Stepping onto the mat

Fightzone London

Over the last year I’ve seen and heard so many changes in the world, locally, in my friends and within me. They have influenced my thoughts, behaviour but mostly how I see the world via a different lens each time. It’s not often I hear some gems and not the type of cubic zirconia but the rare kind of pink star diamonds. Stepping into my Muay Thai class a few months back was like attending a session with one of my favourite motivational speakers, it was like being in the company of someone you just click with, no egos, no competition just in the moment. It felt eye opening, healing, awakening and I had to say to the coach, “Jose, I just want to record what your saying as it’s inspirational, and I want to wake up and play those words to myself every morning”. It’s just like melted chocolate words of wisdom and no I am not a lovesick teenage over my coach or an obsessed groupie. When you listen closely to the whisper of the universe it resonates on a level that one cannot describe.

Some days I live in hope to find the energy, the words to engage the teenagers I work with at the Ben Kinsella Trust and Head Held High. There are days when I seek that frequency of wisdom that befalls those that we quote from like Rumi or Maya Angelou. I hope that I might inspire daily people that I meet in the various industries I float between (acting, educational, events) but most days I struggle to talk. With over 171,000 words in the dictionary, my mind stumbles to find a sentence. This year I struggle to find the words to motivate me, my mind has an inner dialogue speaking another language, my body is on autopilot and still in bed and occasionally they (body and mind) might be in the same room at the same time, like in my training class.

I like focus, because at this point, I need another coffee or I’m really hungry.

Could I tell you what coach Jose said that day in between breaking down the drills for the hour. No. What I do know is how it made me feel. I felt a surge of courage, I felt that anything in that moment was possible. My internal dialogue was “Maria – you’ve got the drills nailed, coordination is on point and you’re having a strong day”. 

Jose talked about imagining oneself being in that fight, in that ring, it’s just you and your opponent. The words that day were an awakening and I looked around wondering if anyone else was drinking in this life affirming liquid or was it just me, had I drunk the cool aid? What can I say when the universe communicates on your vibe, you have to listen to its frequency.

It dawned on me this was a metaphor about life. I often think that my opponent in the ring is ME, the me that deals with the internal struggles; the self-belief vs self-doubt. That nagging inner voice judging, making comparisons and telling me I’m not good enough. My ego walks the fine line of thinking that was a good class and telling myself ” I’ve learned a lot in this last year” to “fuck off you still have so much to learn, and maybe you will never be as good as you hope to be”.
When ever the coaches, Jose or Arthur, come round to verbally encourage everyone, something inside me seizes up, tenses, my coordination fails and positive comments throw me. I find it difficult to digest compliments, I find it even harder when my Coach/Teacher is encouraging, says a lot about my upbringing. One of the things Jose says is “you make a mistake, you learn, let it go and move on”. I so wish, I lived by this mantra growing up. I wish I could live and breathe it now. 

The truth is at the end of that class I realise I step onto the mat as my 7 year old scared self, frightened of this new environment, keeping in my lane, head down. No make-up, no glamour, just me. Go in and get out. I beat myself up for the mistakes as though I should be perfect first time. How did I become that insecure, if I think about too much I cry. Still time to grow. The adult me knows that’s not me, I try something new, I’m a people person through and through. I could not have read ‘Tribe’ or listened to my friend Dan’s podcast and learn nothing about “belonging”. Not to say we will always belong to one tribe or stay in it forever but when you find something that feels right, you stay for as long as it serves you in what you need to learn about yourself. 

When I step off the mat, I step back into my adult self having added more to my experience. I’ve learned my opponent can be pretty fierce and powerful, that I need to protect/guard myself in certain places. The irony is I think I have more barbed wire up than I realise and maybe this metaphor is about boundaries and putting them in place for people who drain and take energy. Maybe I also need to loosen and lighten up.

What I have learned about me on that mat is that I say “sorry” and fuck” a lot! 

What my hope to do one day is to step onto the mat as my adult self with self assurance, all the knowledge, experience, skill that life has taught me and look at how far I’ve come. To tell that 7 year old self who might now be 12 years old that she is brave, courageous and is always trying out new things on her own. That self doubt will always be there and it’s up to you if you allow it to get the better of you or not, it is a choice. That whatever zone you’ve stepped into today, it’s a journey that allows you to evolve and grow. There will be many zones you will walk through in life, Maria but there will only be one Fightzone.

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