My coach asked me that last week, when I showed up the gym. He was was smiling because it is so different and the shock of that has been pretty visible on my face. So what exactly is different? Muay Thai Fight Camp V. BJJ Tournament Camp. OMG. The difference is night and day and the only saving grace of the muay thai camp is that I don’t have to cut weight.
On the surface, it seems like there is way more work involved in prepping for a fight vs a tournament. Again, I don’t know if this stems from the fact that I don’t go to an MMA gym and not a pure jiu jitsu school but I can’t call a jiu jitsu match a fight. BJJ is super hard and complex and my favorite thing in the world but you’re not getting punched in the face and you can tap when things get too dicey. This is probably a naive and unpopular thing to say but fight camp is arduous. I’ve been running 12 miles a week, hitting pads with my coaches four times a week, and going to sparring twice a week. Sparring has gotten easier from when I started and I have noticed some improvements but it’s still taxing. Three rounds of boxing, five of muay thai, two to three knee sparring, and then three rounds of pads just leaves me exhausted.
I wrote those two paragraphs on October 29. It’s now November 19 and my fight is 4 days away. I’ve spent 10 weeks training for this fight and it has been the most rewarding and transformative experience. I think I’ve grown as a person and have become kinder and more empathetic in some ways but also ingrained in my beliefs about certain things. One thing that this camp has taught me is to not takes personally and be in a little more control of my emotions. Sparring is so hard; physically and mentally. Essentially, it’s getting beat up by your teammates and having to compartmentalize the friendship that you may have in order to give each other a decent round and also not get upset over the beating that you’re taking and giving. As much as I dread sparring, there are parts of it that I’ve come to truly appreciate. Each session is like a mini mental reset of what competing in BJJ offers me. Even on the nights where I felt like I was going to break and left the gym bone tired and in tears, I felt better over all.
For me, sparing feels like constantly being broken down and put back together but the parts are never put back together in the way. Sometimes, some parts that were originally don’t even make it into the rebuild and new ones are added. One thing that’s I truly do enjoy about sparring, is that in order to do well, you have to be totally in the moment. Nothing else matters – especially the petty dramas and anxieties that constantly plague me. It’s freeing. I’m not sure what to expect from my fight but I think it might be building on this feeling. At this moment, I don’t feel nervous about the fight. I’ve done everything I can do to prepare and need to trust in my training.