Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 2, evening: LOTSWild's Jamaica 2012 SCIIIx

     I would like to change the story, rearrange the order of events somewhat and tell of the current things going on around here, but the events of the first night are a critical element of what makes Jamaica training ground for any would-be anything. LOL. Word had traveled well before us that we were training in martial arts, something with sticks and something about fighting or boxing. Jamaicans are a show-me people, talk only gets so far, especially as involves important things. Well it just so turned out that one of the young men helping on the property, assisting with buildings and such, was the Jamaican Champion boxer for some period of time. He let us know how good he was in many ways, and was no doubt very good. He talked about how he hits people, and how quick he knocked various people out. He laughed and relaxed a while, and then made a comment about how he could take all three of us; Brian Adams, myself and Chris. I’ve seen this pattern a hundred times before. In fact just to save time sometimes if I think it’s worth doing I’ll just suggest a light fight just to establish some kind of understanding. This young man clearly could not handle being unsure of the pecking order. The recent additions of outsiders, especially people who claim to “fight”, in his understanding, was just too much. So he offered to teach us how to box like a champion. As the night wore on rum disappeared - I mostly refrained from the fine drink just in case this turned out not so friendly. I simply wanted to represent where I come from with dignity and respect. He taught Chris some things, and the guy moved well, he was an expert at western boxing. Brian had flicked a backhand into his midsection walking to dinner as fast as any I’d seen and the Jamaican had hardened his armor in time for it to bounce off. It was clear he had great reflexes. Chris started to kick him as they parried but the man quickly said, “No legs.” Well there was one thing he wasn’t comfortable with, anyway. He basically beat the hell out of Chris, whose hair was always in his eyes and whose glasses got broken again. Somewhere in there Chris had a lip pop open a little bit, but he was learning more than a year of some class training back in the states. This was a for-real experience, surrounded by hoots and laughs - a ghetto scene - his first night in Jamaica. Bobby, the boxer, wasn’t huge but his arms were disproportionately long, and he was fast like a Mongoose.

      After the bout I expressed appreciation for the fellow’s instruction, and Brian was clearly impressed, remarking on the athleticism and speed of the Jamaican; which I easily admit seems to be, as a matter of nature or nurture, a superior sample of qualities that make for good athletes. Most notably, perhaps, is the hard mind - ground to toughness on the wheel of life in Jamaica. The fellow clearly was curious about sparring with me and stated so. I finished eating, excited that we’d have the chance to train; spar or otherwise, with this teacher with arms as long as his legs. But then there comes a point, for me at least, where all this talking is more miserable to endure than perhaps getting beat up. Besides I didn’t think he could do it. After another long explanation of how he cuts the eye with his hook to make blood in his opponents eye I asked him to show me a little more.

      He was very clear about not using the legs, which certainly put me at a disadvantage, but if he was a superior boxer I’d like to learn from him anyway, even if it cost me a lesson of some sort. We danced around a bit, he was in and out and around, in and out and around. I probably caught him off guard as he upped his game real sharp after I touched his stomach pretty hard. He caught me with a pretty hard open handed left hook right on the head. That surprised me, a lot. So we both jumped up a level, not in anger or wanting to hurt anyone, but just see where this person was responding from. Everytime he would land a sort of hit he would shout a loud, “Ooooooh, ya see ya see? Imma bad man, too tuff, me dangerous!” His wide and forward boxing stance was asking for a Mr. Ginn sidekick, I put my foot on his ribs and stopped well short. What surprised me was that his superhuman reflexes up top were nowhere down low, he didn’t even harden up much or show understanding of the danger the kick presented. Why would he? Nor did I know the danger of his continuing left hand badgers. “Whop!” It was a good hit. He was too fast and far away to straight jab, which is rare for me to encounter. I often hit people 3, 4, 5 times straight away in the face before they take measures. He picked off my jabs very fast, I couldn’t believe it. But I was able to hit him; stomach, body, side of the head, face. And he was able to hit me, mostly the right side of my head. One time I backhanded him so hard we stopped for a minute. This was clearly frustrating him in some way. I don’t think he saw learning from someone quite the same way that I did. In fact, after choking him out in a guillotine that just couldn’t be passed up as he hugged my body and attempted to lift me up he seemed to have a hard time processing it all. Which was fine on one hand because I don’t have to listen to all that talk anymore; but I was hoping he would stick around for our daily and nightly training sessions. I was sensitive to something else a little more subtle as well. Bobby, a champion who ran 15 miles daily during training, who had bested some of the Caribbean’s finest in Jamaica’s capital of Kingston, had a special worth. He wanted to show that he was different, not like all the guys sitting on the sidewalk. He had talent, skill, drive, determination. I was very careful for the whole affair to come off mutual, equal, to establish some respect for one another. Maybe he’ll come back soon, Monday. We managed to walk away from the scene; me with a fairly good cut and scratches on my back from when the guillotine dropped him forward and me onto my back where he tapped out, and him with a split lip – which he blamed on my wedding ring. I don’t know about that.

      I looked for Bobby that very night for a later stick session, and again the next morning. He had what he needed. We would see him again Monday morning when he showed up to work for Mary and find us a local rental car from an individual. His friend did enjoy visiting and training though, and after a bit of the same stuff to get through he relaxed and decided to let us learn together and teach one another various things. That’s Cousin, the one person on the hill who could dance with Bobby, but he was afraid in his mind and would run after the match would develop with any real movement.
We got grandmaster Adams to bed, and it was time to do so. It was late, the dogs barked and music thundered. The wind slowly crept across the hill discouraging any mosquitos and the bonfire died down to a small ember. I fell asleep in my tent with no ground pad or blanket, just a fleece cover which I grabbed in the early morning hours when it got cool. Day two came to a complete close. Now I’m taking a break from writing and going to the beach.

for the complete photo gallery of the Jamaica scout trip, February 2012, visit

Check our schedule and get involved with the next adventure; upcoming programs include Sail Camp, Scout Camp, Advanced Land course and perhaps another venture to the Caribbean.  Make it happen!