Life, the complex puzzle of enlightenment what a challenge it gives us. Its design is made of many different pieces that it can’t be unraveled in one way. The choices, people we meet, and experiences are all scattered fragments that once put together reveal something meaningful but most importantly to LIVE fully while searching for that answer even if the answer isn’t what we originally thought.
It was two years ago after a hiatus of living in fear and making excuses when I manned up to compete in grappling tournaments again in a documented tale I called “The Battle Within”. Reflecting back it was certainly an adventure marked by many triumphs, defeats, lessons, and even a trip to the Denver hospital. But overall what can I say it all made me better than I once was. However during that road to breaking fears and becoming 1 % better there was one thing I avoided that I knew I would have to face eventually No-gi competition which happens to be initial start of my bad competition experience dating back to an incident in 2005.
You could say it was a long time coming and something that I couldn’t avoid. With some encouragement from a friend (Will Lambdin to be exact) I decided to join the fun to compete with him at the SubFighter No-gi Championships tournament in the advance division. Although I had serious anxiety about doing the whole thing especially since my last no-gi tournament was 2007, deep down I knew how much doing this really meant for me as it was greater than the fears holding me back. However the anxiety of “fighting” was the least of my concerns as a much bigger fear was drawing to a sad and inevitable conclusion I couldn’t fix.
My close friend/Grapplethon Star John Flite was in the last hours of his long battle with cancer. Oddly enough I got the news the morning of my tournament which left me very upset. Some way to start a morning I guess. The fears I had of competing was nothing compared to losing a friend you consider a brother.Death isnt like making a minor mistake on a job, fixing an error in your game, or even mending the fense of a relationship. It's a harsh dose of reality because once someone dies there no coming back,no re-fixing.At that moment there was a battle in my mind sitting on my bed side. Should I A) cancel my plans to compete to stay updated on John's status via text or B) go compete to take my mind off things a bit . Knowing what John would probably say and in my own best interest I choose to go compete because keeping my PMA I knew everything was going to be fine with John when I returned.
Packing my bags I was off to go complete the last chapter of this Battle Within competition episode. Getting to event was a challenge within itself marked by weird obstructions such as a 5k breast cancer awareness run which blocked off the connecting streets and almost missing my train. Finally making it on the Gold Line I was off to the carpool meeting point when yet another strange puzzle fragment caught my eye. On my train rides to Pasadena I noticed there was always a lot of gang tagging graffiti in the Lincoln Park area. In the mist of all that dark, nasty, blatant display of vandalism there was one insignia that caught eye which tag read “Life is a Gift”. Although it was cool to see some light in the mist of all that darkness, I also thought it was weird because I never seen it there before almost as if I was trying to be told something as it stuck in the back of my mind that entire day.(Note: I never saw the tag logo again of future train rides but the other gang graffiti was there)
Flash forward my friends and I arrived at the event as the waiting game soon began to step onto the mat.During the waiting period I decided to turn on my cellphone to check on John's status but for some reason my phone battery was low (later went dead). The phone was at full charge when I left the house as I only used it once to confirm pickup to meet my friend for a ride to the event. Nevertheless I didn't think too much of it as I simply turned off the phone and made a conscious decision to be in the moment focus on the tournament not worrying to much of what is going on outside .
I was extremely nervous waiting for my advanced bracket division to be called out to compete. But one thing I did know was as long as I went out there and fight my hardest win/lose my mission would finally be complete.Whether it was John’s condition in the back of my mind, liberation of tackling my last fear, or another motivational flame burning inside of me it certainly paid off with my performance that day. Skipping the details of my matches it was certainly a challenge and a great experience. Competing against two tough opponents I won one and lost one which got me a third place finish in my first run in the advanced division and most importantly putting an end to the final fear that haunted me for so long.
You would think this is the part where I get overly emotional telling you my story and how excited I was to put an end to the Battle Within, on the contrary..... After finishing my last match, stepping off the podium, and putting my medal in my bag I more so felt a sense of deep Sad Emptiness. It didnt make sense this is the moment I was waiting for ..right ? All those blogs, all those stories, all the battles to become 1 % better and get rid of the fears.. It didnt seem right all as a matter of fact it felt like I lost !!
Maybe deep down I felt I lost something greater (which I would later find out when I got home). Maybe I lost my sense of direction blinded by what competing was all about totally ignoring the blessed opportunity I have been given to simply LIVE. All I know I didn’t like the feeling one bit as it was a new scary puzzle I couldn’t explain why I was feeling some type of way. Nevertheless I decided conceal these unexplained emotions and enjoy the rest of my time that day at the tournament.
For a long time people have damn near begged with me to just go have fun when I compete at tournaments. As a matter of fact it was one of John's last request and to be honest I didn't understand what the fuck that meant. As individuals conscious of our actions lets keep it 100'd. No matter what your intentions are be it medal chasing, the love of battling, building a career, religious pilgrimage, or even being 1 % better we participate in a sport where we are destroying the human anatomy -mind, physical body, and spirit or a straight forward way of putting it.. we kick people's fucking ass. We pride ourselves in our work showcased with Facebook events results post, beast mode photos, highlight videos, and that lust of being showered praise from our peers all at the expense of our opponents who have to pick themselves back up from the agony of defeat/humiliation.
After reflecting on my own past experiences, the horrible video of the kid getting slammed at FIVE California 2, and people's bipolar attitudes that pertain to being a competitor it made me look at competing very negatively more than ever before. Call me a soft ass or whatever but as time progressed with my Battle Within mission I didn't like the feeling of making others feel small, I didn't like bragging about what I did, showing off my medals, and damn sure didn't like anyone doing it to me
which lead me to the debatable conclusion that this competition shit wasn't for me after all.
After the conclusion of my matches at the Subfighter tournament I got the opportunity to actually look at the rest of the competitors compete that day. After sitting there for a good six hours analyzing games, supporting friends , seeing how other competitors act in victory/defeat, chatting a bit with my opponents and daydreaming a bit it soon dawned on me what having fun really meant .....the love of L.I.F.E-(Living. Intensely Fully. Everyday) with a PMA ( positive mental attitude).
Where there's darkness there is always light to every situation even the most complex and unexplainable ones. Defeat in battle, mysterious gang tagging, phone dying, facing danger theres gotta be a means to all this.
Competing is no different as although it carries the harsh components previously mentioned it also offers some light to learn, grow, dream and even meet people along way that make us better. Sitting back writing this blog although I conquered the “Battle Within” that day I also gained a sense of what it was truly about which is simply having Love while carrying respect and dignity with the environment you partake in (respect your opponent, being noble,have integrity –etc-)…in all have FUN.
This concept didn’t fully make sense until I got home only to find the sad news that my brother John Flite passed away which friendship meant more to me than any piece of shit ass medal ( FYI medal chasing wasn't my main focus even before the death) or tournament “Battle Within” triumph could possibly fulfill me. Its a situation I’m forced to reflect and digest 2 weeks later… with only memories of him and the strange yet eye opening day I had on October 26 which left me asking the burning question......... "How did I gain so little but in the Process Lose So Much"
Well that is a wrap of the "epic" conclusion of the Battle Within. This will be the final blog I write about me competing. There is no need to make any more blogs about tournaments when it importance is not greater than the loss of my friend which Im still sadly dealing with.
However this doesn’t mean it is the end of me competing because only thing I finally realized looking back on October 26 it just about going out there and simply doing L.I.F.E
1% better #pma #lifeisagift
Monta ( pronounced like Monday with a “T” replacing the “D”)