Wednesday, February 26, 2014

You Scurred, Homie?

It had been recently posted on Twitter that I had verbally agreed to fight Kyra Batara at the end of March for BAMMA.  I had not responded as I have been waiting to see how she would go about clearing up this misunderstanding.  I am responding now because it seems that she and her manager are implying that everyone is scared of her.  Prior to her tweeting that I had verbally agreed to fight I had already informed her manager last Thursday at about 1:00 in the afternoon that I was passing on the offer so I do not know why my name was mentioned at all. Needless to say I was a bit surprised to see her tweeting that we were going to fight in March.

I was contacted via Facebook by Kyra's manager last week Tuesday the 18th. I expressed that I am interested and that I thought we were already being considered for an April event.  He told me that fight card was full so I asked for more information about the Bamma event and at the same time suggested we try to find a way to get on the April event or perhaps a May event. I then reached out to BAMMA  and was waiting to hear what the offer was to decide if it was the best conditions, place and time for she and I to meet in the cage.  

I support BAMMA and believe they and promotions like OC Fight Club among many others are important in providing a place for local fighters to gain experience and build careers.  I look forward to the possibility of doing a fight at some point in the Los Angeles area at one of these events. 

That being said I believe a fight between she and I would be a great match and very exciting. I am a striker that has proven time and again that I show up to fight. She is a world champion grappler that has proven herself with 2 titles at Tuff-n-Uff and many years as a very accomplished competitor on the mats.  

I feel that the business of fighting should be considered. I believe that neither of us should undersell our worth. After collecting more information on her I began to realize that we should seek a large production as this could be a promising fight. This could be entertaining and brutally fun.

The cost of putting on an event for a local show is very high and is dependent on ticket sales by the fighters so unfortunately they cannot afford to pay fighters as much as they would like. It seems to me that this fight is worthy of notice from promotions such as Invicta or PXC or RFA and along with that we should both seek multi-fight contracts so we can build our careers rather than do a one and done for minimal pay. 

I do not know who the other 15 women offered are that passed on this fight as was tweeted. I do not feel though it is fair to assume they turned it down out of fear. It is expensive in California to get medicals and license and there are a myriad of other expenses associated with fighting. Often it is not financially cost effective especially if you do not know if you will get more than one fight during the year in this state. I definitely would have had to pay quite a sum out of my own pocket.  Pay to fight?  Why? 

Perhaps some of the fighters that were propositioned have personal reasons for declining. Some may be obligated to other promotions. Some may want more than a month to prepare. Some may see this as a poor business decision. Some may not want to go into debt to fight. Some may be scared. We do not know.

I would agree that it is good publicity to say everyone is scared.  I have no qualms about that tactic except that she named me as having agreed to fight therefore I feel my reputation is being attacked. All my fights have been versus very tough reputable fighters. I am a firm believer that one should never fear their opponent.  There are other fears that come up while preparing to fight but I do not believe there is any reason to be afraid of the person standing across the cage.

I have been beat.  I have been beaten.  I have been beaten down.  Each time I have found a way to stand back up.  Fighting has made me a stronger person in combat and in life and it will continue to challenge me and teach me.  It regularly insists that I find a way to overcome obstacles by requiring me to function at a high level outside my comfort zones. If you are not mentally and emotionally strong you will not last in this game. In fighting and fight training you have to practice that. You have to practice perseverance.
I have not seen Kyra fight but in reading her résumé I can say I respect her accomplishments. I assume her to be a good person as I do with everyone until proven otherwise. I have been told kind things about her. Although I do not respect how this has been handled I have no ill feelings towards her. If you know me or follow me at all you know that moving with integrity is very important to me. 

Prior to my name being mentioned as having verbally agreed to fighting her at BAMMA on March 28th and claims yesterday that her opponent "...just backed out..." I was game to fight. Prior to all that I told her manager that the April fight card will make room for us if Kyra is available.  I asked if she already had opponents for the May fight card he said she was set for and he said she was already being offered a few options. Prior to all that I was interested but I am honestly no longer interested in going through all this again.

Last Thursday at about 1:00 I told him no thank you. From my point of view I could see no reason for me to lose money on this deal. That was me respecting the possibility of what could be a dynamic entertaining battle between us. I believe that she is worth that and I believe that I am worth that. It is a shame that she does not seem to believe that.  But perhaps she was offered good money and travel expenses for this opportunity. I do not know. I certainly hope so.  

Upon passing on this offer I was told by her manager that her next 2 fights are lined up and so she would be unavailable to fight me after March. It sounds to me like her near future is set and this fight not coming to terms is really no big deal. I do not know where the 2 fights are but it seems all of you Kyra Batara fans will get to see her pro debut very soon. I presume she will Tweet the information for all of us to know.  I wish her much success and all the best.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Labour For Love

February 5, 2013
My body is the only body I have ever lived in and we have been trucking along for over 39 years now. We are more happy than we have ever been. There is nothing graceful about our jock walk, our athletic physique has taken away the fullness of our boobs and butt, and sometimes we hunger for a return to the days of whiskey and cigarettes and fast food. But that time in life though often fun was not at all fulfilling. Delicious empty moment like delicious empty calories. Intoxicating Instant Gratification.

Sometimes people ask me how old I am and when I tell them they say things like, "age is just a number" or "it doesn't matter, how old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?". I wonder why they feel the need to say these things. Why do they offer condolences for something I myself do not feel bad about? My age is my age. It is what it is. "A rose is a rose is a rose..." I take no issue with it. I  do not wish for less years.

It is similar to when I lose and people say things like, "you didn't lose, you learned". I did lose. It happened. She won, I lost. I do not feel sorry for myself. I do not run away from my losses or ignore them or let them destroy me. I stand face to face with them. My defeat and I, we talk we scream we push we cry we kick we punch we tackle we submit we reason we embrace we go back to training... and hope we will never meet again.

Pretending things are something else is not what I consider a healthy approach to dealing with life though it seems that is how we are raising our children these days. "Let's not address losing and call it by a less harmful name. Let's give everyone a medal for participation so all our kids will feel super great about themselves! Hooray!"

I understand why the young are flabbergasted by my age. When I was 16 I was asked by a teacher what I thought old was and I said with great conviction, 50. Fifty was definitely very old to me. My parents were 47 then. Way old.

It is a mystery to me though when those who have some years of their own are so concerned. I wonder what is going on in their own lives and their own bodies that they attribute to age that makes it so hard for them to believe that what I am doing is possible.

"Can't you fight women in your own age group?" - I am not interested in being the best within the parameters of a certain age. I am striving to be the best overall. I will fight as long as I am a contender.

"How does it feel to fight someone younger?" - It feels natural. It is all I know. They are who I train with. They are who I fight. You should ask them if I was an easy fight, if I was what they expected. Their experience with me is unique in their world. My experience with them is normal in my world.

"Do you wish you were doing this years ago?" - When I lament or reminisce I do not spend my time thinking about what could have been regarding fighting or other career choices or relationships lost or moments passed or anything else. My head is up. My eyes look forward. I place one foot in front of the other and I keep walking. I am grateful that I get to do this now.

"Isn't it harder now that you're older?" - No, I am more fit and more agile than I have ever been. In my youth I was more body than mind. In my years ahead I will be more mind than body. But right now I am enjoying the time in life when my mind and my body are in balance.

"How much longer until you stop?" - I am just getting started.

Baby, I am just getting started.

I am 39 years old and I am happy. I hope I will be able to earnestly say that on most of the days of the rest of my life no matter how the number changes or what ambitions I may be pursuing.

Adapt your dreams to where you are in life then adapt your life to your dreams. Whether you are 16 or 36 or 60. Follow your heart. Find your happiness. You will encounter obstacles and trials and doubt but also great rewards and hope. Love starves us and feeds us, hurts us and nurtures us like nothing else. Labour for Love. Your Love.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rise I Will

I am trying not to think in retrospect. I am trying to let go of moments passed by as I cannot turn back time and choose differently. I am trying to convince myself of what I have been saying for years: It is possible to live a life without regret if we simply make the best decisions we can with the knowledge we have at the time.

photo by Min Kim
There were moments I could have done so differently. My ability to see and choose wisely were clouded by other things not within my control that if I explained would only sound like excuses. Ultimately none of that matters. I frankly did not seize the opportunities. A champion would have not wasted the chances no matter the circumstances. But I am not a champion. Yet.

And so I am telling myself to let go of what could have been so that I may let in the knowledge I need to become the fighter I will be. I am squeezing out the tears that get stuck below my "always be positive for the public" face and allowing myself to feel the kind of pain only heartache can deliver. Because letting go and ignoring are two different things. And though I have tried I know that all I think and feel and believe whether right or wrong cannot nor will not be ignored. They must be allowed to preach and holler and wail their disappointments as they leave my body.

And I am grateful. I am grateful when that wretched feeling of loneliness fills me because then I know I have hit the bottom. And though I will linger in emptiness there a moment I have lived enough now to understand that the moment will pass. And from the bottom there is only one direction to go. Up. And I will rise. Rise I will to be greater than I was.

And I tell myself again what I have told myself so many times before, After today there is always tomorrow and with tomorrow there is always new hope.

And then without sleep the morning comes and the blinds glow from the promising brightness of the rising sun.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Just Who Do You Think You Are?

"Oh, the audacity! Just who do you think you are? What makes you think you can do what no one else is doing?" I am standing in front of my mirror with my hands on my hips and hearing this voice inside my head. I raise my right index finger and answer with something the poet Theodore Roethke said, "What we need is more people who specialize in the impossible." 

"You're almost 39 years old. You spent over 15 years of your adult life goofing off occasionally expressing yourself in the arts lost in phases of depression putzing around trying to find yourself. What makes you think you can be a contender as a professional fighter among elite level athletes? What makes you think you can do it without performance enhancing drugs or dietary supplements or sessions devoted to strength and conditioning? What makes you think you can do it at the 115lbs weight class?"

Hush now you Doubter. Speak no more. Albert Einstein said, "The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone, is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been."

Let us not argue with Einstein. Let us instead adapt with Darwin.

There will be no adapting though regarding steroids and HGH and the such. As Rosi Sexton recently said, "Here’s my bottom line... I’m not interested in taking steroids..." Well me neither, Rosi. Me neither.

It has been mentioned to me that my Integrity will get in the way of where I am trying to go. This is probably true however I see no point in going to these places without my Integrity. Beyond victory and greater than number one is a goal so many lose sight of in their hunt for glory: I am trying to be someone I would be proud to know.

At InvictaFC3 I weighed in at 113.4lbs without dehydration or hard dieting or extra miles of endurance cardio. Afterward my food choices up until the fight were no different except for a couple of cookies after Friday's dinner. It is safe to assume I was not more than 115lbs at fight time. This was no surprise. I am moving outside the norm by fighting my natural weight.

I have been encouraged many times before to "make weight" and fight at 105lbs so that I will be up against girls my own size. There are a few that prefer I stay at 115 and "be the Frankie Edgar" of that weight class. They tell me I am unusually strong and will be fine against the heavier girls.

This is a hard decision for me because in this world where everyone is trying to be the huge body beating up the little body there is a part of my ego that enjoys giving the big girls a battle! But even as I hesitate I already know the answer. 105. The last time I was that light was probably over 28 years ago. In the world of clothing that would take me from a large sized American Girl to a medium. However I believe it may still qualify me as a large Khmer woman though no longer an XL.

I am thinking about how to do this without developing an eating disorder or body dysmorphia. Since I moved to Los Angeles fat, weight, diet and exercise are the main topics of conversation women seem to have. Since I began fight training I have found that men too are also consumed by these obsessions. I prefer to talk about other things.

I do not want to count calories. I do not want to daydream about my next meal. I do not want to suck on ice cubes to curb cravings. I do not want to need "cheat days". I do not want to plan ahead what I will be having after weigh-ins and after fighting. I do not want to yearn for fast food and cupcakes and cookies and milkshakes. I do not want to be a mental prisoner to the foods I cannot have.

The only way for me to do this is to change my perspective on food completely. By that I mean I have to find a way to believe that food is food for its most simple purpose. Food is Fuel for the Body and the Mind.

I am the girl whose mother tried many times to trick into eating vegetables. I am the girl whose grandma would peel, cube and toothpick fruits in the hopes that making them fun would encourage me. I am the girl who enjoys an old fashioned doughnut for breakfast. I am the girl that finds a late second dinner of greasy fatiness to be the most delicious. I am the girl that would choose to pass on a meal rather than have a salad.


This is going to be an interesting challenge indeed. Good thing they now make organic beer. Now if I can just find an organic doughnut shop...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Still Happily Hitched

A few days after fighting at Invicta FC3 I went to see a client of mine. She has ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) also known a Lou Gehrig's Disease. She is a beautiful woman in her forties with a captivating smile. It is her main physical expression along with blinking her eyes. Other than that she essentially cannot move. ALS "is a rapidly progressive invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles... patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed."

She knows about "this MMA thing I do" and she and her two young children have seen video of a couple of my fights. I am somewhat of a novelty to them. I want to ask her what she really thinks of it all. I wonder if she would tell me that the use of our bodies is such a precious gift that I should not intentionally put it at such risk of possible brain damage. Or would she say to go after whatever it is I hunger for because our health can be taken away from us without warning or reason at any time as she is living proof of that.

Technology has given her a means of communicating via a Tablet. It is pretty amazing. She looks at letters and words and somehow it "reads her thoughts" then it speaks for her or she can send emails. Perhaps next time I see her I will ask what she thinks of it all.

Photo by Mike Lee. Sparring with Melanie Lacroix at BlackHouse.
Recently I saw my doctor to make sure my last fight left me healthy and to get an overall assessment of myself as I have not ever done such a thing as far as I can remember. I deal with blunt force trauma on a regular basis so I asked for a CT scan to make sure my brain has not become a blob of hemorrhages and blood clots.

He gave me a clean bill of health! Yay! My brain is normal! Go figure. He even informs me that my vision is 20/15! This part sounds so daffy to me that I begin to question his abilities. But it is true. I read the chart correctly. Still it seems impossible to believe. 20/15? Perhaps I should not be a fighter afterall. I should be a Fighter Pilot! I wonder if the Air Force would say I am too old to be trained for this.

It is a good things we did not test my hearing because if that came back as perfect then I would no longer be able to use my usual excuse: "What? Speak up. My old lady cauliflower ears cannot hear you." People would know that I have for some reason chosen not to hear them. How rude of me.

My doctor has "the conversation" with me. Get out of fighting while you're ahead. You don't want to be an invalid at the age of fifty-five. Junior Seau just killed himself. Repetitive blows to the head are linked to suicidal tendencies. I know you are going to continue but I have to tell you you are placing yourself at such high risk. Think.

"What? Speak up. My old lady cauliflower ears cannot hear you."

I hear him. Loud and clear.

I think. I think about this beautiful wife and mother in her forties living as best she can with ALS knowing that her time here is so very limited. I think about my family and friends that support what I am doing but cannot help but worry for my health and my years of living after fighting.  I think about fighters that exhibit obvious signs of brain trauma. I think about all these young bodies around me that complain daily of pains that are a direct result of fighting and training. I think.

We make choices throughout our days, throughout our lives. Many like to deny this and blame everyone else for all that "happens to them". I believe in accountability. I believe in taking responsibility. I contemplate the pros and the cons. I give weight to reason, I give weight to inexplicable feelings. I understand. I choose.

I get asked fairly regularly why I fight. I am not someone who thinks this is the only thing I can be or do or become extraordinary at. I know I am capable of many things. I understand this life can be fulfilled in a variety of ways.They want to know is it Fame? Fortune? No. It is almost absurd to me to speak of women's fighting in the same sentence as fame and fortune.

So why?

song by Sarah McLachlan
I honestly do not think there is any intelligent articulate reason for choosing to be a fighter. It is a demanding life that abuses us both mentally and physically. But that does not stop us from pursuing this path.

This path I walk for the love. For the learning. For the relationships built along the way. For the challenges. For the inspirations. For the journey. For the tears that well up in my eyes when my coaches tell me they are proud.

For better or worse, Fight and I are still happy hitched and living as if we are newlyweds.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Caterpillar. Fear. Butterfly.

Mostly this life is "choose your own adventure" but unlike the books of my youth we cannot re-read the story to discover different paths and outcomes.  What's done is done.  What is left are indications of what needs to be learned so that we do not repeat our mistakes.

photo by Anita Hoehen

In fighting the primary goal is victory.  The secondary goal is to partake in an exciting battle.  Do not misunderstand what I just stated.  We always fight to win and never do we fight to not lose or simply survive. At Invicta FC3 my secondary goal was achieved.  My primary goal was not.  If I had it to do all over again would I re-read the book and make alternate choices throughout the three adventurous rounds? Absolutely.  I most definitely would have made some different decisions.

That being said I also do not have any regrets.  I fought the best fight I could at that particular moment in time.  I used all my resources to put all the parts together and the sum total was the end result.  My opponent was the better fighter that night.  She deserved her victory.

Image taken from a FB post
There is much to feel positive about and proud of.  I am looking forward to learning some very specific techniques that will improve my fighting tremendously.  I am pleased to be able to identify my needs so that I have particulars to work on.

What I want to express though are some of the negative thoughts that whispered in my mind immediately following the loss.  I do not share this in wanting positive affirmation or encouragement.  I am already surrounded by that.  Also now these feelings have already left my concerns though I know they will occasionally jab at me again over the course of time.  I am talking to talk, yammering to yammer.  Perhaps taking what residue of negativity that is left inside my body out and placing it here.

What did I feel?  I felt a low buzz of anxiety swarming through my heart even though everything I vocalized was positive as I was trying to reassure those who were trying to reassure me about the loss.  What was I fearing as I was sitting there in the "green room" at the beginning of my career as a professional fighter?  I was thinking of the future.  I feared the truth that lay ahead of me was not going to be pretty.

38 Years in the Making.  It's Official.
I'm an Athlete. It says so on the Pass.
I have heard the phrase "So much potential" my whole life.  Now I stand in a position where time will tell me if potential will become a reality.  Sometimes what I fear is the possibility of never coming into fruition.  What if I cannot be what so many believe I can be; what I have believed I can be; what I hope so much to be?

My body.  My mind.   My spirit.  My circumstances.  They must all conspire to work together.  They must choreograph and rehearse a ballet to be improvised.  They must speak one language at one time multiple times.

It is easy to talk about what could have been, should have been, would have been... if only... if only... if only...

Reality bends so easily.

image blatantly stolen from the world wide web
There are no excuses for me anymore.  In the world of fighting my time to become is in view.  The answers I seek will reveal themselves over the course of the next year or two or three.  I am hopeful the metamorphosis gives birth to the butterfly.  I am fearful of the caterpillar suffocating in the chrysalis.

But still I understand it would be better to know than to always wonder and I am fully aware that such an opportunity is a gift to be grateful for.  However seeing this does not stop the occasional fear.  I only know that my fears will not stop me from learning the truth even though it is the possible truth that I fear.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hopeful in Love

Invicta Fighting Championships is making for exciting times in the world of fighting.  We are all rooting for its success because they are making a difference and changing the lives of present and future athletes.  InvictaFC is giving girls and women a destination to dream towards that did not exist before.  The young will take this for granted.  The jaded will be skeptical.  The rest of us are hopeful.

I am grateful my time is now and that I did not start this so many years ago.  If I had I am fairly certain that I would be one of the jaded and skeptical.  My life lessons would have been completely different.  It feels good to enter this world innocent and untainted.  I began the long process of letting go of the idea of being a professional athlete some twenty years ago.  Twenty Years Ago!!!  This unexpected change in direction has been such an amazing opportunity and gift.  Everyday I say, Thank You.  Never in my youth would I have imagined such possibilities.

I think often about what I am learning from all this.  Beyond being educated on the technical aspects.  Beyond training the Mind, Body and Soul to Fight like a Champion.  I have come to realize that the most important thing fighting has taught me is How to Love again.

Lovers of Life, Lovers in Life, Lovers for Life
I am not sure when in my younger days the shift occurred, when my heart hardened and became unwilling and afraid.  No one has left me and my parents are a prime example of Lovers of Life, Lovers in Life, Lovers for Life.  They are the epitome of Partnership, Thick and Thin, High and Low, Sickness and Health, Faith and Perseverance.  They are what I should believe is possible.

At times I find myself envious of small children as they express their wants and needs and pains and joys as they feel them.  Their love is pure and unguarded.  No fear of rejection.  No censor for social norms.  They make it look so simple and ultimately I do understand that it is if only I would let go.  I no longer wonder why I have kept the world at arm's length.  I simply accept that I do and work on gaining emotional access.

It has been pointed out to me more than once that while in relationships I seem to have one foot out the door.  I have never argued with this observation.  Truth is Truth though I had believed myself to be in love a few times.  In retrospect I was more likely 'in need', 'in comfort', 'in fear of loneliness'.  I do not want to completely dismiss their importance to me.  It all meant so much at the time but when we are young it seems that just about everything means so very much.  They were a love of some kind.

Fighting began with mysterious intrigue and fascination mixed with uncertainty and fear of disappointment.  It was not Love at First Sight.  We even broke up once for nine months.  Fighting patiently found a way to sneak past all my defenses and into my daydreams, into my everyday, into my tomorrow, into my thoughts, into my breathing.  For the right reasons.  I love to fight.  I love training.  I love the raw physical exchange.  I love the mental challenges.  I love the constant education.  I love the relationships being built.

"And if you want it come and get it for crying out loud. The love that I was giving you was never in doubt.
Let go your heart, Let go your head and feel it now..." -David Gray
I have let go.  I am feeling now.  I am here for the love.  I am not afraid.

I am Hopeful for my days ahead.  Hopeful for these days now as a Fighter.  Hopeful for the days that will follow in which I will give myself freely over to loving to do something else.  Hopeful for the possibility of actually loving a person completely enough to build a life together.  Hopeful that the main barrier of being Able to Love has been shattered and what awaits me is simply more love in more unexpected ways.  Hopeful in Love.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


The last time I smiled at an opponent prior to fighting was last October. I do not do that anymore. During the ground and pound portions of that battle there were brief moments when I saw the young woman.

Compassion. I am hurting a girl. Compassion.

There is no room for compassion inside the cage. At least not until after the fight has ended. Even then I will only be civil and professional because I may have to fight her again. I cannot afford to care about her. Indifference is my friend.

Recently I was asked about how the rules differed from amateur to pro. I mentioned that I will get to strike her head with my elbows and knees.

"Is that necessary? It seems extreme. Savage."

It is savage. It is two bodies aggressively and brutally trying to inflict as much damage as possible within the guidelines of the rules. The rules and regulations are what allow it to be a sport. The referees. The judges. The myriad of safeguards put into place to protect the participants.

The sport is savage but not psychotic. We understand reality. We intend to harm but do not wish our opponent any major permanent injury. We move with respect for each other as athletes and competitors. There is room for humanity here but only a little. Too much is dangerous.

Sometimes girls of my approximate physical dimensions want to train where I train because I am fortunate to learn from the best. I say Okay but really I want to say No. I am not very good at being selfish but I am practicing. It is an important and useful tool when employed at the right times.

I have a primary training partner. Jessica Penne. I appreciate her. We are similar in size though structurally different. We have our own strengths. We improve together. We challenge each other. We are a good compliment to one another. Every fighter should be so lucky.

We have an occasional training partner. Jordan McDonald. She is the Gemini to we Two Aquarians.  I do not know what that means but it seems to work for us. Our relationships are ever learning and unique and we are all grateful to have found each other.

That being said I do not want to train with more girls about my weight. Not even for one session. We will inevitably laugh together because I will make bad jokes. It is what I do. We will laugh then I will like her then I will feel compassion.

As women fighters we are still limited in numbers. Finding opponents can be difficult. It is realistic to assume that there is a good chance we will have to go toe to toe in the future. And in that future should it come to be...

I cannot afford to feel compassion.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


It seems that I am constantly trying to outsmart myself.  Each fight presents unique psychological challenges.  I wonder about why it is so natural for us to gravitate towards the negative and the complicated rather than be drawn towards the positive and the simple.  Defeat.  Doubt.  Anxiety.  Uncertainty.

My last MMA fight was a rematch versus an opponent that was awarded a split decision win against me last October.  That loss has been a quietly pestering monkey on my back for a myriad of reasons.  I considered the possibility of losing again.  Would that monkey grow to be a heavy nagging gorilla and weigh me down?  Is this opponent to be my one nemesis?  Will she be the one that eludes me, the style I cannot beat?  Do I want to know?  No, I do not want to know.  Yes, I do want to know.  What if... What if... What if...

photo courtesy of the world wide web
I actively work to push these thoughts aside.  I will not let them be in charge of me.  I focus on the purity of competition which is  a lovely thing.  A simple thing.  "You have to learn the rules of the game.  And then, you have to play better than anyone else." -Einstein

My Body versus Your Body.  My DNA versus Your DNA.  My Mind versus Your Mind.  My Heart versus Your Heart.  My Will versus Your Will.  My Training versus Your Training.  My Action versus Your Reaction versus My Reaction versus Your Action.  One fighter will win.  One fighter will lose.  It will be tactical.  It will be aggressive.  It will be beautiful.

I hear the rhythm.  My feet begin to slide, to shuffle.  My shoulders shimmy and feint.  My hands and head are in motion, ready and anticipating.  Nothing else exists in this moment except the dance as I imagine it.  I let go.  I let go for what will be will be.  I know everything I need to know for the experience awaiting me.  I have practiced the choreography.  I understand the motivation behind each movement.  I am ready.

My positive self has outsmarted my negative self yet again.  Perhaps it is I who has been my own nemesis all along...

photo by Cassiano Laureano

Monday, June 11, 2012

"Courage is Grace under Pressure"

“Courage is Grace under Pressure” – Ernest Hemingway

This past Friday I was to have my second Muay Thai match.  I was looking forward to field testing some theories and concepts and techniques that I cannot practice on my training partners.  I wanted to attempt some things on a body I did not have to be nice to; on a body I did not have to hold back on; on a body that did not have on a belly pad and focus mitts.

As the event was about to begin one of the athletic commission officials informed me that my opponent would not be participating in the evening’s planned activities.  He said she was having a panic attack of some sort and has chosen to pull out of the fight. 

Disappointment.  I try not to show it, to maintain composure.  There is a part of me that understands how this could happen and a part of me that feels compassion for her.  Then there is the part of me that wishes she would find her breath and strength and step into the ring with me.  Of course I am sure there is a part of her that wishes for the same thing.

Disappointment. Friends are at the venue and others on their way to watch and support.  The ones that are here have paid and the promoter at the gym has chosen to have poor relations with me rather than to refund their entrance fee.  I will not be fighting at the Muay Thai Kick Boxing Gym on Cabrito Road in Van Nuys, CA anymore.

photo by Jill Morley
I would love to take credit for being so intimidating that she became physically incapacitated but I doubt that was what occurred.  Her battles with anxiety are her own.  We are not all built to be fighters.

Fighting is a heightened experience for sure.  Though you have your team and your corner rooting for you with unconditional love it is still just you in the spotlight.  You and your opponent are the focus of all eyes watching.  There is no one to pass the ball to, no one to hide behind, no injury to fake, no space to get lost in, no bench to warm, no one to blame if things go wrong.  The feeling of responsibility and the weight that goes with it can be overwhelming.

Since the beginning of this fight life people have asked me if I am afraid.  Yes.  Yes, I am afraid.  But not of my opponent.  She cannot do me more bodily harm than my body can handle.  She cannot break my heart. She cannot take my will.  Only I can relinquish that.  My fears are of letting down my coaches and teammates; of poorly representing them and friends and family.  These anxieties are quieting as experience is being gained, hollow whispers in a passing breeze. 

No one is leaving me.  We are bound by what all humans feel.  We are bound by love and time shared and a common goal, a common journey. As fighters, as teammates and training partners and coaches and competitors we are bound by Blood, Sweat and Tears.  We are bound by defeats and glories, trials and tribulations, passions and pains.  For the Love of Fight, We are bound.  Win, Lose or Draw, as long as we walk the same path and continue to learn and grow with each other, we are bound.

For me I am grateful that always when the lights come up all doubt disappears from me.  I have worked diligently and excelled in rehearsal and it is now showtime. The curtain rises. All fears fade and I am confident I will proceed in the systematic destruction of my adversary. I believe in the writing. I believe in the director. I have studied my character and understand my role in this production.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Playing it Safe to Win...

on the Tonle Sap in Cambodia
There are some things you cannot practice on your training partners. Some things you can only do in the actual fight. These things require the most courage, the most willingness to risk.

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.” ~ William Shedd

I wonder, what am I for?

In basketball if you are pushing hard on a fast break and choose to hit the J from the three point line well... If you actually hit it your bench and the crowd goes wild with pride and joy; if you miss then Coach and everyone are screaming and throwing their hands up at what an awful decision you made. I have known both these moments more than once.

I have some things I want to do and they do not involve playing it safe to win. They involve a willingness to miss, a willingness to fail. They require a faith in myself that come what may I will find a way to get myself out of whatever hole I dig myself into if I do not succeed in the trying.

I do not mean making unexpected choices in the third round if we are feeling that I had a good handle on the first two. I understand as in basketball that it is good strategy to burn time in the fourth quarter if we are in the lead. But getting there what I want is... I want to fight like I train. I want my imagination to take over my hesitations. I want to do the things I dare to dream.

As I am editing, reading this aloud to myself, I feel my heart constricting and tears begging me to let go, to feel free to fight my fight. And I wonder again, what is this love?

If my bloodline, my environment and my teachers built me as a ship, what kind of ship have they built? For what purpose have they built it? I know that though this ship is still being restructured that they have equipped it with quality gear. But will I be able to access the knowledge I need to steer myself where they want me to go? Will my mind, body and soul weather through the unpredictable storms and currents?

But mostly, will I dare to sail into the unknown waters that sometimes whisper to me the kind of possibilities known only to those who are willing to fail, willing to disappoint, willing to reach beyond safety?

I have some things I want to do and they do not involve playing it safe to win.

Tuff-n-Uff Promo

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tuff-N-Uff: 2012 May 25

StudioMMA Podcast Interview May 3, 2012

[WMMA] Kaiyana Rain of Epic Fighting 12: “Win, Lose, or Draw — She’s Gonna Feel Me”

Skriven av: 
04 May, 2012 - 16:14
Publicerad i:
STUDIO MMA, VENICE, CA — Kings MMA and Werdum Combat Team standout, Kaiyana Rain [2-1-1 MMA], fights tonight at Epic Fighting 12 in San Diego, headlining that event.  Her amateur bout against Lena Hellqvist [1-1 MMA] is for the promotion’s 115-pound title.  Rain is the training partner of professional WMMA fighter Jessica Penne [9-1 MMA], who made a splash last weekend with her memorable TKO of Lisa Ellis in the co-main event of Invicta 1.
[UPDATE] Yesterday, Rain joined Studio MMA reporter Daniel Patinkin for a podcast for an in-depth chat about life and women’s MMA, which you can listen to below:

photo by Bill Fulcher
For the complete profile at StudioMMA:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Training the Mind (a.k.a. ReEducating Kai)

photo by Gary Lai
I spend more time training my mind than I do my body.  I joke with one of my coaches that even though I am a girl I am the least needy of all his fighters.  This is oddly humorous to us.  These big muscular manly men need more hand holding and positive affirmation than this silly little old gal. 

When I first began at this fighting life I had a friend who did not want to hear me say that I lost a competition.  I explained that is what happens in competition.  Someone wins and someone loses.  She would reply that even so I should not say that I lost.  We would talk in circles about this on more than one occasion.  Each time ending with me conveying that I fully understand that losing does not make me a LOSER.  She would say, Okay.  Okay.  The way only women can say, Okay.  And I would wonder to myself why she could not believe me.  So worried was she that my feelings of self worth were being diminished by the words, I lost.  I think she must be one of those moms that feel their children should get trophies for participation and that scores should not be kept in their soccer games and that MVPs should not be named.

Another friend of mine would so often attempt to prepare me for loss that I began to wonder if she had any confidence in me at all. She would tell me she admired most the fighters who had gone through many losses and still found a way to prevail.  She would tell me of how a singular loss had negatively affected other fighters she had known.  I would tell her that I appreciated what she was trying to do but that I would like to not talk so much about losing and instead focus on winning.  I would assure her that whatever the outcome that I will be alright but that when I step into the ring or the cage or on the mat I cannot think about how it is alright for me to lose or that losing is even a possibility.  To which she would say, Okay.  Okay.  The way only women can say, Okay.  So very unconvincingly.

photo by Gerald Fontejon
Recently I lost my first Muay Thai match which comes just after my first MMA loss.  That makes two in a row and truth be told it feels more like three, actually four including jiu-jitsu.  A friend expressed his concern about how this may negatively affect the cultivation of a winner’s mindset.  I told him that I am aware and actively working on this and that situations will test me and only time will tell who I will become but right now I am so grateful to be on this journey.  The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  This journey that holds so many highs and lows, feelings of greatness and feelings of defeat.  All of it.  I am honored to be here, to live the dream, to have this opportunity.  I take none of it for granted.  This thing I feel so passionate about that tears well up in my eyes even when talking to strangers about what I do. 

When I played high school basketball so many years ago I remember hearing that a major university was only taking players from winning teams.  I was not on a winning team though I felt that I could hold my own with the best of them.  I did not understand then why they would not even look my way.  It felt unfair.  But after thinking about it I could see their point.  With thousands of girls to choose from and so much to teach them why bother with one of the hardest things to teach a person, How to Win.  Of course the physical is required in sports, but even more necessary is the mind.  It is the mind that separates Champions from being the ordinary kind of extraordinary all great athletes are.

In fighting I am often told about padded records.  I am told about opponents being chosen that are not competitive, “Tomato Cans”.  I am told about wins being given to up and coming prospects to enforce the winner’s mindset.  I have seen this happen and it never ceases to baffle me.  That one can find a way to be proud of beating someone you know to be a significantly lesser fighter.  Or to be told you won and to believe it even though we are in the age of instant video replay, video proof to the contrary.  But our reality is our perspective and our truth is what we believe and I suppose that is why these practices still exist.  The mind is a powerful thing.

For me, I do not want my ego coddled.  I am not interested in fighting someone considered A Sure Thing.  I do not want to ever be “given” a win.  Please, not that.  An empty victory based on lies seems an insult to how hard I work, an insult to my intelligence. I want to live this experience with my integrity (“The quality of being honest”) in tact.

For me, after losing, I go through the normal thoughts and feelings most people go through I suppose.  I feel an overwhelming disappointment in the outcome.  I wonder if I am cut out for this, if I have taken on more than I can handle, if I will ever be good enough, if I have let people down, if I continue to lose will my coaches and supporters stop believing in me, will I stop believing in myself.

photo by Gerald Fontejon
The fortunate thing for me is that these thoughts dissipate fairly quickly from me.  Within minutes.  As if I am in an abusive relationship I begin to only remember the good times.  That was fun!  Despair and uncertainty fade fast and the bruises of the ego and the soul are forgotten.  Within a short time I am deconstructing the fight and looking at what I did right and what I did wrong and what I want to learn and practice to be better at this the next time around.  All that was for a moment intensely insufferable evaporates from me at a more rapid rate than the perspiration on my body.   

There are some moments in life that are so impactful that they will leave a definite impression on you, change your course of travel.  However most moments are given as much significance to them as you choose to assign.  I was a complete human being before fighting.  I will be a complete human being after fighting.  And I am a complete human being now while I am fighting.  The wins and the losses will make for a sort of mathematical equation in the future and someday I will look at the sum and all its parts.  But that is to dissect and think about later.  Right now is about right now.

Right now I am drawing sketches, carving and sanding, testing theories, debating concepts, writing rough drafts, editing and revising.  Right now I am designing the fighter I will become.  Deconstruction.  Reconstruction.  Field Test.  Repeat. Over and Over and Over and Over…

Sunday, January 29, 2012

While Training...

I was running the neighborhood along Sunset Boulevard when I passed a boy moving in the opposite direction who smiled my way and his smile reminded me of a young man I once loved.  A young man who is now married and with his wife has three cats.  A young man who is no longer a young man.  I considered turning around to chase after the boy and his smile.  I considered looking behind me to see if he was too far away to catch up to, to recapture.  I considered the promises we once made many years ago.  I considered.  I smiled.  I kept my gaze ahead of me.  I kept my stride steady.  I kept my momentum forward.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nancy Reagan and PEDs

It is interesting to me when athletes and their entourage feel they should be allowed to use PEDs because everyone else is doing it or because they believe the benefits outweigh the possible dangers or etc etc etc.  So many that use truly believe that they are not cheating by doing so.  The psychology behind this thinking is quite intriguing to me.

Photo by: this image I blatantly stole from the
world wide web

The rules state that we are not permitted to use these drugs and still participate in the sport.  If the rules state that I am not allowed to eye gouge my opponent but I do so intentionally then I am cheating.  If the rules state that I am not allowed to put plaster in my hand wraps but I do so then I am cheating.  If the rules unreasonably state that I can only run five miles a week but I go out incognito to amass more miles because I want that extra cardio edge then I am cheating.  It does not matter if I consider a rule to be absurd.  If I choose to play a particular sport I should abide by the given rules.

This is not about whether the rules should be as they currently are or changed.  This is not a question of whether as an adult individual if you should have the right to put whatever you want into your body.  If the work you choose does not state that you are not allowed to put Performance Enhancing Drugs in your body and that is what you want to do then by all means have at it!  PED away!!!  Go be the most juiced up bartender or lawyer or carpenter or professor or cashier or poet or comedian the world has ever seen!

That being said, have a percentage of athletes been cheating in various ways since the beginning of organized sports?  Most likely.  Since my days of youth oh so many years ago I have said: If you beat me fair and square then my hat off to you; if you had to cheat to beat me then well… that is what you had to do.  For some odd reason it does not generally bother me much.  I have no respect for it and I do not condone it but neither do I dwell on it.  From what I have seen most people often do not deal with themselves honestly regarding many subjects and justify their actions in the most amazing ways.  I find that voicing a complaint usually gets me denial or reasons it happened.

Explaining one’s behavior does not Excuse one’s behavior.

I cannot tell you how often I say this.

Photo by: this image I blatantly stole
from the world wide web
Do not get me wrong I am not passing grand judgments on anyone.  I am a good person who has done some bad things also.  Although when it comes to sports I have my whole life been a by the book player.  But still I understand how and why athletes either turn to using or are pressured to use any of the myriad of drugs quietly available.  Money and Pressure and Power can be immensely convincing.  If you have ever watched young children play games you will see that most cheat on a regular basis simply for the sheer joy of winning and have no qualms about it.  Nancy Reagan would tell you to, Just Say No.  (Yes, I am old enough to remember this, Ha!)  But my guess is that even Nancy Reagan has broken a rule or two in her lifetime as well.

Ultimately though it truly is very plain, if you cheated then you cheated.  If you got caught you got caught.  And even if you did not get caught it does not change the action of cheating.  Does it mean be extra careful to not to be found out?  If that is how you translate it for yourself then that is the path you will take.  Does it mean become the person you claim to be?  Does it mean own up to your actions and do something about it not just talk about doing something about it?  Does it mean lay low for a bit because it will all blow over in time?  These are all personal questions for athletes to answer for themselves as ultimately we only have to answer to ourselves… Everyone else we can lie to… Or at the very least explain it away or place the blame elsewhere... And even then I find that we just as easily believe what we want our reality to be and our reality is whatever we believe it to be.  Acknowledging the truth would require us to be accountable for our actions. 

Now why would we choose to live in that harsh world?  

Friday, October 28, 2011

“In love, it is better to know and be disappointed, than to not know and always wonder.”

There are many sayings that get thrown at you while growing up and I attached myself to plenty of them.  “Outside looking in, Inside looking out” was the theme of much of my bad woe-is-me 8th grade attempts at poetry.  “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game”.  I swallowed this one like a giant sedative horse pill disguised as a vitamin.  Everything I played I played with great dedication and passion but still I cannot help but think that I could have learned my lessons about losing and at the same time gotten a great deal more satisfaction from all I had put into practice had we won more often.  “It’s not a fear of failure, it’s a fear of success”.  That was a great excuse to not fully be an active participant in my own dreams.  That is bullshit.

Who would not choose a path of guaranteed success?  Who fears success?  Really?

Think about it.  If what you want to be is a great parent do you fear being successful at it?  We can list a plethora of occupations from the seemingly mundane to those that appear glorious, in what you love to do and I mean really love to do not just sort of like or do because the bills have to be paid somehow… in what you love to do whatever it may be, do you really fear being extraordinary at it?

I do not.  If anything I fear finding out that I am simply ordinary at it.

I understand that with success comes great responsibility.  But if you could be promised the outcome would you not choose it?  Success over Failure?  Success over Mediocrity?

Recently a well known professional fighter at the end of training as we all gathered per the norm of how we end our sessions spoke from his heart to those of us just getting started on this path.  He said for us to truly enjoy this beginning.  That the Portuguese word for amateur means, for the love of (“from French, from Latin amātor lover, from amāre to love”), and how a part of him wishes he was still an amateur because over time as you succeed more will be expected of you and the pressure to perform is immense.  Not only will this sport bleed your heart and your soul but it will also destroy your body.  You will wake up in pain.  You will spend your day in pain.  You will go to sleep in pain.  And you will probably live another fifty years this way after you retire.  He was trying to tell us to truly apreciate the pure love of fighting, the pure beauty of being a competitor before managers and promoters and fans and image consultants tainted our passions. He was trying to warn us that success is not all champagne and parties and glamour.  On the contrary, by choosing to be fighters we were choosing a path that would bring us great hardships and suffering in mind, body and soul.

On positive days I feel unstoppable.  Nothing will stand in my way.  I have what it takes to rise against the challenges that will come my way.  But on hard days I sometimes doubt myself.  What have I gotten myself into?  Really, what insanity have I committed myself to these next X number of years?  What if I am not all that good?  I feel tears flooding into my sinuses and I push them back down to save for a more private moment.

And then I remember what I have said here and say to myself whenever I begin to see the light coming through behind the veil of darkness… after today there is always tomorrow and with tomorrow there is always new hope.

Back to the gym.  Back to work.  Back to school.  Back to learning.  Back to believing in the possibilities.  Back to Love.

“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.” -Katherine Mansfield

Whether I be ordinary or extraordinary... "it is better to know and be disappointed, than to not know and always wonder..."  But let us hope that I will not be disappointed.