I fantasize about what it would be like the hear crowds cheer on me as I win kickboxing title after title.
On the Glory kickboxing website, I clicked on the menu tab called “girls”, thinking it would take me to a page with female fighters. Not realizing that those women were models and ambassadors, I thought wow, I want to be a sexy kickboxer like them.
Then I clicked on the “fighters” tab and stumbled upon the actual female fighters ranking page. All I can say is that I could never let myself be beaten up until I look like that.
Now, you probably realize that I haven’t watched much female fighting. I’ve actually only ever watched American wrestling like WOW, WWE and WWF, which glamorizes wrestling and fighting, making us believe that athletes or stunt actors can have their heads smashed with a chair and then still look photogenic and good-looking. So, you can understand how I might have a few misconceptions about how female fighters might look.
But, Estelita, you’re a kickboxer, how can you be so clueless about the kickboxing and wrestling? Well, when I started training at a martial arts school, my only motivation was to improve my fitness, flexibility and to learn how to throw a decent punch. When I first got into martial arts, I didn’t ever think about fighting or competing. I just saw MMA training as self-defence training. I didn’t even think about doing grading until we were about to do gradings.
Thanks to the really great training that I got at my first karate school in Cape Town, I was so good that my second Sensei in Johannesburg asked me to compete in the tournaments. I wasn’t really sure about competing, but the fact that I would get a guaranteed medal – win or lose – really sold it for me. You could say that I am motivated by extrinsic and material incentives. It’s just the way I am. Read more about how I got into fighting.
So, after my first fight and first win, I got lots of compliments. Hearing I was “a good fighter” and that I had “great footwork”, went to my head, making me believe that I could turn pro and fight for money.
However, with the low number of female fighters, the low interest in female fighting and the low pay that kickboxers get, I don’t think that fighting professionally (without endorsements and sponsorship deals) would ever be a long-term career goal for me. Fighting is real and so is the pain and the cost of getting medical attention for one’s injuries. So, it wouldn’t be worth all the pain only to end up broke and with bills piling up.
Besides that, I still have to find a soulmate one day and that might require me to have a full set of teeth and a more or less lookable face.
Having said that, I still believe that every woman should compete in kickboxing and other martial arts tournaments, every once in a while, even if only to practice for the day you need to defend yourself. Watching a self-defense video tutorial is not the same as getting real coaching and doing real sparring. Learning how to take the pain is just as import as learning how to inflict pain.
So, I will be active in the kickboxing and marital arts tournaments to stay sharp and on my game. I hope you ladies do the same.