The Path of a Pugilist

By: Christopher Mixan

    MMA is the most pure form of competition. I believe that it’s the most honest form of living I have ever experienced. When it’s all said and done, your words mean nothing and your actions mean everything. In that moment, the only deception you face are the feints and movements of your opponent. You cannot convince others that you are a skilled fighter unless you actually have skills to display. Surely, this is one of my favorite things about the sport of MMA. The elegance and the savagery of a combat sport is both beautiful and brutal simultaneously. I can safely say, that the first steps I set into this world were some of the most meaningful of my life.
Trying something new can be daunting at first. This is especially true about being a new pupil in the world of martial arts. Luckily, I had experience wrestling earlier in my life, so I know what it’s like to be fresh meat in a room full of dogs. Therefore, I had some general ideas of how things would work. I know that stepping on the mats for the first time usually was coupled with a beating of sorts.

In my case, my first day in the gym was a sparring day. Being an athlete most of my life, I had developed something of an ego. So I went into my first session with confidence. Fortunately, the first person I had partnered with was new as well, this allowed me to get through my first few rounds mostly unscathed. This sense of security soon left me when one of the professional fighters stepped onto the mat. When he asked to train for a few rounds nobody volunteered. So I threw in my proverbial ‘hat’ and agreed to spar this professional fighter. He appeared fatigued, this lead me into thinking that I have an advantage and therefore, I should be able to at least contend with him. This self confidence was misplaced, I was on the receiving end of one of the worst beatings I have ever had. He seemed to be dancing around me, cutting small angles and landing his blows with massive amounts of power. He may have made me look like a fool, but that’s only because I was one.

Following any training session, there are lessons to be learned. You have to see what you did well and what your mistakes were. In this case the ‘silver lining’ was that I didn’t quit, in spite of the how outclassed I was. Superficially, that’s a great thing, yet at the time I did not feel that way. I wanted to do everything I possibly could to beat that man one day. Retrospectively, I attribute this to both my competitive and obsessive natures. I can say that in the eyes of a coach, this is a valuable trait for a new fighter.

Not ten minutes after the class had ended, I asked around for a coach that could teach me to strike properly. And so there was. He was tall and lanky, similar to my own build and he was willing to set some time aside and just work with me. We trained for at least an additional hour, mainly focusing on kicking, but I felt I had made a noticeable improvement. Whether I had or not didn’t really matter. What mattered is that I was hooked. I can safely say that I spend most of my time after that moment thinking about fighting. Thus, sparking my passion for combat sports as well my journey to become the best fighter I can be.

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