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.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Crazy Things We Do For Love…

Tomorrow I fight.  I have a nice shiner from training and I am beginning to worry that the Doctor will not let me in the cage.  I am getting desperate.  I want to Fight.  I am told to hard boil an egg and rub it on the bruise, that the color will be soaked into the yoke.  My reasonable mind does not believe this but my hopeful self is willing to try anything.
So I cook eggs and peel them and wait for them to cool just enough so they do not burn my skin.  I then stand in front of the mirror and roll an egg over the black and blue.  I am thinking these are free range grass fed organic eggs… fancy eggs… I should be eating them… these premium quality eggs.  With my second try I have developed some technique.  I have found my rhythm.  It is less sloppy.  It feels oddly nice.  But the results are disappointing.  I am still purple and the yolks are still yellow.
Tea bag.  Massage the area with a warm tea bag they say.  My reasonable mind is beginning to think all these tricks are simply saying to bring heat to the bruise and massage the old blood out.  This makes sense.  So I lay with a heated pad over my eyes then massage then heat then massage then heat etc etc etc and while I am doing this my insanity returns.  I am thinking about how I should take a needle to the little pocket of fluid that bubbles out at the corner of my brow near my temple.  Drain it like cauliflower ear.  For some reason this seems like a good idea.
I consult my nurse friend, Mimi.  She says, No. 
Well shit… I was hoping she would say, Oh yeah no big deal stick a syringe near the corner of your eye and suction out all that extraneous squishy stuff.
I spend the rest of the day alternating between ice packs and heat packs.  I am massaging the little swelling and thinking if I cannot puncture my face from the outside to free the goop then maybe I can push it around enough to create a hole on the inside of my head so it has somewhere to go.  
What did I just say?!  Really?!  "punture my face"? "hole on the inside of my head" ?
It is official, I am certifiable.  I am insane. 
Before I got hitched to Fight I would have said, Not even when pigs fly would I ever, to all of it.  I begin to laugh at myself as I think, Oh goodness me the crazy things we do for Love…

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

CuddleBuddle? ~ Them's Ain't Fightin' Words...

I have been taking notice of my niece who does not quite yet have two years of exploring this world under her belt.  I have been envious of this time in her young life.  Her freedom of expression is only just beginning to be stifled by expectations of how we are to behave.

When she sees me holding her older sister she stands before us and makes protesting sounds, she is making demands.  When I lift her onto my other knee she is still not content.  She starts to push her sister away.  She wants all the attention.  I do what is right.  I tell her to share, that I have enough love for both of them.  But what I am thinking is how I wish I could still do that.

I think of my grandmother who passed away some years ago.  For a moment I dream of childhood.  There must have been a time when I needed tenderness that I would walk toward her with arms raised asking to be loved and comforted.  I wonder when that stopped, why that stopped.

In fight training we are so damn tough so all the time.  But this thing we are doing we are all so passionate about that sometimes emotions flood through us and sneak out of our bodies in streams of tears.  You would think with all our jiu-jitsu training we would be expert huggers but we are not... not with each other.  No one holds me when I fall apart.  Everyone just feels uncomfortable and uncertain of what to do.  And when I have seen frustration and heartbreak crying I have wanted to hold them and comfort them, these teammates of mine, but I have not.

My little niece would.  I know if she saw me or you in pain she would not hesitate to scoop us into her arms.  She would cuddlebuddle any one of us.  She has not yet been told not to... and oh how I do envy that about her.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Weight Weight Don't Tell Me...

... Please do not tell me that I am going to have to lose weight.  Please do not tell me that I am going to have to add endurance cardio to my already full training schedule.  Please do not tell me that I will have to give up eggs over-easy over rice and bacon cheese burgers and pasta and...  Please do not tell me that I have to quit Whiskey and Wine... And Please Please Please do not tell me I will have to deny myself the wonderful deliciousness of Beer Beer Beer...

Please do not tell me that I too will have to play the Making-Weight Game.

I have an awesome new training partner that has been fighting professionally for some time now.  Recently I asked her what she weighs and what weight she fights at as I am trying to figure out where I belong.  She tells me that she used to weigh 112-ish and fight 115 or lighter but now since she has added weights and strength training she walks about 117 and is planning on fighting 105 because girls are bigger now and making-weight.

105 pounds?!!!?!  If I fight at 105 I will be going toe-to-toe against women like you?!

Oct 16, 2010.     111.5 pounds.
Same Day Weigh-Ins for Grappling X.
Photo by Cassiano Laureano
I cannot help but wonder if my skeleton weighs more than 105 and what will be left of my itsybitsy boobies and how I could probably shed a pound of hair if I shave my head but my hair is the only exterior thing about me left that is still soft.

Most days I wake up in the world of 118 and making weight at 115 for me means that I have to add 5 mile runs and give up beer for a week, eat clean and light 4 days prior and then stop consuming food and beverages for 12 to 18 hours before weighing in.  I do all this because I cannot seem to trust my scale at home even though it has never failed me and so I end up weighing in light.  The thought of  not making weight is completely unacceptable to me for many reasons.

Fighting at 110 would not be an issue if I am willing to believe my bathroom scale.  Fighting at 105 would require being mindful of nutrition and adhering to a strict diet.  In my mind I see myself becoming a big headed skinny bodied alien looking fighting creature.  Which I suppose would be frightening to be locked in a cage with but is not necessarily the girl I want staring back at me when I glimpse into the mirror.  People tell me that I would have to lose muscle mass which is fine but already I do not lift weights or do specific strength training so I am not sure how I am to go about this.

I have a teammate that walks 160 and fights 135.  I have another teammate that walks 140 and fights 135.  Technically they are the same weight class but obviously the reality is that they are not.  Weight classes were introduced to even the playing field and make for fair competitive fights.  The intention is good but the outcome is athletes on extreme diets putting themselves through dehydration, eating disorders, dysmorphia etc.  I would rather not be one of them.

So Wait Wait Don't Tell me... That my weight class is 105 just yet... That I have to get skinnier and lighter just yet... That I have to change my eating and drinking ways just yet...

I still have an exciting Tuff-n-Uff 115lbs Title to Re-Match for in the near future!!!

June 30, 2011.     112.5 Pounds.
Tuff-N-Uff 115lbs Title Fight.  Day Before Weigh-Ins.
Photos by Christopher Tan

Monday, July 11, 2011

No Harm, No Foul...

...or No Blood, No Foul...

In a pick-up game of basketball or any other sport for that matter there are no referees so you have to make your own calls.  It is fairly normal to have a guy amongst the many to be known as a flopper... he'll call a foul on you for standing anywhere near him; if you touch him he'll fall and whine about injury; he's capable of more melodrama than a teenage girl in the throes of heartbreak.  I do not like that guy.  Nobody likes that guy. 

I take it to the extreme.  That is, I am the complete opposite of him... to my own detriment.  I would call my own fouls against others but I rarely called fouls that others committed on me.  Even the obvious ones.  I cannot fathom why.  I only know that I have always behaved this way and lately I have been wondering about it.
Photo by Joe Pic

On July 1st I fought for the 115lbs Tuff-n-Uff Title in Las Vegas.  In the 3rd round my opponent was deducted a point for headbutting.  The fight ended in a draw.  She had been warned throughout the fight to stop.  This is not a question of incident or accident.  I prefer to not be cynical about this.  I prefer to give her the benefit of the doubt as I do with most people about general life occurrences.  I prefer to not assume malicious intentions.  And ultimately it is simple, as coaches say over and over again: we fight how we are trained to fight.

The questions for me have to do with why I have to reconcile for myself that a foul was called, a point deducted.  I wonder about how I have not changed.  Why do I still prefer to lose over calling Foul?  How absurd of me.  But yet those feelings are there.

I think about my many nephews and nieces.  I wonder what I have taught them.  Share.  Give.  Be considerate.  Play fair.  Sounds like good teachings.  But really what I say without saying is:  Share (so that other kids have more time with your toys than you do yourself);  Give (so that others have more than you have);  Be considerate (think of others before thinking of yourself);  Play fair (even when others are being unfair to you).

I do not know when I will get to play basketball again but I hope it happens in the near future.  I am going to practice calling foul when a foul occurs.  I am going to practice feeling okay about it.  Maybe I will get this chance with one of my nephews or nieces.  Maybe I will teach them by example that playing fair means being fair to yourself also.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


It is BlackEyeWednesday again. Oddly amazing how I enjoy it so. Sparring with Coach Andrew is raising my game and teaching me about my physical resilience and strengthening my psychology at the same time.

Friday, May 27, 2011

theFighter wants to say that I will change my ways

Everything I do right is due to the amazing coaching that I am blessed to have.  Every mistake I make is my own.

It was brought to my attention recently that my coaches are human too.

What? Huh? Human?

Thank You Lucas Pires
I was being reminded that we are a Team.  It's not me against the world.  It's Us against Them, whoever "Them" are.  My victories are Our victories and so it goes that my defeats are Our defeats.  They invest an extraordinary amount of time and energy and emotion into my education and with their good hearts they hope and want for me to do well in my endeavors.  Who am I to not appreciate their passion for my success in fight?!

Thank You Marcelo Crudele
That being the way things are means that when I fall I need to allow them to feel and react to the disappointment in the same way that I want the freedom to be able to feel and react.  It seems a simple enough concept.

But theFighter forgets.  So theFighter wants to say that I will change my ways.

I am fortunate to have coaches that communicate with me. They are actually more mature about it all than I am. I tend to withdraw and sulk. This is part of my arrested development. They approach me and talk to me about things. Grown men behaving so admirably! How lucky I am to be in the presence of such fine people to inspire me as a fighter and a human being!

Thank You Andrew Hagar

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Interview for SchenkMMA

TUESDAY MAY 10, 2011

SchenkMMA Amateur Fighter Series Presents: 
Kaiyana Rain

photo by Todd C. Wilkinson
If you don't know who Kaiyana Rain is yet you will. She is an up and coming Female Fighter out of California. Not only is she an Amateur MMA fighter but she is also trying her hand at Boxing. She is a lady of many talents and an over all good person. So please help me welcome Kaiyana to the WMMA community and read on to learn more about her and what she is trying to accomplish.

SchenkMMA: Tell us a little about yourself?

Kaiyana: I was born in Pailin, Cambodia and raised in Seattle, Washington. I am fortunate to have grown up in a large family and to come from a home where all the daughters respect themselves and all the sons respect women. My parents may have done some things wrong but mostly they did a lot of things right. I moved to Los Angeles 8 years ago and love living here. The sunshine has been good for my disposition.

I put on a Gi the end of June last year. I had had some No-Gi training off and on before then, sporadically for about a year at Krav Maga Worldwide but then I left fight training all-together for about eight to nine months. Currently I am a 'Baby' Blue having just been promoted mid-December to Blue Belt by Lucas Pires at Werdum Combat Team.

I have done 2 no Gi tournaments at the beginner level and placed silver in both. My 1st Gi tournament was the IBJJF Nationals as a white belt last September in which I had a 1st round loss. My second Gi tournament was the IBJJF Pan Ams as a Blue Belt 118lbs. There I placed Silver. I had my 1st amateur MMA fight last October. 115lbs. Unanimous decision win. I had my 1st amateur boxing match in February of this year. 117lbs. Unanimous decision win.

Looking forward I am scheduled for the Samurai Jiu-jitsu Tournament May 8th, a match June 3rd for Old Dog Boxing, an MMA fight June 11th for BAMMA and then the NABJJ Jiu-jitsu Tourney June 26th.

SchenkMMA: Where do you currently train? And who are your main Trainers?

Kaiyana: I get my MMA, Jiu-jitsu and Kickboxing training at Werdum Combat Team. There Lucas Pires and Andrew Hagar are my primary coaches. I just started pure boxing training the end of January with Marcelo Crudele at Train Me Right Boxing. Also I get extra sparring time and fitness at Krav Maga Worldwide.

SchenkMMA: What is your favorite style to train in and why?

Kaiyana: I enjoy each one equally and I am hoping to add Judo and Wrestling very soon. I learn so much from each style and it is the learning process that maintains my interest.

SchenkMMA: What is a day in the life of Kaiyana Rain like?

Kaiyana: Each day of my life is something to be truly grateful for. I train. I eat. I sleep. I work (minimally, but I also live a very simple life). Mixed in there is time with family and friends because it is important to maintain a balanced and full life.

SchenkMMA: Have you got a nickname? If so how did you get it?

Kaiyana: To the older nephews and nieces I am, the BooBoo, and to the younger ones I am, KaiKai.

SchenkMMA: Where do you see yourself in 2, and 5 years?

Kaiyana: As a generally commitment phobic person I joke about having recently gotten hitched to Fight. In 2 to 5 years I hope to be competing professionally and teaching/training other fighters.

SchenkMMA: What is your fight philosophy?

Kaiyana: You play your strength; I’ll play your weakness. Let’s fight!

SchenkMMA: What would you tell younger females who are just getting in MMA?

Kaiyana: Finding the right coaches and team to train with is so important. There are many out there that can give you the technical knowledge but the emotional and psychological support is just as important, if not more so.

As a young person you are still in your impressionable years and your foundation of self in still very much under construction. This may be hard to grasp as you probably feel very adult, mature. But so much happens and changes in your twenties and during this time your perspective on what you think you know and believe will also evolve. Having the right guidance and mentors will make all the difference in the woman you will become in fight and everyday life.

SchenkMMA: Tell us about your first Amateur MMA fight? How did it feel to step into the cage for the first time?

Kaiyana: I would say the experience was a bit surreal. I wasn’t feeling nervous in my thoughts though I’m sure my body was reacting a bit more appropriately to the new unknown situation. I was actually a bit concerned with how low energy I was. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to fully get into the moment. But once the bell rang it was game on. When the girl standing in front of you is trying to hit you and take you down there’s no time for daydreaming. It’s action reaction. I learned so much. Though I didn’t do everything right, I didn’t do anything wrong. I also really respected the way my opponent handled herself throughout the fight and after. This isn’t combat, it’s combat sport so good sportsmanship has always been important to me and she was a class act.

SchenkMMA: What was your training like leading up to your first MMA fight?

Kaiyana: When I started at Werdum Combat Team about 4 months prior I resolved that I would make full use of this rare opportunity and that meant training my mind to let go of excuses and to allow myself to feel that I belonged here and deserved the training just as much as the male pro fighters. I don’t want to get into a play-by-play of my days because they all varied. Blood. Sweat. Tears. Bruises. Sprains. Fractures. Dislocations. Laughter. Accomplishments. Etc. Etc. I want only to say that as much is expected of me in training as any of the guys because I never ask to do less.

SchenkMMA: Tell us about your first boxing match? Was it different stepping into the ring then the first time you stepped into the cage?

Kaiyana: It was similar in my initial feeling of calm and being pulled into the moment when the bell rang. That first time in the cage and this first time in the big boxing ring for some reason didn’t feel like foreign lands. It’s a stage just like any other and the audience came to see a performance.

I think with all this the hardest part for me is the couple of weeks leading up the fights. It’s during that time that I experience most of my worries. I want so much to make my coaches proud and because this is all so new I have nothing to relate it to. But something seems to happen a couple of days before that allows me to let go of all negativity and sleep peacefully which I am so thankful for.

For the boxing match there were some different pressures I had put on myself. We had seen the opponent lose to my teammate, Jill Morely, just a few months before and they all expected me to win. Well, I believe in being confident but I don’t believe in seeing anything as a sure thing. I will always stand before my opponent with respect. This is fight, anything can happen. Also I had just started training pure boxing about 3 weeks before and wanted to give my coach something to believe in so we could confidently move forward.

SchenkMMA: What is your favorite quote that you try to live your life by?

Kaiyana: That changes from day to day. Inspirational quotes are important reminders of all we should feel blessed for today and encouraging words that help us remember what we can come to be tomorrow.

Lately I’ve been hearing in my head: "To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man". –W. Shakespeare

SchenkMMA: Who is a fighter that you look up to in MMA? and why?

Kaiyana: This is terrible to admit but I don’t really follow fighting. I don’t have cable TV or internet at home so my exposure is actually very limited. I always think I should study more videos because I am a fast visual learner. Someday I’ll get around to it.

SchenkMMA: If you could have one dream fight who would you fight? and why?

Kaiyana: I am 37 years old. They are all dream fights! Ha!

SchenkMMA: Tell me something that probably most people wouldn't know about you?

Kaiyana: My buddies might say I’m lying about this but for such a tough girl I am oddly maternal and domestic. Go figure. And I can be a real sap sometimes.

SchenkMMA: Are there any sponsors or people you would like to thank?

Kaiyana: Yes! Fabricio Werdum and his Combat Team and Lucas Pires and Andrew Hagar for believing in me and giving this silly ole gal a shot at a dream I would never have thought possible a few years ago. Marcelo Crudele of Train Me Right Boxing for the same reasons. My manager, Jill Morley, who has given kindness to me freely since she first boxed me upside the head during our first sparring session, Marcus Kowal of Krav Maga for his initial faith and bringing me into the fight world, and all my training partners and teammates! I also have an extraordinarily supportive family and group of friends. Every day I say my thanks, every day I am grateful!

And thank you SchenkMMA for supporting WMMA fighters and for letting my voice be heard here. I wish your company all the best in the days ahead.


Monday, May 9, 2011

“Develop a Negative into a Positive Picture...”

photo by Marcus Kowal

Yesterday I competed in the Samurai Jiu-Jitsu Tournament held by Fabricio Werdum Combat Team.  My weight class was 125lbs with Gi on and I had one opponent.  I lost.  She won.  It has been a hard 24+hours since.

I have no qualms about the loss.  I make no excuses.  She was good.  She was strong.  At one point during the match I thought, I need more technique.  I have been learning at an unusually fast pace but still, knowledge requires time and doing drills over and over and experience in competition.  So why have I been unhappy?

I was expected to do well.  I was expected to win.  With the benefits of my coaches and teammates believing in me also comes the downside of feeling that I have disappointed them by losing.  This weighs on me.  This hurts me more than a solid shot to the liver.  It takes my breath away.  I can hardly speak about it before the tears well up.   I get melodramatic and think maybe I am not good enough to do this.  I panic and think that perhaps the coaches will decide that I have not got what it takes to be their fighter.  I wonder why I have chosen this path, “what kind of love is this that keeps me hanging on despite everything it’s doing to me?”

I try to figure out why I lost.  I feel my coaches think that I did not try hard enough.  Did I not try hard enough?  I thought I was doing the best I could.  What more was I supposed to do?  What went wrong technically?  What went wrong mentally?   What am I supposed to learn from today?  I cannot make sense of it.  I am frustrated.

Before I sleep I know that after today comes tomorrow and that tomorrow I will hope again.  But I wake up none the wiser and this leaves me stewing in the same confusion and angst.  I feel like someone has sucker punched my left eye, it aches and has a hard time staying open.  My head, neck and shoulders are tight and hinting at possible malfunction.  Can you say psychosomatic?  I can, "sahy-koh-suh-mat-ik".

I go to two hours of boxing training.  I tell my coach and training partners that I could use a therapy session.  So we train hard and hit mitts and bags and spar a little and find laughter along the way.  I feel a little better. 

Then I go for a 4.6mi hilly run around my neighborhood, UCLA.  And I am thinking.  And I am thinking.  What am I supposed to learn from yesterday?  How do I make this better?  How upset are my coaches?  What will I take away from this?  How do I take this negative and turn it into a positive picture?  And I am thinking about fight training.  I am thinking about being pushed until I have no more voice to scream, no more sweat to sweat, no more tears to cry.  I am thinking, how can anyone doubt my work ethics and commitment?  

I am running up Sunset Blvd and there are cars going to and fro, going to their lives filled with their own victories and defeats.  I am running up Sunset Blvd with Mumford and Sons and they are serenading me and I am singing along with them.  And tears are threatening to gush out of my eyes, they are threatening to flood Sunset Blvd on this sunny day and wash away the people driving through their own celebrations and heartbreaks.  And we sing.  Mumford and Sons and Myself.  We sing, “…But I have seen the same.  I know the shame in your defeat.  But I will hold on hope and I won't let you choke on the noose around your neck. And I'll find strength in pain and I will change my waysI'll know my name as it's called again…”

Then I am home.  I am beginning to feel some clarity.  And while in the shower I have my epiphany.  I finally hear what my coaches have been trying to get me to do, what my teammates Nadine and Sarah said in regards to my performance that day that I refused to hear:  Aggression.  They want me to move with Aggression.  I had completely disassociated aggression from jiu-jitsu.  I have been trying so hard to “relax” that at times I become dormant.  I have been working so long on allowing myself to be put into any position to learn how to survive and escape that I no longer push myself too hard to jockey for position.  In jiu-jitsu position is everything!  Aggression!  This I can practice.  This I can do.  

And now I am looking forward to training tomorrow because after today there is always tomorrow and with tomorrow there is always new hope.

“…Now let me at the truth which will refresh my broken mind…I know my call despite my faults and despite my growing fears... I need freedom now and I need to know how to” Fight My Fight "as it's meant to be..."

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dance Party

During an impromptu dance party yesterday morning with my nieces ages one and five I realized that boxing training has made me a much better dancer! I used to be primarily a head bopping hands feet very composed mover and not much of a swaying jellyfish rump shaker. But now, watch out! My hips and shoulders are getting into the groove and I am all over the place! My willingness to be physically silly has become more free! "Shimmy Shimmy CoCo Pop Shimmy Shimmy Pow"!

A pro boxing champ recently called me "awkward" in regards to the way I move in the ring... and this was a compliment! Ha! This is fight training, Baby. This is modern dance. This is the martial and the arts and the mix there of.

Let's have some fun! "Dance! Nothing left for me to do but dance!... Got canned heat in my heals tonight, Baby...!"

Friday, April 29, 2011


When I cannot wrap my mind around the movement to send the correct signals from my brain to my body my system shuts down and everything stops.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Returning to training after a layoff of any kind is very hard on an athlete psychologically. It is difficult to get through the frustrations of physical limitations and there are so many defeating moments that nag at us and infiltrate our confidence.

Have faith. Crawl before you walk, Walk before you run. Know. Move forth and know that you can and you will if you are willing to risk what it takes to go through the process.

Love in and of itself is never enough. The pleasures must always outweigh the pains. Applaud yourself each two steps forward and forgive yourself for each one step back. Forgive yourself.

Who we used to be are reference points and moments to learn from. If we spend our time trying to be what we once were we will never become what we can be.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How Lucky Am I?

Yesterday I asked a friend of mine how he was doing to which he responded, “I’m fine but I’m sort of going through a midlife crisis.” 

“You’re too young to be going through a midlife crisis,” I said hoping to make him at least feel young-ish.

“It can happen at any time,” he replied in a somber tone.

“I know.  It happened to me this morning,” I confessed… and we laughed!  I like that we can speak respectfully of serious matters and still find the humor in our lives and ourselves. 

I had spent a good part of my morning wondering about ex-boyfriends and where their lives had taken them.  I Googled a few.  This is the extent of my stalking zeal.  Google.  Without the internet in the palm of my hand I would have gone back to sleep.

They are doing well!  At least so it seems according to sites like LinkedIn, etc.  I tell myself that since they have found their way to good careers that they must be happy in all aspects of their lives.  I certainly hope so!

I do not spend my time regretting the end of our relationships.  I do not think about what could have been.  I do not think of ways to break up their happy homes to reclaim what was once mine.  I do not wish we were still a couple.

I am more narcissistic in my thoughts. 

What I think about is, What have I become?  Or better yet, When will I become?  I beat myself up about being lazy and think that I am even lazy about that.  This is because I have accepted my laziness to a degree.  I describe one of my sisters as a, Go-Getter!  I describe myself as a, Come-Get-Me!

I spend more time sleeping or daydreaming than any other particular activity or better said, inactivity.  I prefer to nap than watch TV or do whatever it is people do to fill their time throughout the day.  Some mornings I wake up and shower and get ready to leave home only to ask myself, Is there anything I really have to do today?  Really?  When the answer is NO I will crawl right back into bed and make no qualms about it.  I can fall into a slumber in the middle of a four shot Americano.  

So on the occasions when I do get a bit woe-is-me Maybe I should be doing more to further my career What is my career When will I decide what I want to be when I grow up When will I grow up Why do I refuse to make simple phone calls and send emails Why not go back to school Learn something but what what what do I want to learn Will I ever find a way to be financially stable Shouldn’t I be more concerned about seeking out the love of my life What is this life When will I do more more more… And anxiety starts to fill my blood stream and I am overwhelmed with some unnamed fear that reminds me of my youth.

I wallow in this space throughout the day. 

According to the free online dictionary:  “wal·low intr.v. wal·lowed, wal·low·ing, wal·lows
1. To roll the body about indolently or clumsily in or as if in water, snow, or mud.
2. To luxuriate; revel: wallow in self-righteousness.

I am in bed in my thoughts so Yes, I wallow.

Then there is a shift in focus.

I think about fight training.

And from out of nowhere I begin to think, How lucky am I?  And I am immediately filled with happiness and inspiration.

It is the right of the young to dream and work toward becoming professional athletes.  But look at me!  What an extraordinary place I am at at the age of 37!  My coaches are cultivating a fighter!  And we are still just in the early stages of this future career.  They are grooming me to go Pro!  What an absurd notion!  What a wonderful reality!

How lucky am I?!

So lucky that I am content again and can get back to the business of having a quality nap before going to training.
photo by Gerald Fontejon

Monday, April 25, 2011

Gimme the Ball, Coach...

This is my mantra.  This is the mindset I am working to get back to.  The girl I used to be did not doubt that she was the best player to handle the situation.  Gimme the Ball, Coach.  I am your point-guard.   I will beat her to the hoop.  I will make the play for the assist.  I will go to the line for the game deciding free throws.  Gimme the Ball, Coach.

I am signed
up for the Samurai Jiu-Jitsu tournament on May 8th which is sponsored by Fabricio Werdum Combat Team.  My weight class is up to 140 pounds and although Lucas Pires just gave me my first stripe I definitely still feel like a BabyBlue Belt.  I am constantly humbled, challenged and intrigued by how much more there is to know; How technique will eventually allow me to match up against these larger women.

So what do you do when they are Bigger Faster Better Stronger?   You still do the best you can.   You still give it your all.

I am tempted to make excuses.  I am tempted to say to Fabricio and Lucas, Please do not expect too much from me.  I am tempted to say, Look how big she is!  I am tempted to say, She has been doing this so much longer, she knows so much more!  I am tempted to allow myself the loss before I step on the mat.   I am tempted...

But I am going to quiet this voice.  Hush now.  Hush, Little Baby don't you cry Mama's gonna sing you a lullaby...

When I step on the mat, I am going in with one objective.  I am going in to Win.

Gimme the Ball, Coach.  I can do this.  Gimme the Ball, Coach.  I can figure her out.  Gimme the Ball, Coach.  I will battle with all my heart and ingenuity.  Gimme the Ball, Coach.   You have taught me well and I will do you proud.  Gimme the Ball, Coach.  Gimme the Ball.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Before I Got Hitched to Fight...

Before I got hitched to Fight I had such fine hands and feet. There have been moments when a friend would say, “Ugh, I hate feet.  They are so ugly.  But you… you’ve got nice feet”.  On the rare occasions that I would go in for a manicure pedicure the pretty Vietnamese girls would often compliment me. “You hab such lubly hans an feet. Beautif-O nay-O.”  They no longer say these things.  Now they charge me more.

Before I got hitched to fight I paid little attention to these particular extremities.  They did not require much scrutiny.  They were functional and useful.  They did not hurt or whine.  These days the joint of my left big toe wakes me some nights. “Hey!” it says, “I’m injured! Ice me! Tape me! Care for me!”  My right big toe dislocates in high heels. “Hey!” it says, “Let’s not do this girlie thing too often, eh?  You’re killin’ me down here!”  And the calluses?  Well.  They do not need to speak.  They are a statement in and of themselves.

The digits of my hands are in rebellion.  They are making me pay for my love affair with Gi Jiu-Jitsu as if I have wronged them in some way.  Every day they suggest we break up.  They hate me for requiring that they hold on for dear life to lapels and sleeves and pant legs.  They are constantly stiff.  They do not wake up when I wake up.  They prefer to sleep in.  They have become lazy.  I have to nag at them to open and close and I find myself massaging them at various times throughout the day.  So needy.

There is some sort of dislocation and/or fracture at the top joint of my right ring finger. It has been there for a couple of months now.  I did not know it was my ring finger until I told a teammate that since I do not have insurance to see a doctor that perhaps I should just have it cut off.  “No!  That is your ring finger!” he panicked as if I was being serious.  So I responded, “But it would just be the top they would take.  I can still put a ring on it.  I can still get married.” Obviously he did not know that I am off the market; That I got hitched to Fight.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Living in the Age of Women’s Fighting

On Saturday  April, 9 at Jackson’s MMA Series: III in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Beckie Lobb (1-0-0) defeated Katrina Branchal (0-1-0) by TKO (punches) in the third round of their 135-pound amateur MMA match.
Beckie is a forty-three year-old former NAGA grappling champion, professional body builder and grandmother who fights out of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Posted by

It was this post that got me thinking about the vast age span of women in combat sports.  From what I can see there could potentially be a 25 year difference.  I would like to see that fight!  I am curious to know what the median age is though I doubt that a study like this could even be conducted with any accuracy.  Who would count the women in Burma and such places?  I wonder at the elite/professional level, who are the oldest and youngest competitors in any of the full contact martial arts?

Jill Morley
My good friend, Jill, jokes about how it is either Child Abuse or Senior Abuse.  She is a boxer and she is talking about being a woman and fighting against girls (young women, if I am to be politically correct but P.C. lacks a sense of whimsy so I often ignore it).  “Let’s hope it’s Child Abuse!” I quip and we share a grin.  

I have 37 years behind me and am known to make bad joke after bad joke about being an old lady fighter.  Be respectful of your elders.  Gentle now, I am fragile.  I am ancient and small like Yoda and the Force is strong within me.  This ole gal can still pick up young men (I wink but this is in reference to judo throws and body slams; and I can!).  Sometimes I will sing, “This old body of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.  This old body of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.  Let it shine.  Let it shine. Let it shi-i-ine!”

I say things like, “it’s not that there aren’t women my age that fight it’s that most don’t start fighting this late in their years”.  Apparently I have been yammering on about things I know nothing about.  I tend to do that.  And I do it with great conviction!  It makes me feel smart.  

At various moments during the 16 years that I hardly exercised or played sports I would still find myself daydreaming as I did in my youth of being a professional athlete.  If nothing else, perhaps I can find my way into the OLPGA (Old Lady Professional Golfer's Association) as if such a league exists; as if it is an easy sport to become proficient at.  It is not. 

big brother throws down li'l sister.  circa 1987.

When I first began speaking to friends and family about how I may want to fight a look of worry crossed their faces.  They are after all the ones who will have to take care of me post brain damage and crippling.  With a simple question they would have me answering how my experience in combat sports took place twenty-five years ago when I did karate age eleven to thirteen.  It was as if they wanted me to hear myself say this.  Age eleven to thirteen.

Often they would remind me of how old I am.  Between my borderline senility and arrested development I tend to forget.  They tell me that the body ages.  I find it interesting that they would have to articulate this.  Apparently they do not know that I was required to take Health Class in the 5th grade and in High School.  They tell me that I would have to battle girls in their athletic prime.  I would be locked in a cage with real fighters that will have substantial physical advantages as a natural rite of being born after 1984.  1984?!  In my home we were transitioning from Solid Gold to MTV and having family debates as to whether or not Boy George was a man or a woman as if the Boy before the George was not a clear statement.

Forget 1984. I will likely fight young women who were not yet tadpoles when I was entering college. Bring it! Let's have some fun!

circa 2004
If when I left my twenties someone told me that I would be in the best shape of my life in my late thirties I would have laughed at them and told them it was impossible.  What a ridiculous notion.  Ha!  Especially considering all I had been doing for years was smoking cigarettes, eating greasy bar food and cultivating my beer belly.

But they would have been right.  I am more physically fit than I have ever been.  I could run laps with a weighted vest on around the girl I used to be; A girl that played the entirety of basketball and soccer games and on some days back to back.  It is a good feeling to know that that athletic girl has become an even stronger athletic woman.  Okay, perhaps that girl could out-sprint me if we met today but that is nothing to be ashamed of.  She was fast!

I do not care how old my opponent is.  I will neither overestimate nor underestimate her for any reason.  I will always stand before her with respect.  As long as I am a contender against whomever I face in the cage, in the ring, or on the mats I fully intend to “keep on keeping on”.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What Do You Mean I Am Not Invincible? part 2of2

Being in the company of fighters I learned fairly quickly that fights get canceled all the time. It is part of the sport. This is combat. Athletes get hurt regularly. Everyone works hard for the opportunity to fight and landing a fight can seem almost impossible at times. When your chance falls through it can be devastating. I have seen grown men cry over this.

So I began working on this part of my game early on. After observing it time and again I decided that I do not want to be psychologically and emotionally wrecked by a normal occurrence. So I am not in a hurry anymore even though I understand that my time is limited in this sport. I will fight when it is my time to fight and that is all. I will train and work to be ready for the moments when they come. Incidents and Accidents occur.

I have a very recent back injury sustained while pulling a 6ft 180+lbs teammate across the mats during Jiujitsu training. There is nothing abnormal about this or expecting me even to be able to do this. I simply did not pay close enough attention to my body mechanics during the exercise. I did not know any damage was done until I stood up after the third repetition. I did not know how bad it might be until I tried to jog right after and could not do so without pain. I was in denial for 24 hours and I still fall into that fantasy.
When I am laying down or sitting I find myself thinking it is no big deal; I will be able to return to training tomorrow. Then I stand up and realize that although the pain is not tragic it is there. At moments I feel normal and then a movement this way or that whispers that I must be patient a little while longer.

I am scheduled to fight in one week. I have told the promoter that this is not looking likely. He wants to wait and see. The optimist in me wants to wait and see also. But my coaches are protecting me. They have told me, No. They are realizing that they have to protect me in training also. I have been working on mind over matter. I have felt the personal and private shame of quitting. So now I will not stop. I will cry and hyperventilate and puke before I give in.

In regards to whether or not I should feel bad about having to pull out of a fight due to injury, I do not. Though I do sincerely apologize to my opponent and the promoter. There is that fine line between courage and stupidity. Sometimes it takes more courage to step aside. As long as you know, "This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man".

I will return to the cage soon. Hopefully in two to three months and perhaps versus the same opponent.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What Do You Mean I Am Not Invincible? Part 1of2

Incidents and Accidents.

Sometimes I think that I should solicit a bandage company as a sponsor. I am a walking advertisement for sports tape and braces. Maybe I can get a job as a tour guide for the Egyptian artifacts section of the museum as a talking Mummy. That is a bad joke as mummy jokes so often are. Truth be told I would not be good in that position anyway as I have never found artifacts to be all that interesting. I prefer paintings and photographs. Particularly the ones that look like they have been created by children; the ones you walk by and say, I could have done that. But you did not do it, now, did you?

At various moments I wonder if I NEED all my digits to fight since they so often like to fracture, sprain, bruise, dislocate. Perhaps I can just keep the ones that are necessary. I make a mental note about how I should research this on the internet but always I forget to do so and assume this is because I get hit in the head too much. Someone is going to have to take care of me when I am old. I hope someone loves me enough to do that or at least has enough pity for me to put me down gently. Whichever comes to pass I hope that whisky and cigarettes are involved.

All fighters are constantly injured and/or in some physical pain. Most I feel are still so young to be having to deal with this already. I am grateful to have begun my fighter’s life later. I do not think that I would have been better at this in my youth. When we are young we are more fit in body than in mind and when we are old we are more fit in mind than in body. When we are really really old… well that is a different conversation. Today my body and mind are enjoying a time of balance. Today I am older than I have ever been. Today I am all around better than I have ever been.

bruises. sprains. pulls. strains. the shadow of a black eye that's been there a week 
but I am in denial denial denial. 
hairline fractures. dislocations. lost epidermis. scratches. gouges. 
oh you need that bit of skin more than me do you? DNA sample? memorabilia? what? 
push me. punch me. kick me. sweep me. tackle me. throw me down. crush me. bend me. 
smother me. choke me. this is fight training. this is love.
May 19, 2010 at 2:06 pm