What Learning To Fight Has Taught Me About Fighting

They say Ghana is a peaceful country because while Ghanaians will always raise their voices when provoked, they will never raise their fists.

I always interpreted this to mean that unlike some of our other West African counterparts who are always spoiling for a good fight and primed to see revolutionary change, Ghanaians are cowardly and sheepish. However in recent months I have come to change my perception the use of force as a tool for corrective action, and that shift has come with some new training I’ve received in my backyard. Folks, I may actually be a pacifist at heart. I never thought it could be me.

I have a personal trainer who comes to my home twice a week…And even as I type this sentence out I inwardly cringe at the weight its nouveau bourgeoisie-ness; but that’s the simple truth. I am a busy woman who hates to go to the gym, but I am in a position to pay someone who loves to workout to come to my house to do so. It’s a win for both of us. This is not the point. The point is what Lilly (my trainer) has taught me since we began working out one-on-one since February is that while I may like the idea of being a badass brawler, the real life implications are not nearly as glamorous.

There are folks who pride themselves online for “getting into the gutter” for a digital fight. That sounds really cool when you’re sitting in the driver’s seat of your car, or the back of a trotro squabbling with a digital troll, but Lilly is physically training me to pull someone into a gutter and stay there until they are rendered a whimpering, pleading shell of themselves. I gotta tell you, it’s not a nice feeling for someone who as of yesterday has just accepted herself as a pacifist.

I’ve been boxing with Lilly for a year and I can feel the way my body has adapted itself to stay in fight mode just in case as she puts it “a mutha fucka would.” (She’s from East London.) She says she can feel the changes too.

“Your punches are much more powerful and your footwork is amazing.”

I beam from the praise. She tells me she’s ready to introduce me to some mixed martial arts. “We’ll begin on Thursday,” she says decisively. I readily agree. Folks, that was yesterday. And within the span of 24 hours, Lilly (without knowing) had converted me into a lover from a fighter.

Do you know how badly you can hurt somebody when you’re fighting? Do you know how badly you have to hurt yourself to train to be a fighter? Of course you do. You’ve seen the training montages on Rocky, The Equalizer and Kill Bill, but you’ve never gone out to your back yard and let someone jab you in the face with a glove or voluntarily slam yourself to the ground and pop back up over and over and over again for 90 minutes, have you? No. No you have not. You have to kind of be a sick fucker to do something like that.

As I share this epiphany with aching shoulders and a bruised back, I want to console anyone who has been made to feel like milksop because they didn’t take the first swing – or worse – refused to swing back. Because if you have been trained to beat the paint off of your opponent, that is something you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life. (Or whatever specific length your specific conscience will allow.)

You may wonder: Now that I’ve had this discovery, will I stop my fight training? Absolutely not. I refer you to the second to last paragraph of this post as to why. I may be a pacifist, but even peacemakers have to be ready in case a mutha fucka would.