Dan Hardy and the Pursuit of Ayahuasca

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UFC fighter, life-long martial artist and punk and metal-core fan Dan Hardy is turning spiritual.  The man that used to enter the Octagon to the sound of ‘England Belongs to Me’ by the legendary underground punk band OI! now practices yoga alongside his martial arts and has visited the depths of the peruvian jungle for Ayahuasca ceremonies. I knew nothing of the spiritual and mental benefits of Ayahuasca and other psychedelics (psyilosybin containing magic mushrooms for example) until I saw interviews with the outlaw opening up on his positive and constructive experiences with psychedelics. Being a big fan of both the UFC and the Outlaw in particular, and also positive physical and mental well-being, discovering this was a big deal for me.

Nottingham born MMA and UFC fighter Dan Hardy

Undertaking an Ayahuasca ceremony involves ingesting an ancient, indigenous brew containing psychedelic compounds perfected by the amazonian natives back in the day. The ceremony is led and directed by a shaman and involves each participant to introspect under the influence of the Ayahasca and with the absence of the human ego. As Dan Hardy himself puts it, he doesn’t do this stuff for fun, It’s a deeply introspective process where you take a long hard look at yourself without your own ego at work, it can be at times a deeply anxiety promoting experience (often including vomit and unexpected bowl movements) but that is all part of the process in itself. Dan uses Ayahuasca and psyilosybin in particular to step back away from his problems and to see the ‘whole picture’ clearly. He sees it as a feeling of ‘leveling up’ as in a video game and a discovery of a clear path to take until the monotony of modern life breaks the clarity and the medicine calls him again.

Further to this many people have reported using these types of natural psychedelics as alternative medicine to tackle there issues with anxiety and depression as the process of looking at ones life in this state allows them to put there life in to perspective and see things for what they really are. Reports of anxiety/depression sufferers who have tried this method state that they have a much clearer and calmer focus long after the experience and some even claim that they have been permanently cured by the experience.

Supping the brew

Gathering for Ayahuasca

Hearing of Dan and many other peoples healing and self-developing experiences with psychedelics encouraged me to search for and try psyilocybin myself. I live in an area that is abundant with liberty caps, basically the perfect climate for the growth of the perfect psyilosybin packed magic mushroom. Unfortunately we have had a fairly unproductive season this autumn and scouring with my untrained eye I wasn’t able to find very many of the kind I was looking for. I did manage to find a small amount which I took in a familiar and relaxed setting washed down with some fresh orange juice. If you are unfamiliar with psychedelics always research how to take them safely before consuming anything..and obviously always make sure you know 100% what you are taking! I didn’t take a huge amount so never experienced the feeling of detachment from ‘this reality’ into something otherworldly. I just experienced a very mellow and relaxed high with very mild visual hallucinations that were more intense with eyes closed. It was a perfect state for meditating and I did feel a deeper clarity and ‘warmness’ that made me feel very emotional.

Because of my extremely miniature haul of shrooms obtained, I decided that I would have a go at growing my own ‘Magic Truffles’ – the underground growing varient of the shrooms that affect us in much the same way as the shrooms in general. I got hold of some spores and cultivated them as appropriate. This process is ongoing and I hope to be able to use some home grown truffles to cultivate some actual mushrooms in the future with growing experience.

I would love to try an Ayahuasca ceremony but I don’t know of any taking place in England where I live. I would also love to travel to the source and head off to the South American jungle for a ceremony, the whole thing is really not too cheap however and there is the whole safety aspect to consider. It is a trip I most definitely want to make in the future though once I become more knowledgeable.

To the jungle

To the jungle

The Ultimate Fighter 14

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Easily my favourite version of TUF was when Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping and Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller took places in the coaching hot seats on season 14. The season took place just before the show changed to it’s new fully ‘live’ format and was a real joy to watch from start to finish. Most of the contestants on the show were also real characters, and even though not all were likable, once thrown together in the TUF house, they still made for great TV!

Dodson defeats Dillashaw at the season finale

Dillashaw was defeated by Dodson at the season finale

Bermudez and Brandao in the heart of battle

Bermudez and Brandao in the heart of battle

I am a very large fan of Michael Bisping. I have gone a long while missing out on MMA, living in the UK far away from the UFC and other famous fighting organisations of the past, over here MMA never gets a mention and has the classic stigma of being barbaric and a sport for thugs. The many benefits that training for MMA provides are generally completely overlooked by my country’s media. Recently however I’ve gone back full circle, back to my young days when I practiced Shotokan karate and did a little Taekwondo and my main hero then was of course Bruce Lee (My training style has now been updated and has evolved to BJJ since then). Michael Bisping’s story has certainly been the the main influencing factor on me taking an interest in professional MMA and the UFC again since I saw an early UFC Ultimate Knockouts collection as a kid. On his team we had TJ Dilllashaw, Diego Brando, Akira Corrasani and Marcus Brimage competing who have stuck around since and made solid careers in the UFC. Especially of course Dillashaw who is at the time of writing this, the current UFC Bantemweight Champ after his amazing KO of Renen Barao. Akira has since retired after a third straight loss (a nasty looking KO by Sam Sicilia) but he’s had the time of his life whilst with the UFC and for him it was all about the experience and the journey.

Then there’s Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller, the wacky zany character with high levels of ADHD that is a symbol to many as having risen above a past of bullying searching for a life with meaning after having past up on joining the forces like most of his peers. He ultimately lost the coaches fight at the TUF finalie and his professional and illustrious (up to then) MMA career crumbled then completely collapsed since the fight. Team Miller notably featured John Dodson, Dennis Bermudez and Brian Caraway, all went on to feature for the UFC.

The season became notorious for the pranks and the banter between the two coaches and their staff. The contestants obviously liked their coaches on both teams, took up the team mentality and really got involved! I know Bisping for one has kept in touch with a lot of his team members from the show. Despite some occasional extremely heated confrontations, both between the coaches (an incident with Bisping and Ryan Parsons come to mind) and the contestants, with Akira often being predictably the main instigator, the show played out in good competitive spirits, everyone seemed to be having a real laugh and I also got the impression overall Mike Bisping and Mayhem were far from enemies.

Pranks and Banter

Pranks and Banter

Now the two coaches have traveled two very separate paths and have experienced ultimately contrasting fortunes. Mike Bisping is happily settled in Orange County with his lovely wife and kids and, although he may never be a champion, still continues to compete at a high level in the UFC. Mayhem on the other hand, whilst also in OC, in Mission Viejo, either seems to be suffering an emotional brake down or is heavily hooked on drugs, or maybe a combination of the two. After live tweeting his stand off with an OC county SWAT team on Twitter he is again in the news for all the wrong reasons. He has recently posted pretty gnarly images of a large nasty looking knife wound on his swollen arm on twitter. He seems to have maybe pissed off some of the wrong people. More recently he has been involved with Ian McCall’s ex (the painted lady as he called her lol) who has accused Mayhem of physically assaulting her and is currently pressing charges against him. We obviously don’t know Mayhem’s side of the story on that one though.

I ultimately feel as though I can relate to aspects of both guys. I follow them both on twitter and wish them all the best in the future. I wish Mike continued success with the rest of his fight career and his FOX TV work. For Mayhem I hope he does finally ‘get his shit together’, puts his legal troubles behind him and discovers what he wants to do with the rest of his life. I have to give them both congrats on TUF 14. If you’re a combat sports fan that also likes music and video games. I’d recomend you watch it too if you haven’t.

The Ultimate Fighter 14 Teams

The Teams

The Coaches - Head to Head

The Coaches