“Most guys run from fights. Because they don’t want the answer to the inevitable question. Am I one of the weak? Or am I one of the strong? Where do I line up in the pecking order?”.”- Alvey Kulina
Fighting is one of the toughest sports in the world. When you’re winning matches in front of plenty of fans it seems like all sunshine and rainbows. But not many people see the countless hours and hard work, the pain that goes into being a fighter. In this article we take a deep dive into my mornings as a fighter.
A 5:00am alarm call rings through my room and enters my entire body as if shaking me awake. I open my stiff eyelids and stare at my ceiling, questioning my entire existence. Every single morning without fail the doubts creep into my mind. “Do you want to do this? wouldn’t staying in bed be so much easier? are you ready to face the cold outside world?” These thoughts keep me in bed an extra 30 seconds upon waking up. However, I think back to my goals I want to achieve in fighting. Being a world champion, being a 5X North American Grappling Association champion, and winning the olympics of grappling ADCC. I quickly rise out of my bed and start to get ready. At this time of morning there is no need to shower or time to do my hair. I quickly brush my teeth and strategically throw on three layers of tops, a t shirt, a hoodie, and a winter jacket. I then throw on some track pants that will remain on throughout the whole entire training session. It is way too cold to wear my usual fight shorts at this time. I exit my house and the cold air slaps me in the face. The shivers start instantly and I rush to the warmth of my car. Sadly upon entry I realize my car is not much warmer. I start my car up, and start my 5 minute drive to the gym. The roads are basically empty which is nice, and I blast my music to get me in the right headspace. Fighting is a hard sport every single training session, and if you aren’t ready to go serious injury could await you. I arrive at the gym around 5:30 am and sit in my car for a couple minutes. Training starts at 6:00am and I’m in no rush to sit in a cold gym.
At around 5:40am I head into the gym and crank the heater up to its maximum potential. The gym is in a warehouse type building so the mats are hard as rock as they are yet to heat up from being frozen over night. One by one my training partners enter, usually around 5 people. All 5 have their own reasons for being there but most are consistent with mine; we want to be the best. My first layer is removed and now I’m in just a hoodie and track pants. Mornings usually consist of 5 minutes of sparring with a 1 minute break for an hour. I start my first round, and my body starts to heat up. The first round at 6:00am is always the worst round you will ever have. Your muscles ache, you have no blood flow in your body, and your mind is still waking up to the movements. After this round though things start to get better. I begin the second round and the hoodie comes off. I’m more into the movements now and my body feels more ready. In fighting your mind actually doesn’t do most of the work. Once you reach a certain point your body is programmed with reactions, its just muscle memory. That’s why once your body is warmed up you start to preform. The third starts and I’m a lot more into the movements, my body is moving with lots of fluidity and motion. I’m picturing the iconic Bruce Lee “be water my friend.” My mind also goes to my goals and I envision myself accomplishing them. In my head I’m telling myself I’m a world champion, as I slip out of submission attacks and come back with my own. The rest of the rounds I am in my element, and I attack with relentless pressure. I lose some battles but that’s part of the journey. I lose a round and come back stronger then ever, learning from my mistakes. The hour ends and its now 7am. I am exhausted and covered in sweat. The mats are no longer solid, they are soft and squishy as they have been heated up just by the pure temperature of people in the room. I lie there with my teammates staring up at the ceiling. This is why we do it I think to myself. Nothing replicates the feeling of training hard, being part of a community, and winning.
Its my job to close up the gym so once the mats are soaked in mop water and the fans are turned on to help dry I turn off the lights and exit the building, still in my workout gear. There is no need for a hoodie anymore as I am warm from body heat. The sun has started to rise and I hop. Into my car, plug in my phone and listen to some music, which is usually “California Dreamin’.” I arrive home and instantly hit the shower. The warm water washes off all the sweat and also comforts and sores or injuries I have sustained that training session. I hop out of the shower and make myself a protein shake, sitting down at my kitchen counter to drink it. I think to myself about how much I love fighting. I know the next day I’m going to have the exact same morning thoughts as before; “Do you want to do this? wouldn’t staying in bed be so much easier? are you ready to face the cold outside world?” I don’t care. I love this sport and ill continue to do it every single day for the rest of my life. That’s my morning as a fighter.