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.


  1. Hey Cyn, just dropping by to tell you that I know what it feels like to get your ass kicked in your first hard sparring session. I've been there and so have all these fighters that you admire. That feeling of being weak and powerless, you need to use it as fuel to motivate you to train harder so it never happens again. The difference between these great fighters and those who didn't make it is not just talent, they simply kept training while the others didn't show up the next day because it was too hard.

  2. Ditto what Bill said.
    Everybody gets their asses handed to them when they first start training. You have to feel that to know it's real. Not saying you, but people think fighting is easy until they fight. That shit is hard.

    Yay! for martial arts blogs!