So here I am, up bright and early on the morning after I returned from London. I'm headed into work in a moment (shoot me now!), but I wanted to get this blog up and posted first thing. I wrote most of this in London -- I had brought my laptop with the best of intentions of getting all caught up with all kinds of blog, website, and photo gallery work, only to find I had no wireless at the studio and was far too busy wrestling to search out an internet cafe. Wrestling's more interesting anyway, and now I can tell you about it...
I left New York Friday night and arrived in London Saturday morning. I’d only gotten such sleep as you tend to get on an airplane, but I had about four hours to get to Monica’s to wash up and rest a little before the tournament began. It took all four hours just to get there! First immigration was slooooow; then all the subway lines from the airport were closed due to a very specific and inconvenient labor strike; THEN after I got into central London two of the three lines across town (the two I tried first) were also closed for construction! I ended up arriving with most of the other wrestlers and guests, and it was pretty entertaining to see a swarm of wrestling-bound folks pour off the train at an otherwise totally quiet stop and all parade off through the streets together.
So I did arrive, and, thank god, I did manage the quickest shower I could before festivities officially began. And I didn't wrestle right away, so I had time to get pumped up and impatient, which did a lot to cancel out the travel fatigue. I had two matches, one against Zana, who gave me a very tough, exciting match. One of the gentlemen told me it was his favorite of the day, and I think it was pretty big hit generally. Zana told me afterwards that she’s a purple belt, so I was even more pleased to have done so well against her.
My second opponent was Victoria, and she surprised me. I’d seen her do light, sensual matches before and I knew she wasn’t a BJJ practicioner so I didn’t expect the very hard-fought, all-out fight we had. Monica told me later that Victoria had been nervous for our match and really turned up the intensity for it – and when she goes full force, she’s quick and very strong! I had to fight the whole match from the bottom since between the headlocks, guillotines, and scissors, Victoria hardly let go of my head for a second the entire time. But this gave me the chance to pull off some pretty stunning escapes and sneaky, strategic attacks. Definitely an excellent, excellent fight.
Some of the other highlights of the day were the matches between Adrianna and Nikita (two fairly new fly-weight wrestlers, who were quite a novelty as they made *me* look big) and all of Zara’s matches (she fought three to everyone else’s two, and I am beyond impressed with her for giving 110% every time against very tough opponents).
After the event, Zara, Monica, Richard, a few of the spectators, and I went out for delicious and much-needed Vietnamese food, and then I retired back to the studio for even more needed sleep.
We spent Sunday filming additional matches for another company; then went back to shooting for Monica in the evening when I did a competitive mixed match against Paul – a tri-athlete who also claimed to be undefeated in mixed wrestling.
Monday was filled with sessions and filming gi matches. I discovered that I’d remembered to bring my gi, but forgotton my belt, so I also got in my only sight-seeing that day when I went out shopping for one. I saw a lot of parks, packs of school children marching along in their uniforms, an old castle that had been converted into a rock climbing centre, and more kebab shops in five blocks than I’d thought there could be in the whole city. And I found my blue belt.
The gi matches were enormously fun to film; we did them as technical matches but with the added rule that you had to try to use your feet as much as possible, and the combination of traditional technique and creative foot tactics made for really inventive, entertaining fights.
Finally at the end of day, we fit in a bikini bout between Antscha and me. This one was a great, really active match, and it was especially fun because Antscha, who’s normally very serious, gets so happy when she wrestles that she grins and giggles even while she’s fighting extremely hard. She’s also got a perfect beautiful athletic look, so I think the match looked great in that respect too.
Tuesday I finally had a quiet morning and then headed off on a blessedly uneventful trip back to the airport. The flight back was a little more eventful -- I got to watch a couple meet and strike up an airline romance in the row in front of me, and I was seated right up against the stewardess lounge area and so was constantly surrounded by bubbly, sassy Southern stewardesses. (Don't know why all the London-to-New York stewardesses were from Atlanta, but they were.) Not as restful a flight as I anticipated! Back home now, and it was a very good trip :)