The Jason Bourne Workout: MTV Does Mixed Martial Arts
The Bourne films have a lot to answer for.
From sparking worldwide motion sickness (shaky cam ahoy!), to the total reinvention of the Bond franchise, they’ve more than left their cinematic mark.
Most importantly though, they turned Matt Damon from baby-faced cutiepie to certified bad-ass. The physical transformation in itself was impressive, but it was his bone-crunching, visceral and breathtaking action man fighting scenes that shocked and impressed.This man is FORTY SIX YEARS OLD.
The brutal choreography and mind-boggling defensive techniques are now well-known. Whether he’s beating someone to death with a Good Housekeeping magazine or wielding a biro like a knife, every one of the movies is an ode to gloriously inventive violence and self-defence.
With the release of Jason Bourne on DVD just three months away, MTV has teamed up with Urban Warriors Academy to transform two of its most fitness-averse desk-monkeys (Matt and Rich) into Jason Bourne via a series of mixed martial arts training and a whole lot of weeping.
Brace yourselves - embarrassing pictures are coming.
Matt: Weight - 14st 4lbs (91.4kg) / 22% Fat / 14% Muscle
General Diet - Vegetarian, lots of carbs / Vices - Beer and cookies
Rich: Weight - 12st 9lbs (82g)
General Diet - Mixed meats and veggies / Vices - Chocolate/sweet deliciousness and good restaurants
Embarrassing photos out the way, it was time for our first class…
Krav Maga is widely believed to be the foundation for the Bourne series’ fight choreography, but the reality is that the fighting styles Bourne uses on-screen is a multitude of disciplines, including the Filipino martial art Kali, Krav Maga, Jeet Kune Do, and MMA.
Urban Warriors Academy teach a host of fight and defensive styles, including Filipino Boxing, Mixed Martial Arts, Krav Maga, and Muay Thai, so we’ve signed up to two classes a week. First up...
Our ‘Intro To Getting Beaten Up 101’ was a 90 minute class in the joys of Krav Maga. We’re introduced to our disarmingly smiley, friendly Krav instructor Reco Gilfillian. He’s trained Muay Thai for 10 years, is a qualified kettle bell and Boot Camp instructor, specialises in Martial Arts Conditioning, and warm nature aside, boasts the build of someone you definitely would not want to f*ck with.
We start with a warm-up that is as exhausting as any gym class we’ve ever been to. Running, jumping and press-ups get our heart rates up, before we break off into partners to learn a series of grapples, and defensive techniques for when you’re attacked by a knife-wielding crazy.
Our second session is with Liasu Adi, a Krav instructor with eight years’ experience teaching, and a background in Close Protection operatives (read: bodyguard).
While the warm-up is equally as brutal (a frankly sadistic number of sit-up, abs and planking exercises = not fun times), the session is more technical this time around, focusing on the importance of your fighting stance and footwork. If you’re grounded like a tree, and understand where your strength/balance is coming from, you’re a whole lot harder to shove over.
THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK
- We became familiar with the mat. A lot.
- The carotid artery is a spectacularly painful thing to press/be pressed. We finally get the whole Vulcan death grip thing. In short, go for that if you want someone grip someone tight/making them pass out quick.
- Even a ‘faux’ knife is still a bit bloody terrifying when someone’s swinging it at you.
- Encouraging a lady you’ve just met to kick you in the nethers is never not going to be weird.
- Matt’s attempts at dodging, ducking and evading often materialised as a very bizarre version of a hip roll.
- The need to memorise the choreography (and become so familiar it becomes instinctive) means it’s basically a very violent, R-Rated version of Strictly Come Dancing.
- How is the warm-down even more satanic than the warm-up? SO. MANY. ABDOMINAL/SQUAT THINGS.
- Matt realises he's inflexible. As in, 'Rigor Mortis' inflexible. Liasu advises that we should all ideally stretch for 90 minutes each day. Bring on the bendiness.
- By the end of the class, both Rich and Matt were sodden with sweat. It led to possibly one of the weirdest Google searches in Google history.
WEEK IN A GIF
The fear is subsiding, though the pain is oh-so-constant.
Our first class of the week begins with Reco forcing us to crawl along the floor like the girl from The Ring. Just imagine this, but with more squatting movements.
We move onto knife work, and take turns attacking each other and learning how to defend and block attacks from above and to the chest. Sure, the knives are fake and plastic-y, but that doesn’t mean Reco doesn’t have our safety at heart.
“Give them a ‘nice’ stabbing to the kidneys, don’t ‘properly’ stab them,” is one of the weirdest things our brains has ever had to compute.
Over the course of the class, the routine builds until we’re jabbing, hooking to the ribs, throwing upper cuts, and dodging. More importantly, we’re told our hands need to work on imaginary rubber bands - every time a punch is thrown, your hand needs to fling back to cover your head.
1-on-1 time with Reco proves the point, as he makes a decided point of affectionately clobbering us around the head every time our hands go wandering.
Second session of the week, and Liasu kickstarts things with a punishing press-up routine. In short, start with five press-ups, wait a couple of seconds, crack on with six press-ups, wait a second, attempt seven press-ups, and so on. Then, just when you can’t feel your arms anymore, you go the other way (12 to 11 to 10 to OHGODWHYAMIDOINGTHISTOMYSELF).
We build on the previous week’s knife work, starting with a protective stance that’s all about protecting the vital organs. From there, we’re shown a strong, defensive block that moves into a pinning grip, chokehold and knife disarming.
It’s a combination that inevitably means you’re being attacked in kind. After the first 10 or oesophagus throttlings, I can’t help but get Kanye’s ‘Monster’ stuck in my head (skip to around 2:00).
THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK
- Our brain is becoming strangely accustomed to sentences like “give them a nice stabbing”, “knife them in the bum”, and “where do I put the murder weapons when we’re done?”.
- Being choked by a complete stranger is the ultimate ice breaker.
- Rubbing your forearm because you can’t feel it anymore, and being assured that your nerves will eventually deaden ‘if you keep doing it for another year or so’ is not the pinnacle of motivational speaking.
- UWA's amazing receptionist Alice wants us to say hi on here. So, you know...
WEEK IN A GIF
Full disclosure up front - Matt only managed one session each this week, while Rich wasn't able to attend any on account of them having to vist the Bahamas and Orlando (respectively) for work. We realise how ridiculous that is.
Still, Matt made sure he did press-ups and sit-ups every day he was away. Plus, Reco punished him enough during his one session this week to make up the shortfall. WELCOME TO LEG WEEK. The first rule of Leg Week is you don't talk about leg week. Mainly because capacity to form words will soon be replaced by exhausted sobbing.
Things started with the now familiar game of 'Violent Playground Tag', a warm-up that involves two or three of the class taking it in turns to try to swipe at each other's heads, stomachs and knees, whilst also protecting yourself from said swipes. Suitably warmed up, Matt was introduced to his first leg attack/defense - a simple raise of the knee to hip height, followed by a powerful extending forward. The affectionately nicknamed 'F*ck Off' kick ensures whoever is coming at you is soon propelled backwards. It was all going so well until we had to switch balance to other foot, which is when things all got a bit
Thankfully, dignity was somewhat restored by learning the technique to block the f*ck off kick - a straight arm deflection, followed by a rushing elbow to the face, and then a leg sweep and shoulder yank that has your opponent on the floor faster than you can say FINISH HIM.
Things escalated until we were actively kicking each other firmly (but not punishingly) in each other's stomachs, before a gentle* final exercise in which we had to kick from the side on both legs, to waist height, 100 times. ONE HUNDRED TIMES.
Hilariously, just when Matt couldn't feel his legs anymore, our warm-down included sit-ups, planks and then a demonic exercise in which you have to give an equivalent sized class member a piggyback for a bit, squatting down numerous times (and then lifting them back up) throughout. Help.
*DEFINITELY NOT GENTLE.
THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK
- It's important to tuck your chin into your chest when falling back onto the mat. Otherwise HELLO CONCUSSION.
- Matt realised he has literally no glutes. None. #noglute
- Matt thought he was getting the hang of this exercise lark. This session definitely proved otherwise.
WEEK IN A GIF
INTERVIEW WITH RECO GILFILLIAN
As outlined above, Reco is one of our Krav instructors. He is both thoroughly smiley...
And thoroughly bad-ass...
He took the time to be quizzed on all things Krav, including the most important question - could he punch Jason Bourne in the face and live to tell the tale?
How did you first get into Krav Maga?
I first got into it after doing Muay Thai for a while. I went out to a club in the West End and I witnessed someone being stabbed, and I thought to myself 'if someone were to try to stab me, how would I defend myself?' (and more importantly 'I don't really fancy getting stabbed'). So for about a year I looked around at various martial arts, and I liked Krav Maga because a lot of the kicks and punches were what I knew anyway (from Muay Thai and Dirty Boxing) - Krav Maga's a bit of a bastard of everything, and it had the knife defences too, which are very good.
Why would you advocate Krav over other martial arts?
Krav Maga is based on being explosive and having a level of fitness to be able to run away in the first instance. It's a self defence system. I like the fact you are taught how to run away, first of all. How to defend against a knife as a last resort. You learn how to hit people very hard in lots of different ways - and most importantly, it's fun as well - and I get to swear! *laughs*
How often do you watch films where there are martial arts and think 'urgh that's so staged'?
I've watched all the Bourne films, and it's pretty close if I'm honest. A film called Ong-Bak is great - Tony Jaa's technique is impeccable. He's amazing. I prefer the older martial arts films more, to be honest. I can see some of the things I teach (and I've been taught) in the Jason Bourne films.
Do you think you could take Jason Bourne in a fight?
If he's asking! *laughs* No, I don't think I could take Jason Bourne. Matt Damon, yes!
We knew Krav Maga was a discipline that incorporated shades of other disciplines, but never has this been as apparent as a class focused primarily around Brazilian Jiu Jitsu moves. Grappling, punching and kicking, we’re getting the hang of. But BJJ was a whoooole other kettle of fighty fish.
Rich was ill, so Matt was left to fend for himself in a class that involved a lot of ground work, a lot of technical leg holds and a whole heap of embarrassing inflexibility. Cue Matt wafflings...
"Over the course of 90 minutes, I'm forced into a series of increasingly intimate floor positions, wherein I attempted to both grapple and flip opponents to the floor, and - when pinned down - do the reverse, shimmying and shuffling before wrapping legs around necks, shoulders and hips to try and flip things around so you end up either (a) on top and ready to punch in faces, or (b) pin your opponent’s arms in some decidedly snappable positions.
The only snafu being I can barely get up off the ground on my own, let alone bend my limbs and shift body weight to incapacitate another. It was not the most successful or empowering of weeks.
Black Widow/Xenia Onatopp I am not.
Even better/more embarrassingly, the lesson ended with our first ever sparring session. Strap on some boxing gloves, pop in a mouthguard, and then enjoy 10 minutes of panicked flailing as you’re punched over and over in the head. Wonderful."
THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK
- Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is basically a hyper-violent game of Twister.
- Learnt the invaluable skill of ‘tapping out’. If you (or your partner) starts to tap the mat (or the other person), this generally means they are intense pain, and you SHOULD PROBABLY STOP APPLYING THAT PRESSURE NOW.
- Concussion by adamantium-laced codpiece is never going to be explainable in any other social context than this.
- Just because you’ve survived hits to the head, and death by legs, doesn’t mean you can take your eye off the ball. I fell down a pothole not a minute after walking outside the Academy.
WEEK IN A GIF
An important part of the whole ‘fitness transformation’ thing just so happens to be weight tracking and management. Every month, we’ll update on our new weights, and particularly the percentage of our fat and muscle.
It’s something we can do thanks to the joy of using QardioBase, a smart scales that accurately measures your fat, muscle, BMI and overall weight through the joy of an amusingly friendly app.
Anyhoo, here’s where we're at after four weeks.
Matt: Weight - 90.6kg (199.7lbs - 14st 3lbs) / 21% Fat / 16% Muscle
Rich: Weight - 83.5kg (184lbs - 13.1lbs) / 17% Fat / 17% Muscle
We'll leave the 'big reveal' (*sobs into neck fat*) for the end of the transformation.
Speaking of sexy topless pictures, Rich and I realised that while punching things very hard will do wonders for our muscles, we'd probably need to adapt our nutrition so you could actually see the muscles under all the cake-y, chocolate-y chub.
Nutritionist Rick Hay decided to hop aboard Mission: Kinda-Possible, and his first step was to gift us three sachets of SuperFoodist plant-based powders, which we're instructed to consume at breakfast, lunch and evening, and which are intended to regulate and cleanse our guts.
Turns out that a healthy digestive and metabolic system will actually do wonders for how your body processes protein, carbs et al. It was all sounding wonderfully helpful until Rick casually told us to let him know if we developed "explosive" diarrhoea as our body adjusted to them.
He also helped clear up some standard nutrition myths. In short...
- There's no point calorie counting. If you're eating healthily and exercising, it's all a bit irrelevant.
- You need protein to build muscle - but ideally GOOD proteins (not full of sugars etc).
- Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. A nutrient-rich AM NOM boots up your system for the day ahead.
After four weeks of eating relatively sensibly (with the odd beer/vodka-blitz + hungover 15" takeaway pizza as recovery), Matt's decided to properly focus on sorting the diet out. Tofu, protein-rich quorn and lots of green vegetables are go.
Our fifth session with Reco and things are moving from 'interesting' to 'murderously fascinating'.
The focus of this week's lesson is 'choke holds'. Cheery.
In all seriousness, Krav is more focused on disarming and protecting yourself as quickly as possible as it is being pro-actively aggy. And the swift implementation of a choke hold can quickly save yourself and incapacitate your opponent.
A fact Matt swiftly learned after being introduced to the 'Guillotine' hold.
Thankfully, for every move you're taught as an attack, you're also taught to evade. Over the space of the lesson, we're taught a routine that includes how to get someone in a headlock (surprisingly easy), how to get OUT of a headlock (pull their arm away, slam them in the genitals, and elbow upwards), and how to apply pressure to that favourite of unconscious-ers, the carotid artery.
As each hold is introduced, and each of the class is shown how easily they can make you pass out, one of our petite, lady classmates pipes up "could you kill someone with that move?".
The only thing scarier than Reco's reply that you could? Said petite lady classmate's gleeful grin in response.
We finish the session with some sparring, and are encouraged to use leg as well as upper body attacks. This involves putting on shinpads for the first time.
It's only when Reco stops the class to point and laugh at Matt's complete idiocy that he realises he's put them on incorrectly.
WEEK IN A GIF
Every good fitness-er (can you tell we're not professional gym people?) needs good fitness swag to work out with. Here are our top picks of the best performance-enhancing (and just awesome-looking) gym kit and nutrition supplements to help make you the biggest, beefiest, bestest you that you can be.
SNUGS CUSTOM HEADPHONES
True story - Snugs custom headphones are so incredibly sound-cancelling that Matt screamed in someone's face after they politely asked him for directions whilst he was wearing them.
Taking the technology that PROPER POP STARS use on-stage, for the ear pieces they use during performances, Snugs visit you in-person for an intro session that involves 3D SCANNING YOUR EARS. Once they've scanned your ear canal and you've finished imaginng yourself as some kind of Britney/Tron hybrid, they go off and produce ear buds specifically molded for your ear.
Not only does this result in literally perfect audio being pumped direct to your brain, but as your ear canal never changes, it's a simple email to order more ear buds specifically crafted for your ears in the future.
MAXINUTRITION PROTEIN POWDERS & BARS
If you've ever entered a gym, the chances are you've seen beefcakes chugging down on colourful milkshake-looking drinks, and munching their bodyweight in what you'd presume are chocolate bars.
Craftily, MaxiNutrition have done the unthinkable, and made a raft of protein shakes and bars that are actually, wait for it, delicious.
While the range varies, you're guaranteed a hit of between 23g to 30g of protein with each intake - something that's hugely helpful in boosting your protein levels each day (and ergo muscle build).
We're not sure if you've noticed, but IT IS BLOODY COLD RIGHT NOW. So if you're brave/mad enough to train outside, then you're definitely going to need sexy lycra thermals to keep you insulated as you train.
Pearl Izumi offer a genuinely cool range of jackets, tops, and compression tights to help improve your efficiency and keep you toasty along the way.
NIKE MENS METCON 2
Not only are these Nikes super-sleek and sexy, but they're super-useful in a workout, with a firm heel rubber that provides stability during high-intensity workouts, excellent traction, and a heel clip that minimses drag during wall exercises.
We're not entirely sure what that last one means, but we're pretty sure it's a good thing.
XAVIER ATHLETICA CLOTHING
Whether you're hyperventilating in the park, or keeling over in the gym, we all want to at least try and look sexy while we're exercising.
Xavier Athletica offer a range of comfy, workout-useful clothing that lets you look great and workout great.
KEEN WATERPROOF TRAINERSMuch as we all wish we could live next to a beach, in a home with endlessly sunny weather, the reality is that many of us (we're looking at you, English people) will have to train in the rain, wind and sleet as standard.
So hurrah for Keen's range of waterproof footwear - not only is it the perfect off-road shoe for those of you wanting to get muddy AND runny, but they look pretty darn snazzy to boot.
LUMIE BODY CLOCK
Getting up to go to the gym is a bitch.
Going to bed after a long evening exercising can be just as restless.
SO HUZZAH for Lumie Body Clocks, a series of light-clocks that wake you up and send you to sleep using light therapy designed to make you feel more refreshed in the morning, motivated for training and aim to reset your internal rhythm to make sleeping and getting up all the easier.
From first hand experience, these totally, totally work.
Dumbbells are, to put it finely, a total arse to store/move around. Which is why Bowflex's bonkersly amazing SelectTech Dumbbells are so amazing.
Instead of 17 sets of dumbbells, super-snazzy technology means you can adjust the weight of just two dumbbells to lift anything from 4kg to 41kg.
Sounds like magic, kinda is.
Another week, another martial art to try/flailingly bastardise.
Reco introduced us to the head-grappling joys of Muay Thai, and a host of decidedly up-close-and-personal holds (and the breaks that would escape them).
Step one involves learning how to get hold of someone, bring them close and keep them there (people are a lot easier to knee in the genitals/stomach/ribs/face when you’ve got them pinned to your person).
We begin by pairing off and locking our hands behind each other’s necks, and are told, quite simply, don’t let go. Ever. No matter how much the other person squirms, just lock on for dear life - because the moment you let go, they’re free to beat the living balls out of you.
From there, we learn how to snap out of the hold (to attack) or use the other person’s momentum/pressure against them (if they’ve got you in a lock, pull down on their arm, and then when they counter by pushing up, you surprise them by flinging their arm up with them, ducking under their now-vertical arm, and put them in a choke hold).
In another manoeuvre, we end up pivoting their arm to a right angle behind their back, grab both our hands in a hold (so their arm’s locked in ours), push down and then voila - they’re in a pleading, mewling heap on the floor.
While we’re still far from experienced (calling us ‘beginners’ even feels like a stretch), it’s great to see the incremental improvement as our brains slowly piece each week’s skill set together.
We finish by sparring again, and Matt’s increasing pride that he sees an approximately 17% week-on-week improvement in ‘not running away’. Also that being punched squarely in the face (with gloves, thank chuff), while never exactly enjoyable, becomes a little less scary each time. Even if the Tweety Birds never really diminish in number.
The warm-down is another collection of horrendous burpees and sit-ups, but it’s a particularly special moment for Matt as - for the first ever time in these ridonkulously punishing classes - he actually finishes one of the exercises before everyone else. Small wins, people.
WEEK IN A GIF
After weeks of grappling/throttling/choking, it’s a merciful relief that this week’s class was all about being kicked repeatedly around the groin/ribs/head.
Honestly, the perspective this sport gives you. We mean,
The class comprises of a series of kicks that allow you to defend/attack/all-round-cripple others from both up front and afar. As with all things Krav-based, the preferred method is to break someone from a suitable distance and then leg it the other way whilst they’re pleading on the ground, rather than launch into a one man production of Jean-Claude Van Damme: Live.
Knees are a notable weak point, and while we’re careful enough to not actually knock kneecaps out left, right and centre, just the slightest pressure hints at the real damage you could do if you really went full force.
There’s a refreshing lack of spectacle, instead focusing on the joys of kicking forward and to the side instead of triple spinning jump-kicks. The class ends with a series of HIT leg workouts, and before I know it it’s all gone a bit
Our seventh week in and we also decide to experiment with the murder-joy of Filipino Boxing, which is Urban Warrior Academy’s spin on the Philippine martial art known as Panantukan, a sport which gained huge popularity in recent years because of *drum roll*, the Bourne movies (more info here).
If Matt Damon used it to murder someone on-screen, then we are IN.
First up, we are more than happy to report it does not in any way involve repeatedly attacking people from the Philippines.
Our instructor James Dismore has a black belt in Rapid Arnis, and five years’ MMA training, so we’re in safe (if contradictorily deadly) hands.
We start with some shadow boxing before teaming up with another class member to learn some mid-range punches. From the off it’s clear that Filipino Boxing is focused on technique.
While the aim is purely to fire off a few mid-range punches, the stance (more squat than a long range attack), position of your feet (pretty much both looking forward as part of the squat), and movement (back and forth, quickly - because the worst thing you can do when you’re attacked is to become an immobile punching bag) is as important as the punch being thrown.
As part of the attempt to keep the torso tight, we’re told to move our head with the upper torso when we move. It’s a reminder yet again of Matt’s inflexibility, and he’s pretty sure his attempts to duck and weave just looked like this:
We spar more, building on the combination pad work, throwing in hooks and steps that allow you to mix up the angle of your attack, before once again sparring 1-1. No matter how many times we get punched ahead, we can’t help but reflexively apologise when we actually land a punch on our opponent.
It’s all terribly English.
CLASSES IN A GIF
If years of video games have taught us anything, it’s that hand-eye co-ordination is a useful life skill.
That, and we’re pretty sure that purgatory exists and it’s name is 'The Water Temple' Level in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
So this week’s lesson, which primarily revolved around close range punching (and how to avoid them) was welcome music to increasingly cauliflower ears. After the requisite warm-up game of Touch Tag, we’re partnered off and spend a good ten minutes gently clobbering each other at close range, with the other tasked with at first deflecting said taps.
This evolves into the defender using their boxing gloves to protect their head and body, and then - as soon as they’ve identified a gap to react - kicking the attacker straight in the goolies. It’s a helpful way to identify a contingency plan when you’re being punched into a corner. It also requires to constantly look at your opponent’s crotch.
Which is an off-putting form of defense however you look at it.
The back-and-forth progresses so that whenever the attacker shouts ‘go’, the defender throws a right uppercut, then pivots to do a left hook and finally incorporates a bunch of ducks.
(No, not that kind.)
By ducking and stepping out at the same time, you’re positioned to pop back up with a new angle to bludgeon your opponent with your already-swinging fist. Boxing, it turns out, is chuffing fun. Physically cathartic and pleasingly tactile, it’s definitely one of our favourite lessons.
That is, until we finished on a now predictable, horrendous combination of burpees, press-ups and sit-ups.
CLASS IN A GIF
Matt's ill this week. So it's RICH TIME.
"As with every week, I walked into the Urban Warriors Academy with a nervous excitement. “Choke revision and Headlock today” read the text from Reco earlier that day - a sentence I never thought I‘d hear but something I've come to expect on a weekly basis.
As ever, the group starts with a warm-up which involves running round and stretching out our bodies and our minds. Running in circles punching out in front, running backwards, spinning and trying to grab the legs of the person in front of us at the instructor's command.
And then, the choking.
How do you get out of a choke hold? Well, you’ve got three options but firstly ALWAYS PUSH UP YOUR SHOULDERS AND PUSH YOUR CHIN DOWN (This means you’ll be able to breathe a little easier):
- If a choke comes from the front, slam your dominant hand into their face and pull away their arm by cupping your hand and pulling on their wrist. Make sure to keep hold of this so you can inflict more damage to the back of their head.
- If a choke comes from the side, slam your hand closest to them into their face, drop down and hit them in the genitalia, then strike back up with an elbow to the face.
- If a choke comes from the back, reach behind over your head and separate the hands, retaining their left wrist with your left hand. Drop, attack the genitalia, back up with an elbow. Now the fancy bit; while holding onto their wrist with your left hand, spin counter-clockwise around them, putting their arm into a lock. Pull back their face on the right hand side whilst you kick them in the left knee. This WILL bring them to the floor.
Then it's onto 'Shock Starts' - in short, you close your eyes and react when attacked. Sure, it IS terrifying but also sadistically fun to have someone attack you ‘in the dark’. It tends to shock your body into purely reacting, and really plays on what you’ve learnt in the last hour.
Although I didn’t quite get all the chokes down, I feel like if someone was to give me a 'cheeky choke', I could get out of it in a fairly controlled manner.
CLASS IN A GIF
For the last six weeks, Rich and Matt have been battling an intangible, seemingly inconquerable foe - the 2016 MTV EMAs.
After months of mental and physical training, we faced up to the beast, flew to Rotterdam and worked a week of bonkers, exhausting, hilarious and frustratingly cake-filled (sorry, Reco) adventures.
Celebrities were annoyed on the red carpet, rock stars were quizzed backstage, and we have enough stories to fuel The Sun's gossip column for a year. In short though, we weren't around for much fitness-ing. Next week it starts again aproper.
EMAS IN A GIF
As Matt is literally getting splashed by great white sharks in South Africa, Rich is ‘Kraving’ on his own this week.
"Sometimes I feel like I should have taken dance classes as a kid (or at least watched Strictly Come Dancing to get a few tips on my footwork), as I've always been uncoordinated when my brain tells my legs to do two different things at the same time. That being said, it didn't help at UWA this week when the group had to throw different punch combinations whilst trying to get the most power by using their legs and hips. It makes you wonder how boxers make it look so effortless.
Thankfully, after some 1-on-1 time with Reco, my footwork improved so that by the end of the class, I was able to complete these combinations with the grace of a butterfly and the sting of a bee. Ok, maybe not that good - but at least it felt like I nailed it.
One of my favourite things about Krav Maga are the technical parts, and a fake mugging means there's always going to be a cool way to get out of it. Building up from a standard 'knife to stomach' scenario where your first form of defence is to give all your possessions to the would-be mugger (Reco regularly reminds us that 'they're just things, don't try to be a hero'), the group progresses onto learning how to push away and disarm the attacker, before being introduced to a manoeuvre by which you escape an attack when the knife is literally pressed against your throat from behind and in front.
Amazingly, the group is then taught how to escape from a 'cash point attack' (basically what to do when someone comes up from behind and presses a knife into your back). If the attacker is standing behind you with a knife centimetres away from your lower back, you want to find out what hand they have the knife in so you can attempt to push it away from you while quickly turning round. From here you need to be accurate in grabbing the wrist and distributing your weight so the attacker is unable to move, allowing you to take the knife and run away.
All the knife defences were put into practice with shock attacks which involved closing your eyes and then your 'partner' screaming in your faces with the fake blade placed in an unknown location. Terrifying AND informative. Terraformative. Or something.
After a couple of weeks away (when Matt wasn't assaulting pop stars at the EMAs, he was assaulting lions, leopards and elephants on holiday in South Africa), Matt was apprehensive about hitting the Urban Warriors Academy (and by default, other people in the face).
This week, Reco decided to focus on '360 Defence' manouevres. In short, learning a multitude of ways to defend yourself from looney-toons who decide to attack you with a knife from every conceivable angle.
The first attack (someone jabs towards your gut with a knife) is deflected with a graceful, as I like to call it, 'murder pirouette' - essentially a wide step out to the right that takes you right out of the path of said pointy knife, leaving Mr (or Mrs) Attacker running through like a drunk jouster gone awry.
The next couple of evasions are more technical (HELLO FLAILING), but it's good to know that some technical know-how has sunk in over the weeks. The main thing Matt's learned? The wrist is a big ol' red target when it comes to disarming attackers. All you need to do is ensure you're putting excessive pressure on the wrist joint (ideally pushing the person's hand towards their own wrist) and they're down on the floor weeping and huffing before you know it.
There's just one week to go until our final Bourne workout, and while gaining a six pack is still looking pretty elusive (no thirst-trap for YOU), it's good to know our defence skills seem to have upgraded from 'feeble' to 'not completely useless'.
MATT BAIAMONTE INTERVIEW (MATT DAMON'S FIGHT TRAINER)
Matt Damon is a bad-ass. But he didn't get that way through innate bad-assery. Matt Baiamonte is the secret weapon in Damon's ass-kicking arsenal, acting as his personal trainer on a number of his films. We decided to quiz Matt on how hard it is to look and fight like Bourne....
MTV: How many years have you known Matt Damon for?
Matt Baiamonte: I started training Matt back in 2008 for the movie Invictus. He's a total down-to-Earth guy. I've only worked with him on the most recent Jason Bourne movie.
MTV: What was the training like for Jason Bourne?
MB: Man, he trained hard. Matt's 46, and you've got to work just a little bit harder than you normally would when you're in your 20s. We were focusing on strength and conditioning, then he would do the boxing after. The majority of the time they were two or two and a half hour sessions that he'd knock out before going straight to set to do his scenes.
MTV: You can't see from listening to me over the phone, but I'm at 5ft 6" tiny little man (@lucasfothergill) - could I go from being a couch potato to a lean mean fighting machine in just three months?
MB: It would be a rough three months for you! *laughs* I've been a boxer for 25 years, and Matt boxed in the first movie and learnt Filipino Martial Arts. So it'd be pretty tough for you, but we may be able to manage it. You just may need to be in a hospital bed for a little while after. *laughs*
MTV: Are all these different fighting styles dangerous to learn?
MB: It depends on the person's skill set. If you're not having direct contact, you shouldn't get hurt. But ther'es always the risk that if someone moves the wrong way or Matt steps into a punch, he could get hit by accident. On Jason Bourne, Matt was doing bare knuckle brawls with a guy who was an actual bare knuckle brawl fighter, and those guys were laying each other with body shots. When Matt got home that night, he had bruises all on his arms and his ribs. They wanted it to look realistic so they took real body shots at each other. In one scene, a guy throws an upper cut and Matt had to throw his head back hard to sell the shot - and he gave himself whiplash! They probably punched each other more than 1000 times. It was insane.
MTV: If you were dealing with a complete beginner, where would you start them off?
MB: If you're a beginner, you have to take it easy, so start with a little cardio, a little light weights, some boxing, and footwork is really important. Once you get your base core conditioning and cardio, you don't have to be that strong. You can manipulate the other person's strength against themselves. Fighters like Mike Tyson will take your head off with one punch, but then guys like Muhammad Ali would get you with technique and targeted punches. You don't have to be too strong, you just have to be smart. You also have to be really strict with your diet.
MTV: Which fight scene are you most proud of?
MB: I was really proud of the last scene, but the bare knuckle brawl scene was my favourite as you can see a lot of the boxing Matt learnt. He did really great in that scene - and I wish that scene could have been longer.
Finally, after 13 long, punch-ridden weeks, we've come to the end of our adventures in mutual humiliation and fighty times. But Reco wasn't letting us off easy.
Our final class was intense from start to finish, with a focus on disarming holds, evasions and brutal takedowns. I think Rich and I are close enough now to openly admit our enjoyment at forcing each other onto all fours *cough*, but it's still great to know that we're learning each and every week how to defend ourselves. The session ended with a good 15 minutes of sparring (again, sans helmets but with mouth guards).
It was a cardio-tastic tustle so intense that when Reco finally called time on the sparring, we were all literally steaming. Bonkers.
While we'll continue on training in some capacity, the end of the 13 weeks means one thing... brace yourselves, topless photos are coming.
Before Weight - 14st 4lbs (91.4kg) / 22% Fat / 14% Muscle
After Weight - 13st 6lbs (86.9kg) / 20% Fat / 16% Muscle
BEFORE VS AFTERThoughts: First important lesson - my BMI still classes me as 'Overweight' which is why measuring yourself by BMI - or any standard other than your own personal happiness level - is total ass-crack. So, from a happiness level, I'm pretty satisfied with the result. The plan was never to get a six pack - but to work hard, learn new (deadly) skills and tone up. And from that POV, I'm pretty chuffed. While I can almost guarantee I'd still be murderised in a street brawl, I feel more confident and assured in protecting myself, and I now know how two quick, efficient ways to get someone crying for help (hello corrotted artery and wrist-pressure disabling moves!). I'm also now lifting twice as heavy weights across the board at the gym, which is satisfying to see. Even more importantly than any of the above though (and not to get all mushy about it), but learning mixed martial arts at Urban Warrior's Academy has expanded my friendship group, enjoyment of this city and, well, lung capacity. I'm happier, more confident and have found something else I love to do every week. And that's testament to Reco's awesome tutoring and everyone else who helped along the way (even those who punched me repeatedly in the face).
Before Weight - 12st 9lbs (82g)
After Weight - 12st 2lbs (77.8kg) / 16% Fat / 17% Muscle
BEFORE VS AFTERThoughts: It's easy to look at the before and after pictures and think "I wanted to see better results" but it's not just about how you look - and I can honestly say this is the fittest and healthiest I have been in all my life. The classes not only give you fitness goals but also make you more confident even when walking down the street. I'm super happy I did the three months and although I'll be eating ALL THE FOOD over christmas, I'll be right back on it in January!