Well Earned, Part 1

I felt confident as I stepped into the ring. After all, how much damage could be inflicted in a fight with ‘limited and controlled’ punches and kicks to the head. Those were the rules of the tournament.

Destroy the body, limited and controlled contact to the head. At the moderately experienced “green belt” level that would seem reasonable. Especially considering control is an integral part of martial arts training. However, reason takes on a whole new dimension when one is put in a confined space, confronted with an opponent who is there for the sole purpose of using your body to demonstrate his survival skills, which he acquired through years of training under some Master. This was my first kickboxing tournament and I was nervous.

“Limited and controlled” simply does not exist when one has a barrage of fists, knees, elbows, and feet bombarded in their direction. Keep in mind there is no escape. You are enclosed in a ring with an opponent trained to break bones, tear appendages, and cause crippling injuries. No way you are going to control punches and kicks. Is your opponent? No chance. They feel the same. A kill or be killed mentality immediately permeates your being when the fight begins.

As soon as the bell rings, gloves touch; from there it is recklessness abandonment. As soon as you feel the onslaught, all reason for control evaporates. You dodge the barrage with minimal success, bearing the brunt of a savage roundhouse kick to the kidneys. Defend. You feel like you just got hit by a truck. This guy means business. Time for me to perform or face being carried out of the ring. I fake a front kick to his groin, my opponent’s guard drops, and my instincts take over. I slam a hook to the side of his head.

“FOUL!” The referee declares. Warning to my corner. Viscous hook to the head not allowed. Oops, what about my kidney!

Resume. Punches and kicks fly everywhere. It was a blizzard. This guy was really good. A thud echoes through my head. I feel like I had been hit by a shovel on the side of my head, and everything goes black for a mille second. “FOUL!” the Referee declares, vicious forearm to the head not allowed. I never saw it.

It was a very sophisticated move, one from a higher belt ranking. Warning to my opponent’s corner. Warning, hm, more like assault. I wanted to call 911! End of round one. It felt like an eternity.

Another two minute round with this opponent remained. Wow, was I exhausted. OK, strategy. This guy is gonna kill me. Forget control. I will bait him, that worked last time. I was beginning to wonder why I entered this competition.