Guerrero Gym Lucha Libre
arena mexico, exercise, lucha, lucha libre, Mexican wrestling, mexico, performance, Professional Wrestling, training, wrestling school

Passion, Fear, and Life (In Mexico)

I have a fear. 

It’s not a fear of failure, nor success. Not spiders (okay, kind of) nor death—not irrationally, at least. 

I don’t lose sleep over finances, bad performances, or soured relationships. Injury? Maybe. I mean, lucha libre is innately a dangerous sport, and many careers and lives have been ended as a result of injuries sustained in and around the ring. 

Such fear is, of course, attached to an auxiliary fear: The fear that I’ll lose skills that I do not use. As the old adage states, “practice makes perfect.” Therefore it stands to follow that an unpracticed practice makes imperfection, and imperfection can lead to injury, and injury can lead to the end of a career. 

But mostly this self-flagellation isn’t even about injury, training, or practice: I train my ass off, all of my teachers have regarded me as a good student, and I generally practice a policy of consent—meaning I’m not willing to spontaneously experiment a potentially dangerous move without knowing that both my partner and I are capable of pulling it off safely. 

So no, it’s not the potential for injury that worries me. 

Occasionally these fears are induced by the thought that what I do, that which I pursue, that which compels me “to do,” could ultimately be tantamount to nothing. The fear that outside of itself, the work, the training, the traveling, the countless hours of sweat and practice and exertion and pain and body dysmorphia and late nights covered in grime and glitter and sweat will all be swept into the dustbin of history, essentially amounting my career in lucha libre to a masturbatory act. This is especially true when considering the possibility of failure, of not succeeding in the business. 

But I enjoy lucha libre in and of itself: my level of commercial success doesn’t necessarily directly impact my happiness. So no, it is not failure that I fear. 

It’s more difficult to triangulate what scares me: it’s much more abstract. 

I have a fear of the will-and-can-never-be-known, of being forced to consider those alternative timelines. 

A fear of “what if?”

That in my old age a fit of nostalgia will incite that often painful stroke of hindsight: what if I had trained harder? More often? Where would lucha libre have taken me if had I truly pushed myself to my limits? 

What if I had made different choices? What if I had taken different  performance opportunities? What if I had come to Mexico sooner? What if I had started lucha libre sooner? Chosen a different name? A different mask? No mask? 

I fear those moments of steeping in deep reflection and the unforeseen— yet inevitable and obnoxious— sting of regretful hindsight, to which I can merely retort “that time has come and gone” and hope that I’ve soothed the self-induced guilt. In moments of clarity I realize this is all, of course, trivial: these are decisions I made at another time and in another place. Many decisions were also made out of ignorance (how could I possibly have known that I’d want to go to Mexico to wrestle?). 

Negro Navarro lucha libre
Sometimes you get to train with legends.

But something is different now: I’ve noticed that as of late, such moments of regret are infrequent and fleeting. Perhaps it is because several years of preparation, work, training, traveling, countless hours of sweat and practice and exertion and pain and body dysmorphia and late nights covered in grime and glitter and sweat, have all lead me to what I’m doing right now: living in Mexico City and training with Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre. This is not to say that I’ll be debuting in a CMLL ring in the next month or so. But for now that’s not the point: this is the most accomplished and happy I’ve felt in lucha libre in a long time. 

Years ago I tried to move to Mexico City and eventually ran out of money. Nearly 7 years later, I’ve made it back here with purpose and focus. And I couldn’t be any fucking happier. 

Well, maybe I will be once I get a puppy. 

Arena Mexico

academic, arena mexico, art, Cultural Studies, culture, exercise, lucha, lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, Lucha Volcánica, masculinity, Mexican wrestling, mexico, performance, Performance Art, Professional Wrestling, school, strength, training, travel, Washington, wrestling school

The Final Post Edition, or Goodbye For Now

Friends,

It is with some sadness, albeit zero trepidation, that this will serve as my final blog post. My reasons are few: mostly I have just become too busy to dedicate the time required to write at the level that I demand of myself. Although I have not talked about it here, I recently began picking up stunt work for commercials and film, which—in addition to regular lucha gigs, full time employment, and my 7-day training regimen—not only occupies more of my time, but also has forced me to broaden my focus from just lucha libre. Given this personal shift, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to dedicate the same rigor to thinking and writing about lucha libre that I was once capable of maintaining.

I started training as a luchador in 2011 during my senior year of college. During that same year I applied for the Watson Fellowship, which would have funded an entire year of studying lucha libre abroad in South America, Spain, and Japan. Unfortunately I was selected as an alternate awardee, Although disheartened, I was undeterred, and redirected my existential flightiness: I moved to Mexico City to immerse myself in lucha libre. The exodus was relatively brief: I quickly ran out of money and my lack of Spanish made employment opportunities scarce. Despite emptying my savings account, my experiences were invaluable, and the relationships I forged with locals and other luchadors during my tenure continue to this day.

Another byproduct of the trip was this blog, which I had originally intended to use as a diary to chronicle and share my experiences from the road. But now that I was no longer pursuing lofty goals within lucha libre’s mecca, what would be the scope of this blog? After returning to the States, the blog unintentionally became a smattering of cultural theory approaches to lucha libre—to mixed reactions from many readers who just wanted a “wrestling blog”—as well as observations about interpersonal relationships within the sport. Although the theoretical lens seems a bit far afield from professional wrestling, I am by no means the first person to give pro wrestling an academic treatment.

Despite the breadth of topics, my quarterly workouts (which were initially just filler posts) proved to be my most popular posts. I feel it’s safe to say that post-Mexico, I had no coherent vision for the blog and thus it never found a voice.

To that end it should be noted that I am not abandoning the blog on account of it not gaining monumental popularity: I knew quite well that the blog of a non-famous luchador would garner only a specialized, rather small audience (nevermind the fact that the blog was simultaneously academic in tone). Rather, this blog represents a particular chapter in my life that was rife with uncertainty, fear, and passion: uncertainty in the wake of moving to Mexico City to pursue the impossible; fear of said uncertainty; the unbridled passion for a sport. I was in an intense, naive, love affair with lucha libre, for which I flung myself into a personal exodus, into Mexico City, into the birthplace of lucha libre.

While I still love lucha libre, our relationship is now an established one; the maddening, lusty, honeymoon phrase has passed. And although my visions of performing in CMLL during my time in Mexico City did not come to be, I have not abandoned my passion for lucha libre nor the pursuit of excellence, and opportunities within the sport. In fact, I will achieve one of many lucha goals this August when I perform in Arena Naucalpan alongside three of my colleagues from Lucha Volcánica.

I am leaving behind this blog because of it’s significance from a specific period within my relationship with lucha libre, and by extension, a period within my life. I am instead shifting my focus to my future with lucha libre.

Put differently, I am moving on.

No, I am not moving on from lucha libre: when I started this blog I was pursuing, thinking, and dreaming about doing lucha libre. Now? Now I am simply too busy with the doing to be dreaming, a luxury that I was dreaming about back when I first started here.

And I like it that way.

With love,

Ave Rex

PS: You can still find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

 

 

academic, Cultural Studies, exercise, lucha, lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, Lucha Volcánica, Mexican wrestling, observations, performance, podcast, Professional Wrestling, school of lucha libre, strength, training

Why I Haven’t Been Writing: A Explanation for Both You and Me

For those of you who follow my adventures, you’ve probably noticed a distinct descrease in posts over the past few months, something that I would like now to address.

For me there seems to be a inverse causal relationship between doing and thought: the more I’m doing something, the less time I have to think about it abstractly. Conversely the less I’m doing a thing (e.g., when I first started Rex N Effect), the more time I may spend exploring it intellectually. Beginning back in January, Lucha Volcánica has had monthly shows in Seattle. We have scaled back our training regimen from daily, to 3-hour sessions on Saturday & Sunday. This schedule affords me more time to focus on weight training and conditioning, as well as to train for stunt work. However the increased frequency of shows also means that I’ve been spending more time preparing for shows than I have previously, which in turn, seemingly leaves me less time to ponder the sport in which I am participating.

While I never set a particular scope for Rex N Effect, I did pride myself on writing a non-wrestling wrestling blog of sorts. Further, I never wanted this blog to merely a newsletter of my activities, but now that my activity level within the sport has increased, it may mean that I will need to take a different approach to how I share on Rex N Effect. Although I still intend to explore lucha libre through writing, I will likely be diversifying how the exploration occurs, including more photos, videos, and perhaps (maybe) the resurrection of the mythical podcast.

Exciting things have been happening: I recently won my first mask vs. mask match, and Lucha Volcánica hosted a training seminar featuring the legendary Negro Navarro, both of which I intend to talk about at a later date. Today however, is another training day

interview, lucha, lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, performance, Professional Wrestling, training

StoryCorps — A Chat with Trueno Verde

Late last summer, myself and other Lucha Volcánica luchadors were invited to share our stories on NPR’s StoryCorps. I sat down with friend and fellow luchador Trueno Verde, a conversation that was recorded and stored in the Library of Congress. As a whole the conversation meanders, although after revisiting our conversation, I realized there was on particular point that I had failed to address.

Outside of the context of lucha libre, many of us would never have had the occasion to cross paths. Lucha libre has brought us together into an environment where cooperation is imperative, for both the sake of the show and the safety of the performers. This experience is not exclusive to us: instead it seems to be common amongst many performers within the sport.

As Trueno and I both note, there’s an implicit trust that we build with most of our luchador colleagues, which in turn creates a particular kind of friendship that involves a  mutual trust—essentially a trust that you will not commit undue physical harm to each other whilst engaging in a sport that is founded upon violence. While neither of us explored the nature of these relationships, it’s a profound and unique aspect of our sport. For me, lucha libre has helped to build friendships that I hope will continue long after we stop performing.

 

Image courtesy of Erich Von Tagen
Documentary, lucha, lucha libre, Mexican wrestling, mexico, observations, performance, podcast, training

On “Lucha Doc”: A Chat with Director and Producer Erich Von Tagen

As mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been the subject of an upcoming lucha libre documentary which is being produced under the working title “Lucha Doc.” During a recent visit to Portland, Oregon, I had a drink and a chat with my friend Erich Von Tagen, the Director and Producer of Lucha Doc. We discussed (of course) Lucha Doc, La Avispa’s most recent blog post, Erich’s experiences watching wrestling in Mexico and Japan, and our upcoming trip to Mexico City together.

Follow Lucha Doc at:

On a side note, there are two obviously censored moments within the interview wherein Erich accidentally mentioned luchador’s real names. Also, moving forward I’ll be publishing podcasts here, but I will eventually archive them on the iTunes store for all of you iPhiles.

 

Image source: http://static.tumblr.com/3631706e3d5c95a085025092480389c6/axpbzjm/7eOn1s7ra/tumblr_static_dumbbell_rack_2-484338_958x340.png
diet, escuela, exercise, lucha, lucha libre, performance, school of lucha libre, strength, training, wrestling school

A Luchador’s Workout III: Hi-Rep!

I’ve been regularly sharing my workout changes since the inception of Life of Lucha. In accordance with this tradition—and the fact that these posts tend to be quite popular—I am sharing my most recent workout plan.

As was the case with my previous workouts, I built this regimen upon a circuit, which minimizes rest by rotating the muscle groups being worked thereby maintaining an elevated heart rate. Unlike the previous workout routine, I constructed this one so as to build muscle endurance via high repetition and moderate weight—this routine is also good for a bit of trimming and toning. It should also be noted that this workout regimen takes place in between three days of training lucha libre, which is illustrated in the attached chart. Because of the tendency to lose strength gains, I generally will only utilize such a routine for 4-5 weeks instead of the usual quarterly regimen change. Finally, since formatting the text to cover all of the facets of the workout is such a pain in my ass, I’ve decided instead to share a Excel spreadsheet of the routine (isn’t that convenient?).

Download workout chart (.xlsx)

Image source: http://www.vivelohoy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/santoyblue1.jpg
academic, art, Cultural Studies, culture, lucha, lucha libre, masculinity, Mexican wrestling, observations, performance, Performance Art, school, school of lucha libre, training, wrestling school

It’s Complicated: Relationships In and Out of the Ring


Social complexity is at the very foundation of lucha libre, wherein partners and rivals, enemies and friends, are often one in the same. The fact that rudos and technicos may not actually hate each other is not revelatory. However the relationships between luchadors both in and out of the ring are significantly more complicated than many realize: the kinetic energy that ignites between two clashing luchadors is not only a mutual desire to create an exemplary show, but is also an overflow of tension from by the friendship/competition dynamic that is an innate quality of the sport.

Continue reading “It’s Complicated: Relationships In and Out of the Ring”