Saturday, October 6, 2007

Bull in the Ring

When grunts are hanging out with nothing in particular to do, they tend to get into some trouble. Just one of those unwritten laws of the universe, I suppose.

'Bull in the Ring' was something that we used to fill that time.

Essentially, it is just modified ass-kicking. The platoon will form a circle and a predetermined number of Marines will get into the 'ring'. At first, the objective was to physically toss your opponent(s) from the ring, but as the Corps got more into the martial arts, winning or losing started to be reflected in if one guy tapped out, passed out, or it looked like someone might be killed.

We were able to rationalize this by saying it was not outside the realm of possibility that Marines might have to use some sort of hand to hand, especially when the situation, for whatever reason, does not call for utilizing a .50 on gramps, during some sort of riot or something.

In the beginning, there really wasn't too many guys with traditional fighting/training experience, so myself and some others were defacto teachers. We basically had it covered, I would teach most of the chokes and small joint manipulation, there was a guy with some really good grappling skills, and one kick-boxer in the group. I really liked getting my ass kicked by the wrestler, because I always learned something neat. Painful, but neat. The kick boxer on the other hand, was just painful.

One afternoon out in the field, the Platoon Sergeant decided that we needed training in how to properly construct a mortar pit. With the issued entrenching tools. In the middle of the friggin' summer.


To explain, a mortar pit is ideally dug out with a backhoe/bulldozer. It needs to be fairly large, with a number of characteristics to prepare for the possibility of all kinds of nasty situations. By hand, you will be digging roughly... forever, especially with the foldable, around three foot long small shovels that you carry in your gear.

The Platoon Sergeant actually had a method to his madness, though. He wanted to tire us out so that when we did get into the ring, we would have to use more technique than brute strength. After roughly 5 hours (the terrain was a bitch!) we finished the pit. The Platoon Sergeant got up on an empty crate and announced the rules for this particular bout. All grappling, no strikes. Chokes are permitted, throws are not. Submission is decided by physical removal from the ring, a tap out, or by the Captain's decision. Anyone can call anyone else out. Limit of 10 Marines in the pit at once (i.e. team vs. team)

Remember that part about anyone can call anyone else out?

The Platoon Sergeant was the first one called out.

The Captain was the second man called out.

The Platoon Sergeant was the third man called out.

The Captain was the fourth man called out.

They were good sports about it and even did pretty good, but before it could get out of hand the Captain decreed that anyone over E-6 only had to fight twice. After some grumblings my team got challenged by another team.

Starting out 4 vs 4, it was a fairly even match. It went back and forth for a while, but eventually Marines got tossed and it came down to one on one, me and 'Conan'. He was a younger guy, and looked like he had spent some time in the gym. Just a wee bit. No traditional training, but he was a quick learner. I was developed like a nine year old girl compared to this guy. By the time it got down to only he and I left in the pit, we had been going for a while so the Captain called a temporary reprieve, told us to get out and rest, and sent some other teams in the ring.

Much sooner than I really would have liked, the other teams were finished and it was time to get back into the ring. Immediately after the re-start, I dropped to my back. He came charging into my guard, and I almost got him in a choke. Not quite able to finish him off, I remembered back in the day getting my ass kicked by this one judo guy, and tried one of his old moves.

Still on my back, with both of our arms tied up at his neck & struggling, I raised my legs, wrapped them high around his ribcage, and SQUEEEEZED.

Now, I have been playing soccer for most of my life, joined the swim team in high school, and was even a fairly good runner, once upon a time. You could say that my legs were pretty strong. This was evidenced by a slight bulging of his eyes and a garbled 'Oh, shit'! His hands went immediately to my legs, but they were not moving an inch.

"Who's the beyotch, now?"

The only problem with the squeeze is that it does take a huge amount of energy to keep doing. It is not actually too common to see someone finish a match this way against someone who has even a little training. As this guy was all gym beef and no mat experience, I figured that I just might pull it off.

He was still struggling, trying to reach behind him to unhook my ankles, but that wasn't working. I could smell the end of the match when he fell over on his side, me still doing my best python impression. He was turning a quite pretty shade of red in the face, but as he was still actively fighting, the match wasn't called. Tap out, you ass! Or die, just do something, my legs can't take much more of this!

Did I mention that this guy spent a lot of time in the gym and what he didn't have in technique he definitely made up in brute strength?

Did I mention that he was supposed to be tired out from digging all day?

In what I can only describe in a 'Oh. Fuck. Me!' move, he gave up on trying to unlock my ankles from around behind his back. Pushing up off of the ground and still making those delightful wheezing noises, he managed to get to his knees... get one foot on the ground... reach up and got a good grab of my cammies lapels, and physically lift me slowly off of the ground, only to SLAM me bodily down on the return trip.

Now we were both in a 'world of shit'.

His face was a quite pretty shade of purple by this time, but I wasn't even really seeing it through all of the pretty tweety birds that were obscuring my vision. I somehow managed to hold on through three more body slams before someone noticed that we were technically on the edge of the ring, and therefore he won the match. When the fight was called, he kinda rolled out from my legs onto the ground, and we just laid there, me breathing heavy & him happy to be breathing again, for the longest time. We were both so physically wiped out that we were pretty much useless for the immediate future.

Moral? Technique is good. Correct technique is better. Sometimes, the best thing is to power through and slam that bastard (moi) hard. Multiple times. Repeat as necessary.

Should have kept going for the choke...


Kaerius said...

Haha, yeah I'd have gone for the choke too, or an armbar or a leglock...(doesn't really matter how strong you are if you're getting your knee pulled out of joint).

By how you tell it, it sounds like someone taught you at least a little brazilian jujutsu basics(the guard on your back tipped me off). I've done a little of it myself.

Murphy said...

I've learned quite a bit since then, and of course when I say 'quite a bit', I really mean next to nothing but it's what little I know so it's a lot to me...

I dunno if it was so much considered training as it was continuously getting my rear smoked by the bjj guy.

(from a position vaguely reminiscint of a human pretzle I would say) "Urk. That's kinda cool, howja do that again? Mrmf..

Proof that USMC at times does stand for University of S&M, California...