The Cage Fight
Ten years ago when I studied abroad in Brazil, I found myself unknowingly (until too late) in line for a flying trapeze. Unwilling to show defeat among new friends, I climbed the tiny ladder, refusing to look down and mounted the trapeze. When telling this story to family members by email my aunt commented, “All that’s left for you to do is climb into a Lion’s cage!”
Well, Aunt H, this is for you: Refusing to let my passion for kickboxing die, I found a gym (I think I’ve told you all this) that not only teaches, but has an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) team. At first being the only gringa (oh, there are Mexican women and American men) was extremely intimidating (still is), especially when the teacher talks at a pace that he jumps and kicks (fast!). However, the adrenaline rush is so addictive that I continue to go.
One Wednesday not so long ago, a “Cage” was up. There was a tournament the following weekend and the entire gym was preparing for it. At the end of the class, the teacher divided us up into two groups and told us to number off. “When I call your number, you are going to enter into the cage and have two minutes to fight!” Well, since I was last, I had much time to feel the anxiety rise from my feet to my throat, attempt to plan an escape, and pray that we would run out of time before it was my turn. Whimpering in the corner, praying that somehow the invisible powers that I wanted so badly as a child would finally become real, I expressed my incredible fear to my gringo friend that I also worked with. “Is there anyway out of this? Will you go twice? I don’twannago!” “Sarah, you’re going to be fine! (as someone stumbled out with a bloody nose).” “No, really,Idon’twannadothis!” “Sarah, if you don’t go, I’m going to tell everyone at work that you chickened out.” “Tell them! I don’tcare! I don’twannago!” “Really, you’re not going to get hurt!” (one man down cause he was hit in the balls).” My anxiety was mounting as a crowd was gathering around the Cage and people were yelling out directions. Now it was turning into a performance. Ohmygod. Ohmygod. Ohmygod. Finally, my number was called. My friend gave me a push and said, “LET’S GO!’ And I reluctantly climbed the steps of the cage and entered. The teacher yelled, “TIEMPO!” And I, infuriated, at having to enter into such a incredibly display of embarrassment decided to defy him by simply standing in my guard. After probably 20 seconds of a crowd wanting a show, and me realizing that it was my poor opponent’s first class, I followed the directions of the voice of a friend of mine. “One, two!” “Jab, cross!” “Ya??” I looked pleadingly at the ref (also my teacher). “No, no, sigue! Sigue!” I continued jabbing and crossing and kicking the poor guy, and finally when our teacher yelled “TIEMPO!” we descended the steps, and I suddenly felt a surge of adrenaline rush over me. “See, I told you you would be fine!” My gringo friend told me. And maybe not so strangely to you, but against every moral grain in my body, I was grinning ear-to-ear, wanting, unbelievably, to do it again.