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

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

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 Source: Wikipedia
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.

Cultural Studies, lucha libre, party

Who Will Protect the Piñatas? White Savior Syndrome Strikes Again

I recently had the pleasure and honor of being a guest judge at the 2015 Annual Piñata Bash in Seattle, Washington. A day or two preceding the event, a random individual posted on the Bash’s event page on Facebook, asking if we were partnering with any Latino organizations, and (not so) subtly accused the Bash of co-opting Mexican culture. Initially I was only put off by the condescending—yet blissfully ignorant—tone of the post. However through 30 seconds of Facebook stalking, I was instead offended by the fact that the perpetrator was white. And by “white,” I don’t mean just physically white in appearance, I mean clearly in no way a Latina. Chicana. Mexicana. Hispanic. Whatever nomenclature you prefer.

Which of course, brings me to the focus of this discussion: white people, please stop trying to tell us how to conduct our culture.

Before you assault me with angsty retorts in the comments section (I’m looking at you, recent liberal arts graduates), let me clarify two things: I’m not saying that you ought not to align yourselves with historically oppressed peoples, as we love and appreciate your support; I am *also* not trying to speak on behalf of oppressed peoples everywhere. What I *am* saying, is that not everything which vaguely resembles a thing that you understand as a tenet of a specific culture is a potential battleground against cultural appropriation.

Let’s take the case in question: the Piñata Bash is, in fact, organized by a group of white individuals. Never mind the fact that less than a minute of research would have revealed that the event was being sponsored by Lucha Libre Volcánica, which is owned by a Mexican and is an exhibition of a Mexican folk art. The point of contention for this person seems to be the central theme itself: the piñata.

This is one place where her critique breaks down: another minute (I know! So much time…) of research yields that the piñata may originate in China well before it ever became a Spanish tradition. For those of you who are unaware, China is not in fact, in Mexico. Further, Spain (if you’re following, happened to have adopted the Chinese tradition) was an imperialist occupier of Mexico. Essentially this means that the piñata is at least two-steps removed from Mexico—Spain’s cultural imperialism notwithstanding, of course. This is where I encounter a second problem with the critique: at what point do we judge something as cultural appropriation?

Had the Bash utilized reductive Mexican stereotypes of poncho-wearing, brown-skinned Mexicans in sombreros, I would have had nothing to do with the event. However, the event consisted of people building piñatas of any theme, none of which were in any way reductive or in any way demeaning towards Mexicans (such themes include one piñata titled “The Patriarchy”). If anything, the Bash was a celebration of the piñata in and of itself as an an idea: a demarcation of cause for celebration.

But beyond assaulting papier mâché (spelling and accents courtesy of the internet) with a stick, this misguided inquiry provoked further questioning about how authenticity and culture are policed. Where would such a conception of cultural currency put a luchador like me: a half-Mexican adoptee who was raised functionally lacking of any relationship to Mexican culture? What about my white colleagues in the sport, who are sometimes better performers than their Mexican counterparts? What about my friend La Avispa, who is white but speaks way better Spanish than I do? Do her language skills have more cultural currency than my skin tone and Mexican blood? Does it matter that she’s a white woman performing within an arena that is traditionally occupied by Mexican men? Sex and gender aside, how ought we to go about quantifying one’s ethnicity, and at what point does one lose the “cultural privilege” of being “ethnic?” Did I even technically qualify as a “supervisory Mexican” for the Bash? Did she know that I am adopted, and that’s why she insisted that we partner with a local Latino non-profit to “legitimize” the event?

I am the byproduct of a Mexican immigrant father and a white (mostly German, with a hint of French, and tidbits of Native American) mother; I was later adopted as an infant by a white family. During the course of my life I’ve been told by several (usually white) adults that I should “connect with my culture.” As a child I was completely unclear as to what that meant, short of learning Spanish or eating exclusively Mexican food. As I have become an adult, I am not any less confused as to what it means to “connect with my culture”: I am unclear as to where culture ends and begins. Regardless of my “connection” (or lack thereof) to Mexican culture, I grew up as a person of color. The quality of being Mexican is always already thrust upon me by a culture that identifies white as normative, and thus my “authentic” Mexicanness is largely irrelevant to my life experiences as a brown male. Regarding the Bash, this particular individual was out of her depth in the attempt to level a critique about the event. And although frustrating, I found myself asking more questions about cultural appropriation and who has the right to officiate public events involving (not white) culture. While I do not have the answer, I know for damned sure it was not this particular person.

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.