It’s the final week in Chiang Mai and in the last days between my first and second fights in Thailand. The ups and downs of adjusting to the training schedule have leveled out to reveal that it’s not the rocks and rivets that define the ride, but the constant turning of the smooth, sturdy wheel: eat, sleep, train; repeat until fight; repeat after fight.
There’s something remarkably soothing about the proximity of my fights, which are exactly 2 weeks apart. Of course, the weeks prior to the first fight were wrought with all the adjustments necessary for acclimating to a new environment and a rigorous training schedule, so all the emotional swings and pitfalls must be considered under those conditions. But I must also recognize that training for a fight when that fight is a reality is a completely different experience from the western pattern of training on the hope of a fight and continuing on the hope that another will present itself. The fight is a release, not only a resolve.
Fighting as a part of training also grants a level of acceptance for the outcome of a fight that is not as readily negotiable to the mind of a fighter who gets a few fights per year. Win or lose, the result is far less important and becomes only a passing emotion – like having a good or bad training session – one that can be recorded over for better or worse. I won my first fight out here, but I did not feel as celebratory as it seemed I might if I’d won in the States. I felt more like I had done as well as I could and that I’d learned a lot and couldn’t wait to get back to training to take advantage of the lessons I’d just encountered. It felt nice to win, but it was not of great significance in the same way that winning a soccer game is not the same as winning the World Cup. The fight is in the ring – the victories and defeats are contained within those ropes and they stay there.