“Sorry for being late with this week’s blog, I have been really busy training for my upcoming tournament on November 11th. I started doing two-a-day where in the evening I have just been drilling and light sparring. Yesterday was a nice change of pace, after the second practice I went to eat at a cafe with the 2008 Olympic silver medalist at 120 kg. He is here training getting ready for the same tournament I am preparing for. He normally trains in Dagestan, his training at home hadn’t been that great due to various reason so he came to work out with some of the guys here.

He speaks English well so we were able to have great conversations. The most interesting, and the first conversation he brought up, was why I was training in Russia. He wanted to know how we train and said, his region of Dagestan and North Ossetia where we are train the same. He wondered if our training was the same. When I said it was different, he explained how he believes we train too fast and don’t focus on the right areas. Basically, he said the pace of our practices were too fast and that we waste a lot of time.  This is what I have noticed for a long time since coming here. It’s nice to hear it from somebody else. After dinner, he had a two girls meet up with us. He was making me laugh and kept saying they were fighting about who can come back to America with me. I told him that I was there to train, not to get married. He ended it by saying, “think about it.””

I can still remember this dinner vividly, Bakhtiyar Akhmedov was the wrestler I was referring to above. He is a very interesting and smart man. We talked about life, wrestling, politics and many other topics. Events like this dinner are some of the greatest memories I have of my time in Russia. Wrestlers around the world are all the same, we can relate to each other out of mutual respect which can lead to great conversations. By the time the girls arrived we had finished our conversations about wrestling and politics. We then turned our attentions to life topics. One of girls was a dentist in town, when I lost part of a tooth later in my stay she was the doctor my coach took me to see. It was very interesting talking about life in the Caucasus Mountains and comparing it to American culture. I was very fortunate to have had many good memories of this trip. I lived there long enough to experience events like birthday parties, weddings, sporting events, religious and hallmark holidays. I enjoyed every minute of it and lived it all. I became one of them and lived like I would have lived in America just with different cultural context.    

“All in all, I am getting used to everything around here, and training is going really well. I have good days and some bad days, but that is always going to happen. The hardest part about being here is being on top of your game everyday. Back home, at Michigan or the Olympic Training Center, I would have some days where training is not that hard. I just don’t have that many options so you go with partners that just are not on your level.  However, at the practices I go to here, everyone is at the highest level in the world. I really enjoy the challenge and I know it will pay off in the long run. Until then, I have to get used to the everyday grind.”

The workouts eventually become routine and the training regimen became normal. At the dinner I had with Bakhtiyar Akhmedov we discussed in lengths about how Russians and Americans train. Our conversation embodied the reason why I moved to Russia. I knew there was a reason why each year Russia, but more specifically the Caucasus region produced a large portion of the world medalists. Many of the former Soviet republics have wrestlers from this region on their teams, as moving from country to country is more common. They move to these countries and become citizens in hopes of getting their chance at a World and Olympic Championship. One of my favorite training partners while living in Vladikavkaz was Ibrahim Aldatov, he competed for Ukraine and lived in Kiev for periods of time. I also trained with him at camps in Ukraine as part of a joint training camp with the US National Team. Just last year he even asked me to spar with him a couple of days before he won the world championship.

To this day I use the same training methods that I learned during my stay. This conversation really helped me think about a lot of different concepts and breaking down the sport to make it easy to learn. You can read my blog from two weeks ago where I explain the training. There have been a lot of life decisions I have had to make recently concerning my future. Over the last year I keep alluding to BASE Wrestling but have been delaying presenting it all in one place. Certain circumstances just occurred and with the permission of my partners I will be able to write up BASE Wrestling in one place and hopefully Jason Bryant accepts it for the monthly piece I now write for TheOpenMat.com.      

“This weekend will be fun, I am going to Irbek Farniev’s wedding. The weddings here are a very good time, so I have that to look forward to. Last Sunday, there were some pretty good boxing matches at the arena right by my dorm. I even saw Andrei Arlovski, he trains wrestling at Overtime with Sean Bormet.

Well, the cafe is getting ready to close so I have to head out. I will try and upload pics from the boxing and the wedding next week.”

Since I have already been writing too much by this point, all I can say is that my Russian dancing skills will always be remembered on Irbek’s wedding video similar to this. Now follow this link to see Irbek and Mavlet Batirov dancing during a banquet in 2006 after a match between USA and Russia in Chechnya.


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