Thursday, January 30, 2014

The deadline looms...

as I slog towards completing my manuscript.  Also, I finally started sparring and rolling again, which led to this: 

Those are my janky feet on the top.  And this morning I realize I cracked another toenail.  O, grappling.

After dissertating (did you know that was a verb?) last year, and book writing this year, I have become mildly proficient and bull-shiting my way through pages of words.  At this point, I have one month until I start teaching at the university again, and four months until my book is due.  So I continue to write and research, as well as train and run the gym.  BUT...

I am regularly contributing to FIGHTLAND now.  Check out my articles, all of which tend to have some sort of historical slant, here:  http://fightland.vice.com/author/la-jennings

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In defense of Ronda Rousey

...as if she needs my help.  But seriously, enough with all the vitriolic comments about Ronda.  Check out my article on Fightland on what it means to be a bitch.

Happy New Year, y'all!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The "First" Male vs Female Fight to take place in Brazil on December 20th

Check out my article on Fightland:

The book continues to grow; four chapters down and three to go!

Train hard and keep your hands up
-L.A.

A Feminist Scholar on Tomorrow Night's Possible Mixed-Gender Fight

Fightland Blog

By L.A. Jennings
 
Tomorrow night, MMA promotion Shooto Brazil claims they will make history by putting on the first mixed-gender fight in history, between Juliana Velasquez and Emerson Falcao. Reaction in the MMA community has been resoundingly negative since the announcement was made earlier this week, with most people expressing concern about Velasquez’s welfare and criticism of Falcao. Some critics have decried the event as a mere publicity stunt and bemoaned the impression such a fight will leave on the minds of a generally still-MMA-skeptical public.

But while Shooto claims that they are the first-ever promoter of a male/female fight, this type of event actually isn’t unprecedented in the fight world. While doing research for my book on the history of women in fighting sports, I’ve found more than a dozen references to mixed-gender fights. The archives don’t suggest that mixed-gender fights were common, but there is precedence in pugilistic history. There are cases of men fighting women in boxing and wrestling matches as far back as the 16th century. And these bouts weren’t necessarily publicity stunts; the literature we have in numerous archives only mentions the fights after they occurred, rather than before, meaning they weren't only being mentioned to sell tickets. And in many cases, the women won. I read only yesterday about a French woman in the early 20th century who knocked out three men in succession. There is also an account of a famous female wrestler who regularly beat young men in the catch-as-catch-can style into her 70s.

One can also point to the famous "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973 for precedence. Granted, there isn’t the threat of bodily injury in tennis that there is in a MMA fight, but at the time the media and general public expressed a number of fears and concerns that are being echoed in criticisms of tomorrow’s Shooto 45 match: that the female competitor might get injured because she is “weaker” than her male counterpart; that it won't be a fair fight because the man will feel guilty if he goes as hard as he normally would.
But one of the more problematic critiques being expressed is that any fight between a man and a woman will be reminiscent of domestic abuse. Regardless of its intent, this type of thinking actually supports the arguments made by MMA opponents that the sport as a whole is inherently violent and negative and should be banned.

MMA is a sport, with rules and referees. Juliana Velasquez and Emerson Falcao fighters are both athletes, and they’re entering in the cage on their own volition. Comparing their fight to domestic abuse is problematic because doing so suggests that women willingly endure partner violence. Not only is this attitude extremely demoralizing and unfair to victims of domestic abuse; it also yokes the sport of MMA with the language of criminal assault and battery. And that, in my opinion, is a slippery slope: By equating MMA with criminality in any way, regardless of how we may feel about the rightness or fairness of a mixed-gender fight, we only provide leverage for the critics who have used the worst kind of alarmist language to prevent places like New York State from legalizing the sport.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fitspo Memes - The Pugilista Edition

A couple of months ago, one of my friends found this little gem on a Facebook "Gym Motivation" page:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=360021220774966&set=a.107651092678648.14508.107648636012227&type=1&theater
Recognize her?  Yeah...that is me.  And no, I did not create this meme, nor have I ever spoke this asinine quote.  So what the hell?

In the virtual Pinterest and Facebook world, countless women (and men, too) view pages, like the one above, that promote images of "health and fitness."  And I put "health" in quotation marks, because a number of these memes promote disordered eating and thinking and are, in my opinion, the opposite of health.

Many of these memes rely on shaming to put forth their message.  I will not directly post to any of these images, but here are a few of the quotes imposed upon pictures of very lean women:

"Tears will get your sympathy.  Sweat will get you results."

"Success trains. Failure complains."

"This is what dedication looks like"

That final one is especially problematic to me.  You can be dedicated without abs.  You can be determined without a thigh-gap.  And you can be worthwhile without large glutes.

I know a lot of people find "Strong is the New Skinny" motivating, but to me, it is just as degrading and shaming as any other beauty paradigm.

So what is my complaint?  Several of my friends have said that they would be flattered to have their picture turned into a fitness meme.  And I understand that desire.  But it is this quote, this idea that my 'dreams' are somehow wrapped up in my abs or arms or thighs that truly bothers me.  My 'dreams' are not to have nice abs and to conform to some other person's standards of beauty, but to finish my doctorate (done!), write my book, teach the sport that I love.  I dream of being a good person, of motivating people through my actions, not my body.

If "Female Gym Motivation" wanted to just post my picture, preferably the original and not this odd, darkened version*, I would be okay with that.  But adding this quote somehow made me feel like the interwebs was attempting to rewrite the totality of my existence.  I have gone from a Professor and Coach, to a vapid and cliched trope. And maybe I am just a wee bit sensitive, but I already detest fitspo memes, and being made into one makes me feel, well, shamed.


*Notice how they used a strange effect on the meme to accentuate my muscles.  It also gives me the look of having rolled around in the mud for several hours.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Feminism and MMA: the New York state edition

Yesterday, I was asked by Fightland magazine to comment on the recent debate surrounding the fight in New York state to sanction MMA. This is a response to the organization NOW, which I admire, but made some faulty theoretical claims about how the sport of MMA necessarily needs to violence against women.

http://fightland.vice.com/blog/mma-meets-third-wave-feminism
 You can read the original letter from NOW here:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/144404165/NOW-Letter-Cuomo-MMA-Bill-6506
I think there needs to be accountability and consequences for MMA fighters who use misogynistic and harmful language in the media.  Perhaps more organizations, like Invicta, should raise money and awareness for victims of domestic abuse.  It is up to men to police each other from making light of rape and violence, but if New York state does not allow MMA to become a sanctioned sport because of a few athletes who have made terrible statements about rape, then shouldn't the entire Republican party be banned? 
 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dissertation Update

Three weeks ago, I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation.

Post-defense celebration with the man

Which means...I am through!  Finished!  Donezo!  I continue to remind myself, while I am sitting around my house in my underwear writing, just like I was a month ago, that I am a MOTHER FUCKING DOCTOR! 

So now what?  Well, I have to write this book.  You know, the one about the history of female fighters.  The one that is due to the publishers exactly one year from today.  That one.  And that is where I will be for the next 365 days.  Once the manuscript is in, I'll hop back over here to the blog and start updating.  Wish me luck!

In the meantime, here are a few things to consider reading:

This is the link to an article that the Westword did about me before a talk on feminism and full-contact sports.  L.A. Jennings, Scholar and Fighter, has a damn nice ring to it.

Here is a link to my girl, Sylvie's page about fighting in Thailand.  I interviewed Sylvie a while back and got to train with her a year ago just before she left for Thailand.  Her blog posts are fascinating. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shin Guard Round-Up

The purpose of shin guards is two-fold:  to protect your own shins and to protect your training partners. Most gyms want trainees to wear shin guards even if they are MMA fighters.  Finding shin guards that fit is hard for everyone but especially for women.  In this post I review four pairs of shin guards that are regularly worn by the girls at my gym.

The problem most shorter people have is finding a shin guard that fits the tibia.  Many 'regular' shin guards hit above the bend of the knee and can hinder movement.  Also if the foot guard is too large it can make it painful to kick.

Most shin guards are made to be either slip-on or with hook and loops in the back.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages but anecdotally I see people having to adjust the hook and loop more than the slip-ons.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Product Reviews and Peri-Workout Supplementation

Hi Guys!  As I finish up this dissertation and prepare to start writing my book on female fighters, I am going to try to maintain a steady stream of product reviews for the blog.  I am the kind of girl who has to read reviews on a product before I buy and I figure there are a lot of y'all out there who like to do the same. 

The following reviews will be coming down the pipeline over the next couple of weeks:
-Tussle Fight Gear Vale Tudo shorts and sports bra
-Fighter Girls Vale Tudo shorts
-Jaco long sleeve rashguard
-Shin guards round-up

-Please let me know if there is any other gear you would like reviewed or any gear you have tried recently.  

Peri-Workout Supplementation

Several weeks ago the schedule at our gym changed.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays I teach three one-hour classes in a row:  women's kickboxing, fighter conditioning and striking strategy.  Each of these classes are very physically demanding and even if I don't train all of them I still feel tuckered out by the time that last class rolls around. 

I am not really in to using workout supplementation; I eat a lot of food throughout the day and usually that is enough to get me through my workout and back home for dinner.  However, this three hour session has been kicking my ass so I decided to follow the advice I give my own clients and concoct a drink I can take down before the striking strategy class.

Peri-Workout supplementation is taken during a workout.  For this type of high intensity, glucose-depleting training I recommend clients take a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein in the form of a shake.  However, right now I am trying to lean out a little more and increase my muscle mass so I am doing a little less carbs and more protein.  I feel like a nerd for jumping on the coconut water bandwagon but damn if it isn't delicious.  Plus juice gives me heartburn.

L.A.'s Peri-Workout shake

http://www.onedrinks.com/
This shake contains equal parts carbohydrate and protein.  Again, I think it is important to eat adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrate at least two hours pre-workout when doing a very intensive training session.  I use this shake during my Tuesday/Thursday sessions and on Saturday between lifting and running sprints. 

8oz O.N.E. coconut water
1/2 scoop plain protein powder
3-4 ice cubes

Carbs:  11g
Protein:  10g
Fat:  0g
100 Calories total


What type of supplementation do you use during your training sessions? 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Who should Ronda Rousey fight next?

www.MMAMania.com
Ronda Rousey's star is continuing to rise after her victory of Sarah Kauffman.  Regardless of how you feel about Ronda (I love her) we all know she has got to fight again.  Let's make somewhat informed conjectures about her next opponent.  Wild, wild conjectures.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Rousey Wins Again


Y'all I am shocked.  Shocked!  Okay...not that shocked.

All I have to say is "the bitch is bad"  And I mean that as the highest compliment. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Book

I have been missing from this blog for three reasons.
1.  I am writing my dissertation
2.  I am writing articles for Fighter Girls!  Check out www.FighterGirls.com to see my column Fight Camp!
3.  I am writing a book!  On female fighters! Squeal! 

Let's go through these

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Enough with "Strong is the New Skinny" and other Hyperboles


A Controversy:

I posted this on facebook yesterday and it stirred up quite a discussion with a yoga instructor friend. 
I am so tired of "strong is the new skinny," "real women have curves," and other hyperbolic cliches that claim to empower while simultaneously denigrating other women. All women are real women; all bodies are real bodies. Celebrate all women: that is true feminism.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Zingano Fight Camp

Just checking in!  I have been frantically writing and working on an upcoming project, which I hope to share within the next month or so.  Until then, I am training, finishing my very last class EVER and working on my dissertation, looking forward to the day when I can call myself "Dr. J" or something to that effect.  Last week, however, I took a break to train with some very important ladies in the world of WMMA.

Several weeks ago Cat Zingano announced her gym would be hosting a Women's Fight Camp for her and Randi Miller's preparation for the upcoming Invicta fights.  I jumped on the chance to train with Cat and other talented women and gained incredible experience in the process.

Randi, Shelley, L.A. and Cat
The first morning we trained submission wrestling and Muay Thai with Cat's husband, black belt Mauricio Zingano, and Kru Sakmongkol.  I got to roll with Randi and Cat, which was hilarious and humbling at the same time, and spar with Shelley, who recently competed in the Golden Gloves.

Later that day, we returned to the gym to work on Muay Thai with Kru Sakmongkol and who was there but my friend and first interviewee Sylvie! 

Sylvie, Cat and L.A.
Sylvie was hanging out with her folks in Boulder before heading out to Thailand to train for a full year!  Sylvie and I got to meet for the first time, which included sparring and working on clinch drills. 

L.A., Shelley, Kim, Kru, Randi, Cat and Sylvie
It was a great training session as you can see from my top knot, which indicates that I am too damn hot to have my hair anywhere near my neck.  Check out Sylvie's blog and follow her adventures as she trains in Thailand!  I am so excited for her.

MMARising
At this point I think I should stop and note just amazing these women are.  I have watched Cat Zingano roll at several local grappling tournaments and she is strong, dynamic and aggressive!  I was slightly nervous about meeting her at the camp but she immediately impressed me as being kind, funny and encouraging.  She thanked me several times for coming to the camp, even though rolling with me was probably no different than grappling with a six-year-old.  Although Cat had to drop out of the upcoming Invicta fight, I cannot wait to see her compete in the future.



TheMat
I was also really impressed by Randi Miller.  An Olympic bronze medalist, Randi is a freaking American hero and is, like Cat, very encouraging and more than willing to share her expertise.  She is making her MMA debut at Invicta and it was going to be epic!  Also...doesn't she have the best smile?








L.A., Barb, Kim and Randi

The next two days consisted of more training although I did not get any pictures.  On the third day, Randi taught a wrestling class that was absolutely incredible!  I was super excited to work with 125lb MMA fighter Barb Honchak, who is gracious, kind and very strong.  I love wrestling and was thrilled to work with an Olympian.

Although I eventually had to cut out of the camp early (dissertation director was not happy with my lack of material for the week), I really enjoyed training at the Zingano gym and working with Cat, Randi, Barb and the rest of the girls.  Cat and I talked about how difficult it was for her to find female training partners which can be detrimental when preparing for a fight.  I hope that there will be more of these camps in the future.

Check out the Zingano MMA gyms in Brighton and Broomfield, Colorado, where both Cat and Randi train:

Also, the Invicta Fight Championships where Randi will make her MMA debut at the end of April

Follow Cat on Facebook
Check out Randi's website

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ronda Rousey Training Video


Love her or hate her, the girl is a champion.  This is some of the most eccentric and eclectic training I have seen in some time.  I feel so inspired to train right now, but I have to finish my term paper.  

Enjoy!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Aftermath: Rousey defeats Tate by her signature submission

Esther Lin/Getty Images
 After all the build-up, the hype, the excitement and frustration, the fight between Ronda Rousey and Meisha Tate did exactly what I hoped it would do.  Saturday night's Strikeforce event demonstrated that female fighters have the skill, talent and aggression to put on an incredible show.  No one can doubt the legitimacy of Rousey and Tate and Sarah Kauffman and Alexis Davis as MMA fighters. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hype or Hope? Meisha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey


Strikeforce.com

 The upcoming Strikeforce battle between incumbent 135lb WMMA-champ Meisha Tate and relative newcomer Ronda Rousey takes place March 3rd in Columbus, Ohio.  The Rousey and Tate fight is an exhausted subject for many who claim the hype surrounding these two women has reached its saturation.  The fight has indeed been promoted and hyped with daily interviews, projections, twitter updates and general shit-talking from both women.  Many WMMA supporters are exhausted by the excessive publicity, claiming that there are other female fighters out there who deserve attention, which is absolutely true.  There are plenty of women fighting in smaller venues and training diligently to reach the critical mass currently occupied by Tate and Rousey.  But while I agree that Rousey's continual self-promotion and Tate's numerous attempts to exempt herself from the drama have become tenuous and somewhat annoying, the buildup of this fight is an integral part of bringing women out of the margins and into the forefront of the sport of MMA.  

            The problem is not the hype surrounding this fight; it is the constant insistence from multiple media outlets that Rousey or Tate must be ‘the face’ of WMMA.  Yet the search for a singular representative of the sport has been in place since Debi Purcell first came on the scene nearly a decade ago.  Although the popularity of the UFC and other MMA venues does not ride on the shoulders of one man, the sport of WMMA must, for some reason, apparently be embodied by one woman.  Gina Carano, now a B-movie star, failed to uphold this monumental position after her loss to Cris “Cyborg” Santos.  And Santos was never considered ‘the face’ of WMMA, primarily because her face does not conform to the standards of beauty necessary to become promoted by American sports media outlets.  The hype surrounding the Tate/Rousey fight reveals how female fighters will be promoted in the media as pageant contestants whose talents are punching and kicking rather than singing or dancing. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Inspiration Thursday: Invicta Fighting Championship


It is tough for women to break into the professional fighting scene, especially when few venues cater to female fighters.  Invicta Fighting Championships is an all female fight promotion founded by Shannon Knapp and set to debue April 28.  Headlining the event will be French MMA fighter Romy Ruyssen in her rematch with Dutch MMA fighter Marloes Coenen.  I cannot wait to check out this event and watch talented fighters from Strikeforce, Bellator and other promotions square off. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday Recipe: Sweet Jalapeno Sauce

I recently started making this sauce for chicken and Mike loves it.  It is perfect for chicken thighs and breasts, but would also be great on pork or fish.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New FighterGirls MMA gloves

It has been almost a month since I last posted and although I am mildly embarrassed, I do think I have good reason.  School has been kicking my ass; from teaching to taking class to writing my dissertation, I've spent the majority of my time lately sitting in front of the computer researching and writing.  I do have a couple of things brewing in an effort to enter the world of MMA journalism on a professional level, which is both exciting and terrifying.  In the meantime, I will be doing short posts about training, competing and of course, the upcoming Tate/Rousey battle.

How freaking sick are these?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Inspiration Thursday: Miesha Tate

 

With all the hype from Ronda Rousey's emphatic invitation to Miesha Tate to join her in the ring, it has gone unnoticed, on this blog, that Tate has been nothing short of classy.  Rather than making a snarky rejoinder, Tate quietly responded and will now fight the upstart Rousey March 3rd.