-notch (Hey…we’re in MAINE here people!).

Next time I hope to get some face time with Amanda Buckner. The co-owner and pro fighter recently featured on BoDog Fight! Jay was vehement that I point out that lots of places have female fighters, but Buckner is an owner, instructor and integral part of the AMMA machine. I will try to set up an interview for my next trip to Maine.

The Wandering Monk rates this gym a 9.7 out of 10. The only way to improve it would be to actually hire a full-time Machado or Gene LeBell to coach there; and to put in a cage. If you live in Maine and aren’t training here, you are an idiot.