So today was the big day, my first tournament. Out of the house for 13 hours in rder to compete for 2 minutes and I wouldn’t have swapped it for anything.
There were only two of us in my group today. Women over 65k light continuous. No segregation between grades. My opponent had inches on my height, stone or two on my weight and was a black belt with a lot of tournament experience. She had apparently been out for a year, non the less, she’d been here before, I hadn’t.
As I stepped on the mat I flooded with adrenalin, I was buzzing all over. It was intense and once upon a time would have freaked me out, as it was, I just enjoyed the buzz. My coach, Danny, explained he could only call for one time out, which he would do when I looked like I needed a breather. Bouts are usually a minute and a half, in this case it would be two. He expected to call the time out just into the second minute.
We touched gloves and started. We moved in and she planted a firm sidekick on me that sent me reeling. After some drunken staggering on my part my butt landed firmly on the floor. Not a great start. On the other hand, there went my dignity, so with nothing left to lose I started to enjoy myself. Couldn’t stop grinning (not pretty in a gumshield) as we traded blows and yeah, far more of hers counted than mine but it didn’t matter because we were moving and trading. Then she went for another side kick. This time I leant into it, took the kick, brought my fists over her leg and pounded into her head. For a few delicious seconds I was in charge of the fight. It didn’t last, but it was just a perfect moment. I took control one more time during the match, again, by taking a kick and ploughing into her head. I was rewarded with a look of sincere shock when I punched her on the nose. Yay me. Well worth spending the last few seconds covering up while she regained her dignity by wailing on me as time was called.
I had never doubted, going up against a black belt, that I could not win this match. I did put up a fight though, I made her work and I heard her reminding her friends that she hasn’t fought continuous in ages, love, i’ve *never* been on the mats before. I’m a red belt. You have no excuse for not slaughtering me. Danny seemed genuinely pleased, not only because clearly some of what i’ve been taught has sunk in and because I dominated for a few moments, but also because he never had to use the time out. 2 minutes doesn’t sound a lot but anyone who has spared will tell you it’s intense and can wear you out fast if you forget to breathe properly and allow your opponent to control your speed. I set my own pace and my stamina was up to the job.
It’s going to take me a while to come down tonight and be able to sleep. Gotta say, given the choice between the mats and anything else? I will take the pure adrenalin and clarity of the fight everytime.
So yeah, I lost the bought, the trophy for coming second out of two, is cute but meaningless, except it represents a couple of things. First, the person I am now is so different from the person I was a year ago that she can do this at all. Second, while I have a lot to learn and many improvements to make, I worked hard at this and I did ok, I am a kickboxer, part of a kickboxing squad. So I lost the bout, but I won much much more.