Why Do We Do This?
Gary Edwards is Head MMA coach at Laurel Mountain MMA, North Carolina.
My wife presented me with a contract a few days ago stating that I would never go back to the MMA gym to train ─ ever again! She’s fed up with my injuries, constant icing and limping around the house. A hairline fracture to my hand is what finally put her over the edge. She yelled at me, “Why do you do this to yourself?!?!?! Please tell me why you need this in your life!” The funny part is, as soon as I’m healed up, I’ll be right back in training.
I almost felt like I was an alcoholic being told that I could never have another drink. From an outside perspective, she really does make a valid point. In the last few years, I have had injuries to almost every part of my body. In no particular order, I’ve had to treat injuries or been bruised and beaten to the following body parts: My brain (concussion), forehead, eye, nose, mouth and lips, neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist, fingers, knuckles, back, hamstring, outer and inner thighs, knee, shins, ankle, Achilles, and my toes! Since I’m not a full-time fighter and don’t have any plans in the near future of fighting professionally, being injured all the time might be a hindrance on my daily life and goals. But it also might be what I need to keep me grounded and at peace.
For me, training and sparring is the closest thing I have to meditation. Yes, maybe Yoga would be the wiser choice, but I forget about every negative aspect of life when I’m in the ring or cage. You have to focus on that moment and let everything else go or you’ll get battered by a wide variety of punches and kicks. Having a great day in the gym is a feeling of peace that the average onlooker will never experience or understand.
Besides the peace I feel when learning and testing my limits mentally and physically, I also enjoy the company of the guys who live and train at the gym. I love the gym rats! I look forward to seeing the fighters and their progress in training and life. On occasion, a full-time fighter will bug me about why I don’t fight, “Come on man…you go through the same crap we do. This is the hard part. If you’re going to give it your all in the gym and be injured all the time, you might as well go out and fight. The fight is easier than this training!” He makes a damn good argument, but I know my personality, and if I can’t give 100 percent of my focus to training for a fight…then I won’t do it. Maybe I just don’t have the same amount of courage these guys do or that will to win in front of a big crowd. I’m not really sure, but I do know that not everyone has to go out and fight to gain respect from your fellow peers in the gym. Good training partners and gym fighters are an important part to a professional fighter’s success. They need bodies willing to take punishment, and from the looks of the contract my wife just gave me, it sounds like I’m that guy!
I’ll never sign this contract my wife made. And for everyone wondering, yes it was sort of a joke…my wife doesn’t actually run around making contracts for me to sign. Being injured and beat up is just part of who I am. It’s never going to change. I love the sport and I love the training. I’ve taken a break from the gym before and I felt fairly empty inside. Something was missing. As soon as I jumped back in and had the first day back of hard sparring, I filled that empty void of self awareness. The ice-packs in the freezer won’t be thrown out anytime soon.