I have always been a sports fan…not fanatic, but a fan none the less. I played a lot of sports as a kid, but since high school it has mostly just been recreational skiing, swimming and stuff like that. I, as an adult, never got into any organized sport or workout/exercise routine I love watching sports; football, soccer, hockey, boxing and in the late 80s, got into watching kickboxing.
When I moved to LA from Boston, in 1994, I had not done any kind of sport or regular workout for close to a decade (what a lame ass I am.) Then, through my work, I met a woman who was the publicist for a kickboxing trainer. She asked me if I’d like her to set me up with him…to work out and train at his gym. When I asked her what his name was she said that I most likely did not now him but his name was Benny Urquidez. I was floored! Of course I knew who he was…only the greatest kickboxer in the world! Benny “The Jet” Urquidez!!! I had idolized him since I started following the sport and was mad that he had retired a handful of years earlier. I quickly said that I’d love to train with him…”Where do I sign?”
Once she brought me out to meet Benny I knew that I would be his newest, subservient little ball of clay…to mold into a super warrior…like himself. On my first day at the gym…after peeing and pooing all over myself …out of pure fear…Benny explaind a bit about his history, the gym and its rules and what he teaches. I kind of just sat there in awe. I mean this guy is a legend. He started competing in amature kickboxing competitions at 5 years old, competed around the world, held championship belts in 4 weight divisions for more than 25 years and then, after retiring, came out of retirement at the age of 42 to fight the 25 year old Japanese world title holder…and won. Benny had NEVER lost a professional fight in his life.
I, an out of shape guy in my late 20’s, was scared. I told Benny that I wanted to train as a workout…to keep in shape …and know how to kick some ass! He corrected me and said…”workout …yes, kick ass…no…but I WILL teach you how to ‘defend’ yourself.” And that is where it started. I was at the gym 3 days a week (from freakin 6:30AM to 9 AM) It went slow at first…and they were some of the hardest workouts that I could ever imagine. He would get me to that point…where the puke is right around the corner and then he’d say, “NOW we can start training.” He explained that if our bodies were tired…we would not over-think the technique…he’s knows best.
It was not long before I started noticing that I was, indeed, getting into shape and was beginning to ‘float’ around the gym…hitting the bags right…and hard while whipping through the stretching and cardio parts of the workouts. That is when he sat me down and said that he was going to include me in his Saturday morning “Breakfast Bunch.” I was quick to ask for an explanation. He said that it was just a bunch of guys that he trains…who get together on Saturday mornings to spar. SPAR….are you fucking kidding me? I about vomited all over him. But…how could I say no?
So when we all met at the gym on Saturday morning I asked Benny if he really thought that I was ready for this or not. His response to me was, “Well, we’ll see. I have to see how you react …under pressure.” What the fuck? He wants to see me get my ass kicked. Talk about the butterflies…kicking the shit out of my stomach. Then after the butterflies get done with me…this group of guys that have been training with him for years...get to have their way with me. It ended up being ok. I found my confidence and held my own…from that point on…I loved Saturday mornings.
For the next several year I worked out with him and had the pleasure of becoming very close with his family. At the gym I worked out with many other fighters (amateur and professional) as well as celebrities. As Benny is a fight choreographer and fight instructor for the movie industry, there were many days that the gym seemed to be more of a celeb-fest than a kickboxing gym. From rock stars to movie actors…they all praised and adored “Sensei.” The best day was when he told me to meet him at another location and that I’d be working out with someone else. He did not say who…just gave the address as to where to meet him. When I got there, Benny showed me in and I almost shit myself…right on the floor of…John Cusack’s private gym. Benny made the introductions …and then “Johnny” proceeded to kick my ass. I did not realize that he was 6’4” and weighed about 220 lbs. He is a big guy. Anyway…that was quite the experience.
Close to the end of my marriage…in 2003…there was so much going on that I had to stop going to the gym. I was quite sad. I was in the best shape of my life, had more self confidence than I’ve ever had …and knew that I could indeed kick some ass.
I miss Benny. I miss my workouts. I miss my fucking, rock hard abs and sub 10% body fat.
DAMN!!!!!!!! Exceeding 40 and not working out can really fuck with a guy!
Fuck you, you fat, lazy, beer drinking, TV watching old man!!!!!