Last night at TCB we died. Our trainer Aaron Kimball had a point to prove and I am sure he stated it prior, but it didn’t set in because I was too concerned about how to reattach my arm when it fell off from the gazillion jab reps. Surprisingly, he was in a rather jovial mood while doing it, probably a little psychopathic, but hey, we are a diverse mix there.
This past Saturday night was a rather big fight night in my world. I had several different gyms and people across the US that I had trained with and was now cheering for. Two of them were some pretty awesome women on the east coast, and the other four were our local boys here from TCB on the card at J Street Fights. To say that I have had the privilege to meet and train with some incredible individuals is an understatement and this last Saturday was a giant conglomerate of MMA for me. It was a fun challenge to root for those physically in front of me as well as keep up with the others via social media. My girls both won their bouts; I was pretty damned pumped to see their fists raised over Facebook, my “donated” cash had bought me a couple vodkas and diet coke, I had a good seat on the second row getting ready to watch our boys, and it was stacking up to be a rather beautiful, fun night.
Our boys lost. One by one they showed up with heart, went into the cage, gave a phenomenal performance, listened to our incredibly large TCB family cheer them on fanatically, and then they were either submitted or lost by decision. I always find it heartbreaking to watch these young men hang their heads knowing that their first thought is that they think let their team down. I love joking and training with these boys in the gym. They are young, funny, welcoming to new people, they work extremely hard, they watch their diets, and have so much drive that it just tears me up knowing that is what’s in their head when their fist remains down. They sneak a glance at the crowd and it crushes me because I know for a fact that literally could not be farther from the truth for every person that came out to watch.
Fighters and the MMA world get a bad rap a lot of the time. I was actually one of the judgmental a few years ago, likening the whole thing to cock fighting. I used to hate all sports and would always quip about how Romans killed Christians in the name of games when anyone asked me to watch football (still can’t stand it, sorry not sorry). But the bald-faced truth is that while MMA is a raw sport it is an honest one. It is a matched-up-physically via weight fight where there are a few rules, but the gist is don’t elbow on the back of the head and don’t poke your opponent in the eyes. Two people get to test their prowess of fighting arts in pretty much the safest way possible. They are usually in peak shape, have trained countless hours, watch literally everything they put into their body, they have blood tested, they have been matched, and still they get judged by those lacking understanding. They want to test their skill in a manner as old as humans have been around to see if they hold up.
I have seen more passion, sportsmanship, manners, and easy going good natured-ness in MMA than any other sport. I am including fans and fighters alike. Sure, there is the occasional dud in the audience screaming, “Kick em in the starfish!!” who then proceeds to spill beer all over himself, or the once in a while bad tempered toddler fighter stomping his foot because he lost, but for the most part all I have witnessed is constant hugging of opposing fighters offering congratulations on the win, everyone building each other up, fans talking to other gyms sharing tips and stats, and coaches cheering on other gyms fighters when it’s not their guys in the ring. I see trainers with actual love for their people, assessing what went wrong, and running through their head what to work on Monday while simultaneously getting the next fighter up and going for their first round.
While there Saturday it got mentioned in conversation that we also train Jiu Jitsu at TOSS Academy. Though Shawn Pretat, the owner, was not there that night, he was immediately talked highly of because of his willingness to jump in at the last minute and sideline for this particular persons fight a long time ago when his own coach was unable to be there at the last minute. He had never met that person, just saw a need and filled it. This is a sport where people step up, knowing that others will do the same. I cannot tell you how many times I come across a stranger who speaks of how Aaron helped them through an extremely dark time in their life through MMA. That’s the thing that I find amazing about this culture that gets such a bad rap. It’s a warrior’s sport, and it’s an honorable one
You can sit there in that room knowing that about 60% percent of the people there watching and fighting have trained in hugs and punches and everyone is chill and fun and having a great time. There is alcohol and high intensity, and never once have I ever seen things get out of hand. What I have seen is if someone gets a touch wild, they are quickly shut down by their own team not wanting to represent badly. This isn’t the Coliseum, there are no lions, no spurs on the legs, its not Bloodsport; sometimes it can be a bit of a bloodbath, but no one is cheering when someone gets actually hurt, there are no rabid fans foaming at the mouth when a fighter get bloody. They are cheering for a well-placed hit, kick, takedown, clinch, or a submission.
Losing is part of the growth. There have been a couple of our boys that though I am happy they have won a couple of fights, knew for the betterment of their growth, that it is necessary to taste a bit of that bitter pill in order to remain humble. I am good with that, hell I am a mom who is raising my kiddos to know that failure is only failure when you don’t learn.
My friend Kim and I sat there joking about how Monday was going to suck, and we relished in that; that we would all be there that evening, our boys with black eyes and swollen cheeks, as we all died as a team. I teased that Aaron was a giant ball of rage but that’s not true, he assessed, saw what needed to be worked on, came in and hashed out a plan to make us all better. And he did it without making me jump rope so a win in my book.
Is their disappointment? Absolutely, but like a shirt I saw at a Fit to Fight Seminar a while back, “I have lost many times, but I have never been defeated.” They may have lost that bout, but they were already winners and they certainly aren’t defeated, they are just being refined.
There is no defeat unless you quit moving forward. 85-90% of the population will not put in the work to even get there physically and mentally in the first place and if I am being honest, I think that percentage is low. They stepped in that cage; they have overcome any fear of incoming pain or loss by letting that door swing shut behind them. They ARE the top just by being there, even at amateur levels. I heard a BJJ brown belt woman at a gym I trained at recently say that the only white belts forever are the ones who quit. They already won because they stayed in it, they haven’t stopped. They already won because there is literally the most diverse group of people that come to cheer them on. I am not kidding when I speak of a crowd of both fighters and fans that range the career choices of student, moms, dads, doctor, pastor, felon, server, biker, lawyer, etc.. Preppy, cowboy, redneck, kids, fraternity, sporty, glam, emo, you name it, they are represented conversing with one another over their fighter and it’s a blast.
I was teaching a women’s self-defense class on Sunday when a younger woman spoke of how she was incredibly uncomfortable being there. She said she was happy she came but it was hard. I told her about our TCB boys, I told her of heart, and then told her how she was winning by taking that first step even though it was so far out of her comfort zone, she still stepped into her metaphorical cage. She won.
So last night was three hours of death. I was dead legged by my friend Christina several times and today haven’t gotten out of bed for fear it won’t work. My shins are bruised, and my muscles are sore and I couldn’t be more happy. I get to be pushed and learn, by Aaron and those around me. I am encouraged constantly in the same manner by all sorts of mushy group texts that sometimes are annoyingly upbeat, but I love them all for it because they are my team, and they are winners because they keep coming back. I get to encourage as well by being dramatic and annoying to those around me and tease them and laugh with them and play punch face. It’s truly a blessing being a part of this culture that is inclusive, loving, humbling, and just plain epic.
Awesome job fighters.
#winnerwinnerchickendinner #ihavenotbeendefeated #mma #fightnight #tcbfambam #everythinghurts
Author- Christun Erwin
"Thank you for your words. They make an impact and its important that, human to human, woman to woman, mother to mother... you know that you make a difference, even to those you never knew your words" -Krystal