I haven't grappled in ages due to moving out and not having the money, but right now I'm on the mats in Fluffy Oakes' apartment- and he's kicking my arse while Rob Dougan's “One and the Same” provides some acoustic contrast.
Fluffy shoots in on me, taking my legs and body-slamming me to the floor.
“You could have defended that,” he says. “You know how to sprawl. I've seen you do it.”
“Yep,” I wheeze, but I manage to lock my legs around his back.
“The reason you don't do well in MMA is because you don't think you'll do well. You expect to get beat.” He pins my biceps to the mat.
Isn't it the other way around? I think. It keeps happening, so I expect it to. Like a lot of things.
I try to swim my arms inside to break his grip, but I can't reach in enough. I try to grip on to his upper arms and work my legs up his back.
“And here's the funny thing,” he says. “You run a blog called 'Power is a State of Mind.'”
As my ankles climb up his back he responds by posturing up, sticking his chest right out. My legs won't cling on.
“People are gonna be searching for that kind of strong-mentality, backbone-building shit” he says. “When they reach your site, is that what they're going to find?”
“There are a couple of speculative pieces on it.” I reach up to try to pull his head down. A simple shove puts my back on the mat again.
“But it's mostly Tesco Value goods, Mark Kermode and stuff you can do with Twitter,” he says.
I climb my ankles a second time. There's a space between my thighs, though, and he swims his arms in and throws my legs to one side. He drops his chest on my stomach, side on, pinning my far arm with a hand.
“I'll tell you what I think,” he says, fishing around at my arms, looking for an opportunity to beat me up some more. “I think you chose the name because you saw how you wanted to see yourself, and how you wanted others to see you. You want a powerful state of mind, but you haven't got one.”
I really want to start throwing shots into his ribs at this point, as he's leaving them open. But then, I'm leaving my head open. He'd throw back harder. This is only grappling. Pride stings when you know you're not going to win.
“You need to stop beating yourself up over things, for a start,” Fluffy says.
There's something really ironic about that, but I can't put my finger on it.
“I can help you sort that out,” he says. “You'll never doubt yourself again. Every problem you've had with work, with women, with your memory, I can sweep it away.”
“Sounds great,” I say, bored, “but I've heard it a million times from a load of different people.” I pull an elbow forward and try to hook onto one of his legs with my ankle.
“Have any of them read your blog?”
“Some of them,” I say. He knows what I'm trying to do with my body. He's letting me turn into him. I know he's pre-empted my actions, but I can't think what I'm doing wrong. I can't think what his counter is, and hence what my counter is.
“I've noticed you've put up some guest posts. Why don't you let me do something? I'll teach you about a powerful mentality, but I'll teach it to the world as well. It'll go well on the blog. You're a good writer but I don't think you're the guy to advise people on their state of mind.”
This hurts more than any move he could pull on me. But he's right.
“Your content will match people's search results. People will type in, like, 'state of mind', and 'strong mind' or whatever, they'll find your blog and they'll actually find what they're looking for. I'm not saying what you've done isn't good; it is, but it largely doesn't relate to what people are searching for. 'Til I get on it, that is. Whaddaya say?”
I thread an arm under his armpit and follow through with my torso. I manage to flip out from under him- I'm an annoyingly thin and wriggly grappler. I get caught in holds a lot, but I'm difficult to keep still. He loses his grip and I stand up. He stands level to me, quickly.
“Yeah, surprise me,” I say, and I shoot for his legs. I lunge out with my arms too much, though, like I always fucking do, and lean my body forward. He catches hold of my neck with one arm and chokes me out.