Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Team Velvet Fist Moves to Miami

When I heard that Team Velvet Fist was moving to Miami, I went down to their Santa Cruz gym. It was chaos, everyone go and fro, things disassembled and awaiting shipment, all very busy. Still, the fighters and staff were willing to speak to me. I asked about the move, why they’re doing it and what they expect to gain - or lose - from such a move. The response from the fighters was varied. First I spoke to Keema the Camel. She was, of course, calm:

It’s a big change, of course, but there’s much to be excited about. The presence of American Top Team is splendid, of course, because of the large number of high level Brazilian jiu jitsu black belts. It provides a unique opportunity to train with many of the best rollers in the world. Likewise, the wrestling culture of Florida is something I’m very much looking forward to. As a camel, of course, grappling is my primary focus, and this move provides many new and exciting training opportunities.

Sandy the Shark’s reply was ominous:

I have a lot of family offshore in the Miami area. They tell me the Cuban food is just excellent. I can’t wait to take a bite out of the area.

Bette the Bair had a different take on things, as is her idiom:

Do they have vodka in Miami? Is so, good. If not, bad, very bad. You know, when a polar bair such as myself gets too hot with no vodka, there is being killing spree. Da. Very violent. Very frequent. So, best to be having vodka.

When I was finally able to force Patty the Parrot away from her training, she said:

One place to train is much the same as any other. The MMA scene in Miami is rooted in complacency, so there is not much for me to learn there - nothing unorthodox, nothing that takes the art to the next level. Still, that very orthodoxy will allow me to hone my skills because they represent the ne plus ultra of how MMA has become fossilized. I will hone my techniques against these cookie cutter robot “fighters” and through that bring a devastating new style to the cage.

Then Patty returned to training, of course. Then I asked Edward the Efalunt what he thought:

I think this move is going to be great! I mean, wow, I mean, we’ll be right there next to Thiago Alves! How cool is that! The Muay Thai Wrecking Machine! Ohemgee, I am so totally stoked about this!

Then he did a little muay Thai dance and did a back flip. Petey the Edge was not so enthusiastic.

I think this is a terrible move. I mean, really? Gulf pelicans? I know what that’s trying to say, they’re trying to keep a California brown pelican down. But that is not going to happen. I am going to show those lily white Gulf pelicans what a real, hardcore pelican is like. This is insulting. But I will persevere and, of course, triumph.

Then he spread his wings to show where he’d recently gotten his new Brown Pride tattoo.

I do this to show my solidarity with my brown Californian brothers and sisters regardless of species. We are Californian, we are brown and we are here to stay!

Some people, of course, do not change. Demon the Ducky:

Do they bleed in Miami? They’re all the same to me. I will beat them bloody and then drink their blood. No offense, but I’m gonna murdalize every last motherfucking last one of them.

When I tried to ask Roxie the Rhino about the move, I got headbutted. Repeatedly. Here is the last, horrified picture taken by my cameraman before he was struck with Roxie’s trademark flying headbutt:

It was, sadly, the last picture he will ever take.

But the the brains of the operation is, without, Dao the Dragon. As the inventor of kung-fu and the chief trainer of Team Velvet Fist, his insights were most illuminating.

Life is a series of changes! We flow from one to the other. It is best not to be captured by the details! We were in Santa Cruz, we will be in Miami. There are no whys, only the natural rhythm of events.

Of course, I intend to take this opportunity to further my students’ oneness with the infinite. In particular, the fierce hurricanes that scour the area - caused by my tempestuous brothers and sisters - will be an allegory for their burgeoning abilities. To be as the wind and wave! What is softer than water, save air? And, yet, what can stand before them! Cities fall, coastlines reshaped, because of this air, this water. Magnificent! Through understanding the oneness with all things, my students will be able to harness that natural power, soft and yet fierce, born of the lightest things but able to wreck incalculable havoc.

Godzilla was more prosaic.

Well, it was mostly a money thing. Santa Cruz is nice, but really expensive. We looked around and Miami just made the most sense because of it’s access to a diverse array of trainers and we like to train outside a lot, and Miami has mild winters. So, to spare Santa Cruz being destroyed by me in a firestorm of nuclear annihilation, Dao suggested be blow out of there when our rents got jacked up.

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