Returning to the Battlefield.

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

Saturday 26th June 2021 was the UK's first HMB tournament since the world locked down. 2nd UK Donjon Cup Challenger. A profight tournament meaning 1v1 with points gained for strikes, shield punches, takedowns, dominance... the whole shabang!

I have been dying to get back into the action ever since I had to leave it. It has been a long 2.5 years of drastic life changes and a heavy weight struggle to regain any sense of "normality" or even a sense of being myself in many ways. Although there are many things that make me "me", and they of course change and adapt as I grow through my journey of life, I had 3 staples that made me feel like myself. Music, Fighting and my relationship with God.

I always knew, once finding out I was pregnant, that my life would never be the same again. That there were some BIG changes coming.. I think it was a pure rebellious stubbornness, (that my family and oldest closest friends will know it a deep running trait of mine), that led me to believe I could still have these things as well as raising twins..

Yet, after 14 months of motherhood kicking my ass mentally and physically while I still had hope of pushing forward to create our next line of songs.. music was stripped from me. At least, the only active music I had had for the last few years previous to this point. Needless to say, this was absolutely devastating to me. Not only the fact that it happened, but for the reasons given to why it must happen..

That leaves 2: Fighting and God.

Well... the whole world turns into a near Orwell dystopian nightmare and that's fighting shut down. Under other circumstances I could have thrown myself into fitness and training solo, or even with Jordan. It was not to be so, the needs of twin babies rule above all else and let's just say although I have managed some good training here or there, my fighting fitness took a hard hit.

That leaves one : God.

I wouldn't say I have ever had the closest relationship with God.. nor would I say that I have a terrible one. I have never felt truly alone, even in the times that I've raged at the empty sky cloaked in overwhelming loneliness... to my core I've always believed God is with me. Yet I do want a more active relationship with Him, and that's something I shall continue aspiring to achieve.

Now, let us return to the run up to UK Donjon Cup Challenger 2021. In short, I had spits of focused training and spurts of obligations. It is often difficult for me to remember to feed myself breakfast let alone fit in time to improve myself, as it does require time. A lot of time. A lot of CONSISTENT time. The week leading up to the tournament, when most are checking over their armour and performing all last preparations, I have precious little time to even think of the tournament. I am working 3 days from home juggling the boys. I only have a blessed family member over to help look after the boys so I can focus on my work 2 mornings of those working days. My priorities are heavily on my sons and my work for the week. It's only on Friday afternoon, when my shining light of hope Sofie arrives to help with last minute armour admin, do I get a chance to realise the chaos that lies before me and panic!

The morning of Saturday 26th June my mind was racing trying to remember all my kit, ensure everything was prepared for good ease at home in my absence. Mum guilt, and partner guilt, always weighs on my shoulders whenever I do anything for myself that requires me leaving my boys with someone else, even with Jordan. Apparently I'm a worrier, it runs in the family I'm told!

On the drive to ISCA HQ (where the tournament is being held), I try to lose myself in the music.

Upon arrival there's the usual excitement of seeing old friends mixed with the ever growing anxiety of that task ahead.

My armour is still a mess. I've not had the time to properly prepare, my sabatons never showed up in the mail and I managed to forget my trackies which are still folded neatly on my bed at home.

Blessed be my HMB family! I was supplied with all I needed from brethern in ISCA and from Sofie meaning I could still fight! The crushing fears that I would have to pull out last minute because I can't get my sh*t together past and it was a rushing blur literally fitting armour to the right spots right up until the first fight of the day, (luckily it wasn't me first!)

I watch from the side of the list, heart beating, practicing controlled breathing techniques. Trying to analyse my opponents as they fight each other.. trying to work out some sort of tactical plan to not be defeated embarrassingly.. and there it is.. doubt. Doubt is already in my head, it's near impossible for me to squash.

You haven't trained. You aren't good enough. You are going to fail.

I close my eyes as my inevitable first fight draws closer and I pray.

Breathe deep.

Helmet on.

Sword and shield in hand.

Time to fight.

What follows, anyone can watch the replay of the livestream and judge for themselves.. I have not built up the courage to watch yet.

From my perspective.. I got my ass kicked... repeatedly!

My arms grew heavy fast, I was battling the voice telling me to give up, the one saying

"What's the point you're never going to win".

It was like I was in a ragdolls body. My brain yelled "throw the punches, rush her! COMBINATIONS! KEEP GOING! STRIKE NOW!" yet I could not follow through on the motions I knew would get me points.

With every defeat, my heart grew ever more heavy.

"Why did you even bother doing this?!" "You're not ready to be back in armour" "You'll never be good enough to win anything ever again" "You're weak"..

I did not win any of my fights. Not even close. Everything I could have done wrong against every opponent, I did.

My cornermen told me that I wasn't losing badly, that they were close fights. I was already defeated in my head and I have not trained the ability to pull myself out of that in the moment.

I gave it my all, but my all wasn't good enough... so what now?..

Firstly, it's not all about winning.

I pushed myself to register and get into armour. I pushed myself to get back into the list and fight! I did this because I KNOW that I need it. Fighting is one of the things that grounded me as a person. I had searched my whole life to find something that fit this chasm in my life, and HMB fit like a glove.

Secondly, the community is EVERYTHING that the restrictions of the past year and a half took away from us.

No one had a bad word to say about my performance. There were honest criticisms, which I welcome with open arms as that gives me points of improvement to focus on. But they were all give from a place of support. I had people rooting for me, shouting in my corner. Each one of my opponents showed respect in their victory. An overwhelming comment from people, not just at the tournament, but also those watching the livestream was that it was so good to see me back in armour. They were happy for me to have taken that first step back into a thing I love!

Thirdly, I have other life priorities.

I am a mother to 20 month old twin boys. I have a job that was not affected by the pandemic. I do not have the time I once had to dive into regular training. I've been unable to train with any consistency for 2.5 years, and yet I have kept some reasonable level of fitness maintained and my drive to improve has not waivered.

There is some part of me, some wholly selfish part, that yearns for me to be able to just focus on training to be a good fighter again. But I was reminded at the tournament that, just because someone else has more time to train, does not necessarily mean they are any happier than me.. we all have our personal battles and all have things that we wish we had more time for.

But I was humbled in that moment..

"You have the hardest job in the world being a mother.."

It is not uncommon knowledge that I push myself. I am hard on myself because I always believe I can do more, be more. Sometimes, I need reminding of just how much I am doing. I have been raising twin boys through a global pandemic, and though I never feel that I am doing a good enough job because I could always do something more.. my boys are happy, they are strong, and you better believe they are clever and cunning and all the things toddlers could be to test their parents! Motherhood, although it is something I struggle with daily, is not something I am failing.. and it is no small task.

Fourthly, I took the first step.

It would be foolish of me to expect to have won any fights against those who have had more time to train. You have to train for a reason! - and train consistently to make any real improvements. With this in mind, it would have been very easy to say to myself.. "ahh maybe I should wait until I'm ready"... but why wait?

As I've mentioned before, fighting is something that grounded me as a person. I've missed clashing steel ever since I had to put my sword down. And I'm stubborn. So what if I'm not on a level playing field, it doesn't matter! The ONLY way to get better is by doing!

Again, I was humbled with comments akin to "you couldn't tell you've been out for as long as you have" and "I'm so proud of you coming back so soon".

I showed up, and I gave it my all. My all this time around was not enough to beat anyone.. but next time, my all shall be greater.

Doing some training is miles better than doing none. So I shall endeavour to take every opportunity I can to train, whether that's making it to a team training event, just hitting the pell for 10 minutes, fitting in a run after the boys go to sleep, or just squishing in some burpees here and there. Collectively, little and often add up. And as my boys grow older, more opportunities shall arise.

So where do I go from here?

Well, I am me, every inch of my existence drives me to do the things I love, improve myself and share amazing things with those around me.

Balance is key for me. I must prioritise. God, Family, work, fighting, music, art.. they shall all find their place firmly in my life in time. I know I must train mentally as well as physically. I must be more than a fighter because I am a mother. I must be more than a mother because that is not my lone identity.

So as I sit here :with fresh bruises and muscle ache,

reflecting on how blessed I am to have the life I have and such amazing people surrounding me,

knowing I have a long and tough path ahead of me,

dreaming of qualifying of world championships, of my boys squiring for me, of coaching and supporting my boys once they're in armour...

I can say with full confidence

...I'm back.

All Photos credited to : Sofie Maceanruig <3

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