This Week in Wrestling April 11, 2014

In Uncategorized on April 11, 2014 at 2:23 pm

By Antonio Graceffo (The Brooklyn Monk)


“You too many mind. Mind the sword, mind the people watching, mind the enemy…too many mind. No mind!” The Last Samurai
I have been feeling very over tired, over trained and just exhausted with school, training, working, and trying to get Fred Schroeder to fight me. I was suffering from “too many mind.” I had to bodily drag myself to wrestling practice tonight, and as always, it turned out to be a brilliant evening of training.
Originally, Fred said he would fight me tonight, but then backed out again. So, just before I went to wrestling training, I did a final check. I sent him a message, asking, “Are you and your friend coming to fight me?” Because first, he said he was fighting me. Then he was fighting me and my huge kyokushin friend, Albert Tan. Then he said he was bringing a friend to beat me up, and he was going to watch…. So, I asked if they were coming, or that was another of his huge lies. His reply was “Suck my —.” So I assumed he wasn’t coming, and I went to practice.
My team has been training like mad recently, preparing for the national championships and everyone is injured and over trained. Tonight, the coach wasn’t there, so they were playing soccer and for the first time, I didn’t blame them. Instead of soccer, Zheng Tong trained with me, because he is one of the most solid friends I have ever met. He reminds me of a loyal Rottweiler of a devoted wolfdog that if anyone ever even looked like they would hurt me, Zheng Tong would rip their throat out with his teeth. I hope I never say anything self-deprecating, or he might attack me.
After a lifetime of wresting, which he began at age 9, Zheng Tong is getting bored. He keeps pushing me to get him some MMA fights. In the mean time, he has joined the university’s professional san da team. So now, he trains san da, twice a day, and STILL comes to all the wrestling practices. Tonight, I worked with him on san da throws. Although his wrestling is much better than mine, I am better at integrating wrestling into san da or MMA, because I have more experience. A lot of the wrestlers, and even pro san da guys, have started coming to me to teach them more about using Chinese wrestling in san da. Zheng Tong said, “Nǐ de zhōngguó ge do hen lihai.” I often here the Chinese teammates and fighter friends referring to what I do as “ge do” rather than MMA. Ge do is the old Chinese MMA. It was like san da, but with ground fighting. Our ge do teacher, Zhang Lǎoshī used to let me teach the last 30 minutes of each ge do session because he recognized the fact that ge do wasn’t nearly as developed as modern MMA. So, I would teach the students how to move from takedown, to side control, to some basic submissions and chokes.
My friend Kirk, a good Canadian, who was a national Greco Roman competitor, came to the university to train with us tonight. He and Zheng Tong started wrestling and everyone stopped what they were doing, to go watch. Kirk’s techniques were really amazing. And my teammates were all so excited and inspired by this 45 year-old man that had such great wrestling skills. I was also amazed at how Zheng Tong was wrestling with Kirk. After a lifetime, he has nothing to prove. So, when he wrestles me or some of our teammates, he wrestles at a certain level. But the level I saw him wrestling with Kirk was much higher. I was amazed at how well Zheng Tong could wrestle when he wanted to. The team captain, Wang Ye Chao had once told me that in his opinion, Zheng Tong was the best wrestler on the team. And now I see why.
After the two of them took a break, the team left, and Kirk stayed, to teach me and Zheng Tong some wrestling. Zheng Tong and I repaid him by showing him some of our san da ge do, which I think he hadn’t seen much of before. It was a great evening. Kirk worked with us on completing a single or double when the opponent has you in a choke. This was something I started learning in Cambodia. And now, Kirk took it a bit further. We also worked on, the throw I learned from Casey Barnet in Cambodia, where your opponent has one underhook, and you more or less fall in the direction of his underhook and it takes him to the ground, and you land in side control. I actually managed to pull that one off in sparring earlier this week, and again tonight (Fred said it wouldn’t work him because his zero years of wrestling have prepared him to beat any wrestler.) Then Kirk showed me how to refine the technique by popping your hips. Both he and Zheng Tong said it was a difficult throw to get against a good wrestler. But both agreed that from the clinch, most MMA guys wouldn’t even know about it and couldn’t defend against it. (Damn! Now I went and told everyone.)
After Kirk taught us. Zheng Tong and I demonstrated our ge do. Then we sparred wrestling. each time he took me down, we continued fighting on the ground. I am working a lot on rolling straight into a basic submission or a reversal, if I get taken down first. I am also working a lot on catching the opponent’s legs and using the momentum of his throw, to pull him down, roll, and get dominant position. It wasn’t the single most intensive training session of my life. But I learned a lot. So, it was good to have a physically lighter training session, where I learned so much. Afterwards, Kirk went home and Zheng Tong and I went to the weight room and completed our strength training.
Tomorrow, Saturday, I am supposed to do strength and conditioning training, but I will be teaching a full day at the Japanese school. So, I will just take off from training, and hopefully, that will help me recover. Sunday, my team is going to train with the wrestling team at the football stadium. I am waiting for word from our teacher to see if I can go with them. I think it would be a great opportunity for me, because I heard there are all kinds teams, wrestling, BJJ, San Da, Ge Do, and others that train there. So, maybe I will find some new opportunities for cross-training and for Martial Arts Odyssey.
Other than being a bit tired. I am mostly happy with my life right now.
Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. He is martial arts and adventure author living in Asia, the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.
Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on
Brooklyn Monk fan page
Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE
Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

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