Trials of the spirit

Oh shit, it’s a new post!

I’ve left this blank since we came home from Thailand because it was primarily to keep everybody updated on what we were doing on the other side of the planet, and since we’ve been home, communicating is a lot easier. But I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my fight, and I’m getting tired enough of repeating myself that I figured it wouldn’t hurt to put down my thoughts in writing.

So let’s get the big one out of the way first- yes, I lost. It happens. Obviously I would have loved to have come out on top, but I’m not really that broken up about it. I know I trained as hard as I could, and I know I went as hard as I could while I was in there. So while it didn’t fall out my way, at least I don’t have to sit here and second-guess everything I did over the last month and a half.

As a fighter, you’re tested on a pretty regular basis, from the little things(don’t eat that donut even if you’re not on your fight diet, fatty, you already ate half a pie yesterday) to the big ones(it’s 100 degrees, humid as hell, the air in the gym is stagnant, and you still have an hour and a half of training left). How you handle these collectively represents your character as a fighter. Do you convince yourself that the donut’s not that good anyway and move on, or do you shrug and gobble it down, figuring you’ll just work a little harder later? Do you grind your teeth and get through your training session and fall over dead later, or do you beg off and stop because it’s too hot? The fact of the matter is, I used to be the latter on both of those, and I’m pretty proud of not being that person anymore. So I bite down on my mouthguard and get through training- as Primo told me once, there’s the pain of commitment, and the pain of disappointment. This is the kind of activity where you’re going to be in pain no matter what you do, so you need to decide if you want a reward out of it and something you can go home proud of, or if you want to go home hurting physically and mentally because you gave up. These are the trials of the body, and of the will.

The fight itself, however, is what I think of as a trial of the spirit. I was explaining yesterday that while you can be put in high-pressure situations in training, and you should be, there’s really nothing that can prepare you for being in the ring other than being in the ring enough times to get used to it. You can spar at high intensity with new partners, you can go through gauntlet rounds where you spar a new person every minute, so they stay fresh while you get miserably tired, but at the end of the day, that’s not the thing that you really need to be ready for. It’s the pressure of the moment, the realization as you’re walking to the ring that this is what you’ve spent the last several weeks training for, dieting for, preparing for mentally and physically, visualizing, losing sleep over, talking about, and NOW it’s finally here. You can be excited about it, or you can freak out about it, but however you handle it, this is the time. This is your moment.

And then the bell rings, and whatever you were planning on doing, whatever big ideas you had about what you would throw and when, are washed away in a blinding red tide of adrenaline. That’s the thing about your first fight(which, for all practical purposes, this was)- your brain will freak its shit. You might know intellectually that this isn’t a real, your-physical-safety-is-seriously-at-risk fight, but try telling that to the chemicals roaring through your blood. It’s like being very drunk, except on adrenaline instead of alcohol. You’re pretty much reduced down to your basic instincts and reflexes, and for me, I trained for a long time to overcome my instinct to turn into an angry berserker when I get hit. It’s kind of a stupid way to fight, especially for someone of my size.

So the bell rings, and the tactical version of Eric who gets in, throws his shots, and dances back out before taking too much damage goes right out the window, and Hulked-out angry Eric comes back out of the box I’ve had him locked in all this time. So this is the trial of the spirit I was talking about. Your conditions for fighting are- unfamiliar environment, with people potentially(and loudly) rooting against you, taking on someone completely new who’s trying to put you down, and while you’re dealing with this fun new experience, your stress hormones are on absolute overload, making you pretty much incapable of rational thought. How do you handle it?

This is why Primo has told me that the whole point of your first fight is to get your first fight out of the way. Given all those circumstances, do you fight your ass off, or do you fold? In my case, thankfully it was the former, even if I came up short. And I’ll fight again, but first I need some time to be a real person again. It’s a little too fast to put my fighter face back on.

So there you go, everyone. These are my thoughts on it after having some time to collect everything together.

-end transmission