All of us discovered mixed martial arts in a different way, but I think there are many similarities in our stories. Maybe you stumbled up on it, or were introduced by a friend. It doesn’t matter how you found it, it matters why it attracts you.
Chances are you might remember the first fight you ever saw. Were you hooked immediately? What exactly is it about fighting that is so compelling. For me it was a number of things.
I think it must have started when I was young. Watching Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dragon Ball Z. To put it simply these shows were about people who used their superior fighting power to defeat evil. It hits home with something that we all desire. The power to stand against injustice.
That was just the start. I think the next step on the path was when I was young. As any young person I was insecure, I had the mindset if you mess with me I am going to pretend to be a tough guy so that I don’t get picked on. After losing every fight I was ever in I realized I was not a tough guy. This fueled a lack of confidence, every young man wants to learn to fight so he is not pushed around. Plus I had a brother and with brothers comes competition. I knew to get rid of my insecurities I would have to change something.
At first it was simply lifting weights and trying to be stronger. I didn’t understand fighting, but I did become more confident in myself. Working out is a great metaphor for life. When you work hard, you see results. But I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. There were dark moments, looking back now I can appreciate how MMA helped me find myself.
I didn’t realize at the time how much fighting would influence my life. My first experience was watching The Ultimate Fighter. It amazed me that what seemed to be normal guys were training and then fighting each other. I was instantly hooked. For me it is the purest sport, it doesn’t need to be explained, it feels like it’s ingrained in my DNA. It was like boxing but with so many more techniques.
Then I saw a UFC pay per view for the first time. That is when I realized these aren’t guys just like me. They were special human beings. To me these guys were the closest things to super heroes in real life. They inspired me to become more.
I was hooked and the more I watched the more passionate I became. A fight is so many things. It is exciting, and it is surprising. It is a display of bravery. A test of mind and body. A culmination of hard work and sacrifice. Once you buy in to the culture of martial arts there is no going back.
These athletes and their stories, they can teach us lessons that expand to all of life. There will always be a new challenge. You must always improve. All things require sacrifice. No man is invincible. To be a martial artist you must refine yourself, physically and mentally.
Fighting is more than just violence. To me, fighting is more than just fighting. We are all fighters. We are all fighting for something. Whether it is fighting to make a deadline, fighting cancer or fighting for your life. Fighting is the greatest metaphor. It is the universal struggle.
So what got you in to the sport? Share your stories in the comments or @MMAFanJesse