My One Championship contract date was up soon, electrified by this sense of urgency and with the green light from my family; nothing was stopping me from returning to New Mexico (NM).
I had been living in Sydney and working at an ethical, family run business. It was a great job on paper and a remnant of my past domestic life. I was nervous to leave my friends and home comforts but (there's always a but, when you're stuck in a rut). Life isn't hypothetical and I couldn't shake the feeling, I had unfinished business in NM and this was somewhere I had to be. I left in July.
An avid traveler and curious martial artist, I extended my stopover in Los Angeles to check out The Yard. I rented an Airbnb close to the gym and got some work in with Lee who helped me with my boxing. I'm a big Shilling fan so I was pretty happy to meet his trainer Mark Komuro, who gave me some insight and let me spar some of his guys. I met Joe during one of my visits but was too shy to strike up much of a conversation and just paid the gym fees before scuttling off to training.
I met up with a wrestler from Jacksons and we did a mini gym tour of California, I checked out Costa Mesa 10th planet which I loved and spent some downtime in Huntington beach and at a cabin in Big Bear Lake.
Then it was back to the 505 and working with my head coach Joey Villasenor. The second time around, I knew who my people were and had established a good group to work with. Coach Bart Luhon is an eccentric and tough New MexiCAN, who is known for his grueling wrestling and conditioning workouts. I'm old-school so I will always opt for the disciplinarian, even if it sucks. He took me on runs to ‘Champion/Pussy Hill' and followed behind me in the car. This was for my safety. Apparently, just in case, I couldn't make it back and definitely not because he didn't want to do the run himself #coachlife.
There are a handful of legendary coaches and pad men who are the backbone of Jacksons. Joey n Frank hardly ever leave, their pad hours are ridiculous. Frank was the social Big Bro' of the gym, organising conditioning at the local Dam and photo shoots with Elrev Gomez, on top of his rammed schedule.
Harry St Leger is well respected for good reason with a wealth of grappling knowledge as a Judo champion and Gracie black belt. I did a session with him and my friend Lanch as a partner but I couldn't afford regular privates with everyone so I would come to his classes on the timetable and soak up as much as I could.