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Tag Archives: Ardon Sweet Science

A Muay Thai Sunday In Brooklyn

Sunday was a unique experience for everyone at the sparring circle.  Kru Natalie called me a few weeks ago and asked if we could put something together on this weekend with some of her girls and I was immediately excited by the opportunity to bring new women to the group for a special meet.  Greg generously – and in Greg fashion – offered to open up the gym for us.  And I was amped to hear that Jess and Nicole from Fighthouse would be returning.

Upon parking at the end of the block we immediately met Kru Nat and Wendy and walked around the corner to find Nicole S. standing outside of the gym. The weather leaned more toward mid-November than mid-October and we all stood, bundled and huddled but excited and friendly as we waited for the doors to open.  I was happy to finally meet Wendy, who I’d seen fight at the WKA in June – back then she’d impressed me as a fighter right off the bat in the first round, but I had been mostly happy to watch her warm up (a late fight after a long day of eliminations) by dancing to music pumped out by a lonely DJ at the far end of the gymnasium.  We all happily stood there in the cold and talked a bit about fighting, opportunities and experiences: serious minds, but peppered with humor and a sincere joy for the sport. It was a happy 15 minutes in hiatus.

When Greg came and opened the doors we all marched upstairs and piled into the dressing room – all of us into the women’s side, regardless of the obvious absence of any men in the other locker room – and were joined by more members filing in.  The gym was chilled and Greg turned on a small space heater in the corner by the women’s locker room where various girls stood to warm themselves as they put on wraps or stretched.  There was a definite gravitation of those from the same gyms sitting together or warming up near one another, but everyone was open and quick to introduce themselves, or ask each other questions about their different gyms.

We spent a good 30 minutes warming up, and the room itself got a little heat going from our activity.  When we began many girls still donned sweatshirts and first rounds were light and a bit slower in order to ease into the sparring.  In the middle of my second round, I could feel the energy of the whole room and looked up to see that EVERYONE was sparring – in the ring, on the floor, and Angela was hitting the bag before finding a partner (odd number of girls at that point).  It was a wonderful image and the energy in the room was very high and focused (you can see a short vid of it up on the Facebook events page).

In my first few rounds I met up with Nicole S. and Lucy, neither of whom I’d seen in a long time.  Nicole got me all worked up, kicking my legs and smacking me pretty good as a warm up, which is great, just what I like.  Lucy was a tactical difficulty. I’d not seen her since she was recovering from jaw surgery, as she had then come only to kickspar; now she was able to use her hands – which she’s very good at.  I only got one round in with Peelo, but I especially liked watching her go against Kru Nat with long kicks and teeps.

I was eager to spar with everyone, and I managed at least one round with every girl except Wendy, who somehow I missed.  Nicole S. commented to me that I ought to spar with Wendy as she felt she had learned a lot in their round together.  She was especially excited that Wendy had nearly teeped her in the face; exactly the type of thing girls like us get excited about.  Jess and I ended up in the ring together at least 4 times, which was terrific practice as she is one of the very few girls I know who is actually my size. I felt like we both made a lot of progress in figuring out each other’s patterns and working around them (or plowing through them; Jess has a great hook!).

Deirdre from Fighthouse, Audrey from the Krav Maga Federation, and Angela from Kru Natalie’s private instruction (aka Chok Sabai) made their first visit to the group and were all a great addition with a variety of technique and energy to offer their sparring partners.  And Kaori from Sweet Science made her second visit and gave us all good practice with boxing – it makes me so happy when she’s there.  Nicole R. arrived in the last half-hour of the session and jumped right in the ring, stirring it up. When Deirdre matched up with Nicole she couldn’t get over how nice it was to finally spar with a girl her approximate size and weight. This is one of the wonderful things about the circle. Women come here and unexpectedly experience a match up they haven’t had before.

Kru Nat was constantly making rounds, hardly ceasing, full of serious joyful energy, sparring with everyone and more than once giving me a look from across the ring that invited me to jump in.  Our first rounds together were ridiculous, with Kru Nat basically dancing around and taunting me without my being able to hit her even once; but as we got in the ring together again and again I found my pace and confidence with her, ultimately feeling like I’d dropped some of my inhibitions of getting close enough to actually reach her.

In all we sparred for about an hour and a half, followed by some clinching practice with Kru Nat in the ring.  The energy remained high all the way to the end and when I removed my shin-pads just out of the ring, my legs were steaming.  Brilliant.  Some of the girls had to leave at different times during the session, but everyone seemed to have genuinely enjoyed their time there. What a way to change a rainy Sunday.  Before we all headed out Peelo had the great idea to take a group photo – lots of smiles.

ALSO: A Visit From Florina

Last Tuesday was a truly unique experience as well.  Florina Petcu came to the circle and gave quality time to the few of us who happened to be there for this unexpected visit. 

I was particularly touched by her generosity – she’s gearing up for a tournament in BJJ and had missed practice to come by – and her very earnest and kind advice to me, as a fellow small fighter, and advice to Laurel and Nicole as well.  I’d been in contact with Florina before my fight and met her at the actual event in Virginia. Her kindness and support have made her an important inspiration to me.  But this was the first time I’d actually seen Florina’s Muay Thai.  She has such beautiful technique.

Every week seems to bring out different women, and a different feeling for the sparring, and this week was, yet again, a great time. For those who weren’t there, Sarah from Church Street came, as did Chris, and we all seemed to be a good mix – lots of pace,  and a lot of joy ringside.  Both Laurie and Peelo are getting ready to fight, so the energy seemed up for everyone, not to mention that Greg had just returned from a week off after the birth of his baby girl (!). (He said he can’t wait for her to join the circle.) So many new things. On top of that we tried our first experiment with filming rounds, so you’ll have to get back to us, and discuss amongst yourselves how much you liked it. As you know, we are trying to respect the privacy needs of all the fighters (no one should be able to study them adversely), but still grant us the advantage of looking at what we have done and seeing what we should improve upon.

Video Footage of Rounds

As we mentioned before, we are posting the footage of the rounds on a Youtube site dedicated to our sparring circle. All the videos have been, and will be set to “private”, which means only those who are “friends” of the site can view them. Hopefully this will keep the privacy issue in check. And as we also agreed upon, after one week the footage will be taken down and replaced by the next meeting. If you have a Youtube account, the process should be pretty simple. Go to TheNYFSC, and click “add as Friend” on the main page. After receiving the “friend” notification, we can manually add you to the privacy list, and this should allow you to see all the videos we put up (and comment upon them as well). You’ll get email invites for each of them. You can either click on the link in each email, or can simply go to the main page listed above, and see them all there. They are not searchable by anyone, and we keep references names, and descriptions at a minimum. It is important that when you Friend the Youtube site, that you let us know who you are in a short message. In a small note, if you don’t see yourself much in the footage, we didn’t take equal footage of all because it’s somewhat happenstance who we captured, also because Laurie requested not to be filmed due to her upcoming fight, so anytime she was in the ring we either didn’t shoot, or shot in a very narrow frame. If ever you would like to make sure you’re filmed – perhaps you’re working on something, or plain excited about the idea –  just let us know in advance, and of course if you don’t want to be filmed at all, let us know that too. All in all, please tell us if it was a good thing for you, and if we should continue it.

If you do not have Youtube, you will have to set up an account to join and view the channel. Its easy and takes about 5 min. Just go to Youtube and click “Create an Account”. They will ask you for an email address, and when you receive their email and verify, you should be then able to go to our site – TheNYFSC – and add it as a “Friend”. If you have any trouble with this email me at sylvie@earthlink.net, and I’ll walk you through it. We are pretty much going to restrict who can join as a friend to the actual women who are involved, and perhaps some trainers. There is a limit of 25 persons who can join as Friends.

Photos and the Events Page

We’ll be posting photos from this week over at the Facebook events page found here, which can also be reached via our main Facebook page here (just look on the right sidebar under “Events”. The “create an event” feature seemed to be a pretty good to announce our times and locations, and to make people aware of who is going and who cannot come that week. Some may have not gotten the message through facebook as several who came didn’t confirm, so if there are any thoughts on how to do it better, let us know. Through the “events” page you can invite anyone you are fb friends with, so feel free to use it as everyone who participates is an “administrator” of the facebook page.

 

Greg is back, and Sarah from Church Street says she can be there, and Jessica is back in training, and Peelo’s getting ready for her Sept. 19th fight, so there should be some really nice sparring ahead this Tuesday after our one-week break. Let’s see if we can come on strong. Also there has been some discussion among most of our regulars and all seem to agree that they like the idea of filming some of the rounds for later viewing and study. So what we are thinking is that as long as everyone in the ring is into it, Kevin will film a pair and we’ll put it up on a private YouTube account so only the few of us can view it, to be taken down after a week. We’ll experiment with it just this week and see how everyone feels. At all costs this should not be obtrusive, nor should anyone feel that they have to be filmed. But it might be cool to critique youself, or even have others critique you too. The reason why we are all meeting is that we all just want to get better.

For those who haven’t come yet, the map and directions to Ardon Sweet Science can be viewed here. If you aren’t sure or can’t spar for some reason, we’d love for you to just come by and watch. It’s a pretty unique get together. I don’t know of anywhere else where women come together from different gyms like this to share community and spar for fun and growth.  It’s a very cool experience.

Here is the event page on Facebook, if you would like to RSVP.

Some notes. Let’s try to work realistic clinching into our sparring (bring kneepads if you can), which we haven’t really done yet. I took a clinching class at Five Points this week and realized that I have a lot to work on there, and maybe some of you feel the same. 

To give a sense to everyone of the scope of the circle so far, here is a list of those who have expressed interest in our circle in some way. If any of you can help fill out or correct the informational blanks that would be great for all because part of the aim here is to identify a new york female muay thai community so other women know who else is practicing and to help others network. Ultimately this is your circle, and the connections you make belong to you. So think of any others who might like to come and enjoy it. Most of those listed have already participated, but the more we grow the group the more resilient and varied it will be, the more likely it will surive lower turn out days, or prod us to do something different, etc. What is beautiful is that what can happen when people get to know each other can’t be anticipated.

Also, if you’re not on Facebook, please give us an email where we can contact you, if you’d like to hear directly about new events or cancellations.

We had another wonderful night of sparring at Sweet Science, and amazingly we are still getting new girls folded into the mix. So while not everyone can come each time, the group still growing. And it was really nice to have Lucy there, only kick-sparring. She is on restriction from contact near the head, and showed us all how underdeveloped kicks can be. She noticed how when in kick-sparring you have to find another way to set up your kicks, without punch combinations. I think all of us probably learned something. And personally sparring with Nicole from Fighthouse was a pleasure since not only does she bring it, she also is pretty much my size. It makes a real difference to set up opposite someone who matches you. The nice thing is that we have women of all kinds of sizes and experience. The variety of influence is really something more than I expected.

Greg mentioned that he thought we would be incorporating more clinching in the work, and I think he is completely right. Of course all of us spar and work on the things that we want to work on, that is the beauty of the circle. But it seems that in general we should mix in more clinching and knees (and yes, I really have to give my knee pads some action). So I say, remember to bring knee pads if you like the idea. I just ordered these from Amazon and really like them. They arrived in only 3 days.

So I say, the circle is going strong, keep spreading the word to other girls you think might really like it. New invitees can simply come and watch if they are not sure. Or if someone has an injury or restriction, they can spar in a limited way, just as Lucy did.

With pretty high chances for showers in the forecast we had to close down the plans for sparring this Sunday at Far Rockaway. We’ll check with Sarah and Chris, but maybe we can renew it for the 23rd, two weeks from now. We are still on for this Tuesday at about 7 pm, in the ring at 7:30, at Ardon Sweet Science. We put some knees and clinching in, but should really bring more (I ordered kneepads, but if anyone has an extra pair and could bring them bring them for me, I would appreciate it). Just a thought, I think we should try to take up some of the space where the hanging bags are. It’s a question of presence and feeling free in what we are doing. Greg has been really generous with opening up the gym to us, and we should take advantage of it. Also, there might be more girls than usual in the coming weeks so pairing up outside of the ring may be a necessity so we can all get enough work in, or even using the bags in rests is a thought.

I look forward to seeing you all there.

The energy was different this time: deeper, longer rhythmed, maybe more serious. Many women showed up who couldn’t spar, but they came to give their support and cheer us on; and the group is expanding. Laurie got in the ring and displayed her wonderful axe-kick, (even teaching some of its secrets), and was an encouraging sparring partner.  Florina and Lucy (5 Points) came by to watch, and Deb got in the ring this time – big time.  Ernie from Fighthouse stepped in. It’s nice to see the evolution, as different girls come and each one makes her imprint. I personally evolved with the group since last week, taking it upon myself mentally to focus on one or two techniques that I want to improve, which I think taught me a lot about myself as a muay thai fighter.

Some clinching was incorporated, but we really should work on that more, (and I forgot to buy my kneepads, so I couldn’t bring in knees yet).  Many women did have knee pads, though knees were not really used.  I say, let’s bring both knees and clinching more into it so the skills practiced match reality. (And Deb, I still want to bring elbow pads, and practice light elbows to the body.) Any more thoughts people have on what would make it better, on if the sparring level was right for you, or the things we could improve, please mention them here, or at the facebook page.

All-in-all another step forward. The truth is none of us know where this is going, what it can become. We just contribute what we do and see what happens when women get together who really love something. Greg again was a level and supportive presence and I really look foward to next Tuesday when some of the girls from the first meeting and the new ones from the second mix together.

We’ll be posting about going out to the beach to spar on Sunday soon, with exact directions, times, etc. I see Partly cloudy, 84° on weather.com, so the weather is looking good.

Tonight was the first meeting of the New York Women’s Sparring Circle.  A punctual group (!), we met at Ardon Sweet Science in Brooklyn at 7:00 and began our sparring at 7:30. It was impressive how quickly and easily we could all organize ourselves into pairs and how the rotation of partners occurred without any dictation; just invitations to get in the ring and spar for a couple rounds and then break or pair back off as needed.  So much fun!

We defaulted into 3 minute rounds with a 30 second break in between, so for those feeling a little pressed by the pace, it was a heavy pace.  I think we did great.  And two pair in the ring at a time seemed comfortable and a good use of space.  I’d say that with more girls we might want to utilize the floorspace outside of the ring, but resting and watching was perfect with the numbers we had today.  A great turnout for the first session, including women who for various reasons did not spar today (Deb, Lorena), but were an awesome addition and wonderful presence in the group.  Over and above, Greg Ardon’s presence – calm and cool at the side of the ring – set the tone for serious, safe, and autonomous sparring.  It was exciting to meet those of you who I’ve only interacted with online and very exciting to spar with new people; each person challanged me in a unique way and I was inspired by seeing how everyone seemed to spar differently with each other.

I’m already amped for next week and I’m hoping we can use the rest of this week to discuss what we think was great and we want to be sure to continue, or what we think was not quite right and we want to improve on.  I’m so excited by how well we worked together and took control of the space as a group.

For all those looking into it and thinking about coming, please do. The more the better.  And for everyone there today, thank you so much for coming and I hope to see you all next Tuesday! (Same time, same place.)

Opinions: Next Week, Tuesday, 7:20 pm, Sweet Science?

We really made some progress and have probably found the best options to start. Below we discuss the pros and cons of all four spaces, but it seems to be shaping up that Greg Ardon’s Ardon Sweet Science in Brooklyn is where we should come together. Upon explaining our mission to Greg, he embraced it completely, and generously offered to keep his gym open for us in order to make it happen. We certainly need to hear from others, on their needs and opinions, but as a base framework perhaps meeting there 3 times a month, and once a month at Church Street for variety (they have openings mid-week one week a month) is what we should pursue. As things evolve we can adjust on the fly. And certain gyms, for instance the Wat, suggested that they will be available later in the Fall.

So this is what we are thinking. How about Ardon Sweet Science on Tuesday at about 7:20 (July 28th), for our first sparring meet up?  Tuesday seems to be one of the better days for most (Thursday is another very good day). If you would please let us know if another is preferable, or if this day is not at all possible in either the comments or by email, that would be great.

There are several additional things to work out: our format, the level of contact want, trainers who might come, transportation issues, etc. But let’s just see if this time and place is something we can agree on. Once we meet, we’ll all know much better what we like, and what we want more of.

We visited a number of gyms today, trying to get a feel for each space.  The four we saw are actually not that far from one another, although commuting within Manhattan and to Brooklyn might pose different pros and cons for each option.

[Click on any of the photos below to see a larger image]

Ardon Sweet Science

The first place we visited is Ardon Sweet Science 861 4th Ave (and 32nd st.) in Brooklyn. It’s within walking distance from the subway and the gym itself provides ample room for sparring in and out of the ring simultaneously.  What’s most impressive about this space, however, is Greg Ardon, the owner and operator of the gym.  Greg does not believe in advertising his place, he has no website, there is no sign on the door. He has been incredibly supportive and positive about our sparring circle and has offered us full use of his gym every week, starting at 7:30 pm, at no charge.

Pros:  good space; boxing ring; the gym would be pretty much all ours for at least an hour; available every week; no fee; Greg embraced the idea of hosting us

Con: being located in Brooklyn might be a problem for some, although some of you live in Brooklyn, so this could be a pro, too.

Peelo gives the subway directions from Manhattan (we’ll post more details later):

take the N/R/D/M to 36th st and its only 3 stops from union sq so pretty easy to get to…or take almost any train (i.e 4,5,2,3,b,q) to atlantic (one stop from the city) and transfer to n r d m and the next stop is 36th

440 Studios

The second location is 440 Studios, which is located a few blocks from the 6 train at Astor Place (440 Lafayette st).  The building holds two floors of studios available for rent by the hour, at pretty good rates.  There is a lot of activity in the place, mostly theatre and dance rehersals it seems, but we saw martial arts training as well. The initial experience when you walk in the room is that it’s a very large, clean space (as you can tell from the photos), which can accommodate a lot of people. There’s windows in the room, so you don’t feel closed in, and feels very autonymous. The way it works is that you a group rents the space for an hour at a fairly low rate.

Pros: space is potentially available at a great variety of times; easy location; no interference with other classes or gym closings, etc; plenty of space; it would be our space with no external authority.

Cons: no ring; no mats; small cost (˜$36 to be divided among us).

Fighthouse

Another option is Fighthouse, located at 122 W. 27th St.  It’s a huge gym with a ring and plenty of floor space.  Their schedule is pretty heavy, so exclusive use of the space is limited, but there’s more than enough to go around.  Because there are always things going on, in different sections of the flooring, Muay Thai, BJJ, interesting other sorts, so the energy of the place itself is very high, which is nice.  There’s a small fee for using the space, which is at the moment assumed to be about $10 per visit/ per person.  We have not yet spoken to the owner, so that number is not a quote, but is likely accurate.

Pros: the gym is open pretty late, so if we need to meet up later in the evenings, we’re not keeping anyone;  lots of space; boxing ring;

Cons: it’s a bit uptown from the three downtown gyms, where some of you usually train; potentially a small fee; unclear if the ring would be available to us.

Church Street Boxing

And one of my favorites, because this is where I’ve been sparring for the past several weeks, is Church Street.  It’s located at 25 Park Place and the area for Muay Thai is in a quasi-annex to the back, which allows for a bit of seclusion if other things are going on at the gym.  The space is enough for a small group to spar outside ring simultaneously, and we’d have use of the ring.  Aside from the space, the idea for this sparring circle grew out of the generocity of Jason’s spirit towards female fighters (boxers and Muay Thai).  I met him at the WKA and, when he heard that I had very little opportunity for sparring in my personal training, he immediately invited me down to spar with his girls, free of charge.  His enthusiasm for “the more the better” and my experience with his welcoming female students has given permission to the idea that girls from all different gyms should spar with one another. This makes everyone better. (Maybe I’ll have to write about this later.)

Pros: boxing ring; downtown subway stop right on the corner; secluded space; an inclusive attitude toward this sparring circle; no fee

Cons: limited schedule (once per month) when we could have the space to ourselves;  not a great deal of space for continuous sparring outside the ring;

Updated Profiles and Schedules

Please let us know if any of this is inaccurate, and of course feel free to suggest other women to the list. Boxers are welcome too, and some have expressed the need to simply kickspar by reason of injury, which is good as well. We’ve yet to hear from girls at the Wat, though Susan expressed sincere interest in our circle. Spread the word.

Update

We’ve had some very enthused responses (both from women we’ve talked to and gyms), and are close to posting all our initial options for our first meeting. Maybe in the next day we can put up photos, addresses and details of what is before us, and people can voice their opinion of what is best for them, or most interesting. It seems important though to just start meeting up, and not worry about finding just the right thing. Once the sparring starts everyone will have a better feel for what is going on and we can switch places if everything isn’t best. Once sparring starts also more women will join in, as it will be less abstract, a real thing.

We can say, right now Greg over at Sweet Science has been very generous and offered us his gym and ring at a convenient time (thank you Nicole for the suggestion), and we are exploring the availability of Church Street, Fighthouse and very cheaply rented-out studio space in lower Manhattan (Peelo, nice).

If anyone has more thoughts on when or where you would like to spar, please do post them in the comments, or email us. Also think HOW you want to spar, how important having a ring is, or having the room for continuous sparring is, how rotations should work, things like that.

More soon.

Finding a Place

Nicole recommends Ardon Sweet Science in Brooklyn as a possible place to host us (we contacted them on facebook today). And Jason at Church Street Boxing has generously offered the back ring during Saturday day, though we haven’t heard back yet if it would be available during the week at all. It seems that Saturday isn’t turning out to be the best time for some. We haven’t been to Sweet Science, but the space looks certainly big enough in this youtube (here), with adequate floor space for continuous out-of-the-ring sparring. We also asked Brandon at Fighthouse which has a pretty large floor, but haven’t heard back from him (perhaps someone over there can find out if he’s interested). I see that Kru Phil’s schedule at the Wat might allow for an opening for later evening events at the beginning of the week, but they probably close up. We’ll ask. It could be that we travel around from space to space, which may be nice, and not too burdensome to any one gym. Or maybe we can meet later, like 9 – 10:30, in order to find a free space not in prime time (let us know if you have any thoughts about that). Also, open is the idea that we can just meet in a public park and make it happen on our own.

Ardon Sweet Science is, as we said, in Brooklyn, and most of the gyms we are coming from are in lower Manhattan; perhaps voice if there is any preference for where we meet.

 

Some Thoughts on What is Good

We’ll be driving down pretty far for this, as we have been, so we’d hope that as much as an hour and a half would be available (people coming and going when they wish), and that there would be enough space so that the sparring is relatively continuous (not just in the ring). Its also nice, as Church Street does in their sparing, if two girls can hold the ring alone, and then rotate out, just to get a full feel for space. Any thoughts on how YOU would like to spar, please give them. As said before, we can even just meet up at a public park and just mix it up.

Latest Schedule of Interest

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Monday is looking better, but perhaps some can email or comment if they have another “best” day so we can put it on the schedule and see how everything shakes out. Also, send corrections if the schedule doesn’t reflect what you mean (thanks Heather!). Remember, your name on the list doesn’ t mean a commitment at all, or to say that you are coming, only that you are interested and when you might be available. It just gives everyone a sense of where we stand.