My MMA Journey · Philippines

My Amateur MMA Journey, Part 3: Getting Serious

After getting quite literally crushed on Saturday, Sunday’s rest was much needed. It also gave me the chance to prepare for a demo class with an online English teaching company. You can read my evaluation of this and other such opportunities to earn an income from teaching online in my previous post.


Ready to go!


I returned to the gym Monday evening to get punched in the face, something I was starting to miss after all the grappling.

In fact, the training was an excellent opportunity to focus on offense and defense, respectively, and I learned a few valuable things about my skills.

Fun fact number 1: I do not know how to defend myself.

Honestly, this doesn’t really come as a surprise. In every gym I’ve trained at, I wore gloves and the coach wore mitts. When we did practice defensive moves I was almost always too slow and instead of making this a focus we mostly just ignored it.

At Elorde I occasionally paid for a session of throwing punches at my trainer in the ring, but again he hardly threw any at me.

At Team Lakay, on the other hand, there was no taking it easy on me and I love that. A serious-looking fighter stepped up to spar with me on Monday and after one round of defending myself from his punches it was my turn.

Fun fact number 2: I’m pretty good at boxing. Hurray!

I held my punches back, but there were a number of clean open straights to the face and hooks to the head, along with one beautiful upper cut right on the jaw line. That’s a potential knock-out punch right there, hey.

Next up, one round of getting kicked. Here’s where I started learning about defense. For the punches, I believe the point is to slap them out of the way before they land in your face; this I will have to work on.

For the kicks, I learned a few defensive moves in Muay Thai classes at Elorde and The Den but while sparring I found either stepping into the kick and ideally grabbing your opponent’s leg or stepping out of reach to be more effective.

Fun fact number 3: Footwork is a big part of defense, and it’s another area that needs a lot of my attention.

Fortunately, it is the foundation of every class at Team Lakay–something to which the open blisters on the balls of my feet can certainly attest.

With the bruised rib and the blisters and a bit of a cough, I decided to rest on Tuesday and returned to the gym Wednesday morning with my daughter who refused to stay home.

Luckily, the morning class was made of a smaller group and they were mostly I’d say high school or elementary kids. It appears to be where beginners go and I was more than happy to jump right in. This was the first time sparring mitts were used in the training since I started at Layak, and I also got a chance to hold kicking pads for the other students.

Once again, footwork: no matter what you’re doing, you’re never standing still.

I got to do a bit of mitt-and-kick work with coach John, as well as mitts with the famous coach Mark. During the breaks I practiced with my four-year-old daughter; she kicks hard!

I returned to train Wednesday evening, got punched and kicked in my bruised rib a couple times, and continued working on upping my defense game.

On Thursday morning I grappled with the beginner’s class and that was wonderfully helpful. I learned some basics, including the guillotine and rear-naked choke and I got to practice my arm bar and the rib crusher. I managed to get full mount, side control, and back control and got a good few submissions out of each position. I didn’t even tap out once!


Study time: watching Anastasia Yankovic fight an 18-year-old.


I did attempt to work on toughening my throat while practicing chokes but ended up coughing and making my grappling partner feel bad; haha. The cough is left over from being run down, but nothing a Strepsil can’t fix.

With sore ribs, bruised shins, and blistered feet, I’m ready for a quick respite.

Next on the travel agenda is a trip to Sierra Pines Baguio for a nice little 24-break from life.

After that, I’m considering a short trip back to Manila on the bike next week for some errands but mostly I want to finish my free trial at B.A.M.F. with some Brazilian jiu-jitsu lessons. I hope to return to the grappling group class the Saturday after next and show those girls that I’ve learned something.

For the rest of this week, my goal is to finish up my initial ten sessions at Lakay (6 down, 4 to go), which means going twice a day whenever I can. With the possibility of a gym back in Manila that might want to sponsor me, there’s more and more of a chance that I might fight after all so I need to start training like it. I’ll get right back to it after this little break, and maybe a good massage.

Walking home from the gym: life is good.

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