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The Light in the Darkness

‘Mom you’re barbaric’. Well not said exactly like that, but close. It was said by our then youngest an eighteen-year-old senior in high school after the January 2nd Monday Night NFL game was postponed due to Damar Hamlin’s cardiac episode during the game. Both our oldest, who was then home from college for winter break, and our youngest agreed at the dinner table the following evening on that subject.

They felt fighting and contact sports such as contact football like played in the NFL were too dangerous to exist. I was only slightly taken aback by their thoughts on such sporting events. I reminded them that fighting sometimes saves people from doing something illegal. I explained how it may help ‘air-out’ one’s frustrations. I explained how it was my own form of art. They weren’t buying it.

Yes, I still have it in me to fight, to throw leather, to wrestle, to choke people out and so forth. I know what my excuses have been for training and fighting legally. Those feelings are all still in the tank. They are in the never-ending basement of my body. Yet they are also bubbling close to the surface.

I know when to refrain and I know when to flip the switch. But I don’t know how many people feel and keep feeling the same way I have and do throughout their lives. I had an old-time boxing trainer tell me about six years ago, when I asked him what happens to old fighters who’ve stopped training. He replied, “They either drink themselves to death or overeat and pack on the weight.”

I decided then, I would do neither. I would keep training on some level. Even when I felt it no longer safe to spar or couldn’t roll because of situations out of my control yet to consider our now family of three, as my husband had passed. I’d made up for it slightly by making certain I do enough to exhaust me, keeping myself fit and on my toes. I make believe I have a fight in six weeks nearly all the time. That is what I do. I do the same with my running.

After the conversation that night with our daughters, during that week I called an old fight friend. Who is about fifteen years my junior. He’d been an amateur MMA and pro Muay Thai Fighter before an infection in his elbow almost made him lose his entire arm. A scary thing to witness. I pained for him when that happened. As well, I worried for him because I got the vibe that he loved to fight as much as I did. As we may understand that our fight days might be numbered, we also know that we can still train most of it, just not take the hits anymore to salvage the important aspects for our health and perhaps our loved ones.

So, as I got him on the phone, I explained our daughter’s disdain for fighting and the NFL. Two things I love. Two things I’ve watched since 1966 and one thing I’d been involved with and doing since 2009, then near end of 2019 had a three year plus hiatus from wrestling or boxing training with others due to my husband’s illness and eventual death. Afterwards, I worked on situating our daughter’s college plans and lives, whilst handling closing my therapy business, and my going back to school. Too, I’d taken on additional chores which had been hubby’s.

That night, my fight friend agreed that the world needs a small percentage of people who think like us. Perhaps violent thinking at times but what I consider a necessary evil. Someone needs to be that individual. We expressed to one another the reasons why. And that a small percentage of that currently is necessary. I won’t expect our daughters to understand. I almost don’t want them to. Where my mind goes I would not want other’s minds to enter. It’s too intense. It’s too tragic and as much as I don’t want to admit this, it’s dark. However, fighting is the light in the darkness. I have a strong belief, it keeps people safe.--- Jody-Lynn Reicher

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