Days 3 & 4 – Of Asuras and Tigers in Phuket ( the thin line between catharsis and achieving painlessness)

June 24

Act 3 Scene 1 – The Grind

The Grind was another crossfit routine that focused on motor-muscles and  conditioning required for high-intensity physical acts. It was just for 30 minutes but highly intense, starting off with extensive stretching followed by a quick sprint around camp (roughly 800 m , equal to twice  the track distance of a standard stadium) . Then came Kettlebell swings with a pretty heavy Kettlebell followed by squats with the same Kettlebell. This was followed by heavy-ball heaves and bouncing them off the mat. And this is one superset with barely anytime to recover between exercises. Three sets in all. I managed to finish it in time. From my personal viewpoint, not really Asura mode stuff but decent enough to burn some fat, energy, get ypur heart rate go bonkers and get a good dose of endorphin-release. 

Act 3 Scene 2 – Beast Lower Body

We did the front squats with optimal posture and technique . Keeping the elbows up was the most challenging factor to maintain form.

Since I barely did the front squats before in my life till then, it was a good learning. Going Asura in the head again helped in finishing strong during the heavier weighted squats. Managed to front- squat upto my body weight of 80 kilos. I did want to go higher, but the wise Coach asked me not to since it was my first time. But surely, in maybe a few weeks. Vowed to make it part of my regular workout routine back home.

I slowly began to realize at this stage  that the Asura mode had been tapped but was in the process of being  constructively regulated too. So that this mental mode of anger doesn’t push me beyond my physical breaking points. Thanks to the timely advice of the instructors, the Asura was being regulated to achieve a state of mental equilibrium with the ability still intact, to decide when to pull the trigger and when not to. 

Act 3 Scene 3 – Crossfit (Snatches)

We trained on the right posture and technique of doing snatches. Easy peasy … quite used to it. No sweat though. Thanks to the blessed lion’s den – driven conditioning back home.

x – x – x – x – x

June 25 (Day 4)

Act 4 Scene 1 – MMA Sparring

In this session, I sparred all three rounds in MMA rules with an Aussie giant, the biggest tough guy (not necessarily the best fighter in camp but definitely the biggest) . He was like about a massive 120 kilos at 6’5 to my relatively meagre 80 kilo frame. And he moved fast, though I wouldn’t say much about his stamina or endurance levels. Going all out Asura at 100% aggression might just tip him off to murder me. Haha. All said and done, I didn’t want to take that risk.Maybe I should have. I dont know. Even if I did, is venting out a justification for suicide? (Or perhaps, was I overestimating  him? ) It’s practice after all. What was I trying to prove ? 

The infinite phantasmagoria of rabid thoughts apart, I decided to focus on it like it was what it was …a sparring session and not an all-out war. And so did the giant. He did take me down thrice in three rounds. Managed even a full mount on me where his brutal size and power just tore apart my jijitsu. On the other hand, I did manage to outpace him several times and landed decent shin-kicks on his colossal outer thighs. It was a good sparring match. 

Lets just say , if it had been a real octagon fight with MMA rules, I would convincingly and devastatingly lose but not without giving a fight in 100% Asura mode (not that I being a middleweight would ever really get into a fight with a super-heavyweight ..haha). If it had been just a kick boxing match, I might just scrape away a victory on points if I managed to stay out of his reach by maintaining a faster pace. To my satisfaction, I managed to set the pace and at the end of the session I respectfully/ fearfully bowed and  walked over to the next session while he was lying there panting. Guess size did come with both pros and cons.In reflection, if it hadn’t been for the Asura mode , I wouldn’t even dare to spar with someone so huge.

Act 4 Scene 2 -Beast Upper Body 

This one was by far the toughest crossfit exercise within the purview of yhis post, i.e., Days 3 and 4 . 

Each person has to finish three sets of three  “stations”  of workouts, each station being at a different spot of the workout area. A station constituted a superset of three exercises.

Station A started with Ketllebell standups starting from the lying-down position to raising onto one shoulder to elbow to palm and back the same way. Then, repeat for the other hand.After that, rope climbs followed by  lat-flies in a squatted position. 

Station B started with lying on each side by turns and working the rotator cuff muscles on the raised  shoulder with a dumbbell or weigted-disc. The rest I totally dont remember . I was pretty much in a daze at that point just working through the instructor’s instructions.

Station C was that exercise that involved making waves with the heavy rope. Reminded me of Brock Lesnar’s caveman workout. Can Muso T be utilised effectively in combat too, since that was after all my prerogative ?I didn’t know yet , perhaps …
Act 4 Scene 3 – Muay Thai 

I was kicked out of the beginners’ class. No please do not get me wrong, the instructor within 10 minutes of observing during warmups , decided I would get more incremental value in the higher levels (Intermediate or Advanced classes, happening simultaneously at different areas of the camp ) Ergo I walked over to the Intermediate (not knowing how Advanced the fellow trainees in the Advanced class would be, and still going there would not be so smart)

Anyway the drills constituted practising posture and stances (This segment is common across basic , Intermediate and Advanced classes . One can infer that no matter what the stage of Evolution the fundamentals needed to be constantly practiced and hence sharpened) . That followed by a bit of shadow Muay Thai where one threw punches, kicks, knees and elbows in various variations  and combos. Then followed the same thing on the heavy bags and then with each trainer doing the same with a Coaching assistant allotted to him or her. And then, as Bruce Buffer would say, The moment we all had been waiting for, its time !  Sparring was the last segment.

I went three rounds of Muay Thai in the ring one each with a different fellow-trainee. My first round was with an Indian-origin man born and raised in Germany. I would later know that he was a PhD from Stanford …impressive ! Anyway this gent was really keen not to fight, so apart from a playful jab now and then and the odd tag-style shin kick sans force, we had to make do.

 The second set of 5 minutes was when it got interesting. I was paired with one Irish Canadian dude called Jack (or Zach, didn’t mind asking him the spelling) who was unlike the soft hearted Jack from Titanic. He was a couple of inches shy of my height and hence reach, but that didn’t deter him. Those 5 minutes reminded me of the second fight (although at a far lower level of expertise ) between Daniel “DC” Cormier and Jon “Bones” Jones. Like DC he tried to move in and tried to force the swinging left hook through my guard . It a perversely correlated way, the earlier training of keeping the elbows up while doing the front squat sort of helped me push my elbows up quickly whenever the faux-DC threw a jumping swinging left hook. And then anyway, suddenly, that thing in the belly started. The Asura bellowed and I found myself countering his swinging left  hooks with superman punches of my own ( now the superman punch from an orthodox stance, for those not aware is when one fakes a right shin kick but instead uses the same leg to push the air back, jump a bit, say 30 degrees to the right and land a gun shot right straight! This move does take a lot of energy out and the intermediate jump needs to be optimized for less energy consumption, not too high. And vice verse if starting from a left shin-feint). Anyhoo, after a quarter-dozen of those counters , the Irish Canadian was a tad flustered and became impatient. That’s when I should have had blocked to let him spend his energy in unstructured low impact strikes. But guess I was over-excited with the offensive with the whole Asura mode going on in the head and failed to approach the obvious strategy . So he rushed and managed to land a pretty nasty right shin-kick on my left thigh. It stung and the physical skin of my left outer thigh cried out with a sensation that threatened to counter the angry cry of the Asura in my head. But in a manner devoid of my active consciousness, the Asura went beserk to counter that pain. I reflexively clinched and landed knees to his ribs , an old technique of Muay Thai that I was taught in 2011 by the good ol’ Shafiq ur Rehman of Mumbai (my first MMA coach) . In hindsight, I realized the Asura hit 100% power for those few seconds. The Irish-Canadian was not backing off either, he went all punchy-punchy on my face though the padded practice-gloves did dull the impact, unlike my naked knees on his ribs. That’s when the Coach ended the round since it was only practice.  Jack looked at me and said “Respect brother ! I am training with you everyday mate ”   Without thinking, I folded my hands and bowed . Guess I won a buddy, his respect and a very good sparring partner. Perhaps we can goto the Advanced session next time, before the Intermediate coach throws us out that is.

The third round was with a Frenchman, Mohd.  Who seemed to be a big fan of the God of War 4 videogame. He sported the exact look of Kratos from the game. Anyway he was maybe a weight class lower than me and half a foot shorter. So as belligerent as he was , I had to keep the Asura mode from the previous round in check so I don’t unnecessarily injure him in what anyway was an unfair contest. He did end up getting caught by a couple of my right shins on his ribs though , when he tried throwing over-zealous straight-crosses at my already-angry self . The rest of the round went harmlessly with me keeping him at a distance with straight left jabs and making a looming threat of a right handed Haymaker  all too apparent  by visibly shaking, almost vibrating right fist (a haymaker is a looping punch with all the momentum of the body , high energy-consuming move but generally has Knockout power ). The round ended and I was glad the jabs were enough in keeping him away . Had he closed in, the haymaker would have had knocked him out. And then the Coach would have had hit me with a cane for going all out in practice. Haha. I shook hands with Mohd., and then went my way.

X-x-x-x-x

As I walked away from camp that day, I realised that I did vent out substantially the whole day. The emotional trauma I was channling out as anger, was still there becoming by then a subconscious state of mind rather than a conscious feeling. Does that mean the Asura mode was fading ? Or alternatively ,  does that mean it was transitioning from an outburst to a more controlled state of mind that could be evoked at will ? I didn’t know the answer on where this catharsis was heading to. It was serving well in the offence for the time being.

Muso Tensei (only the mindset part, channelling sorrow to a self-convincing state of no pain), this was not obtained yet. That made me question whether the root cause of my this endeavour was a cause for sorrow at all. To be able to actually channel it towards achieving a state of numbness. And what does numbness from pain achieve?  Better conditioning so as not to back down from physical exertion or fear of another punch from the opponent, is what I would like to believe. Does that lead to Better defence? I didn’t know then. Only time would tell.

Yours truly,

The dark the fast and the fiery,

Ghost Runner

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