March 28: Day 3: Day 3 didn’t start as interestingly as day 2. The most interesting thing that happened was driving to a nearby Walmart for the day’s food. Training itself went mostly well. Sky lead stretching again and this was followed by another intense workout, where a few more people passed out. I even found myself feeling rather light headed at times, but everyone kept pushing through it. After lunch, training was spent drilling more basics. For this day’s training, Shibata-San even busted out the padded helmet so he could get in the ring and teach us all how to lock up properly. Although I was too preoccupied with training and learning, the fact that I got to lock up with Katsuyori Shibata a few times wasn’t lost on me. He even taught us a fantastic trick for how to position our hands in the collar & elbow for what we’ll call “maximum efficiency”. After training, I was chosen to stay and help clean the dojo. This mostly consisted of wiping down the ropes, canvas, and outside mats with the same rubbing alcohol solution we used on our training shoes each morning. As we finished up cleaning, I noticed that Shibata and Sky were in the ring working on stomps by practicing on the the much beloved Tire-San. Over the course of the camp, the tire became popular because of the tire stretch, where you lay your back over the upright tire, and have two people lightly push your shoulders and thighs. It was a saving grace from all of the punishment we had endured each of the days, so a trainee gave it the nickname “Tire-San”, which got a hearty laugh out of both Shibata and Sky. As they were working on stomps, a few of the other trainees who cleaned hopped in to get some reps as well. I figured why not, and rolled in also. The next hour or so was spent practicing jumping stomps on the tire and a medicine ball, adding other items to the pile, until eventually we had made a rather accurate representation of a person. This greatly helped with placement of the stomp itself as well as the follow through after the stomp. All week there were 28 other people trying to get their reps in, so this small, impromptu session of maybe 5 people was a fantastic way to get more hands on training from the coaches. At the risk of tooting my own horn, my jumping stomps are mostly Shibata approved. After training, a fellow trainee, a guy from Australia named Ric, asked where I was staying. I told him of my sick sleeping in rental car strats, and he offered to let me share his room in a motel just down the road from the dojo. This moment was kind of the catalyst for what was to come the rest of the week. I intended to basically do my own thing all week and interact with the other trainees at the dojo and maybe a little outside of it. But this offer wasn’t just to share a motel room, it was also an offer to join a crew of trainees that had formed over the previous days. Since that crew was headed to the same Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles that I was going to, I said yes to the offer of sharing the motel room, and then eagerly said yes to joining them at the restaurant. After a quick shower and change of clothes at the motel, Ric and myself headed to the Long Beach location where we would meet up with the rest of the group. The meal and the night that followed are what elevated this from being a 5 day wrestling camp, to a once in a lifetime experience.
After another fantastic meal at my favorite restaurant in the world (seriously if you’re in L.A. GO TO ROSCOE'S AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE so they can make more money and open up a restaurant in Denver), the group decided to head to Manhattan Beach to hang out and see what we could find to do.
(Here’s where I start rapid-fire throwing names at you). Upon our arrival, Ric, Stephon, and myself discovered the rest of the crew taking pictures of Sean in his speedo on the beach. After Sean got redressed, they joined the three of us on the pier and we began formulating a plan of what to do with the rest of our night. After asking a passerby to take a group photo, we began walking up the absurdly steep hill and seeing what was around.
(Pictures left to right; Ric, Sammy, Alex, Kiko, Sean, myself, Stephon)
After 3 days of Shibata-San’s workouts, walking on flat ground was an adventure, so I can’t even begin describing how I felt looking at the hill before us. At this time of night pretty much everything was closed, but I did learn what crossing a street “New York style, as Kiko (the guy who gave tire-san its name) literally ran into the street and held up multiple cars so the rest of us idiots could run across the street. We walked up to the top of the hill and walked back down stopping at a local ice cream parlor. Earlier in the week, one of the trainees talked about a place called “After’s” where you could get a donut-like thing with ice cream inside of it. This ice cream parlor had their own version of it called a beach bun. I bought one of these and it was alright but fell well below expectations. After everyone got some ice cream, we all hung out on the street corner talking about camp until it was time to turn in and prepare for the next day of training.