Monday, August 13, 2012

"I wanna box. For real."

On August 5th, 2012, I called up my coach and told him that I wanted to box. For real.

Rewind to nearly 14 years ago... my mom dragged me to the theaters in Japan to watch a documentary. Back then my dad was always on leave in the Navy and was hardly home, so I ended up spending a lot of time with my mom. I don't remember what the doc' was about exactly... honestly I don't even remember any other part until Muhammad Ali came on screen for a total of 20 minutes or so. I was in awe and this boxer captured the attention of this 7 year old girl. Who was this man? How did he move like that? Damn, he's passionate.

Fast forward a few years later. I'm standing in my school's gymnasium with my fellow fourth grade classmates. We were instructed to give an oral report and dress up as famous people throughout history. I'm sure you can imagine who I chose. I remember my mom sewed me a purple with orange trim satin boxing robe with matching shorts. I slipped on some gloves my parents bought me and stood next to our school's heavy bag and told the story of Ali with a sense of pride and enthusiasm. I can't express how unbelievably stoked I was to be telling the story of one of my heroes.

This book changed everything.
In middle school I picked up a book that would change my life forever: Smokin' Joe - The Autobiography. With the new found knowledge I gained from this book, I fell in love with the sport even more. Because of this book, I discovered a man who would ultimately become one of my all time favorite boxers, Roy Jones Jr. I credit this book and Joe Frazier for introducing me to the greatest sport in the world all the time. Ali was just the tip of the iceberg. Frazier was full-on submersion.

You're probably wondering...what is she trying to get at here? The point (I think) I'm trying to make is that boxing has had a huge influence on me and has been a part of my life since I was young. Perhaps it didn't have that much of a profound effect on me when I was younger as it has in recent years, but it was still there. And I've grown to love it even more with each passing day.

The passion, commitment, dedication, pride, love, heart and so much more that these fighters have... not only can you see it but you can almost feel it. I think it's one of the reasons why boxing has some of the most hardcore fans in sports today.

Which leads me to present day. Yep, you read correctly in the beginning there... I want to compete in (amateur) boxing. What made me decide this, you ask? Well putting my love for boxing aside, I would have to say it all began when I saw a group of women training kickboxing at a pavilion in a random park on Oahu. Three walls, a roof and concrete floor was all they needed. These women came from all different backgrounds (mothers, wives, girlfriends, coaches, athletes, students) but all of them looked incredible. It never dawned on me that fighting was something that I could do... Until I actually saw women doing it in person.

"I wish I was a lil bit taller. I wish I was a baller."
Let me tell you though, I was never an athletic person. NEVER. I played little league soccer as a kid but the only sport where I actually committed to was figure skating. And that lasted only a year or so because my family couldn't afford the lessons. I had this weird period in junior high school where I hung around all the basketball players, watching and even playing pick up games (good god I sucked ass though), but was more of a Skee-Lo or Spike Lee than a baller. I grew up to be a shy, scrawny, awkward looking girl.

Even with all of this in my mind, I didn't hesitate a second on joining the kickboxing classes. But when I actually started doing it, I started to feel something new--confidence, respect, pride. I started to put on more weight and muscle. I started to stand a little taller. *Que dramatic music* I finally discovered a place where I could be myself without being judged on things that hardly mattered (the outer being). The only thing that mattered while training was your heart and dedication (the inner being). Nothing else. I left the training grounds with a new sense of myself every single time.

So why box? Simply put, it's love. I know I'm not the biggest person or the most athletic (I'm the most unflexible person you'll ever meet... bend me and I'll snap like a twig), but one thing I know for sure is that I have heart. You might kick my ass today, but I'll be back tomorrow. I'm a glutton for punishment. I won't quit. I don't back down. I might shed a tear or two in the process. But it don't mean a damn thing, except how committed I am to everything I'm passionate about.

People define greatness in several different ways... but I'm determined to find the greatness within. I NEVER let what I can't do dictate what I can do anymore. Something in me knows that I can do this. Put in the hard work, time, dedication, sweat and work on it every single day until my weakness becomes my strength. I draw heavy inspiration from MJ on this. I remember reading that he was actually kicked off of his high school basketball team and was told that he wasn't good enough to play. Many people would've given up at this stage, but Michael continued on, finding the aspiration and desire to show his coach that he was wrong.
"Heart is what separates the good from the great. I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come. I don’t do things half-heartedly. Because I know if I do, then I can expect half-hearted results. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life… and that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordan
So again, why box? For love, yes. But also to discover the true meaning of strength. To discover that everything I already need is within. To prove that hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard.

Some people talk about it, I want to be about it.

Light flyweight, here I come...
Boxer has to be smart. Boxer has to be strong. But main is will. Main is will.
Mary Kom, on being asked what makes a world champion.

PS. Shout out to the Olympic Women Boxers: Mary Kom, Claressa Shields and Marlen Esparza for major inspiration. Also to Lucia Rijker, Hozumi Hasegawa, Joe Frazier and (the fictional, but still inspiring Japanese kids everywhere) Makunouchi Ippo... their passion fuels my desire.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Do or do not. There is no try.

"Fall down 7 times, get up 8."

Because I haven't been training at all lately due to freak-random sickness and work (weeks later and I'm still living in Malaysia time), I'm going to write about something I've been having an issue with for awhile now: Fear.

Epic exaggeration to add to my tale
Sit back, relax, and let me tell you a story of when I attempted to do a side kick and fell straight on my head. I clearly remember being so absolutely flustered that day and did not enter training with a clear mind. Next thing you know, I'm eating tile floor. White flash. Black flash. And I was back, with a nice lump on my head.

I learned two things from that moment. One: it is SO absolutely pivotal that you clear your mind before training. Seriously folks. Right before I attempted that side kick, Coach Glen saw what I was doing wrong, told me what not to do... then seconds later I did it. Genius. Literally in one ear and out the other because my mind wasn't in it. I suppose this was the good thing that came from eating tile floor... now when I'm riding the bus to the rec center, I take that time to rid myself of everything that's happening in life and become just a student. For the next 2 hours I only need to think of one thing: martial arts.
Much love Rampage, much love.
The second not so good thing that came from that moment was fear. Now, at every single fricken class, I find myself battling... myself. I honestly can't remember the last time I threw a proper roundhouse kick. And now when I spar, I've seemed to abandon kicks all together (besides an inside low kick, where it's nice and safe). I'VE BECOME RAMPAGE (which isn't a bad thing mind you, but the dude never kicks). 

This mental barrier has been growing SO infuriating as of late, that I find myself arguing with myself (inside my head of course) while sparring (I'm not crazy, I swear). I'll often have those moments of "You could've kicked him there! WHY didn't you kick him?" or "Chicken shit." My kicking form has gotten so ugly because I refuse to stand on the balls of my feet. I freak when I have to attempt to throw a kick for sparring, to the point where it's back to my leg looking like a dead fish being slapped around.

The thing is, I know what I have to do overcome. I've had moments like this before where fear played a factor but for whatever reason back then I said "NOT TODAY FOOL." Ages ago, I attempted Parkour. Yes Parkour. I hit up a local group headed by this awesome Venezuelan named Ozzi who I ate dry dog food with. Weird times. It didn't last long as I was uber lame back then and couldn't grow comfortable with being the only girl at that time in their group. ANYWAYS, there was this drill we had to do where we had to jump from one wood box to another. The distance was pretty damn far for the average person. I remember standing at one box, looking at the other end, looking to Ozzi, then to my feet thinking "There is no way in hell I'm making this jump. NO way. It isn't humanly possible for my non-athletic, Spud Webb-like-frame to make this jump." Ozzi was somehow in my mind, pulled a Yoda on me with a "Do or do not. There is no try" and seconds later I leaped and actually made it to the other box. Monumental times.

Which brings me to... why can't it be the same for this? Why can't I overcome this fear? I honestly think (and I've told this to several people) that I just need to fall on my head again. Or just fall down a 1000 times on a matt and get it out of my system. Seriously. Anyone else ever have this problem? I'm tired of being a victim of my own mind. 

In other news, people are starting to treat me like a student and not a girl. Sweet. Not sure if it has to do with the fact that my coach reads this blog and randomly yelled out "Don't treat her like a girl! HIT HER!" to one of the guys that was drilling with me one time haha. I love my coaches. It's not that I want to be one of the guys, but like I said, I ain't gonna learn crap if people give me the easy way out. Everything I've ever done would be pointless if that was the case (in my humble opinion).

After a weird and frustrating hiatus, it's back to business today. Can't wait.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Like Mike

“Without discipline, no matter how good you are, you are nothing! One day, and I might not be around; you’re going to meet a tough guy who takes your best shot. He’ll keep coming because he’s tough. Don’t get discouraged. That’s when the discipline comes in.”

I fail at blogging my martial arts journey. To be fair there has been an abundance of wonderful crazy shit happening in my life these past few months but still... NO EXCUSES. So where to even begin?

Simply put, my training has evolved so much within the past year and it's been an awesome ride. I've been continuing my training with Grand Master Eric and occasionally my female Cro-Cop training partner at his shop (t-shirt warehouse) in Kalihi. I decided to take up Kempo Jutsu-Kai. That's right. Mutha effin' Karate.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I head down to Pearl City for some good ol' fashioned martial arts training. I'll have to admit that in the beginning I had some reserves about joining. I did Karate once awhile ago and hated it. I think I might've just had a bad first time experience but it lasted only a month before I called it quits. And ever since then I never really held an interest in my own culture's martial art.

Whatever I was feeling at the time, I was sure of one thing: that martial arts is something that I truly love. And there was an abundance of knowledge sitting right there in front of me. It'd be foolish not to take advantage of it. So I set aside my past differences with Karate and headed west.

The Kempo classes take place on the second floor of a rec' center and is run by Eric and Glenn. No 'Cobra Kai Dojo' in sight. It's about as legit as you can get. Hard tile floors and four walls. That's about it. That's all you really need. The class has a great mixture of adults, children, and belt colors. I won't go too into detail with what we do, as it changes up every single time, but it's old school to a tee. Going to these classes has slowly molded me into something that I didn't even knew I had in me. It's here where I pushed it to my limits, and when I reached that point, I pushed a little harder. There's no sympathy. Just hard work. Honestly, I only ever felt that way once when I was sparring with my training partner and she kicked me in my solar plexus and I crumbled to tears haha. But here I feel that every Tuesday and Thursday. Shit is real. And I love it.

Lately I've been sparring with a bunch of guys because for now I'm the only adult woman in the Kempo class. Guys, girls, it doesn't matter to me as it really helps sparring each time with people who think and react differently. BUT... I hate to say it, and perhaps I may get shit for this, but there is a downside to sparring with SOME guys and that is ego. I don't know what it is about certain men and ego. I can't express how much I can't stand it when a guy gets cocky with his training and train like they don't give a shit when they get to me. I take mine seriously. So look me in the eye. Make your move. This isn't Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em. Brains over brawn. This is a game of wits. This is a chess match. This is war. And I'm here to conquer. Yeah you might be able to win this battle by simply over-powering me with no real technique this time (which is nothing to be proud about), but I'm going to show up more than you, come earlier than you, work harder than you, and learn more than you to win the war. My eye begins to twitch when a guy proclaims, "Oh man I don't wanna lose to a girl." I don't know. I find it demeaning. Like when someone proposed that women should wear skirts while boxing at the 2012 London Olympics. Perhaps I'm getting all over-emotional about it but I wish those guys would just look at me as their training partner. Not just a 'girl.'

None the less, sparring with the guys can prove to be fun and frustrating all at once. The frustrating: Sometimes the reach advantage they have is mutha effin' ridiculous (like Spud Webb vs Stefan Struve ridiculous. Well at least in my mind it's like that). No matter how much I feel I'm stepping in to close the distance I'm still swinging at air. Sometimes I really feel like I'm extending my punch to it's fullest extent AND still, nothing but air. I've replayed this scenario over and over in my mind and the only solution that seems plausible to me is to slowly work my way in via the infamous peek-a-boo style and start wailing. Or maybe the ol' stick and move. Damn it I don't know. But it's starting to piss me off and I can't stop thinking about it. I'll figure something out. I also have an issue with attacking the body. I just don't. I've somehow managed to shove it into the 'uncomfortable' category. Not sure what it is but I know it's something I really want to work on and conquer more than anything else. I constantly dream of the days where I can throw body shots like my all time favorite boxers, Cotto and Frazier. I'm going to study their tapes. I downloaded Mike Tyson's whole fight career for the sole reason that I'm so pissed about this issue of mine. One day I'll throw one with confidence. Like I mean it.

The fun: Man I love sparring. I love starting out with my footwork to get a feel of my opponent. I love attempting to control everything physically (breathing, exertion of energy, etc) mentally. I love when I set up my punches just right. I love when I fake a jab to the head then land a cross to the body. I love it when my partner sends me back to earth with a resounding punch right to my eye. I love trying to control all the wide array of emotions that are rushing through my body all at once. It's an experience every single time.

Each week I find myself growing, changing, evolving. Each week my spirit is tested. Each week fear stares me in the face and asks, "What are you gonna do about it?" And each week I test myself to stare right back and with double middle fingers. I have Kempo, Grandmaster Eric, and female Cro-Cop to thank for that.

Every day I find myself getting a little rougher around the edges too. Perhaps I've been hanging around too many guys lately haha. Might be getting to my head. But my mentality for training has changed tremendously. Hell even my pre-workout music has become more beastly. DMX (Insert dog growl here), 2Pac, Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, Eric B. and Rakim, Big Daddy Kane. The all-time greats. I find myself reacting to punches differently for better or worse. Before when I got punched it was like, "Ow. Let's run and not feel that again." Now it's like, "OH you punched ME?! (Insert Tyson-kill-stare here)" No longer am I that shy, weak girl who was filled with so much fear and doubt and gave up the very moment things got hard. Those days are long gone.

I hope the next time I post here I'll be sharing tales of bitten-off-ears and growls. Epic body shots that caused my opponent to crumble to tears like I just stole his/her very soul. Just kidding. Or not.

I think it's time to unleash my inner DMX. My inner Tyson. Get at me dog.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Enter the 36th Chamber

The two disciples of the 36th Chamber and Grand Master Eric
Allow me to demonstrate the skill of Shaolin. The special technique of shadowboxing...

Enter the 36th Chamber. 

My training partner and I met up at the pavilion in the afternoon yesterday to train with 'Grand Master' Eric.  I only refer to him as the Grand Master here well.. because.. it is what it is. People I know, including my coaches, would always tell me stories of Eric as if they were sharing legendary tales of an undefeated warrior who trained in the mountains of Shaolin and dwelled in the streets of Bangkok defeating all those who dare try to impose their will against him. He is The RZA of our Wu-Tang Clan.
Grand Master Eric

Training or just being in the presence of his teaching makes me feel like I've travelled to 1980's remote Thailand, learning the ways to defeat Tong Po in glorious fashion. Okay perhaps that's being a little ridiculous but working with him truly makes you feel like a warrior.

We started out with footwork drills. I always love starting at the root of all things and when I'm not over thinking it, footwork is something that I feel have slight confidence in (though I'm not sure why as it seems to get tossed right out of the window during sparring). He watched the both of us carefully, sometimes shouting out corrections that we both individually needed to make. Every 5 minutes or so of watching us just do footwork, he would add on some kind of movement to use in our repertoire. Resets, pivots, bobbing and weaving, slipping and pivoting.

Blended fight stance ala Operation Condor
After that we worked on our hand positioning/fight stance. I've learned so many different fight stances that sometimes I tend to blend them all together into something that really just isn't pretty to look at. But I really like what Eric showed us. I tend to keep my hands close to my body in order to protect it but it honestly does no good for my face. Our hands can be used as sensors but my sensors are so close to my face that once somebody throws a punch at me I won't have enough time to react defensively. He suggested I keep my hands more out but still at an angle in which you can quickly retract your arms to protect your body. It was perfect.

From there my training partner and I practiced defensive hand movement drills. We went back and forth deflecting each others punches by only an inch (or perhaps even less) using our own wrists. I really enjoyed this drill as it reminded me of the Wing Chun techniques I learned.

Once we finished up and went to grab a quick drink he asked us what kind of style we wanted to learn. I honestly wanted to reply with "Badass" but resisted. My training partner and I didn't really know what specifically we wanted to learn but I think he could tell we were leaning towards kickboxing. I honestly just want to learn techniques that work. I feel that it won't always be boxer vs boxer, kickboxer vs kickboxer and so on and so forth. So if someone is coming at me with things they are pulling out of their ass, I want to know the exact technique to counter or defeat it.

One day...
We started out with some kicking drills against the wall. He showed us a Kempo kick (which is his background). I instantly felt discouraged before we even began. As I stated in my first post, kicks are not something I am comfortable with. I am the least flexible person you will ever know (but perhaps with the help of The Kid, I'll be doing split kicks ala Trinity from the Matrix in no time). But none the less, I tried to work through it. Eric figured out that my stronger leg was the left one. I actually felt quite balanced kicking with that leg and after awhile it looked like I was throwing some decent kicks. Maybe one day I can throw some Michelle Yeoh kicks! Wishful thinking. My training partner had no problem at all with her CroCop-ness.

When we switched to our right leg... well things kind of went downhill from there. I had no balance, no power, and zero technique on this leg. And lawd was I stiff. Seeing this, Eric attempted to stretch me out in the most painful manner against the wall. "Does it hurt yet?!", he would ask as he pushed one of my legs upward. Uh yes. Yes it does Eric.

After doing these kick drills (which were pretty damn awesome... I'm going to insist that my training partner and I do them before each session), we were asked to do these drills without the support of the wall up and down the pavilion.  We started off with the left leg. At first I had a little trouble but after a few kicks and attempting to relax my kicks were actually looking pretty decent! That is... until we switched to the right leg. I had so much trouble with this leg again but continued to push through it, trying not to over think the movements ("Step.. slide.. kick!") as Grand Master Eric would yell out corrections and compliments to the both of us.

The next and final thing we did was work on the mitts. Eric's mitt work is INCREDIBLE. Dude is like Freddie Roach meets Roger Mayweather on the mitts. It's beautiful to watch and even better to be a part of. I always try to mimic him when holding mitts for the girls but... I just kind of look stupid. Eric just looks too suave. But enough complementing his mitt powers... My training partner was first up on the mitts.

Eric and my training partner
I enjoy watching people work with Eric almost as much as I enjoy training myself. Like I said it's like watching the creation of a magnum opus. It's beautiful. It was also great seeing my training partner work with Eric for what I believe was the first time. She's got beautiful movement and incredible power. Eric told her that if she used the lower half of her body more than trying to rely on her upper-body strength (which she has an ABUNDANCE of), she would be able to discover and unleash her inner Shaolin warrior (okay those weren't his exact words but you get my point). They started out with some boxing but eventually moved onto combinations of kicks and punches. Seeing her mix it up gave me goosebumps.

When it was my turn to jump on the mitts with him, we started out with the basic jab. All of my coaches have told me to just jab... jab jab jab. Jab offensively. Jab defensively. Jab for distance. Just jab. So I was happy when Eric told me I have a pretty solid jab. Both my training partner and I had a bit of a hard time adjusting to Eric's mitt holding. Eric just seamlessly flows from one thing to the next calling out (what seemed to be at first) random as hell numbers as he just held up a mitt. Sometimes two. Eventually we both sort of fell into a groove. I swear there must've been a twinkle in my eye, as I began to feel like Floyd Mayweather working with Uncle Roger (Eric and I share the same love for Floyd). I felt more precise and fluid working with him. Sometimes, when working with others on the mitts, I tend to feel like my punches are so pitter-patter (I'm sure the girls that I train with are tired of hearing this from me haha). It's true really... but for whatever reason... I felt strong working with Eric. He truly brings out the best of you.

We both did a couple of more rounds with Eric before ending our training session for the day. There truly are no words for how awesome yesterday was. My training partner found herself giggling like a little school girl while working with him... she made Grand Master Eric blush. HAH! I'm glad I was able to set this up for the both of us. We really needed it. And Eric seemed to enjoy working with us. We really are just so eager to learn and get better at this point.

And thus we became disciples of the 36th chamber. Until our return...

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Meaning of Strength

After much consideration and finally putting aside all lame ass excuses, I've decided to start blogging my training and thoughts about it.

I've always wanted to but I haven't blogged since the days of Xanga (Kudos to you if you even know what that is)... and let me tell you that was ages ago. But I've made up in my mind that I do not want to forget any of this. It's been an important year of change for me and I'd feel so ashamed not to have recollection of it.

So, let's do this.

Yesterday was, to put it simply and for lack of better words, intense.

I train at a pavilion in a district park nearly an hour to an hour and a half away from where I live. As my coach always says, the island is our gym. I've never really seen a need to have a fancy place to train with heavy bags lined up and enough equipment that could be hauled away in a dump truck. This place is perfect, beautiful and I can almost call it my second home as I've spent so much time there. In all honesty, I think I'd be severely disappointed if my coaches ever abandoned this place.

Anyways I arrived at about 4:30PM yesterday. I usually get there INCREDIBLY early... my training partners always feel bad that I have to "sit and wait" but I love it. It's really the only time of day I can be completely to myself without the distraction of my computer, work or just people in general.

Well a couple of other groups use this area to train in different arts as well. There is a group of guys who usually train around the same time as us who practice Muay Thai and Wing Chun. Pretty awesome stuff. One of the guys who train in that group, The Kid (who certainly does not look like a kid and looks like he's straight out of Street Fighter... but I'm going to refer him as that) was there sitting on a bench. We said our usual brief hello's and then went about our own business. I had just sat down when all of a sudden the Kid just came out of nowhere and approached me. "Hey you wanna warm up together?" I was kind of flabber gasted I almost wanted to do a double take to make sure he wasn't asking someone behind me. What... you want to train with lil' ol' me? HELL YEAH.

So I got to do a couple of rounds of light sparring with him. He used his Wing Chun against my boxing. I felt like I was in a Ip Man movie.. seriously my boxing was useless but he kept encouraging the shots that nearly landed (Okay dude is like 6 foot or something. I'm Alistair and... yeah you get the point). I had a brief encounter with Wing Chun last year when this guy who was working at Sports Authority called Calixto approached me. We conversated about all types of martial arts for an hour before I was convinced that I wanted to try Wing Chun. I did it for a month or so before scheduling got in the way and I just fell out of contact with him. I do miss it.

The Kid was so kind and gave me a lot of pointers on stretching and even some Muay Thai kicks AND also shared some words of motivation. I had a lot of fun and he asked if I could train with him every Tuesday and Thursday early as we are just always there before everyone else. How could I refuse?

Soon after my training partner arrived.  We usually always try to meet up before our actual class begins with our coaches. I'll talk about her more in depth in the future but for now I want to focus on the day. We started out with some quote-unquote light sparring. She outweighs me by like.... okay not to reveal our weights but just imagine the weight difference that Megumi Fujii and Gina Carano have. It's EXACTLY that. So most of the time light for her feels like my strong haha. But I don't mind it.

I decided I wanted to spar kickboxing. The past few months when we started this whole sparring extravaganza of ours we only did boxing. I don't feel confident enough to say that I actually know kickboxing. I don't. But I'm determined to get better at it and the only way to do that... well is to do it. Most of the time I don't know what the fuck I'm doing but I want to get used to the energy and feeling of it. I'm very adamant about training it first before doing sparring but I still feel like I have something to learn from it with my lack of knowledge.

After a few rounds our coaches arrived. One of my coaches asked how many rounds we did than asked us to do two more. And then I knew shit was about to get real.

Before the sparring began I knew I had no chance at all. Like I said... I don't know what I'm doing when I kickbox. But I wasn't going to let that be an excuse not to work hard. I knew I was in for an ass-kicking but I told myself before we began that as long as I pushed through it and didn't give up it would be worth it.

I honestly don't remember most of it as it really was just a blur but I do remember the pain. My training partner is like a female CroCop with her kickboxing. It's no joke. This is what my kickboxing looks and feels like... (The defintion of my kickboxing). Anyways her 'light' and 'slow' was still like trying to fight Neo from the Matrix. I honestly don't care how light and slow you go, if you get kicked by someone's shin, it's gonna hurt. She landed... well to be honest I don't even remember what kind of kick it was... but it hit my body hard. I felt the air escaping my body and then instant tears.

I hate crying... I hate it even more when I can't control it and it happens in front of people. But this was different. I half-expected that this moment would come one day after seeing my coach spar with his training partner. One kick and the guy was in tears. You don't want to cry but something about being hit in that area just forces it out of you. I remember facing the wall, just trying to recompose myself. My coach gave me a little pep-talk.. and with tears still strolling down I fought on. We only had a minute left and she just pretty much out-classed me from there on out and landed another painful shot to my hip bone. The body shot was soul crushing but the hip shot was just... awful. Bone against bone isn't beautiful.

The sparring ended and I quickly left the pavilion to just stop fucking crying. I don't want people seeing that crap. Steven (one of my coaches) came over to me to help calm my breathing and lower the amount of emotions that was running through me. After about 10 minutes I finally was okay enough to head back into training. There's no breaks in our training and we all had to jump right into a 2 hour session of Jiu Jitsu.

I really feel awful about my attitude during the rest of training, especially towards my training partner. I KNOW she could sense my energy and it quickly shifted to something different that I've never experienced before between us. It felt awkward. I've already apologized to her about it through text but I'm going to make an effort to apologize to her again in person today.

Jiu Jitsu was kind of a blur as well. I had a hard time grasping anything my coach was saying. When I'm frustrated my coaches might as well be speaking Brazilian because my comprehension goes straight out the window. I feel awful about that as well. We got to roll a bit. Besides my training partner, the other girl I train with, who's in high school is a beast as well. I always tell her that once she learns the kill moves in jiu jitsu.. I'm done for. She's getting good SO quickly. The last round between me and her was epic though. I did some transitions that I don't even know really (but my coaches seem to think I did great). I also managed to grasp her leg while on my back as she was standing and attempt to go for a leg-lock. The leg lock was a fail but the transition... I'm kind of proud of. Believe it or not... and as nerdy as this will sound... I remember seeing it in a manga I've been reading lately called All Rounder Meguru. It's about a characters journey through the world of Shooto and his trials and tribulations.

I got to roll with my training partner. That was again... intense. It was the first time I felt how much emotion is poured between the both of us. It was just heavy.

I texted her after the training session apologizing for myself. I tend to always feel bad not for myself... but for the fact that I may have let my training partner down in some way. It's the Asian guilt I tell you. But she texted me back saying how bad SHE felt and that she should go easier on me. WHAT?! No.

I don't do this expecting things to be easy. I know it's going to be hard. I expect to be hurt and in pain. I expect to get frustrated and maybe even get beat to tears sometimes. It's a part of the game. MMA is more mental and spiritual than anything I've ever experienced. And the moment she starts going easy on me is the moment that everything that we've been working so hard for is lost. I'm not saying she should beat me into a bloody mess but...

I will always be the smaller fighter. I will always have to work 20x harder than my opponent. It should never feel easy. I want to remain humble in this fact. My training partner feels that she's been bullying me as of late. Yes physically I've been taking a beating... but above everything...yesterday was mental and spiritual training. It was something I needed and will need for the rest of my years throughout this journey.

I got into this not only because I truly love it... but I want to know what it means to be strong. Besides filmmaking, throughout my school years and especially throughout middle school and high school I would give up. If there was the slightest window of opportunity for me to make an excuse and quit I would do it without hesitation. But there was a moment in high school where something clicked and everything became opposite for me. I don't want to quit. No more excuses.

I just want to know what it means to be strong. And discover my own inner-strength.