“But why do you do it?”, this is a question that unfaltering causes me to stare, giving focus to the rest of my mind to search for an answer, that, as of yet, I haven’t adequately been able to articulate. Given the frequency I am asked this, it is becoming a minor issue. To give some context, I compete in MMA, a full contact, combat sport that tests your physical and psychological will almost daily. It is certainly my belief that they is no rawer, truer test of willpower and of physical elitism than the challenge MMA as a sport provides. This may begin to answer the question; the challenging nature of MMA, in and outside of the locked cage, is what is attractive to all those who compete. Perhaps in the early days of training, this seeks to fulfill a sense of bravado and egotism, the idea that you are training in the hardest sport on the planet and that this puts you on a platform above others who do not compete or train. But it has been my personal experience that training over the years, this pretense is lost somewhere along the way, there is no defined moment and it isn’t something noticeable from one day to the next, but somewhere the baggage is left. Competing in MMA for some can be a platform for boastfulness and sometimes to satisfy the need to “prove” something, to all the naysayers, whatever and whoever that may be. Personally, this is not why I compete, I don’t think aggressive or egotistical motives are healthy and it can also lead to sub optimum training. Whilst I think that my motivations are to some degree intangible, they are not completely so, if they were this would be a pointless exercise. Much of MMA is self discovery and I’m only in the infant stage of this journey, my motives will become clearer along the way. For now though, I train because it tests me, tests me more so than anything I’ve ever found, completed or attempted in life. So long as you are consciously making an objective assessment of yourself and your ability, there is no training session that doesn’t provide the potential for learning and improvement. I’m not just talking about the improvement of a skill-set, throwing a higher kick or a more precise hook to the liver, some sessions won’t give you the opportunity to improve on these things. But what every session can give you, is the opportunity to build a stronger psyche. Whether you’ve been humbled in a session or you’ve been completely dominant, there is something to gain. What has become an increasingly motivational factor in training, is the sense of servitude I feel towards my training partners and coaches. I see the regular mix of faces more than my own family at times and that is what they’ve become to me. These people, who I met through chance, luck and coincidence have had a profound effect on my personality, work ethic, goals and life in general. I am in debt to them, so regardless of how I am feeling, I know I need to turn up to training to help those who have helped me so graciously (occasionally not so) in the past. My being there means I can be someone’s sparring partner, or their grapple dummy to drill with, or hold pads for them to hit, as is the case with everyone who turns up. It’s not enough to tell you how close a relationship you can build with training partners, you have to live it. Perhaps only through the loss of ego that exhaustion brings can you start to understand the vulnerability of those you are training with. Accepting encouragement when working at full capacity and near exhaustion is in its essence an admission of trust. You are trusting that person to look after you as you work yourself to a point farther than you knew possible. It is from the repeated breaking of your own limits and boundaries from the motivation you are given that you come to trust, respect and appreciate the value that friends (as they will undoubtedly come to be) can provide.
This lightly scratches the surface on “Why I do it” and I may revisit this topic at a later date when I feel I can articulate more lucidly why I compete. But for now it is suffice to say that I train for the test that MMA brings, and for the friends I have found who train with me in this utterly ridiculous, stupendous sport.