“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.