I've been doing martial arts for over 15 years now and will openly admit that I've never been a champion. In fact the best I've ever done is place second at an open international martial arts tournament ( Continuous sparring/Kickboxing). Now I'm doing MMA and things aren't going much better.
Self Defense vs Competing
The funny thing is that during practice and sparring I out perform most of my sparring partners. I also train more than most of the people I know (conditioning, running, diet). But when I step into the ring, I get caught up in the crowds yells. In the middle of the havoc, I lose focus and ultimately lose the fight.
Not that I've lost every fight in the ring, but I think the reason my record is so bad (Kickboxing 3L 1W/ MMA 3 L/0 W) is because I don't have a competitive mind set in the ring. On the flip side to this, I've also never been knocked out cold, so I guess I can be thankful for some things.
I originally started doing martial arts to defend myself on the street. A little after I got jumped (12 years old) I realized that I needed to learn how to defend myself. I started training with my cousin and sparring once a week. The purpose was self defense, so the rules were pretty simple, no biting, scratching, or eye poking. But that was pretty much it.
As I got older I started training formally in Kajukenbo . But I was never really interested in competing at tournaments. Mostly, I wanted to be able to defend myself in the street, which at that point I had, several times. I was only jumped once(when I was a kid), after that I learned how to fight and kept people from pushing me around. Essentially, I reached my goal.
Eventually my marital arts instructor convinced me to compete at a tournament. I was a green belt and reluctantly did it. There were some politics, but overall it was a good time. I fought in a grand prix and took down 3 guys before I reached my final opponent. I was gassed and we went into three overtime rounds with the judges (his coaches ) eventually giving him the win (which he rightfully earned since I outweighed him).
After that I didn't compete much until I came to Japan. Once I got here I started competing again, and found that when I compete I tend to think to much about the rules of engagement. Since I'm used to fighting with minimal rules, this tends to be on my mind.
Enjoying the journey
Through competing, I learn about myself, and where I am in my martial arts journey. I try my best not to let anyones negative comments get to me, because I'm the one in that cage, not them. Outside of their opinion, I am going to step back in the ring, win or lose. I've decided, I will compete until I'm 40 years old (4 more years), so I might as well enjoy it while I can. I probably will never become a champion, but I will have a set of memories to cary with me as I get older.
Losing to another martial artist in the ring is an honor. I've come a long way from fighting inexperienced thugs on the street. MMA is a whole different ball game. I once had a fellow black belt ask me:
"Would you rather be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in the ocean"
It took me a few years to think about what he said, but I think being a medium sized fish is ok too.
Social Gelo with Angelo
Sifu Angelo Ferrer (3rd degree black belt Kajukenbo)
Below is my last fight that I lost by decision(I'm the one in blue) . I'm fighting again in Osaka Japan 9/24/2017