January 1, 2014 – Loi Kroh Ring, Chiang Mai
I took an extra week between this fight and the last one, mainly because when I got back to training after the last one and kicked on my left shin it bubbled up – like an enormous blood blister. It was pretty painful, which isn’t so much of a problem by itself, but the way it filled with fluid seemed like the kind of thing I shouldn’t kick or block on and it definitely wasn’t going to heal by the time the weekend rolled around.
As it turned out, a very large group – nearly an entire gym – from Sydney, Australia started training at the gym on the Monday after my regularly scheduled fight would have been and so we all got to train together and they got excited to come see me fight on the following weekend. I also did something to my shin that I would never recommend to anyone else – never recommend – but I will put it out there that I’ve done it and it worked for me and I had positive results. I drained my shin bubble.
Draining a Hematoma – Be Reasonable
I’d been using hot water treatment, which was causing the blister to swell up and be very soft but then I wasn’t able to push the fluid out through massage, even when I used a broom handle to try to crush it down. At this rate I suspected that the shin wouldn’t be healed by the next weekend either and I definitely didn’t want to delay another fight and would prefer not to fight with it. So I sanitized an Exacto-blade, sat in the shower and made a small slit. It bled a little bit, the way any razor slice would do, but I knew that wasn’t what I was aiming for. I’d just watched a few videos on YouTube of how to drain a hematoma (I have a strong stomach for medical stuff), so I knew that I was not yet reaching the pocket of fluid. So I made more of a puncture, driving deeper rather than longer with the blade. Sure enough I was able to squeeze out a lot of fluid. At first it was watery and pink, but the more I drained, the darker and more jelly-like it became. (The hematoma was not very old, although the initial injury was, so the blood was largely the same color it always is – older hematomas actually come out like grape jelly and it is incredible.)
Once I had it flattened out from all the draining I cleaned it out, flushed it with iodine and put some antibacterial cream on it before covering it with a Band-Aid and then covering the whole shin with a compression sock to stop it from bleeding. I kicked on it the next day, still wearing the compression sock, and it felt pretty good. It did balloon back up after that, so I reopened the cut and drained it again, following the same procedure for aftercare. After that I was able to kick on it and it never filled up again. I got a nice clean little scab, which I kept clean and separated from any bags or pads I was kicking by wearing a compression sock over a Band-Aid and that was that. All good. I’m a big advocate for training through injury, as well as training with injury, so the physical and mental benefits of getting back to kicking on that leg made me feel really good for this fight. Again though, this is not something I personally recommend.
It was a slightly strange week of training because I was coming off of being sick for about 6 weeks, so while I still had some residue of coughing and a stuffed nose, I felt like Superman because I was no longer ill. But the big group at the gym, about 30+ students from Sydney, were all there together in the morning and the gym was packed. It’s actually nice to have different energy in the gym and for the most part they were able to keep themselves busy when they weren’t doing pads (a lot of people have no idea how to hit a bag or shadow, so they just kind of wander around). But with so many people I wasn’t getting in the ring to do padwork until maybe 9:00 every morning. Having this whole group at Loi Khro for fight night, however, was pretty awesome. They all sat in a section together and that made a side of the stadium my own personal cheering section.
I was scheduled as the fifth fight of the night against an opponent I’d never faced before. Happily, the fight was listed at 105 lbs, which is close to my actual weight whereas the last few have been listed at 115 lbs. I knew, however, to wait and see since the listed weights don’t necessarily correlate to either fighter. There were also two other female fights listed on the card, the first and second fights, at 105 lbs and 112 lbs respectively – those are both within my range, so here were four fighters I could potentially match against. Exciting!
When it was time to put on my gloves this tall, thin, fully tattooed Thai fellow who appeared at our gym a few days prior came up and pushed Not out of the way to put my gloves on. He had me work my knuckles all the way to the front (only pros do that) and then wrapped the velcro wrist-band tighter around my tiny deer-wrists than I’ve ever experienced before. I felt locked in and ready to go. I got in the ring and the cheering section screamed for me. And then I waited. I stood in the empty ring for a minute or two and then Not put the stool for the corner on the ring and told me to sit down. I sat and looked around at the audience, making facial expressions to a few of them to indicate that it was no big deal but that I didn’t know what was going on. Obviously my opponent wasn’t ready yet, I just didn’t know if she was even present.
The referee nodded to me, giving me permission to get out of the ring. They’d just have the next fight go before me, which incidentally would be my teammate Neung. But I couldn’t get out of the ring with the Mongkol on my head. I can’t go under the bottom ropes wearing it and I can’t go over the top ropes because I’m a woman. And I shouldn’t remove it myself. So I had to stand there trying to get the tall, tattooed guy to understand that he had to take it off but finally got Off’s attention and he came and removed it so I could duck out. I walked back to the warmup area and a little kid went in the ring to perform a Ram Muay. My opponent was there, she was just getting oiled and changed. After that Neung went on and knocked his opponent out in the first round, so I was back up pretty quickly.
I don’t mind the getting in and out of the ring or the waiting. In Thailand, anything can happen and something kind of like this usually does. I was in a less-flustered position than I think I would be as the late-comer. I’ve done that also and I don’t much care for the rushed feeling. My opponent was good though. She was calm and game, skilled and comfortable in the ring. She wasn’t, it seemed to me, prepared to start the fight in the early rounds. I kicked her leg and her attempted block was just simply floppy – like she hadn’t anticipated power or something. When we started to clinch up a bit and I kicked her standing leg I was a little surprised that she went down – not because she’s incapable, but because I’m so used to fighting women so much heavier than I am or practicing with Den that I can’t really move them. Someone my own weight feels very light in comparison. It’s actually wonderful.
I got a little frustrated because I couldn’t get my hips back in the clinch for good knees, but I was able to control better than I have been in my past few fights. I somehow cracked my left ankle on something – I don’t know, an elbow or her forearm or something – and I got a headkick early in the fight that landed flush and kind of wonked me, but not enough to stop me or put me down. I felt both of those after the fight. My left shoulder felt crushed and my jaw was definitely bruised, and my left ankle was a bit tricky to walk on. I was surprised that I walked out of this fight, of all fights, with more “damage” than usual. That’s a good sign though – it means there was contact. A lot of my opponents just score a point and then run, trying to protect it, so sometimes a fight ends with only a handful of actual strikes landed from either of us. This one wasn’t a high-strike fight, but there was effort and determination in those that were thrown. I like that.
And ultimately it felt good to win again. I knew I’d won every round, even though she had a very strong fifth, coming back and trying to steal it with performance. Good for her. I have a lot to work on, as always, but as much as winning and losing is not why I fight by any means, it absolutely flavors what training feels like after a fight whether I’ve won or whether I’m in the midst of a losing streak, as I’d done since November. Losing a lot makes me stronger. I had a terrible losing streak in the US totaling 7 fights (including one amateur boxing match) and over the period of a year and a half. This losing streak was only 6 fights and only over the period of two months, so I didn’t have to carry it as far, so to speak. Such an experience forces me to evaluate what’s happening. I don’t believe that one is necessarily doing anything wrong to cause a loss – you can be doing the right training and fighting well, just not necessarily in the way you need to fight to win against the particular opponents you’re facing. When opponents are bigger and better it’s not necessarily that I failed – although I do absolutely own and take responsibility for losing – but it means that what is required of me to win fights like that is perhaps beyond my current abilities. And that’s a good thing, even though it feels bad. Sacrificing the ego for the sake of a more total improvement is absolutely worth it. To me, anyway.
My Post-Fight Update
The Whole Fight
Complete Fight Record