Saturday, October 8, 2011

What It's Like Before a Fight

6 Months Out

Shihan, sensei or someone tells you about a fight coming up, sometime in the month of say, October. I am either asked if I want to fight or I am told that I am going to fight. Doesn't matter which because if I wasn't asked, I would ask if I could go.

Visions of training plans and completely filled out workout sheets dance through my head, much like pre-Christmas sugar plums. I'll do fine, I think. I can't wait. Confidence flows through my veins. Not that I think I will win, but the confidence that I will arrive, fight and they will remember me, win or lose.

2 Months Out

Oh my gosh...only 2 months left. Things going on in my head... I  feel like I haven't trained enough. All those plans of training everyday went by the wayside. I am not a pro fighter, I am a housewife. It is summer time and I have 3 kids at home. This kids need a lot of attention with rides to their friends, hikes in the woods and lots of swimming. The husband who is about to come back from the middle east, he has been gone about a year. My youngest son wants to be home schooled, he did not have a good experience with middle-school. Life gets in the way of training, but I need to turn that around. I am also teaching kickboxing. I have to train around my life.

I bet the other girls are training harder. I really need to step up my program. Double my efforts, some days maybe triple. Weights in the morning, 3 times a week, everyday is a cardio day. Hit whatever class at the gym, whenever I have time for it. Karate 5 nights a week 2 to 3 hours a night, plus 2 hours of personal training. 

1 Month Out

I can't even spar, never-mind fight. I have been so sloppy in class. I can't get myself together. All I want to do is sleep but I can't. I have to take care of everything. The husband is home and he needs to drive all over the state and New England to get his stuff in order to start school next week. The kids are starting school except the youngest. Whatever I do or say will not sway that boy to go back to school. So I am also rushing about to get his stuff in order so he can stay home, but still get to do after-school activities. Also I got a job, first one in 15 years. Awesome job, but with working, being mom and all the training, I am just exhausted. 

I "know" I am doing enough, but I don't feel that way. The doubts are creeping in. I get very worried very easily and I am scared that I am going to run out of gas during the fights. I think that is my biggest fear. I can take a hit and I have been hurt and the pain is temporary. I still think of myself as the fat girl that has to rest when walking up flights of stairs. Again, in my head "I know" that isn't true. I run the stairs now. My heart tells me that I am going to double over gasping for air. 

2 Weeks Out

Details of the tournament start coming out. What kind of fight it is. I am told that it is a 'one match' fight. I have never done that before.

My fights have all been tournament style, with brackets. We have a two or three minute fight, if it is a draw, we can have up to two, 2 minute extensions, then the judges must make a decision.

This fight, I am told is a match fight. I am to fight one girl for 3, 3 minute rounds, like boxing or MMA stykle fights. 

Now I 'know' I am going to run out of gas. Whenever someone talks about the fight, my stomach does cartwheels. I get so worked up. Sensei knows this. When she brings it up, she can see the turmoil in my face and changes the subject. Of course, it is too late. One mention of the fight, and I almost agonize over it. I can talk about the arrangements, the where we are sleeping, or who is driving, but when it comes to the actual fight, I can't take it.

1 Day Before The Fight

There were two fights, one next weekend too. Shihan said that this fight would be the best one for me. I also have a passport. Seems like everyone else signed up for the Conneticut tournament. It is closer to the dojo and no need for a passport. Sensei can't come with me because she has to work and she has fighter in the next tournament. Just days before we head to Canada, we get news that the other tournament is cancelled. But it is too late for any of them to come with us. Sensei says I am fighting for all of them, but no pressure. Yeah, right.

It is just me and Shihan. Shihan was in a car accident a few years ago, so I am the driver. We pick up Shihan Fujiwara on the way. Driving at 6AM and arrive at 4ish. Then it is to the tournament location where the Shihans have different meetings and I am left wandering the halls of the facility for 2 hours. Finally we eat. This day, is the day I am supposed to rest, but I can't. Sure my Shihan could do a bit of local driving, his back can handle that, but he can't drive at night. *sigh* 

While at the facility, Shihan Ray comes up and explains the matches for me. There were 20-some fighters that cancelled because of injuries, so I have only 2 fighters in my group. My match will be two rounds, a 3 minute round, 30 second rest and a 2 minute round. If I get a 1/2 point, it will follow me to the next round. If there is a full point in the first round, the match will not continue. (a full point is basically a knock out). It will be tournament style, with a first, second, and third place. One of those girls will get the "bye" because they are from a different organization. If I win the first match, I will fight again. They will only fight once unless the first girl beats me.

I HATE talking about the fight. I am texting Sensei, who is upset that I am by myself. (I get very anxious, I almost quit my first fight in the middle of it because I was sick to my stomach with worry. Without her, I would not have continued. I wound up winning and fighting again that night) I know I have to learn to wear my big girl panties, but I am not ready to do it alone. 

I almost didnt make it into the dojo. My first time coming to sign up, I saw all those people being fit and tough through the window, and I drove away. I tried again the next week. I had to take a deep breath, and walk in. once in I couldn't walk out so I stated my business. I wanted to try it. Getting on the mat, to fight, is just as hard as that very first day at the dojo.

The Day of The Fight

Well here I am, writing about the nerves while trying to not actually 'think' about the fight itself. Trying not to think about my stamina or lack of. Trying not to think of how I should have trained harder, ran more, of lifted heavier. Trying to not relive how I got knocked out cold the last time I was in Canada.

Right now, it is not so bad, but I am not at the tournament. Both Shiathans that came with me are there, officiating the children and the semi-contact matches. As soon as I am done with this post, I will dwell upon it, I am sure. When I arrive at 5 to warm up for my 7PM match, I will start feeling sick. By 6 I'll be sitting in a corner chewing my nails and asking if it is too late to quit. By 7, I will be shaking. 

When it is my time to go on the mat, my heart will be beating so fast and hard that I will hear it in my ears. I will take a deep breath. As soon as they say 'hajime' I will lose all thought and I will start swinging and kicking. Hopefully all my training in targeting will take over and the match won't last long. Even if I fall down, I just pray that I can get back up and continue. I just want to finish it until it is done. 

It doesn't matter if I win, as a matter of fact, it doesn't even feel better to win sometimes. When the fight is done, all I think about is that I am glad that it is all over with. The only time that losing stings is when I feel like I did something wrong, like when I got knocked out. That really stung my ego, I offended myself. But other fights, I was still proud of how I fought, so losing didnt bother me.