19 May Wanna Fight? (Part I)
It’s difficult not to be wary about someone who struts into a Fighter’s Gym and says, “I wanna fight!” When asked if they have any fight experience or training, they reply, “No, but fighting is something I really wanna do.” Then, after a brief pause they almost always add, wait for it . . . “I’ve been in lots of street fights though.” And there it is, the most misconstrued notion about what it takes to be a fighter, all brawn and no brains. From weight management, to cardiorespiratory endurance to understanding every action has a reaction, not to mention basic fight skills and strategies, there are many factors that contribute to the development and success of a fighter. Walking around with sheer bravado is not one of them.
The psychology behind someone who’s had lots of street fights can mean they have difficulty controlling their temper or they’re a loose cannon or they’re a bully or all of the above. A fighter needs to be calm and cool and doesn’t let anger, anxiety, frustration, fear or ego get the best of them. They don’t talk about how good they are, they prove it in the ring.
Physical toughness is essential in a combat sport, without it you won’t survive the training. Although some fighters (if not many) have come from a less than an Ivy League background they are not all from the stereo typical “wrong side of the tracks.” They work hard and have a common goal, winning is everything. The sport provides an avenue to challenge oneself as well as divert negativity towards a more positive and productive way of life.
Fighting takes focus, discipline and desire to spend hours in the gym honing the necessary skills. No one can make you “put in the work,” that has to come from you. Once, a father signing up his teenage son made it very clear that his son did not want to fight. He wanted to get in shape and learn how to defend himself, but absolutely did not want to compete. “Don’t worry, training to be a fighter is an entirely different level and to be able to withstand the training, you have to want to do it,” explained the Coach.
The road to victory is paved with blood, sweat and sacrifice. Fighters need the mental fortitude to push through the pain and rigors of their training and that’s if they are injury free, which is almost never. During the 4-weeks prior to a fight, they pass on holiday meals, skip family outings or social events to make weight, rest and stay focused. As their fight approaches they are celibate and no longer hang out with their friends, unless their friends are doing roadwork, training in the gym or going to cryotherapy.
One of the most important attributes of a fighter is being coachable. They must be able to take direction, follow through and make the corrections in the gym to minimize the mistakes in the ring. A person wanting to fight can’t be a rogue elephant or have a lone wolf attitude, if they do, they won’t last in the gym. A dedicated fighter has a coach and a team behind them, alongside them and in their corner. They celebrate the wins and accept the losses with honesty and humility. Fighters step into the ring like it’s their domain and they are there to do their job and nothing can or will stop them. If there is bad blood with the opponent, they let their fist, elbows and knees do the talking. They take the good with the bad, weather the storm and never, ever give up. Still wanna fight?
There was a guy once, mid-twenties walked in and said he wanted to be a “Pro Fighter”. He wasn’t an amateur fighter and he had absolutely no experience. The Head Coach suggested he train first before making a decision on a fight career. The wanna be fighter threw up on himself in the first 10 minutes of the class and never came back. My guess is he’s probably working in films now. The few, the loud and the many who have walked into Sityodtong Los Angeles and exclaimed, “I wanna fight,” have not lasted past the warm up . . . except for one. See who that is in, “Wanna Fight” (Part 2).