I spent all of last week in Reno, Nevada on business. One of the things I was really looking forward to on this trip was a chance to meet, and train with a living legend: Ken Shamrock.
I spent 3 hours at the Lion’s Den in Reno Tuesday night. The first things that I noticed wit the gym were that it’s very clean, well lit, and comfortable. There are adults and kids there, and it’s an open, welcoming atmosphere. I know that a lot of MMA training centers, and even just fitness facilities in general, can create an atmosphere where you feel a little out of place when you walk in. Almost like you’re intruding on some one’s private club. Not so here. The workers were very friendly, and made sure I felt welcome and knew what classes were being taught.
That leads me to my next impression. The breadth of opportunities of things to learn was really impressive compared to most places. Not only did I get the chance to train some grappling with one of the best on the planet (more on that in a minute), but there were classes on Kenpo Karate, Jiu Jitsu, Boxing, MMA, and even Judo.
My first class of the night was “Leg Locks and Grappling” taught by Ken Shamrock. Okay, so I think it’s important here to cut through the hype, and tell you what I was afraid of, and what I really found: I have never met Ken before this experience. I ahve seen him on The Ultimate Fighter. I have watched him fight in the cage for years. But what would he really be like? Let’s don’t kid ourselves, the UFC generally does a pretty good job of using The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) to paint one person as the “good guy”, and the other as the “bad guy”. Sometimes it is almost like reading a comic book. In the season with Ken, they painted him pretty poorly.
So what would I find? Would he be difficult to deal with? Would he be too intense for non-professionals, screaming at me to not be such a “girly man?” I wasn’t sure. But I was curious to find out.
What I found was really neat. I have never done leg locks before, so my technique was really terrible. But Ken came around, and was very kind, very patient. He had me move aside for a moment, and showed me how to do the move. Not only did Ken show a level of skill that anyone who needs to improve their game could benefit from, but a level of patience and caring that would make me open to sending my kids to his classes. I was very impressed, and pleasantly surprised.
After my Grappling class, I watched the boxing class for a bit before starting my Kenpo.
Some of the guys were preparing for some upcoming fights, so they were working in the cage on a combination of boxing and takedowns. Ken was watching from outside the cage, calling in advice and encouragement.
Watching Ken was another opportunity to really see what made this guy tick. He was so patient, and eager to help. As the fighters would move in the cage, Ken would subconsciously move as well; he feet moving, his body twisting slightly in empathy for what the fighters should be doing. It reminded me of the scene in The Incredibles, when Hellen is feeding the baby, and moving her mouth as well. It showed how intently Ken was thinking about, and wanting to help this guys.
I finished of the night with a bit of Kenpo, and some no-Gi Judo. By that point I was pretty much ready to crash.
Can’t wait for my next trip out to Reno, and the Lion’s Den though. Thanks Ken, and crew (especially you Heather!) for lettign me come train with you!