Tag Archive for fights

Photo Friday Weeks 28 & 29: Violence

Let’s try a little catch-up, shall we?

First, two weeks ago I hit East Peoria Throwdown Round 6, and this time I decided to try the 18-55mm kit lens to allow for a little more zoom range than the 50mm prime I normally use.

Looking for an Opening

Looking for an Opening

Once again, the fence played havoc with my focusing. The view through the viewfinder looks sharp, but when I uploaded everything to the computer, I noticed most of the pics were out of focus or had selected the fence over the fighters. Not cool. I really need to practice with my manual focus and figure out how to get finer control over what I see through the viewfinder.

I think I’ll go back to the prime lens next time, too; the speed advantage trumps the zoom flexibility.

Last week a friend got some tickets for opening night for the Peoria Rivermen AHL hockey team at Peoria’s Carver Arena. This time around, I was much happier with my lens selection, bringing my 55-250mm. It brought me right in on the action.

Fists Fly

Fists Fly (or, as my son called it, "UFC on ice!")

We were on the upper deck and this fight went down on the far end of the arena, but I was able to zoom in and, with the camera on continuous mode, just fire away. The lighting in the arena was great, making it easy to grab a good shutter speed for freezing the action.

The only thing I might do different here next time is to set a custom white balance off the rink (some came in a little yellow), or even — at last — shoot in RAW and set the white balance in post. I feel like I should finish writing the sequel to Winter Kill before I start dabbling in all that, though.

In all a disappointing night, followed by a good night. It all balances out in the end.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Little Scrappers

Saturday night’s fights opened with an unusual Muay Thai match:

Gimme your lunch money!  No, you give me yours!

"Gimme your lunch money!" "No, you give me yours!"

We thought it was a joke at first, but when the bell rang, these little dudes went to town on one another. They punched, they kicked, they threw knees to the ribs.

And the crowd went nuts.

I felt almost guilty encouraging two little kids to beat the snot out of one another. This wasn’t a simple point sparring match, it was a full-on fight between a couple of what, first graders? Second?

Eat fist!

"Eat leather!"

I got to wondering, though: should I really have felt guilty about it? A short time after the fight, these kids came walking through the crowd right in front of our table. Together, like buddies. And despite all that punching and kicking, neither had a mark on him. I’m guessing they’re still too small to do any real damage to one another, especially with protective gear in place.

Then I got to thinking, why not have the kids in a match? Most of the students at the Academy of Okinawan Karate are children, and they spar at least once a week (after reaching a higher rank). When we hit Judo in the curriculum cycle, the kids have full Judo matches. If we encourage throws and joint locks, why not (padded) punches and kicks?

Finally, it’s a controlled environment. There’s a ref and paramedics at hand for starters. One would also presume the kids have gone through quite a bit of training before being put out in front of a crowd. If they hadn’t, it wouldn’t be much use as a martial arts exhibition, and the kids would probably have just circled one another in fear (or one would have dominated the other).

I don’t know that it’s something I’d encourage my kids to do, but at the same time, the few minutes of fighting in this match probably amounted to the same amount of contact we’d see in junior hockey, soccer, or football games. I’ve seen kids go home bloodied from soccer cleats before, and again, these two guys didn’t have a mark on ’em. Heck, when I was a kid we played keepaway games out in our school’s field that were rougher than this fight.

So what’s the big deal, then? Why feel guilty when they started throwing punches?

I think it’s all a matter of perspective. Violence between children is frowned upon, especially for those of us working for schools. But now that I’ve been involved with the martial arts, I have a much better idea of what’s happening in the ring and how training works than I did three years ago. It looks violent from the outside, but there really is more sport and competition involved than actual violence.

In short, these two kids had the guts to get out in front of a huge crowd and put on a show, and that’s not an experience most kids are going to have. If they had fun and they learned something, then more power to ’em.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday Saturday: Victory

This week’s Photo Friday pic comes from the Throwdown IV MMA event in East Peoria Saturday night. We were treated to almost 30 great fights, and my friends and I had a great time.

King of this cage

King of this cage

This is the third Throwdown event I’ve attended at the East Peoria Event Center, and the event gets a little better every time. For example, they went from a hexagon to a full octagon between their second and third events, and this time they added a projector and video screen to give fans a better look at the action. Our only beef with the logistics was the parking lot was an absolute mess of mud and gravel, and they filled it up before the event started.

All in all it was a great evening. Most of the fighters came from the Central Illinois Combat Club and the Peoria Athletic Club, and they were determined to put on a good show. Most of the MMA fights ended in submissions and ref stoppage, and the other fights included a mix of grappling and Muay Thai matches. Next time my friends and I intend to show up a little earlier so we can sit closer to the cage and get a better look at the ground work, as some of the fighters looked like they put a lot of work into their grappling training.

I shot over 300 pics of the event (not counting the couple dozen I erased between bouts), and I dropped 26 in a Flickr set. I stuck with my 50mm prime lens so I could work without a flash, but I still had to crank up my camera’s ISO rating to get an acceptable shutter speed at the distance I shot from. As a result there’s a lot more noise in the pics than I’d otherwise want to deal with.

The other problem I ran into was the cage itself. The camera picked it up as often as it did the fighters, so I boosted the aperture to get a larger depth of field. I also played with manual focus some, but the distance still made it tough to see the finer details I wanted to focus on (and the focus ring was right near its limit anyway). I probably could have gotten away with using my 55-200mm zoom lens for tighter shots and better control of focus, a trade-off for sacrificing another stop or so of aperture. Instead most of what you’ll see is tightly cropped from the originals, making the noise and focus issues even more obvious.

Next time I may suck it up and haul in a camera bag so I can have all my lenses available. I may be less polite and stand up to take some shots so I don’t get so many backs of other fans’ heads, too. Heck, if I wanted to really go nuts, I could borrow another camera body from work or a friend and have both lenses ready to go without having to mount and unmount them between bouts or rounds.

I’m sure my friends would love it. Heh.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Throwdown 3

The Main Event!
Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

I attended Throwdown 3 Saturday night, a mixed martial arts event in East Peoria featuring 20 fights. This time I had a seat at a VIP table, putting me just ten or fifteen feet back from the octagon. What a blast!

I took a handful of pics with my cell phone (I should really try to bring a real camera next time), and the one above came from the main event. They had some technical difficulties and their sound system made it tough to catch all the fighters’ names, but there were some great fights as the night rolled on. Most ended in submission or TKO, but a couple went the distance and there was one solid knockout.

A local fighter named Derrick Noble refereed some of the matches, and having fought in the UFC and other events, he was a little more forgiving in matches that went to the ground than the other refs. In the two female bouts, an obvious local favorite named Kathy Snell won her match with an armbar and improved her record to 3-0. We recognized a few other fighters from the last event, but again couldn’t hear all their names.

The earlier fights seemed to be the most inexperienced fighters. Some of them looked like young teenagers, and a few didn’t even look like they were in any shape to fight. I realize we’re not talking UFC-level professionals here, but these guys looked like the promoter recruited them out of the parking lot at random. One guy didn’t even protect his face, and at one point he looked over at his corner and ended up catching a thrust kick to the gut. We couldn’t believe it, as we even teach our white belts to never take their eyes off their opponent!

I give them credit for having the sack to get in there, but I have to wonder, how many of them walked out realizing this isn’t where they belong? Better they find out in the ring with a ref and paramedics on hand than in their buddy’s back yard, too.

All in all a great night. I’m already looking forward to Throwdown 4. With luck they’ll put together some fliers with the fighters’ names, weight classes, and styles then, too.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.