Taking the 'art' out of MMA

Sun columnist 'The Douce' and Neil Springer at the Toronto Kickboxing and Muay Thai Academy....

Sun columnist 'The Douce' and Neil Springer at the Toronto Kickboxing and Muay Thai Academy. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI AGENCY)

CHRIS DOUCETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

Under normal circumstances, grabbing a coworker's arm and wrenching it until he says uncle would probably be grounds for dismissal.

But for one hour Tuesday, QMI Agency MMA writer Neil Springer and The Douce took turns beating the crap out of each other without fear of being kicked to the curb by our boss as we hit the gym with Firas Zahabi.

Following the instructions of one of the top mixed martial arts coaches in the world, I dropped most of my 270 pounds across my colleague's somewhat slighter frame, locked onto his wrist with one hand and cinched up a kimura with the other before yanking on his arm until he grimmaced in pain and tapped me on the shoulder.

For a brief moment I got a sense of the overwhelming feeling of power MMA fighters must feel as they lock on a submission hold, knowing if they apply just a little more pressure their opponent will likely have to spend months rehabbing a shoulder injury.

Of course that feeling quickly dissipated as we switched places and I found myself on the receiving end of the same jiu-jitsu manoeuvre.

The Douce was suddenly thankful he didn't apply that little extra bit of pressure, as tempting as it was, because Springer was nice enough to return the favour.

Zahabi trains a stable of fighters out of Tristar in Montreal, but he's best known as George- St.-Pierre's head coach.

He'll actually be in the welterweight champ's corner when GSP puts his title on the line against Jake Shields at UFC 129 at the Rogers Centre Saturdaynight.

So with such a big fight just days away, it was quite generous of Zahabi to take time out of his busy schedule to give Springer and I some fight lessons at the Toronto Kickboxing and Muay Thai Academy on Queen St. W.

It probably provided some levity to what otherwise might be a stressful week for him.

However, Springer and I weren't exactly laughing as we took breaks between exercises and sipped our Gatorade, the one thing we were able to do just as well as GSP.

Springer tells me he trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu until about three years ago when he tore a calf muscle. So he really didn't look out of place in hisroyal blue gi.

The Douce has some experience with unarmed combat from his days as a soldier, but that was a lifetime ago.

The last time I was in a gym, Lady Gaga hadn't been born yet. Not surprisingly, my gi didn't quite fit.

I barely squeezed into the pants and wasn't able to pull the front of my martial arts outfit together, so I kind of looked like a cross between Pee-Wee Herman and John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever.

I quickly swapped the gi for my own shorts and T-shirt and then Springer and I hit the mats like two boys wrestling in their parents' basement.

After teaching us the kimura, Zahabi showed us how to lock up a guillotine choke, a hold that quickly cuts off the blood supply to your opponent's brain.

No offence to Springer, but while his head was trapped under my arm I suddenly

found myself wondering if it might come right off and I had to resist the urge to hum Pop Goes the Weasel.

Again there was that feeling of power knowing you could apply just a little more pressure and put your opponent to sleep.

His life is literally in your hands.

After taking my turn at getting my head twisted off, Springer and I put on some gloves and jumped in the ring for a brief sparring session.

All that was missing was big John McCarthy standing between us shouting, "Are you ready? Are you ready? Let's get it on!"

The Douce was winded just walking up the three flights of stairs to TKMT, so you can imagine how I felt after going a round with my fellow writer.

Thank God for that Gatorade.

While it wasn't pretty, we somehow both managed to walk away without a scratch.

Although, Springer may find his chest is a little sore when he wakes up in the morning thanks to me laying on him.


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