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Move over marriage and childbirth. Winning a fight comes first.

Peter Gordon photos martialartsnomad.com

 

With twenty-four hours to go before the bit competition, I’d become an obsessive slave to the scales. I was teetering so close to my target weight that after every sip, munch or crunch of drink or food I’d desperately hop back on the balance to check out the damage.

Standing statuesque, I closed my eyes hoping that the digits would appear on the right side of 120lbs to keep me in my chosen weight category. I’d even gone down the desperate route of weighing myself in different outfits to determine which clothes I could compete in and which ones I couldn’t. With my chosen gear in hand and bags all packed up there was nothing left to do but head to the venue.

But there’s punctuality and then there’s me. I take time-keeping to the extreme. That’s why, despite the offer of a ride to the venue from my trainer, I chose to go it alone. I had enough nerves jangling away inside without the added fret of relying on others, even if their timing was far more sensible than my own ridiculously skewed version.

So when I arrived to see people already registering, I was taken aback. Surely no one else arrives as early as I do? Turns out, this competition wasn’t going to have the sluggish reputation of others which is why I was as shocked as everyone around me to hear my name called out to compete just 30 minutes after registering.

My trainer had barely arrived. I hadn’t even wrapped my hands and there definitely wasn’t time to warm up. “Think of it as your first street fight,” my trainer joked. “No time to prepare, you just get thrown in.” Arrgghh.

After a frantic search for my gloves, a final weigh in and a sneak peak over the shoulder of my competitor to check out her weight on the scales (of course), I was on the mats and ready to go. Buoyed by the huge support from training partners at Universal (and from the mental game of discovering I had 2 lbs on my opponent, wohooh!) I was in my corner ready to go.

No backing down.

No time for pre-fight nerves even. The referee’s hands went down and we were off.

Last time I competed, I couldn’t tell you where my head was during the first round. My mental game took an instant dislike to the barrage of punches coming my way and in a moment of diva-style defiance strutted its way right out of arena, leaving me to fend for myself and, as a result, performing appallingly for the first few minutes.

It nearly cost me the fight. I wasn’t about to allow my mental side to pull the same trick again, so I’d purposefully spent time beforehand visualizing my moves, playing out the fight and mastering my mean. Despite being rushed on to the mats I was ready for whatever was coming my way.

Of course, there’s a very accurate expression about best-laid plans. My carefully considered, masterful moves were MIA and I fell back to trusted basics. It wasn’t the technical fight my trainer had implored me to bring to the mats.

Instead 30 seconds in to the first round my competitive side saw a glimpse of win and bullied its way right through technical and masterful. It had figured out what was working and what would continue to work and it was damned if it was going to deviate.

The two rounds felt oddly long and short at the same time. When you’re in the moment, caught up in throwing everything you’ve got, it’s so hard to gauge time. It’s more of a slow trickle than a tick.

Yet when it’s all over you can barely remember what just happened. Sometimes it comes back like a fragmented memory, but at other times you hear people telling you what you did and you honestly think they might have been watching a different fight, because you can’t remember that bit at all.

But when it’s all over and they have you standing there in the middle, side-by-side with your opponent waiting for the judge’s decision, that’s a hard moment to forget. Move over marriage and child birth, having your hand raised after a fight is right up there with the most epic moments.

For me, the feeling of having executed moves expertly enough to defeat someone, the rush of winning, the pride I had in myself and the overwhelming gratitude I had for all those who helped me get there was insurmountable. Call it passion, desire, competitiveness, whatever you want. It’s a feeling I want to keep chasing. So much so that my longed for moment of falling off the wagon, indulging in forbidden desserts and sinful white carbs, didn’t last anywhere near as long as I’d anticipated.

The next competition is up in three weeks. Until today I hadn’t bought into the concept of competing so soon after my last one, but ‘hunger to win’ sneakily teamed up with ‘formidable drive to fight’ and I don’t think they take no for an answer.

Goodbye chocolate and wine. I’ll see you in a few weeks.

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