I got my black belt in martial arts the same year I passed calculus, flew 8 hours in a jet trainer (a T-33), flew my first solo flight, and got my private pilot's license, when I was 17 years old. I've always participated in martial arts (and all the other arts) ever since then and can safely say that my only serious sports injury was when I was 18 years when I accidentally side-kicked a partner while sparring and sprained my ankle.
Conversely, almost all the people I play sports with today have been injured in American sports in some way or another, namely while playing baseball, football, or basketball, who were told to brave it up and go back on the field, only to end up taking medicines or wearing braces as they limp through life, or attempt to play less injurious sports. Football injuries to knees and hips are not things you see in martial arts, as the way the Asians approach this sport is not at all the way Stephen Chagall portrays it.
So it was a real pleasure to run across The Joker who had just won the international extreme fighting championship, was on the front cover of Extreme Fighting Magazine, and was down to his fighting weight of 175 as he trained for his next fight. He said that he would be back up to 200 pounds by the time of the fight. He's an absolute Gentleman who sheepishly admits that he got into extreme fighting because "I was afraid to fight". Talk about over-coming your fears! He's the kind of natural athlete who can play almost any sport without shoes, gloves or racquets, and when he's in action people marvel about how quickly he learns a new sport. I was really honored to shake his hand to congratulate him for winning that fight and over-coming his "fears"--and to hear from his own mouth about how just a few years ago I used to "kick his .ss" (in racquetball, that is)!
As you may suspect, there's also a down side to extreme fighting, namely that his usually handsome features had been marred by his injuries, including cauliflower ears. It takes more courage than most people I know could ever muster to go back into the next fight to risk life and limb like that.
Hats off to you, Joker, and good luck on your next fight!!!
Modified Tuesday, July 27, 2010
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