Know what you have

I spent a part of this week reading my blog posts from last year. Month by month I grew further away from Taekwondo and closer to full time MMA. During 2014 I was becoming more and more disenchanted with Taekwondo. I had spent a large portion of the year off with various injuries, silly things like broken fingers, toes and hamstring strains. Missing 2, 3 or 6 weeks every month or so took its toll on me mentally. I wasn’t enjoying doing Taekwondo, teaching Taekwondo or watching Taekwondo.  So in 2015 I started to venture away from it.

In my early career I was driven, I would come home from training and watch Taekwondo matches; I was completely absorbed in the sport. But when Taekwondo became serious for me it became a job, it wasn’t me wishing to go to training; it was me having to go to training. When I started being competitive at the higher levels in Australia and started venturing overseas an Olympic cycle was more of a reality and in candid honesty the pressure weighed me down.

I have done a lot of ‘Taekwondo bashing’ in my previous posts, expressing my frustrations at funding, support, rankings and the culture. This was incredibly selfish of me and I am sorry. I am not apologizing to anyone in particular but rather to Taekwondo itself. What I have been able to develop in Taekwondo, athleticism, kicking prowess, work ethic, indomitable spirit and speed have been invaluable in my journeys into other martial arts. I forgot where I came from and spent a good portion of 2015 in a negative mindset.

It has taken me until now to realize it but I needed that time off from Taekwondo to reach my full potential. I went from doing 8 Taekwondo sessions a week to none. All I was doing was kickboxing, BJJ and MMA sparring. After the Australian Open last year I watched the elite Taekwondo athletes compete and I realized what I was giving up. I set my sights on the National Taekwondo Championships and a few months later I won it.

We all want a lot out of life; our goals are how a lot of us define ourselves. Without high level Taekwondo as a goal I found myself questioning my place in the world. Ronda Rousey recently lost her UFC World Championship in devastating style. She has said that in that moment, without the belt she ‘didn’t know what she was, without it’. That really resonated with me. I didn’t really know I missed Taekwondo until I came back.

You have to know what you have. Know that in your life there will be challenges, chances to go another way but sometimes the road most traveled is most traveled for a reason.

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Blessings

The rare opportunity to be a successful fighter is a blessing and a curse. I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to compete at this level. I am fortunate in that I can live this lifestyle, training and fighting and winning tournaments. A lot of fighters start taking winning for granted and develop bad attitudes, I certainly expect to do well in competition but I don’t want to win so badly that if I don’t I’m a sore loser.

The curse of being a good fighter is something I have been thinking a lot about. Even at times that I think I might hang it up I don’t. I am almost stuck in something that I love; as if I am trapped inside of a profession that is voluntary. The fact is it would be disrespectful to all of my coaches, opponents and supporters, past and present to stop here. I am not legally obliged to fulfill my dreams. It is a hard road, it is a long road, but I am enjoying my journey.

I am taking the next few weeks really easy. It doesn’t look like I will be fighting until March 2016 so I will take the opportunity to rest up while I can. I have been in a non-stop training camp since October 2014 and have amassed a lot of victories in the past 14 months. I finally became Australian Champion this year, I became the Oceania Heavyweight Vice-Champion, I won my 13th and 14th State Title, my first international medals, my first kickboxing fight, I had my first experience in an MMA fight and won a few medals in BJJ. Needless to say, it has been a monster year. I am finishing up with 40 matches, 10 over what I had aimed for.

I have done a lot but there is a lot more to do next year. Another MMA fight, more kickboxing fights, hopefully some pro appearances for some $$$, a big mid year trip to Korea, the G4 Oceania Championships and becoming a 2 time Australian Champion. Like I said, the fighting life isn’t for everyone, but its definitely the life for me.