Category Archives: From The Beer Cave: Jeff Holcomb talks Beer wisdom and Cage Fighting

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Wrestling… not so easy

On the first Tuesday conditioning session I have made it to at Full Circle in almost a year (with the intention of participating I mean), James Bergstrom asked if the few guys who showed up wanted to focus on wrestling. This was a smaller crew than I was used to seeing on Tuesdays, and I was a bit surprised at first. R.J. Hoyt and Dustin Praxedes were originally going to accompany me, but Hoyt is a pipe-fitter at the shipyard, and doesn’t have it all that easy as far as his schedule goes. Dustin, after a win against Brad Pole at last Saturday’s Point Casino “Pummel at the Point”, was probably exhausted from the adrenaline coursing through his veins for nearly a week. “This is usually how it rolls the week right after fights,” explained Bergstrom.
As for myself, I had been humbled into rethinking my approach to MMA.
I had seen the footage of my bout with Holcomb, and could now identify a handful of things I had done seriously wrong, even from an outsider’s perspective. Tilting my head away as punches came, hesitating after any solid strike, allowing kicking space, failing to throw a right of any sort that landed. I also realized I know nothing about wrestling. I needed a crash course to satisfy my curiosity. Bergstrom was happy to hear that I was up for it, no doubt wanting to have fun as well.
We warm up, to what Bergstrom and his crew must consider warming up, and what I consider a full workout. I was thrilled that I made it through without wanting to die, which if I still smoked cigarettes, I am sure I would have.
Will Montgomery walks in just as the wrestling lessons and activities begin. Montgomery’s fight against Steve Wing of Red Neck Militia, Oregon, was the bout which landed me a published review in Northwest Fightscene Magazine. It was a nail-biter, which could have gone in quite a few different directions throughout rounds. Since then, I have not seen Montgomery fight, but I have seen Wing in a grappling match which he had won. I have an idea of what these two are capable of.
When it comes to the wrestling aspect of cage fighting, I’m clueless.
Bobby Lawrence and Bergstrom give a fellow newbie and I some basic instructions for breaking away from a leg grip which I am still confused about, and maneuvering so that we might eventually end up with our arms locked favorably around our opponent. This is all fun at first, but when Bergstrom sees one of my attempts at mounting for a submission strike… “You look like a pregnant seal trying to dock itself,” he says. I can laugh about this, because it really wasn’t meant as a “fat-joke”, but even if it was, it was a pretty accurate statement. In the grand scheme of all my endeavors with Rougheart MMA Journal, one of my largest irritations is my lack of knowledge about wrestling. After last Tuesday, I can safely say that higher on my list of irritations is that wrastlin aint easy. At least not as easy as it looks.

Bergstrom curled me into a few common positions, and even got me with the “tickle me Elmo” submission. “Yeah, we don’t tap to the tickle me Elmo submission,” he explains, driving his fingers into my armpit as I am unable to escape. This was the most exercise I think that my abdominal muscles have ever had. Trying to escape from these positions seemed close to impossible to me, and the technical knowledge is weighty. Not as simple to write about as Joe punching Sam in the face with a left, and Sam kicking Joe in the ribs with a right. This involves reflective strategy, much like that required in a game of chess.

Bergstrom pits me against a 185’er named Matt, who looks a bit like Zangief from the video game “Streetfighter”. I have a hard time believing him when he tells me his weight-class. I think of Skyscraper Struve, the tallest fighter in the UFC right now, but sporting an over-sized beard. Matt thrashes me around like a rag-doll, and isn’t as friendly as Bergstrom when it comes to pinning someone down. My jaw is still a bit bruised from where he pushed the top of his head down on me against the gym mats. The only reason I didn’t tap at that point was because I couldn’t move my arms. At first, I was actually tapping my own torso, thinking “I know I give up!”

Then I was happy to be pitted against Will Montgomery, who I introduced myself to, and explained why he was one of my favorite fighters in the Northwest. Here is the review I wrote for Northwest Fightscene with him as the main event:

Montgomery, like Matt earlier, also had the courtesy of not going easy on a newcomer. Like a boa constrictor, Montgomery found ways of bending my body until I felt like whimpering. I wanted to tap at one point when he had turned his entire body around to grab one of my legs while he pretty much used my face as a stool. The final position I ended up in would have been morbidly painful if he was in a serious competition and intended forcing someone to submit. I lay down looking up at the ceiling after our session was over, understanding now that there was just one more part of this MMA gig that I needed to get to the bottom of.

Wrestling, and grappling skills in general, can obviously turn a cagefighter into even more of a threat in the cage. If you land down on the mats when you had been hoping for a good stand-up fight, and have your face squashed under Will Montgomery while he ties your legs in knots at your knees and ankles, that could be the end of your bout, easily.

Bobby Lawrence mentioned Landon Showalter’s Arlington Submission Challenge to me, and suggested I should accompany them. I’m taking him up on the challenge, and will be running a feature on it in January. I need the knowledge.

Vallhol Brewery Now Sponsoring Shipyard Brawl V

I know its a little soon to start talking up the event scheduled for January, but I’ve been watching the stew simmer (so to speak). Ever since Jeff Holcomb, owner of Vallhol Brewery in Poulsbo, started talking with Tad Bremer, who has been promoting the event for about four years,

January is all I can think about.

Jeff is kind of crazy, but that is what I’ve grown to like about him. Just earlier this evening he was giving me a few pointers on where the best places on the head are for connecting to your opponent in the cage. “Here, and here, and here,” he says as he connects a few knuckle sandwhiches to the most sensitive parts of my skull. “That’s just hard enough to give you an idea.”

I think he might have knocked an idea or two out of me actually. Oh, yeah, Jeff used to be a professional cage fighter. He jumped right on board with me when I asked him to teach me everything he knows about Ultimate Fighting and Mixed Martial Arts. He’s been showing up to the events with me as a sort of counselor in the field. When I went to the Rumble On The Ridge event in Snoqualmie this past October, I saw a side of him I had not expected. He displayed a clenched fist, growling, watery eyed enthusiasm that border-lined rage. He really enjoys the sport, and his enthusiasm is a bit contagious. Well, I don’t know about the growling, but maybe someday I’ll find myself doing it too.

 Jeff makes great beer, and I know this, because he brewed two of his masterpiece batches for my wife and I on our wedding day. Now you’ll be able to get a taste of his work at the Shipyard Brawl.

He wants to fight again too, and started running last week to get himself back in shape to do it. “I’m not going in amatuer again,” he says, shaking his head, wide-eyed. “I’m coming right out, pro. I (want to) use some elbows baby!” He swings a few shots really close to my face from over the bar table. I laugh and tell him to watch it with those elbows. Is he serious? I think he is…