Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Some background to the Grappling as a Theater Art workshop:

I first got into grappling because I wound up managing a female wrestling team. It started with my girlfriend and I going to fetish clubs and wrestling on the floor. At the time I was also building her up as a model to create action hero for comic books, trading cards, and a website. Soon one or two people had contacted her asking if she did wrestling sessions (where a man pays a woman for an hour or half-hour of wrestling). One of our early clients happened to train in Brazilian jiu jitsu and offered to train us. By this time we had recruited a few other young women we had met at various places into the team to also be characters and do sessions.

We basically made wrestling the “next big thing” in the fetish scene in 2006. We were booked for a few party performance gigs, which I directed. The most notable was something I called “Sadism and Socialism” in which Rudy the Red Rabble-Rousing Radical Reindeer rallied Happy, the Proletarian Worker Elf in rebellion against Mrs. Claus. We even did a skit at the Chinese New Year Celebration at Fighthouse, the martial arts studio where we trained, called “The Perils of Women’s Self Defense.”

The less said about how that wrestling team and I parted ways in this venue the better, but it did lead to me starting to make a short film I would call “The Redemption fo Captain Zorikh.” Before that film was finished, though, two of the featured performers quit the project. So I re-envisioned the work, found a whole new cast and started over. WE trained and rehearsed for 11 weeks, and by the time I was through, the movie now known as “Redemption: Find Out What You’re Worth” was a reality.

One of the things I discovered as a result of that movie was that grappling is a movement vocabulary that, like dance, can be used to tell a story, just like dance. And yet though martial arts have been adapted into dance for decades now, grappling has yet to break though. Also in the stage combat world, grappling is almost unknown (unless you count its uses in Pro Wrestling).

This led me to thinking of putting together a stage show using the grappling arts as a performance medium. We would perform skits using grappling to tell stories or as integral parts of the stories. I thought this might be a good fundraiser for the movie as well as raising the profile of the grappling arts. Life intervened, delaying the completion of “Redemption” and other things. Now however, several things are converging that is making the realization of this dream a possibility.

For over a decade I have been performing with the Faux-Real Theater Company. For the past few years I have been running the wrestling room at the Wicked Faire. I have been working with East Coast United Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, making videos or them and getting training. Putting all this together, I have decided that I am going to have some sort of performance at the Wicked Faire in February, and with that in mind, held a workshop at ECU BJJ last Saturday to explore a few ideas for this show.

To be continued…

And finally, I faced "Superman" in the Open Division

Here's my final match at the Acom Sports NY State Grappling Championships. I got paired up with a guy wearing a Superman shirt, so I decided to wear my Captain Marvel shirt. For all the good it did me...

In this video, I review my day's performance and say a few final words.

Thank you to all my sponsors for supporting me. Though my score total was lower than I had hoped, it was a learning experience and enabled me to make 5 videos.

The upshot of this is, however, that I have decided that this kind of casual, recreational training is not advancing my skills enough for the months that I have been doing this. If I ever want to be more than a genial goof, I have to get real training from a real academy. Fortunately, East Coast United Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has recruited me to make videos for them, and in exchange, will be training me. Watch this soace for the results!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

So after two no gi matches and one gi match, I tried the Takedown Tournament...

My takedown game sucks.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fundraiseing matches at Acom Sports NY State Grappling Championships #3

Here's the third match of the day in Captian Zorikh's "Redemption" fundraising challenge. This was in gi. Sponsors, watch closely...

So we got three points!

Stay tuned for the takedown and absolute matches!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fundraising mates at Acom Sports NY State Grappling Championships #2

Here's the second match. Remember, every point scored would earn me $ towards finishing "Redemption."

Total points = 0

Friday, July 23, 2010

My fundraising matches at Acom Sports NY State Grapplng Championships #1

As promised, here are the matches I fougt in at the Acom Sports NY State GRappling championships.


0 points

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Redemption" Screened at Acom Sports NY State Grappling Championships!

this past weekend, as you regular followers of this blog know, I competed in the Acom Sports NYC Grappling Chamnpionships to raise funds for the ocmpletion of "Redemption." I will report the ouutcome of that in a different post, but they were also kind enough to let me screen "Redemption" at the end of the tourney.

I had screened this movie twice before, once at the Wicled Faiore and once at a private screening. In both those instances most of the people watching had been involved in the movie at some level or were friends if mine. I had taken feedback from them and made adjustments to the movie as a result.

This time, most of the people watching were folks with little familiarity with the movie at all. Further,mor, the viewing experience was sub-optimal. I was projecting it against a wall, not a screen, the room was very bright, and because this was happening in the same room as the tournament had been, people were milling about, cleaning up, folding up mats, wandering to and fro, sitting down after it started and leaving before it was over. There were many "peanut gallery" comments, and much off-the-cuff, on-the-spot, irreverent, unsolicited critique.

This was exactly what I expected and what this project needed.

I realize now that the movie needs a re-structuring and the pace needs to be picked up. A friendly, supportive audience in a dark theater will patiently sit through some of the slower scenes and try to figure out what's going on, but I need this movie to catch people early on and keep them attached to the main character and his adventures. If a scene is a little confusing, I need to make it more clear. If something as dragging, I need to cut it. And I need to start out the movie with something that will give the audience a stronger clue as to what the climax of the movie will be.

So into the shop it goes. I am targeting a September date for another screening, this time with more original music and with the film completely restructured, and probably shorty, I'm guessing about 50 minutes long.

Captain Zorikh Eats a Cheeseburger

After all the training and cutting weight and then the competition, I felt I deserved a little comfort food:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sponsor "Redemption" at the NY State Grappling Championships

Hey folks, I got an idea that I hope will make sponsoring this movie fun and exciting!

As you should know by now, "Redemption" is being screened at the NY State Grappling Championships this Saturday, July 17th in Fishkill, NY. Well, I've been inspired by walk-a-thons to set up a plan that will encourage me to fight harder than ever before!

All you have to do is decide on an amount of money you would like to pledge for every point I score in the tournament. Then, when the event is over, I will post the video of the matches, and you can see all the points I score. Then you can go to Indiegogo.com and donate your pledge. You will notice that each pledge there comes with a collection of "perks" commensurate with your level of contribution.

Now I have a 2-32-2 record in competition and I don't think I have scored even as many as a dozen points in my entire career, but I have been working out, training, and improving, as you can see by this video...

...so you are taking a gamble by pledging here. Can you handle it?

The minimum pledge is 25 cents a point. And just to put as little more competition in, the person who pledges the most will receive a copy of the preview DVD screener, a copy of the finished movie, and a copy of the all-original soundtrack CD once it is all done!

Here's the way scoring will work at the tournament, according to the rules posted at the Acom Sports website:

Scoring Points: To gain points for any move or position, the competitor (aggressor) must show clear control for a 3 second
count by the referee – this is the key in point scoring for ACOM-SPORTS – TOTAL CONTROL FOR 3 COUNT TO EARN POINTS

1. Takedown or Throw: Land on Top in Guard or Half Guard= 2 points Land on Top in Side Mount or Full Mount= 3 Points
Note: Points will be awarded separately for Full Mount after an additional 3 count of control.

2. Sweep with Legs (from Half Guard or Full Guard) or Arm Drag from Open Guard to Turtle: 2 points (must hold for 3 count to
be awarded). NOTE: Inversions (Power Rolls from Side, Full or North/South are NOT considered Sweeps & will not awarded any
points or advantages

3. Passing the Guard (open or closed) - 3 points (must hold for 3 count to be awarded points) – MUST CLEAR ARMS & LEGS

4. Mounted position (both knees on the ground): 4 points (must hold for 3 count to be awarded)

5. Back Mount with Leg Hooks (or Knees on the Ground with Opponent Flat on his Stomach): 4 points (must hold for 3 count to
be awarded)

In addition, for the purpose of this pledge drive, if I win by points, that's worth 5 points plus points scored in the match.
Should I get so lucky as to win by submission, that will count as 10 points, plus points scored in the match.

Thanks in advance, those of you who will be contributing. I look forward to doing my best and living up to the confidence you have put in me!

Redemption screening at NY State Grappling Championships next weekend!

Hello friends, I’ve got some big new! I’m on TV again this weekend, my movie is screening next Sautrday, and I ACTUALLY WON A GRAPPLING MATCH! ON CAMERA!

First off, the TV show “Toni On! New York” is rebroadcasting its episode of “Weird New York” in which they visit the Big Apple Comic Con and interview Yours Truly, Captain Zorikh, and display cartoons I drew of the Toni On! Team as superheroes. Tough I did not find out about this until just now, you can tune in (or set your VCR or TiVo) at 11:30 AM tomorrow morning, Sunday, July 11.

Next, that grappling movie I have been working on for the past year is having a big screening at the Acom Sports NY State Grappling Championships next Saturday, July 17th. I will be competing in this tournament, after which we will screen the movie. This will be at the Fishkill Recreation Center at 793 route 52 in Fishkill, NY. Registration begins at 8:00 AM, matches begin at 10:30 AM, and the movie will be shown when the matches are done, probably around 4:30 – 5:00 PM. For more info, go to http://www.acom-sports.net.

I’ve been editing the film down a bit, making it more concise, and also am going into the studio with the brilliant musicians Ash Gray and Jeff Webb to record a whole new soundtrack! You here's a rough demo of one of the new songs:

Finally, what makes next Saturday’s tournament especially exciting for me, is that all my hard work, training, and persistence has been paying off! In addition to being in some of the best shape of my life, I actually won a grappling match at the NY Submission Open two weeks ago! You can see parts of the match in this highlight video of the event:

So now we’ll see if I can pull out another win on the occasion of the screening of my movie!

I hope to see you there!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Help support "Redemption!"

I need just a few more dollars to make sure this project is everything it can be. We need to go into the studio to rehearse and record the all-new score with Ash Gray and Jeff Webb, We need a new external hard drive for all the files and footage created for this project, and we need to press the DVD's for the movie once it is ready.

Indie Go-Go is a great website that allows anonymous contributions and we have lots of tasty perks for folks who contribute!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Teaser!

While putting together promos for the Acom Sports events, I realized I needed a much shorter trailer that got straight to the action, so I created this 41-second teaser:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

New Trailer!

I have been thinking about a new trailer for a while. The old one is pretty long, and I wanted to bring some of the other storylines into it. Beside I needed a new trailer to promote the GRAND SCREENING AT THE ACOM SPORTS NY STATE GRAPPLING CHAMPIONSHIPS on SATURDAY, JUNE 17! So here goes...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Captain Zorikh competes at Renegade GRappling Tournament this weekend!

Hey friends, if you have been following my Facebook announcements (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=598551661&ref=profile) and YouTube channels (http://www.youtube.com/captainzorikh, http://www.youtube.com/czredemption) you know what’s going on this weekend. For the rest of you, here’s the news.

I have recovered enough from the injury I suffered aat that grappling tournament where I won my first match to consider myself ready to re-enter the ring. I’ll be doing so on Sunday, April 25 (tomorrow) at the Renegade Grappling League even!

This went will take place at John’s boxing gym at 436 Westchester Ave in the Bronx. It’s just one block from the 3rd Ave-149th St. stop on the 2/5 train.

It will be a round-robin, open-skill level tournament (anyone at any skill level may compete with anyone else) divided into 6 weight divisions, with an open weight tournament also.

If you want to compete, it’s only $35 (the cheapest tournament fee around). Spectators are free, just walk right in.

There is an event announcement on Facebook with more details (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=598551661&ref=profile#!/event.php?eid=116921918318186) and I posted an event announcement on Going.com as well (http://newyork.going.com/event-747845;Renegade_Grappling_League)

I hope to see you there, and if you can’t make it, wish me luck and safety!

Captain Z

Captain Zorikh GETS HURT!

Here is the true story behind the injury I suffered at the tournament at which I won my first victory..

Renegade Grappling League promo

Promo video for a tournament I am competing in this weekend

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Here are two promos I did fro the Long Is;land Grappling Challenge I, which I competed in last week:

I'll have video of my performance in the competition soon!

Kick-Ass: the latest movie I wish I'd seen first.

On Monday night I was fortunate enough to have obtained a pass to the advance premiere of “Kick-Ass,” the new movie based on the comic book written by Mark Millar and drawn by John Romita, Jr. Of all the movies I wish I had seen before making my latest movie, this is the one that fit’s the category best.

The story is a Campbellian hero’s journey that takes the concept of “what if a real person tried to be a superhero” to the dirtiest, most violent, foul-mouthed, and glorious degree.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, it goes sorta like this: A high school student comic book geek wonders why no one has ever really tried to be a superhero. Of course this kid and his friends are regularly pushed around and ignored by girls, and muggers don’t even have to threaten them with violence. One day he buys a scuba suit and tries to be a superhero. It doesn’t work out, but he doesn’t give up. His example inspires others, and he winds up in a deadly, violent confrontation with an organized crime boss. People die, and he finds the hero within himself and becomes a man.

“Comic book movies,” that is, movies based on comic books or comic book characters, come in two varieties these days. There are those that are based on a character, usually with a long publishing history, and try to build a movie around the concept (with varying degrees of seriousness and success), ie: Superman, Bat Man, Spider-Man, etc. Then there are those that are based on specific comic book stories or graphic novels; A History of Violence, Sin City, Watchmen, Etc. Those of the latter kind seem to have a higher rate of success, both as movies and as adaptations, and this movie, fortunately, fits that pattern.

The casting of the movie is excellent; combining perfect talent (Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz) and some inspired “gimmick casting” (Nicholas Cage, Christoher Mintz-Plasse). As the hero, Johnson’s face echoes Toby Maguire’s “gee, something good actually happened to me” cockeyed half-smile, combining cultural reference with endearing honesty. Cage, as the ultimate badass superhero, does some of his best work as a mild-mannered father, and hits all the right notes imitating the delivery of a noted 1960’s TV actor. Mintz-Plasse brings a surprising darkness to a role that seems like a development of his character in “Role Models.”

There are differences between the movie and the book. Some of them are simply matters of the necessary structural difference between a movie and an 8-issue comic series. As Mark Millar stated in the Q&A after the screening, the miniseries was an eight-act structure, while a movie has a three-act structure. Some of the differences, though, were blatantly involving the difference between what you can do in a comic book and what you need to do to sell a movie. Millar pointed out that one change (and a very drastic one, I thought) was instituted because they simply needed to have some sex in the movie.

Another change was a bit more of a trade-off than a pander to the masses. There is a moment in the comic book where the hero makes a moment of immense personal sacrifice, paying off a setup from very early in the story and showing the character take control of a situation unlike he had ever done before in his life. That scene was eliminated in the movie, allowing for a touching moment between a father and daughter. This gave more of the movie to another character, and made it less about the titular hero. The hero did get to have his hero moment later, but it was not as strong and significant as the one in the book.

The audience, packed with fans of comics in general and the original comic in particular, ate this movie up with a spoon. They cheered and laughed at all the right moments. I happened to be sitting between two women who were not fans, and they seemed a little shocked at some of the violence, though at they end they admitted it was a good movie. I agree that the gun violence does get a little gratuitous at times, but this is not a movie for the weak of heart. Life and death can be an ugly, unforgiving business, and by not skimping on the blood and violence, they show how far you have to go if you really want to be a hero.

And that’s what heroism is about. It’s about taking your lumps for something you believe in. The hero, Kick-Ass, believes in fighting for decency, protecting the weak, saving lives, and helping people. Even in the face of death, he keeps true to his beliefs, and takes his lumps.

In my movie, “Redemption,” the main character proves that he is willing to take his lumps to be the best that he can be. This movie is the grittiest, gutsiest, most literal expression of that I have ever seen.

Monday, March 1, 2010

My first win!

I finally scored a victory in a grappling tournament match! And I am not going to feel bad about it! Here’s how it happened…

I had signed up for the Long Island Submission Tournament in Port Jefferson, NY some weeks ago, and had done what I could to train and prepare for it while editing my movie and working for the NY Comic Book Marketplace event. I had been watching instructional videos, drilling moves with the Twin Towers Wrestling Club, and reading up on Musashi’s “Book of 5 Rings. I had also competed in the Renegade Grappling League’s first tournament. I fought well there, but still failed to secure my first victory.

A friend of mine from Twin Towers was supposed to go with me, but when I called him early in the morning to catch the LIRR, he bailed, so I was there on my own. Several people recognized me from other tournaments that I had been at, though, such as NAGA and the NY Submission Shootout.

The event was held in a gymnastics school, and there was a pit filled with foam blocks. I swore that I if won a match, I would do a flip into the foam pit. In fact, I had been envisioning what I would do if I won all week, and this seemed just too outrageously perfect.

I realized once I was there, though, that I had forgotten my protective cup. This tournament did not have any dealrs set up other than the refreshment stand, and the nearest sporting goods store was miles away. There was, however, and Karate/MMA school right across the street, the United Martial Arts Center. Their Shihan, Andrew Stigliano, was kind enough to help me out. They had a small store of martial arts and training supplies, and he gave me a brand new cup.

At this tournament I weighed in at 177.5 lbs, about what I weighed at the last one, and about what I’d expected. Due to the number of competitors and the structure of he tournament I was placed in a division defined as “middleweight, 168 – 177 lbs.” I signed up as a “beginner” (more than a novice, less than intermediate).

My record going in stood at 0-19-2.

There turned out to be four people in this division, and I had the first match. Not surprisingly, my opponent was short and stockier than me. I went into the match with the intention of “treading him down,” like Musashi says. We engaged standing, and I fought to push his head down, looking for a guillotine (something I had worked on). After a few moments of that, all I accomplished was being able to control the rate of descent after he got underhooks, and establish half guard with him on top of me. He passed the half-guard and moved into north-shout, going fo a choke which I blocked with my arm, but he crushed my shoulder into my chest, forcing me to tap.

I lost. My record now stood at 0-20-2

I do believe that is where an injury occurred. As I am typing this there is a pain in my chest that remains after the general soreness of the tournament has gone away. I will look into it later. But at the time my adrenaline was still up, and I was still ready to play.

The way the bracket was set up, they guy who beat me would fight the winner of the next match, and I would fight the loser. The match went on for the full five minutes and into overtime. Of course both competitors were totally gassed, so they held an “exhibition” bout between two teenagers to let them recover. I suggested that I could fight a bye or a gauntlet to match my opponent’s fatigue, but nothing came of it.

So my next match would decide the third-place finisher of the division. I was faced up with a fellow who must have been the smaller person in the bracket, meaning I outweighed him by almost 10 pounds. He was also about a foot shorter than me, but he appeared to have some cauliflowering on his ear and carried himself klike an experienced fighter, so I did not have any reason to expect, going in, that this match would turn out any differently than any other match I had ever been in.

Again I went for pushing down his head, treading him down, and again he achieved the top position in the takedown.

Sadly the guy holding my camera only got the first two seconds of the match, and a lot happened, so I’ll try my best to reconstruct it here.

I found myself on my knees defending the neck from a guillotine choke. I couldn’t feel any slack to get our either side, but he spun around to take my back faster than I could spin with him. I kept a tight hold on at least on of his arms the whole time, and looked to dump him over my shoulder (one of the first tricks I learned, but I recognized that the grip he had on my left arm would put him in a great place for an arm-bar, so I was being very cautious about it. He got leg hooks in. I tried clearing one leg out, and he tried flattening me out. Neither of those things worked. He pulled me back, and was working on the rear naked choke, when the referee called time out.

Apparently there was blood coming out of a cut on my head. While they were getting something to staunch it with, I asked the guys at ringside how it looked, and they said it looked pretty horrendous, so I chanted “ECW! ECW!”

We restarted in the same position. He was able to get his right arm around my neck and was in the process of locking his left arm over my head, when I remembered the defense for that (something they taught at Renzo Gracie’s the month I was there). I pulled his left arm down over my shoulder and attempted to get a submission lock on his elbow.

I didn’t get the lock in, but the distraction gave me a chance to adjust my position in his leg hooks. I forced myself around to face hi, and thought that I would then me in his guard, but he didn’t close his legs around me, allowing me to attack him from something side-mount-ish. I grabbed one arm, his friends warned him to watch out for the arm-bar. I switched to the other side, and as I tried to put knee on belly to take mound, he grabbed my left leg with the intention of an ankle submission.

Something switched on at that moment in my brain. I don’t like leg submissions. They are fast, painful, dangerous, and at my skill level, not used often. From my limited experience with them I knew that I had to get moving, quickly, in order to save my leg, and that’s when I realized, this is a fight. This is not a show, an exhibition, a practice roll, or a cooperative exercise, this person is trying to do things to my that could break me, and the only way to make him stop, is to do it right back to him. Suddenly the time lag between thinking of a move and doing it disappeared, and each move was done with more strength than before.

I extracted my leg and found myself over him as he turtled. I spun to take his back. He semi-blocked me but I was able to get my left arm around his neck. I stuck my right leg into his leg (gaining a hook) and pulled him back. As I fought for the other leg hook, I remembered a training video that showed rear naked choke technique. Rather than grabbing my bicep and swinging my forearm down behind his head (easy to block), I slid my right hand over my left as I snaked it behind his neck until my right bicep reached my left had. That was probably the best rear naked choke I have ever applied.

I realized then that I actually had a chance to with this thing. This was a realization, and a sensation, I had never had before. All I had to do was keep on squeezing tighter…and tighter…and then I felt that gentle tapping on my left shoulder.

I won! My record now stands at 1-20-2! The streak is over!

I jumped up, raised my hands in the air and shouted “First win ever!” I turned to give my opponent a hug, and he had turned away. I felt kind of bad about that, but the ref turned him around and I hugged him and shook his had.

Then, as I promised, I ran to the foam pit and did a Geronimo flip in. High-fives and congratulations all around. I recorded a little piece for my YouTube channel and looked for the guy I defeated so I could shake his had again and tell him how much this victory, first after 22 tries, meant to me. I couldn’t find him. I kind of felt bad about that.

But wait a minute here. Yes, I was a foot taller than him. I outweighed him by almost ten pounds. I’d had a short match and a long rest; he’d had a long match and a short rest. These were all advantages for me.

But I am certain that he trains more often than me, fights more often than me, and has less bodyfat. The order and matching of the bouts was essentially random. Having the endurance to do multiple matches in short order against different sized opponents is part of the game.

So dammit, I am not going to feel bad about winning!

One final thought: Earlier in the day there were kids’ matches, and some of the kids took losing pretty hard. I was speaking with the fellow next to me and he said there is no reason to get upset about losing, because you always learn something from losing, you never learn anything from winning. I told him I’d have to get back to him on that. Well, here’s what I say: I did learn some things from winning. I learned that I knew how to execute a rear naked choke. I learned that I have a fighter’s mentality when I want to. I learned what it felt like to win, and that is what a successful redemption is about. You take everything that you have, that you are, that is inside of you, and you cash it in and find out what you are worth. It feels good to know that you have what it takes to get what you want.

Now I have another tournament next week, the Long Island Grappling Challenge. Let’s see if I can get that second win, and get it on camera this time!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Report from the Wicked Faire

As part of the promotions for my grappling movie, "Redemption," in the interest in spreading the fun of submission grappling, and for the sheer fun of it, I hosted a "Warriors of Doom Wrestling Room" and a local quasi-fetish ren faire/fantasy/steampunk convention in New Jersey, the Wicked Faire, this past weekend.

This is something I have done before when I worked with a team of female wrestlers who did wrestling sessions with men for pay. The idea is that there are people who, for whatever reason (some reasons I don't care, some you wouldn't want to know) there are people who love to wrestle and grapple, especially with people of their preferred gender. Providing a safe, structured, and entertaining venue for this is an appreciated thing at events like these.

We held a few brief demonstrations of basic BJJ moves with the emphasis on safety and fun. We talked about the importance of tapping out before you get hurt, the progression from position to submission, and then had some exhibitions between our "warriors." Afterwards we "took on all challengers" in 10-minute matches.

The challengers were a mixed back of types, styles, and skill levels. There was one guy who was highly skilled at BJJ, and our man June found it was all he could do to avoid being tapped out. There was one guy who wore a black gi and jeans (evoking the style of Patrick Swayze in "Roadhouse") who claimed ninja training, on whom I was able to get the submission several times, and who never made me tap. There was a girl who fought June to a standstill. Our female fighter, Jasmine, got in a pretty good match against a fellow with more enthusiasm than skill. The best action of the weekend, though, was a big girl we called "Thunder Bunny" against June. Though he was able to take her back on the ground a couple of times, for the most part the match involved her denying every attempt at takedown and simply falling on top of June.

Personally, I found it useful to fight guys who were not as skilled in grappling as I for a change (in addition to the ninja, I also fought a guy about my size who had very little training). Most of the time, in tournaments and at Twin Towers Wrestling Club, I find myself up against guys stronger, faster, more skilled, more experienced, better conditioned, and more aggressive than me. This means much of my game is about defending, protecting, and denying the other guy's attempts at submitting me. This time I was able to actually try out moves that I had been training, and finding what parts of them worked and what didn't. It also helped increase my confidence in terms of "oh yeah, I can do this!" I can't wait 'till Tuesday now to go back to Twin Towers and challenge up, in preparation for the tournaments coming up over the next two weekends!

The screening of "Redemption" was not perfect. There were some delays at the tech was being set up, and with so much else going on at the event, not much of an audience came to see it. From the cast, GE West, Nicole, and Eric were there, along with June, and a few random people came in and out. Towards the end of the movie, two drunken guys wandered in and spent the rest of the movie talking loudly about MMA instead of watching the movie. There were also moments when folks would come in to check on the tech in preparation for other screenings, and be standing in the room, talking in full voice during the movie about the tech, and I had to ask them to talk outside.

In this version, the movie has some very good things in it. The opening is strong, and the use of titles and music worked. However, some of the scenes seem to be dragging, a little self-indulgent. I also need to fix yup the ending a bit, and I would like to re-shoot one or two moments. There is a match int he tournament that I would like to change the ending of, and I need more reaction shots in a couple of scenes.

Next uyp, two grappling tournaments in Long Island in two days!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sneak Preview of fulll movie this weekend!

That's right, at the Wicked Faire this weekend, "Redemption" will have it's first screening in full-length form! I am very excited!

I would say more, but I have to get back to editing it together. Go to http://www.wickedfaire.com for more details of the event!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Report from the Renegade Grappling League tournament

As part of the overall process of this movie, I am training with the Twin Towers Wrestling Club and competing in tournaments. Here is a report on the one I competed in last Sunday:

On Saturday I was not sure that I would go to the Renegade Grappling League tournament the next day, but then I saw Avatar (read my review of Avatar here), and that inspired me to go, and I am glad it did.

Avatar is about a man who finds something he had lost in learning the skills and lifestyle of an alien tribe. Without going into all the details (that’s for another time) let’s just say that his adventure mirrors my own in the world of submission grappling.

Specifically, the joy the hero, Jake, felt when experiencing the physicality of his alien avatar body felt much like the way I feel when experiencing the physicality of a properly executed grappling move, and I knew that the more I practiced and competed, the more I would get to feel that thrill.

Also the more Jake did with the tribe, the more he was accepted by them, and who doesn’t want to feel that acceptance?

So I trekked up to Johns Boxing Gym in the Bronx for the inaugural tournament of the Renegade Grappling League. It was a modestly-sized affair, with about a dozen or so competitors of various weights. It was set us as a round-robin tournament, with fighters getting multiple matches against other fighters in their weight bracket.

It was run by the good folks from Sadistic Athletics, who definitely allowed a sense of fun to pervade the afternoon. Most everyone there was more experienced, stronger, better conditioned, and shorter than me, which is pretty much par for the course wherever I go, but I was determined that no one would have more fun than me!

We fought in a boxing ring, so of course I had to mount the ropes and make like I was going to dive off before my first match. I was paired up against a short, stocky, quick wrestler guy who had fought one or two hard bouts already. He was not very aggressive in the opening, so I got to establish the clinch, but then he got a headlock on me and took me down into side control with an arm triangle. I pushed out of the triangle, and while I was bringing my leg in front of his face to go for the armbar, he stuck my arm between his legs and put pressure on the elbow, forcing me to tap pretty quickly.

Well, I generally get at least one short match like that in every tournament, so I guess it was just as well to get that out of the way quickly, so I would be fresh for my next bout.

I was paired with a guy about my height and about 10 lbs lighter than me for whom this was only his second competition. This match lasted the distance. In this event each match was three rounds of three minutes. Again I mounted the ropes, and by then I was beginning to win over the crowd. I had been chatting with the Sadistic Athletics people earlier about possible work involving my grappling movie “Redemption,” and a fellow who had been involved in the rehearsals of that movie was also there, and they all were shouting advice to me during the match. I followed the advice as best as I could.

In the match, I was able to control the takedowns so that my opponent wound up in a guillotine hold, though I was unable to complete the choke. I avoided several submission attempts, and escaped a rear-naked choke that almost got locked in. I almost got a toe hold/leg lock locked in, but not enough to make him tap. I escaped from under his half guard once or twice. I may have been “saved by the bell” at one moment (and in between rounds I almost spit water on someone accidentally), but when the last round came I laid it all out. I leaped off the second rope, the crowd was cheering, and rather than a handshake, my opponent and I high-fived.

I almost got the guy in an upside-down leg triangle and kimura, but he grabbed my shorts and pulled his head out. I wound up in his guard but stayed on top of him till the end of the fight. He almost arm-triangled me there, but I held out, then fought out, and was working on a kimura when the match ended.

The judges were not scoring by “points,” during the match, but did make decisions when no submission was scored. They said it was close, and in a split decision, gave the victory to the other guy. I have to agree with them, as it felt like he was on top of me, one way or another, through most of the match.

After the regular matches were concluded and the prizes awarded, there was an open-weight tournament. I was paired against the shortest, lightest guy in the tournament, a 135 lb. guy who can’t have been more that 5’3” tall. But he was a strong, , trained, ninjitsu fighter with great endurance and used to fighting folks bigger than him. I made the joke that it would be like Rey Mysterio fighting Kendall Grove. He fought in gi pants with no shirt, so I took my shirt off as well.

The match was scheduled for three minutes. My feet slipped on the mat at the first clinch, and after a brief struggle, he pulled guard. He attempted an armbar on me, which I stacked him out of. He was able to pull back to guard, and eventually went for another armbar. I had it defended, but he fell over and my elbow got pushed painfully sideways, so I tapped out at about 2:30.

So now my grappling competition record stands at 0-17-2. But I had fun, and I definitely won the crowd over. The Sadistic Athletic boys had, in fact, asked me to continue bringing the entertainment, which I did every time I entered the ring by standing on the ropes like a pro wrestler. I was appreciated for who and what I am, an entertainer who is learning skill as a grappler. I was, in fact, complimented on how well I did and how well I was taking instruction during the match. And that was the payoff I was looking for, and why I am glad I went to see Avatar the night before.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Week 11: Final rehearsal and audition, Part 3: Referee audition

So after we put the auditioners through their paces, we lined up three of the matches we had planned for the movie and assigned the auditioners to improvise refereeing them.

The matches were:
Willis vs. Bundy, the heavyweights!

Dan vs. Kirkland, Wushu vs wrestling

G.A. vs. Big Vince, an Underground party match

So what do you think? Who were your favorites? Post yoru thoughts in the comments section!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Week 11: Final rehearsal and audition, Part 2

So we got the auditioners squared away, busy working with each other or regular cast members. Then Lou Nogueira of The Dojo, Wolcott, Ct, showed them a three-move routine, which they practiced with cast members, while I and the cast kept our collective eyes on them to decide who would take which open role...

The camera for this episode was held by Jeremy Salig, and the music is by Dr. Bronko Von Johnstein. The Sprawl fight clothes Lou and I are wearing was provided by the Sprawl Fight Shorts company

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Week 11: Final rehearsal and audition, Part 1

I was able to steal a few minutes to put together another video. This is of the last rehearsal day, where we auditioned a few new cast members.

The music is a new composition by Dr. Bronko Von Johnstein, the guy who created the music in the trailer.