Guerrero Gym Lucha Libre
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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

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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.

 

 

 

exercise, lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, Professional Wrestling, school of lucha libre, strength, training, wrestling school

A Luchador’s Workout: 2016

I admittedly intended to stop posting the quarterly training updates, but due to the bizarre popularity of these posts, I am compelled to continue sharing said workouts.

Historically, my workout updates have always featured moderate regimen changes. However Lucha Volcánica’s recent relocation has forced us to change our training schedule, which in turn has altered my personal exercise schedule. LLV now trains in 3-hour blocks on Saturday & Sunday, which includes 1 hour of conditioning—lead by La Avispa—and 2 hours of in-ring training and drills. While this change has hindered my usual MWF lifting schedule, the increased time between in-ring sessions does permit me to maximize my lifting time, as I have more recovery time between lucha training sessions. Accordingly, while my exercise regimen itself has undergone fairly modest changes, I’ve increased the number of repetitions whilst maintaining moderate to heavier weights as well as maintained various max rep sets throughout. Essentially I am able to work harder during the week without fear of muscle failure or exhaustion whilst in the ring.

Additionally I’ve included a sort of high intensity interval-based “second leg day” at the end of the week, which allows me to work on endurance with low weights. Elsewhere I’ve also added a few short runs to switch up the cardio schedule, as well as a yoga day to force myself to focus on general flexibility and take stock of any sore muscles.

I’ve included a printable PDF below which outlines the entire program, including weight regimens as well as the HIT/Tabata circuits. If you happen to try any of the training programs, message or leave a comment: I’m always open to feedback!

Early 2016 workout program

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lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, Mexican wrestling, Professional Wrestling, Washington, wrestling school

All Politics is Local III: Back at the Capital

As some of you may remember from last year, myself and other local performers took to the capital in attempt to change Washington’s strict regulations on pro wrestling. Because many of you asked about the legislation, and it’s a consistent inquiry from colleagues and fans, I thought I’d share a recent statement I gave to Seattlish.

Lucha Libre Volcánica was established in 2011 as the premier lucha libre company and training school in the Pacific Northwest. Since our inception, we’ve had a successful training school, and have performed for regional festivals such as Seattle’s Taco Truck Rodeo, to our own annual show scholarship fundraising show at the University of Puget Sound.

Theatrical pro wrestling has innate hazards like any other athletic endeavor. Accordingly we’ve always emphasized proper technique, safety, and protection amongst our students and performers. Unlike athletic competition, the competition in lucha libre is more akin to theatre—it’s an intellectual and performative competition. Our acrobatics almost always require cooperation between two or more individuals, an essential characteristic that both pro wrestling and lucha libre share. Because of this important distinction between combative sports and pro wrestling, the regulations that have hitherto hindered any development of a pro wrestling scene in Washington are superfluous, and horribly misguided—they demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of pro wrestling.

Fortunately a handful of active supporters managed to gain attention of the Washington State Reps and the DOL, both of whom agreed that the regulations are constrictive, not constructive. Through a series of meetings with the DOL, 3-2-1 Battle’s Josh Black, local performer Jake Stratton, and Lucha Libre Volcánica’s Michael Leveton and owner José Gómez have been able to shape a series of regulations that will hopefully cultivate an active pro wrestling scene in Washington State. While we have been actively petitioning our State Reps, the DOL’s cooperation has been integral to any victories pro wrestling has won in Washington.

Hitherto the regulations have been cost-prohibitive, particularly for small family-owned companies like LLV. Paying for performers, a venue, and promotional materials is already an assumed cost. However the previous regulations would hold that a promoter would also have pay for the following: ringside security; an ambulance and an EMT on site; a promoter’s license; $1 from each ticket sale to the DOL; 10% of the overall door to the DOL. While some companies like the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) may be able to afford these costs, the average promoter cannot. Furthermore these costs deter any would-be trainers from operating a training facility school, as the performance opportunities are scarce.

HB 2388, in conjunction with the changes made with the DOL, will create and incentive for wrestling companies to operate in Washington by removing some of the restrictive and costly regulations imposed upon promoters, owners, and performers. By doing so, we hope not only to create a opportunities for touring companies such as Lucha Libre USA and WWE to visit Washington, but also for small business entrepreneurs such as LLV’s José Gómez.

Further, because of the current restrictions many companies end up hosting guerilla shows and operating underground training facilities. The removal of the regulations will attract professional companies, sincere entrepreneurs, and higher-quality performers, thereby increasing the legitimacy of the professional wrestling scene in Washington. Such competition will increase the accountability of self-described (read: hack) “trainers,” and therefore both the safety of performers and the quality of performances.

With the (hopeful) passing of HB 2388 and the less restrictive DOL regulations, we’re hoping to build a better and more robust pro wrestling scene in Washington State.

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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)

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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”

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The “End of the Year” Post: Onward Towards 2014

In the spirit of expected tradition, I spent some time over the past few days reflecting on 2013. However because I am not one to dwell on retrospective, I almost immediately shifted my thoughts to the coming year, as in the future lies only potentiality.

Continue reading “The “End of the Year” Post: Onward Towards 2014″