Copyright © 2019 by BLTNANOX All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the written permission of the author.
When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares right back at you, K once said to me. I asked her what the stare of the abyss was like, but she never answered, and I didn’t think about it further. Until now.
It all started about three years ago with the one fight that shook me to my core. After that, my reasoning and feelings -- or instincts, if you like -- changed.
I was a young punk, with a couple of years of experience in amateur and semi-professional rings and a hell of an attitude. My trainer Peter arranged a fight for me at ‘Born to Fight’, an event organized every year by the Free Fighting Association.
The FFA was the biggest organizer of fighting events in the country, but more importantly, it was a scouting platform. It picked talented fighters in Europe for Yamato Damashi, the most prestigious fighting organization in the world. There was no serious fighter who hadn’t dreamed of participating at Yamato Damashi’s tournaments in Japan, and the FFA was an excellent springboard to achieve this.
When Peter first told me I got a spot at ‘Born to Fight’ as a replacement, I didn’t care who my opponent was. I was going to win. I had won every fight so far. Only the best fighters were accepted by Yamato Damashi, and I wanted to show the world I was the best.
With only a month and a half left till the fight, Peter made a training program which I followed with the utmost diligence. Driven by extreme motivation, I trained very hard every day. I was brutal and didn’t hold back at any stage of the training. Even my sparring partners became just another obstacle on my road to Yamato Damashi. Gym members and visiting fighters began to refuse sparring sessions with me, which only boosted my confidence further.
At 21 years old, fighting was all that mattered to me. I didn’t have a bad social situation and fighting was not my means of survival. My family was well off and I was a student at the university for social sciences. So, no sob story of a hard life here. I simply loved…well, I needed to fight. Everything else, including family and friends, came second to this need.
My parents were certain my wish of becoming a professional fighter, a wish I had insisted on since I was a small kid, would pass during high school. After my father died, my mother still hoped that this ‘momentary insanity and inclination toward destroying my body and brain cells’, would end once I enrolled at the university. Well, she was wrong. Neither she, nor any of my siblings could understand what fighting meant to me.
Peter’s gym was the gym I had frequented for the past three years, after previously training in a high school boxing club. Quite a few MMA fighters, who made a name for themselves in Europe, were forged in this gym. Peter was known to be a strict trainer who didn’t tolerate fighters that were not fully committed.
I didn’t fit in at the beginning; most of the gym members were rough individuals, who hoped fighting would one day bring them fame and money. They either worked as security guards or had some other jobs which required more muscle than brains, or were unemployed. I was the only one in the gym that went to university and didn’t have any tattoos.
The first time I came to Peter’s training, I told him my goal was to train hard to get to Yamato Damashi. He laughed it off, thinking I’d be out of the gym after the first sparring session. Just like my mother -- he, too, underestimated my determination. I broke the nose of one of his fighters, after he caused mine to bleed, and had to be stopped during the fight with another due to excessive violence on my part.
“What the fuck, kid? It’s meant to be only a sparring session!” Peter shouted at me as he tried to prevent other gym members from teaching me a lesson.
Of course I knew what a sparring session was. I’d had many at the boxing club. I just thought the rules in an MMA gym were much less restrictive. Covering different segments of a fight, be that in a stand-up or on the floor, the brutality of it with very few limitations and rules, were the main reasons I got attracted to this martial art in the first place. I felt it gave my fighting abilities a sort of freedom of expression.
After that initial incident, I adjusted my aggression and conformed to Peter’s way of coaching. It wasn’t long before I became his prime student and a respected gym member. The training was all I cared about and I never hung out with any of the fellow fighters outside the gym or fighting events. Although we all liked fighting, for them it was just a means to an end, while for me the fighting was that end. I didn't let anything get in my way to becoming the best at it.