Jameel's Blog: The Comforts of Home
Lots of MMA fighters and martial arts enthusiasts dream of coming to Japan and soaking in the glory, the training, and everything that comes with it. The only thing is, it's a heaven or hell situation in many respects. Dave Strasser spent six months out in Japan doing Shidokan Karate before he did MMA. Six months. Before I came out here last year, he warned me that there could be difficult moments, and I had never dreamed that he was correct.
However, my experiences out here have taught me differently. We fighters love MMA and training so much that at times, a one track mind easily engulfs our thinking. However, we don`t realize all of the sacrifices and hard work that come with training abroad until it is too late. By that time, you just have to deal and focus on the task you have set out to do.
Heaven: Heaven out here for me has been several things. First, winning a main event fight on any Japanese promotion has been heavenly for me. Then of course, private training is awesome, as is the food, and the insane amount of time to relax and enjoy a different culture. Heaven is obvious, and everything I enjoy out here is too.
Hell is all of those little things you forget about. For instance, this is the second year I will be away from my family, friends, and especially my girlfriend during the Christmas season. Two years in a row, mind you. I am lucky to even have my girlfriend at that point, and while everyone probably expects her to just accept this awesome experience for me in support, that is definitely easier said than done.
Another aspect of things here. I am learning Japanese...slowly. The only person I have to talk to out here is...myself. Talking to myself, as crazy as I am, is not something I would like to get into the habit of doing. The last thing I need is to end up in a padded cell.
Then there are the basics. I can`t just go down the street for a hamburger anymore. There is basically only Coke and Pepsi soda out here, and their weird milk-soda combination. So basically, what I get in Japanese coolness, I lose in basic American comforts and things I take for granted like music and movies and TV, etc.
Lord knows, the internet is a godsend. I`m able to Skype and call people when I need to. I can`t imagine how Strasser did it six months back in the day, much less six months without any internet in a day when contact with the U.S. meant mailing a letter and waiting for one in return. No thank you.
In any case, enough complaining. These are simply some pros and cons. Japan is still as awesome as ever, and I am still living like a rockstar out here.
This week I started to get into my groove a little bit. The training is going under the same method as last week, but the only difference is that I feel like I am getting a hell of a lot better at it. Last week I struggled with my form and my technique, but this week everything is coming together very nicely. Seriously, as far as striking goes, I am a different fighter today than I was two weeks ago when I fought. It's been a fast transformation that hopefully will not slow down at all.
Recently, I found out the plan for my fighting out here. I am no longer fighting a shoot-boxing fight in December. We decided together that it would be better to focus on MMA and not getting KO'd or injured accidentally before my MMA fight. My MMA fight will be the first Pancrase event in February on the 1st or 2nd at 65kg (145lbs). It's my third shot at Pancrase and this time I`m going to get that damn win. It`ll be at Differ Ariake Arena in Tokyo. Good times. I`m going to destroy whatever person I fight, I`m fairly confident of that, especially the way things have been going for me lately. This time my hard work will pay off.
A couple of nights ago I watched the K1 Grand Prix! That was kick-ass. If you can find any internet sites that have it I highly suggest watching the last fight. Let's just say kickboxing meets Pride rules and things get out of hand.
Well, I`ve got to get going now. Next week will be better and hopefully I won't feel as rushed with the blog. There are some more pictures here this time, some new ones from my fight at Geki Totsu and then some random pictures of training in Nagoya. Thanks again.