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Why we fight – My thoughts of the 2015 GSBA USA National Tournament

The anticipation is thick, as my guys Mark & Kyle load the truck with gears and clothes. The time is 0700,  Perris, CA. The weather is high 70’s. Gloomy but no matter how overcast the day may be, nothing is going to diminish the excitement that we all have as we leave for the 2015 GSBA USA National Tournament.
Los Angeles International Airport, Southwest terminal. Checked in and heading towards the gate. Our brothers from Oxnard are there. The hunger is in all our eyes, the hunger that can only be quenched by one thing and one thing alone. GOLD!!! This is not your typical gold fever, for this gold can only be won by combat. The machismo is thick yet the respect is clear; we are kindred warriors. In the battlefield we may be enemies but we are all brothers.
Arriving at Milwaukee International Airport the weather is crisp. At a cool 50 degrees, it is not as cold as 2006, but then again the fire in our hearts and veins will keep us warm. The battle site, Sheraton Brookfield.
Registration: The first time we see our opponents. Make no mistake  –  the battle starts here. Seeing how they lean or do they cringe when you shake their hands? Are they leaner or bigger? Are they limping or not? But just like us, they too have that fire in their eyes and they too have GOLD FEVER.

Talk is cheap, time to show me what you got. As the warriors clash, the sticks fly and there is no longer any holding back. You are giving your all, with every ounce of strength, with every fiber of your being, with all your training against the person in front of you doing the exact same thing. You make contact and as that stick connects you feel every inch of your weapon smashing against their body. You see the hurt they are feeling, yet it does not change their resolve to inflict as much damage as they can on you. The first round is over, is your conditioning enough? As you go back to your corner at that moment you think to yourself have I trained hard enough? Then you look to your coach and they say to you, “Fight hard, fight strong, and fight to win.” That 30 second break is getting shorter between every round. Then you go out there to fight again. All the while you keep thinking, this person is in my way to the GOLD. I must vanquish them.

Two days of fighting, two days of laying it all on the line, two days of pain. Then they hand you your medal, and while not every battle you come out on top, you realize that your biggest opponent was not the warrior in front of you, but the coward inside of you. The coward that says you cannot do this, run and hide. The voice of doubt is silenced as you come out battered and bruised; but you survived. So no matter what the score card says, you know you are a champion. Then your opponent comes across to you and grabs your hand and raises it higher than his. You might not have earned the gold, but you earned something more – the respect of your peers. You walked into the arena as combatants but walked away as brothers forged by broken sticks and bones, sealed with blood and sweat and the victory belongs to you all. 
This is Filipino Martial Arts, and this is what it means to compete.

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THIGH PADS NECESSARY OR NOT?

I have heard many times that the GSBA board should outlaw THIGH PADS.  I have heard both sides of the argument and it actually extends further than just thigh pads but hockey gloves.  So let me first what are the arguments. 

For (Outlawing Thigh Pads & Hockey Gloves)
When fighting, the fear of pain or injury sets a mind set of self preservation. As a result a person would be more apt to be more cautious and if they do get hit at a certain spot they will be protective of that one spot. Their whole fight plan changes because of the injury and the need to protect the injured area. I quote Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a game plan until they get punched in the face.”  Extra thick padding negates that mentality of self-preservation, they don’t have the fear of injury thus creating a false sense of security thinking that the kamikaze style is the way to fight, but in reality it is not. In a real life situation you would not have extra padding. Thus tournaments should make it illegal to wear hockey or thick gloves and thigh pads. Just the standard body armor and helmet. 
Against:
The argument against the outlawing of Hockey Gloves and hockey thigh pads does not refute the above arguments. In fact I personally agree with it. As a practitioner I do not likes to wear a lot of armors. I think the more armor you wear the slower you become. So you become nothing but an oak tree, a stationary target.  Unfortunately that point of view cannot  be afforded here in the United States. 
Our society is a society that is ready to file a lawsuit on anyone irregardless of its merit. The whole suing McDonalds because the person didn’t know the coffee was hot is just a long list of frivolous lawsuit clogging up our courts. As a former member of the Global Stick and Blade Alliance USA board of directors as well as WEKAF USA we had to think about the good of the entire organization not just the tournament. Hypothetically, if the directors were to create a rule banning thigh pads and hockey gloves to be worn during matches, that opens up the organization for possible lawsuit. Imagine if a fighter got hurt because we banned thigh pads, and that same person is unable to work due to injury, that fighter has the right to sue the organization for income loss and medical expenses as well any other expenses incured. Then the organization might have to fold due to the lawsuit and believe me the organization does NOT have a lot of money. What the organization can do to limit it’s exposure is set a minimum guidelines and discourage competitors from adding on from the minimum. To say they cannot wear a particular protective gear is too dangerous for the organization. 
So at this point I’ll let you decide what you think should be done, talk to your regional director and or national director and tell them as a member of GSBA USA in good standing I believe we should…

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The real opponent

We all have it, our very own pre fight ritual. What ever we all need to be able to get us to the place where the warrior meets the ring. But when you prepare yourself I encourage you to consider what or who are your preparing for.  I know there isn’t anyway for your to know who you would be facing in the ring at least not till they call your name.  

Sometimes your biggest opponent isn’t the guy in front of you. It’s that person inside of you that ones that wants to quit in the middle of the third round and your hurting all over and you just don’t have any more gas in the tank. That same voice that’s get louder and louder as you get tireder and tireder. When you ask yourself is this last mile worth it. Is 99% good enough? 

That’s when you find the warrior in you. It is when you say to that voice, I will not be mediocre, I will not settle for good enough and if I go down, then let me go down swinging.