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Still riding the high from last night...

Posted by Phakapan Salao on

Still riding the high from last night…I ate my three victory double doubles protein style (no onions) and a chocolate shake, passed out at like 1:30, and then woke up at like 4:30 super dehydrated, so I decided to just drink a carton of coconut water, have coffee, and go with it. I hadn’t won a fight in something like four years until last night. I kept going because I love Muay Thai and I love fighting more than I hate losing, and as long as my coaches wanted to put me in, I wanted to keep going. Win or lose, it’s experience. What happened happened whether you were on the winning or losing side of it, and the ring is the truest form of knowledge in ring sports. I always figured, despite my record, I’ve gotten an education, an understanding of the art that I can share with others. But, it was still hard at times. People talk about how it’s not how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you pick yourself up and keep going, but it’s hard to actually do. It’s competitive after all, so if you’re not competitive, you really have to find a greater purpose to attach yourself to. I think I really found that last night. It’s always been very hard for me to find an element of my own psyche to fuel my fighting. I really don’t have any desire to hurt people, I’m not super competitive, don’t really hate losing or love winning. But I know what Muay Thai and martial arts have given me and the power it has to make better people. When I teach, this is what I feel I am really there to do, the art form is just the vehicle. So to look out in the crowd and see a hundred people from our gym, many of them my students and teammates, gave me the truest reason, the people close to me. I felt clear and focused. Coach Mel told me exactly what to do and I did my best to do it. He said my opponent would come out swinging hard, and to cover and defend, let him tire, and then pick it up. I ended up giving him the entire first round, but from the second, I could see he was spent and that my clinch was working, so I stayed on it. Clinch fighting is exhausting, and I was tired after the second, but I knew it was only two more minutes and that I needed the last round to get the points, so I spent it and took the fight two rounds to one on all the judges’ score cards. I feel like I understand as well as anyone that winning isn’t everything, but of course it still felt good to win, especially after so long. But I was even happier for my teammates’ wins, having spent so much time in the gym training and holding pads for them. Brian absolutely ran through his opponent. I bought a white competition head gear specifically to get blood stains on, and it was covered in his opponent’s blood at the end of the fight, which he won by second round stoppage. It was dominant, but also exactly how I always knew he could fight, and I was running around screaming like a crazy person when his hand was raised. Monica hit the perfect balance of activity mixed with selectivity and vision I knew she could get to, taking all three rounds in my eyes with great combinations, excellent ring control, and one of the best push kicks I’ve ever seen that sent her opponent to the canvas. The happiness you feel when the things you work in the gym come out perfectly in the fight is indescribable and very personal, something you share with your teammates and coaches on an intimate level, because you are the only ones who truly know what went into it. To get the sweep, going 3-0 on the night, and to do it in front of your entire gym, the people you train and work with every day, right on our home turf in front of a packed house, made it probably the best night of fighting I’ve experienced since I started doing this eight years ago. You get in the ring alone, but you also get in the ring together. So many people to thank, first Coach Melchor Menor for being there for me in the corner. To have someone that gifted and experienced just tell me what to do and then just go out and do it was exactly what I needed. All the rest of the corner team, CalvinMikeOleaun. My brother and sister Brian and Monica. My fiance Mel, who has been there for me since fight #1. Cookie Phakapan Salao for sponsoring our shorts (lucky shorts!). My opponent for giving me the opportunity to fight. Dennis Warner for bringing Muay Thaiback to San Diego in spectacular form. The IKF for sanctioning and running the show. And of course all of my friends, students, and teammates at the gym. This one was for Art of 8.

~James Gregory