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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.