Team USA At The Unified World Championships PT 2

Day 2 was a free day for the Team.

We started the day off on the beach training. We warmed up with a light jog. Got in a few rounds of shadowboxing, light sparring, and mittwork. The sand took a little adjustment. We were all careful not to go too fast or too hard being so close to the competition. Sand aside, you couldn’t ask for a better setting. The Mountains on one side, the Ocean on the other. After training we walked down to the water for a bit. You had to appreciate where these guys had gotten themselves. Earning their way on to this team, and drumming up the money to get themselves there. This is fighting at it’s purest, doing it soley for the love of the sport. We spent about two hours training before we headed back to the Hotel. Everyone on the team was planning to head out to explore some of Italy while we had free time.



We decided to head to Pisa. It was only a short train ride away. A bunch of the other teammates did the same. We took a cab ride over with the Hotel’s go to Cab driver Sanki. He laughed at us for going to Pisa saying it was small. At first I was confused why anyone would deter us from seeing something as famous as Pisa. After thinking about it though, I know I have personally told people who came to visit DC that the sites weren’t that great. I guess when you spend so much time around something you stop seeing it’s value. We felt there was no way we could be this close and not come see the Leaning Tower. Just as someone who traveled from far would want to see the White House or Washington Monument. When we got off the train we had a general idea of which direction to travel in. The Tower was visible from the train platform. We found the Cathedral Square and cruised around for a bit taking photos. It’s funny to see all the people getting their shot of them holding up the tower. I snapped a picture out of context to show how bizarre everyone looks outside of their personal picture. After walking around for a bit we grabbed some food. In front of the Cathedral Square there was market area filled with street vendors. They all had the Pisa keychains and t-shirts, one thing that jumped out at us was this Camera attachment we saw a few people with. It’s an extendable pole that lets you attach your cellphone too to take a selfie with. They sell a remote camera shutter also to take the shot without having to touch the phone. This thing is going to revolutionize the selfie world, we dubbed it the helpie. 


As the sun started to go down we decided to head back to the train station. We had a confusing time coming back as the train we got on took us a different track back then the way we came. After train hoping a couple times, and missing our stop once, we made it back in one piece. To our suprise when we walked out of the station Sanki our Cab driver was already waiting. I’m still not sure how he knew to be there. Once we got back to the hotel we all turned in to prep for the first day of competition. 



Team USA At The Unified World Championships PT 1

We started our journey near home at the Dulles International Airport. Myself, Jared and Patrick got dropped off and met up with Luther and his wife Rachel inside. After a long flight we had a 4 hour layover in Frankfurt Germany. The flight from Frankfurt to Florence Italy was short, maybe just over an hour. The US Team had people coming in on different fights so we waited for a bit at the airport to we could all catch the bus to the Hotel as a group. We are staying at the Hotel Kyrton here in Tuscany. It’s like a bread and breakfast style hotel. The hotel is cozy, there is a common area with couches and cable TV. A small island bar in the center of the first floor that serves Coffee, Espresso, Wine, and other drinks. After checking in and getting our rooms assigned we had dinner here at the Hotel. There are two large dining areas, we eat in the main dining area, the food is served restaurant style at dinner and buffet style at breakfast. I slept well for the most part, outside of waking up around 3am not sure where I was for a second. haha. I got up around 7am to go down and eat and get an idea of what the days schedule was like. A lot of the fighters still had weight to cut and were up early bundled up to run outside. The Level Up Crew traveled close to their fight weight, Jared and Pat went for a run the night we got in just to be sure. Both woke up on weight and ready to go. The Bus to take us to the venue was late, they had picked up some fighters from other teams so we sent all our fighters on the first Bus to get weigh ins started while the Coaches hung back to catch the second bus. Once we arrived at the venue all the coaches went in to find their fighters. Most of them have been in weight cut mode for roughly 48 hours at this point. There wasn’t much in the way of stores nearby to pick up drinks for rehydration. I found a shop down the street with water for sale and was able to make it back in time to hand it off to the guys as they went in step onto the scale. 

After weigh ins most of the team went their separate ways looking for places to eat. There was a string of restaurants running a long the main street. We checked a few until we found one that jumped out at us. The main strip ran a long the shore line, Luther spotted a place that backed right up to the beach, we checked the menu and decided to go with that. They walked us through to the back which opened up to an outdoor patio overlooking the ocean. The food was incredible. Our waiter didn’t speak any English but we made it work, he was super hospital to us. As always, that first meal after a weight cut brings about positive mood change. I have to say this was probably the best post weigh in meal we have had as a team. As hectic as the travel has been, and just the general being out of our element all around as far as our processes go, at this point we all had to step back and enjoy the moment. We even saw a guy fly down off the mountain on a hang glider and land right on the beach behind us. (see video below) On the ride back with everything behind us and feeling like we were settling in I was really able to reflect on things. I think in America we get used to what we consider a standard, and that creates expectations. Or maybe not all of us. I expect things to be as I picture them in my head. Italy wasn’t exactly what I expected at first. I’m not really sure how to explain what I pictured in my head, and what the difference is of my initial impression. On the ride back though it hit me that what seemed different here was the simplicity of just enjoying life for what it is. For most of us in America we are constantly pushing forward to whats next, we always want more. I’m not saying that being here changes that in me. I feel like thats part of what makes Americans who we are.  It was nice to have a reminder to just enjoy the moment though. 
When we got back to the hotel we decided to go explore the town near us and locate the market to get bottled water and supplies we may need for the tournament. We got turned around a few times on the way. Jared stepped into a hotel and they gave him a map and marked off where we were and where we needed to get to. We started off in the right direction, second guessed ourselves and doubled back, then realized we were going the right way in the first place (lol) We found the market tucked away off the main strip of stores. The clerk was super helpful. We were able to pick up fruit and water. We stopped in a another small shop on our way back looking for peanut butter, no luck. In both places the guys were asked if they were athletes, and both times were greater with excitement at being fighters. Everyone we met was extremely nice. We got back just in time for dinner. After we received our Team USA fight shorts. After a brief meeting discussing the plans for the following day we were free to do what we wanted. I hooked my laptop up to the TV in the main common area. A bunch of us sat down to watch School Dance, a Level Up favorite you will hear us constantly quoting from. The movie was over around midnight. For the most part everyone turned in. I decided to stay up and write this while everything was fresh in mind. Tomorrow, we will get up and eat breakfast around 7am, go back to sleep for a bit, then head to the beach around 10am to get in some training. 

 Video Highlight 

Stay tuned! 


Coach Jason


Joining A Fight Team

So I just got home from watching the new movie Fury with Brad Pitt. It got me thinking about the early days of my journey. Joining a gym with a competitive Fight Team that you want to be a part of is not an easy task. Many don’t have what it takes mentally. I can assure you that at the end of the day, thats what matters most. The physical gifts you were born with or worked for will only take you so far. Making it through what ever is necessary to become a member of the Team is a different type of accomplishment.




In the movie, the Tank Team gets a new member. I won’t go into too many details and ruin the movie, but at first, they aren’t too thrilled about having him. This is one of the parallels that made me think back to my early days as a “Fight Team Hopeful”. I knew exactly what I joined my gym for. I wanted to Fight. My very first day I met Mike Easton, Mike gave me a tour of the gym, went through some basics with me, and talked to me for about an hour about fighting and becoming a part of the Fight Team. Mike is that kind of guy, he genuinely is the type that is excited to talk about fighting, very down to earth, and very welcoming. I was fortunate that he was my guide my frist day. Thats not alwasy the case in every gym.  I know that if I’d had a different experience, I’d still be where I am, because I was set to my task. That said, I am very appreciative for having that experience. In the movie, the “new guy” wasn’t welcomed with open arms. Not by the team, not by their leader. He hasn’t done anything wrong, but he is coming into a group that fought and bled together. They have shared experiences and time that can’t be easily replicated, and possibly never will be. This is where those parellels started to jump out at me.


There is a quote by Jim Rohn. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. You take a group of people, that have sparred with each other, traveled with each other, been through all the highs and lows of Winning and Losing, you will see a little of each of them in each person. They move the same way, talk the same way, find the same things funny, they become a unit. So adding someone new into the mix won’t be an overnight process. This is where tough skin, and being mentally tough comes into play. Understanding that you need to put the time in, and that it’s not that they don’t like you. It may seem like that sometimes, but thats not usually the case (unless your just an asshole) From the time they spend together they develop those similarities and bond that you won’t understand until you’re in it. What is also tough for the new guy/girl to realize also is that many have come and gone. So although it’s not as drastic as War, where soldiers have seen other soldiers come, and die, all fight teams have had hopeful new member that start off with promise, yet eventually fade out. It’s just the nature of the game. So without realizing it, that core group will begin to put up a barrier, and not get attached to people as quickly. It’s human nature.


Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 10.57.38 PM


Also it’s important to take into account the “Rookie” stage. In pretty much anything you do in life you will need to get through this. Embrace it, understand that it’s going to be one of the toughest parts of your journey, but that it will also shape you for years to come. How you chose to navigate it could put you on a path to success, or send you in the complete opposite direction. Swallow your pride, take your licks, and press on. We have all at one point been the Rookie. It’s a right of passage. I’d reccomend keeping a journal. Document those moments. Having a real reminder of where you came from can ground you out when you need it. One day when you are the vet, that journal maybe helpul to a new Rookie.


Hang In There Rookie

Hang In There Rookie


A lot of this process falls to the leader. There maybe times where the Leader/Coach has become jaded the same as the Team. As I said people come and go. A coaches time is valuable. Accepting the time they offer is a contract. They give you their time and knowledge, YOU GOTTA DO SOMETHING WITH IT!! Even if you never become a Professional Fighter, if you desire to be a member of the Fight Team you need to be willing to commit to it. With that commitment comes the responsibilty of also being there for your teammates. They need you at practice, they need you at the fights. Keep in mind, we are talking about being a Member of the Elite Group of the gym. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a casual member, the majority of people who train are, but once you have taken this step you should be sure you are truly prepared for what is required on your end. There’s no such thing as being a part time Fight Team Member. That does you and your Teammates no good. Another favorite quote of mine is “There is no standing still, you are either moving towards your goals, or away from them”. Let that sink in. The time you decide you have other things that come before the team and your training will set you back tremendously. It also creates a terrible cycle, you will take your break, come back, notice everyone has gotten better and is now a step a head, and some will stick it out for a bit. They start to feel like they are catching back up, then something else comes a long and pulls them out. Now you fall even further behind. Guys/Girls you started with now have fights under their belt. Eventually these types will lose their fire, mostly because they come back in and try to jump back into sparring and working with the Fight Team, then get a dose of how far behind they have fallen. If the team has a solid Leader/Coach, they will know how to guide you through all these things, and at what pace more importatntly. They have done it before, so listen to them, trust that they have your best interests at heart and follow their lead.


If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. John Quincy Adams

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
John Quincy Adams


So take all this into account. Keep in mind that just because you join a gym with a Fight Team, doesn’t mean that has to be your path. If you train for fun or to get into shape, the majority of the classes are taylored towards you. You are an important part of the culture. If the Fight Team is something you thibk you want to be a part of, make sure you REALLY want it, and understand that giving your commitment to them, earns their commitment to you. I can personally tell you that I can’t imagine what my life would be without my Team. They are my family, I love them with all my heart, and I know they feel the same. If I was every in trouble I know I could count on them, and they know they can count on me. That bond is something special you won’t find many other places in life.


Coach Jason.