So here we are. Where everything changed for me. My first taste in the ring- in front of an audience. Looking back, this would be considered of an ‘open mic’ sort of thing.
You learn a lot in a gym, in a ring. About yourself, about people. How you react in the face of danger; how other people react. Some remain cool as fuck and prevail the victor. Others maintain their composure but are complacent just defending and thus losing their bout. Some freak the fuck out and lose their shit completely. The funny thing about that is you sort of start to spot those people out a mile away. But more on that later (Much later).
Now, i live by a few “ABC’S” of life. A significant one is ‘Always Be CPrepared’.
I preface fighting as a difficult thing. Arduous training, sacrifice, an intangible thought that takes a life of it’s own as something very real and all consuming.
Furthermore whenever one of my pupils decide to fight, i always recommend they go to an event and see how it’s ran, to have a schema of the situation, as well as to vet those who are more serious about participating.
I was a month into my 19th year of life. Still a child in retrospect, but back then i thought i had life all figured out. After much torment in the gym i was ready to be initiated. I was sick of the heckling, and figured an ass whooping was worth more than quitting or continuing the ridicule. Aside from the last 3 months of training and the random street fight in High School and Middle School, my ‘schema’ of fighting was whatever i had seen through the internet. I had done some sparring, but even until then i had zero idea of how to clinch or wrestle.
Additionally, i truly didn’t know what i was getting myself into participating in this bout. This ‘smoker’.
Now, until then, i never bothered going to one of these events. huge mistake.
‘Back in my day’ every month, on a saturday evening, we would have open events at the gym where all the other muay thai gyms, and sometimes MMA gyms, or random martial arts practitioners would come in, weigh-in, and get matched up based on a variety of factors. Age, weight, skill level- both in training time and in matches fought. The rule set was muay thai or kickboxing (Muay Thai sans clinch).
This is where we cut our teeth. Think of it as a feeder organization. Promoters would then pick out the more adept, skillful fighters and put them on the more notorious Pro/Am muay thai shows usually fought in random halls, hotels, or at the Hollywood Park Casino. That’s where i got my start.
For the most part, the bouts were usually matched well and the refs took great precaution with not letting many people get hurt or knocked out but those chances still existed. On the random night you would see a brutal KO, a broken limb or worst of all a brutal KO that resulted in a broken limb and a horrific seizure.
So there i was, a pimply face 19 year old stoner. 3 months in, 3 months of torment.
All this happened by chance. On the week of the event, a gym mate who was getting ready for a fight found out their opponent pulled out. I was approached by my future trainer Kru Santi to see if i were interested in doing an exhibition bout with him.
HIM!? HIM?! Old man David Huey? I think he was 40 years old at the time or something like that. I just knew he was old. and that he had been doing Kung Fu his whole life, and that he spent the last 3 months using me as target practice (his sidekicks were deadly) and that he had gigantic calfs and i would spend some time watching him kick. He had finesse, effortless technique that looked so cool.
Desperate for relief, but maybe not THAT desperate, i first declined. then, much to my apprehension was coaxed into doing it.
‘It’s gonna be an exhibition, no winner, you fight against a team mate, not big deal’ Kru Santi said in his broken, heavy accented english.
‘not big deal’ would become Kru Santi’s cornerstone comment towards me in times of distress or convincing.
‘Aw fuck it, what could go wrong.’
This was probably Wednesday.
So i go about my week. I truly don’t remember giving it much thought. Just another day. The night before i head to my local Big 5 and buy a boil and bite mouth piece and athletic supporter, AKA cup.
I arrive home, pack my gym bag, rip a bong load and go to bed early as i had to be at work all day the next day.
Punch in, Clock out, head to the gym at 5 pm for weigh in.
I get there, and find out i’m the first fight. Great, get this over with quick.
and then the owner, Kru Puk goes:
‘exhibition? ok, no shin guards, no head gear’
‘no problem’ -Kru Puk
‘no big deal”- Kru Santi
I suit up, i slide into my brand new athletic supporter, pop open my brand new, unboiled mouth piece, put on my ultra baggy muay thai shorts and walk into the ring.
The crew of tormenters crowded in David’s corner to help him out and cheer him on.
One of the more experienced members, Vaughn, took pity on me and decided to corner me.
Everything else was a blur.
Sure the adrenaline must’ve provided some relief of the pain of bare shins colliding, or the numerous head kicks i ate, or the amount of push kicks my nubile soft belly took in but after 6 minutes of embarrassment in a crowd of probably 60 people, it was finally over.
I collect my little trophy and limp out of the ring. Peace, peace at last.
Same guy that proposed i take a fight to stop the teasing walks over.
‘You know that wasn’t real fight right? And we’re not going to stop fucking with you’
‘Jiujitsu isn’t sounding too bad anymore ‘ i thought to myself…