Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My insane China trip

Today's the day. I'm at the Airport right now, waiting for Anthony to get here, I'm feeling really good. Normally I'd be nervous flying all the way to China but ever since Dana prayed for me I have felt no fear, she took it all away. I'm lucky to have her and her family in my life. I feel really good about this trip. I know that it's a once in a lifetime opportunity. God gave me a gift and now that gift is taking me to the other side of the world. Who would have thought I'd be here after just over 2 years of training. I remember, before I started, all I wanted to do was just get in the ring at least once and now here I am, getting ready to go to China and I've had 14 fights already. It's crazy! I just think, what if I was still putting off fighting, I'd probably be dead. I know that I would be. It turned my whole life around and there's nothing else that I'd rather be doing.
We're on the plane to China now. I've never felt this comfortable on a plane before. I just know that no matter what happens everything will be alright. I'm in God's hands and He will take me when He is ready for me. We met up with the other people that are going with us in San Francisco. It's Paul Song(Jenna's trainer), his wife, Jenna Castillo and her mom. We had to sit at the airport for like 6 hours but it was a lot of fun and it gave us a chance to get to know each other.

Well, we finally made it to the city where the fight is going to be. It's been so crazy. You just have to laugh at everything or you might lose your mind. The plan ride was really nice accept for how long it was. It was extremely smooth. After we landed in Beijing we took about an hour long bus ride and stayed at some crazy hotel. The shower heads were right above the toilet so water went all over the place when you took a shower. I'd never seen anything like it. Anthony and I took a walk around the city. It was like 1 in the morning but there were people everywhere. They were outside cooking and drinking and hanging out. They looked at us like we were from another planet, but for the most part everyone here is extremely nice. The next morning we got up and went for a run. After that we had breakfast, it was actually pretty good, I was worried. Not so good for my diet though but I kind of gave up on that once we got here, there's not much I can do about it. We had the craziest bus ride to the town where the fights are. Every 5 seconds we almost got killed or killed someone else. It got so bad that I just couldn't stop laughing, so bad so I fell out of my seat crying. None of the Chinese people on the bus seemed to think anything of it. I guess that's an everyday thing for them. So then we made it to the city and it seemed nice but of course, that's not where the fight was going to be. We had to take another crazy death ride for like an hour to another village. On the way we saw a bus that ran a guy on his bike over. His brains were all over the street. The way these people drive I can't believe it doesn't happen every second. I know they have traffic lights and lines and everything but nobody seems to use them, and the cops don't care. Finally arrive in once piece. I'm glad I have so many people back home praying for me because I'm really going to need it out here. It's crazy looking back. One day I decided to start fighting and now I'm in China. Crazy life, but it feels right. I know that this is what I'm supposed to be doing with my life and that's a really good feeling. I know that there are so many people who are lost and don't know what to do with themselves....I feel like we are sheep being led to the slaughter right now. We are the Americans that are here just to get crushed by the Chinese. Well, they picked the wrong Americans to make an example out of. Whether they win or not, they are going to be hurting and wishing they had picked someone else. I just want to slam one of them, which would make it all worthwhile. We'll see what's going to happen tomorrow. We just had dinner with all of the Chinese dignitary types. Felt like we were getting fattened up for an execution. I know they think we're just going to get stomped out. Anthony and I are just here to be made examples of. All those guys were all smiling tonight and being all friendly but I knew exactly what they were thinking. I think even Jenna and her mom probably thought that we are going to get crushed. I don't blame them though. I'd think the same thing if some San Shou guys came over and wanted to try Muay Thai but I'll be damned if I let someone make an example out of me. They made a mistake bringing us over here. We'll see what they say after there guys get knocked out.

Well this just keeps getting weirder and weirder. We got up this morning and had breakfast and then they tell us we're going over to our new hotel which is closer to the fights. So, we all go in another death trap van and barely make it there alive. They took us to where the fights are going to be at first. It looks like an Olympic training center but they say it's a school. I've noticed that ever since these dignitary types have shown up Paul's expression has changed. It's getting harder and harder for him to keep up his fake smile. I know that he wants us to feel safe but he can't hide what's behind his eyes, he's worried. The ring has no ropes, it's just a raised platform. The fights are being held in this huge gymnasium with stadium seating. So we're all sitting around the gym and we're noticing a lot of tension building up. I mean it was so thick you could feel it. Anthony asked one of the guys if everything was OK and even in his broken English he couldn't hide it, but he tried. He says, "Yes everything OK", and Anthony and I started busting up laughing. It was like asking a pilot on a plane that's about to crash if everything's OK and he tries his hardest to say yes but you know damn well you're going to die. It was just one of those things like, we're here, we have no idea where we are, there's no way to get home, they may try to kill us so we might as well go in there and stomp somebody out first. We all knew that something bad was going on behind the scenes. Paul told us that they wouldn't give him all his money. They gave him half and said they would give him the rest after the fight. We all knew that meant he wasn't getting it. Then all of a sudden everyone disappears. Anthony, Jenna, her mom and I are standing outside thinking, "What the hell is going on?" Then we come to find out that we are the only one's fighting. I'm thinking, "We are the only people they could get to come all the way over here. One girl who does this and 2 guys who have never fought this style before. Are we just the only one's who were stupid enough to do it?" That's when I really started thinking that we were never going to make it home. I'm going to die in China. Well, it's definitely a once in a lifetime experience and it may be my last. Everything is so surreal, it's like living in a movie. I kept thinking that if we did die over here someone will make a lot of money off our story ha. I just didn't know how anyone would ever hear about it, that's why I started writing in this journal. For some reason there are never any people at any of these hotels. The last 2 looked as if they weren't even open. One of them literally had to turn the lights on when we arrived. We keep having these huge meals in these empty rooms. Jenna wants to go home. I'm just wondering what's going to happen if we beat these guys. It's like we're in some underground fight club. I know that all of these guys are gambling on these fights, maybe that's why we're here. Just to amuse these rich bastards and give them some fights to gamble on. We'll see what happens when the fights are over. So they've been feeding us non stop this entire time and telling us that we're not going to weigh in so not to worry about it and eat. We get back to the hotel and what do they tell us, "Time to weigh in." I knew this would happen. Somehow I actually managed to lose 5 pounds, not sure how, I've been stuffing my face for the past 2 days. Jenna ended up coming in light as well. At first I thought that the scale was messed up but Anthony said he weighed what he thought he would. I just want to fight and make it home in one piece. I'm just going to keep laughing about everything. That's the only thing you can do to keep your sanity. If you start thinking about how serious this is you'll lose it. I tell you, if anyone else was here they would have cracked a long time ago. I don't even know if we're going to get to see the great wall or the Shoalin temple. I think they just told us that to get us over here.

Well, everything turned out fine. We got to the event and there were people everywhere.They brought us into the back where we had our changing room then they gave us this big, black, robe/cape thing which we all had to wear. It smelled awful. Can't even describe it.They didn't even check our hand wraps or give us gloves. We ended up having to use Jenna's because we didn't bring any. Luckily they were 8 ounces. They gave us that damn stank robe to wear again. Jenna fought first. She did good but she waited a lot. It seemed like she was real hesitant to do anything. I was getting warmed up, I don't know if I'm just getting used to fighting or what but I was so relaxed. I went out there and told myself, "I'm just going to take my time, feel him out." We started and I blasted him with a leg kick. It was hard but it landed with my foot. The surprising thing was that it seemed to hurt him. I was thinking, "Now you're dead." Then I landed a hard roundhouse to his ribs, I threw a jab but he kicked at the same time. It came around the back of my head and I didn't even see it. It landed so hard on my head that I took a nose dive into the mat. I got up and was like, "Damn, I'm gonna get knocked out in China." Then I thought, "Screw that." He came running at me and threw another hard roundhouse to my ribs. It was hard but I didn't feel it. Again he came running in and did the same. He tried once more, threw another kick but this time I countered with an overhand right and caught him square in the nose. He backed up, his nose was gushing and he was stunned. As soon as I saw him take a backward step I knew the fight was mine. I think when I got up from that kick he was like, "Oh no, I shouldn't have done that!" I was smashing him with everything that I threw. I even dumped him twice. The first time he tried to throw me and somehow I reversed it. He was laying on the ground in disbelief and the entire crowd went silent. I'm a Muay Thai guy, I'm not supposed to know how to do that. I guess I'm a quick learner. After the second time I threw him I could tell he was mentally wearing down. He kept trying to stall like saying his gloves were messed up or I kneed him low. They stopped the fight once because his nose was gushing blood. He went over to see the doctor and the craziest thing happened, one of the judges gets up, walks over from his table, pushed the doctor out of the way and shoved my fighter back in the ring yelling at him.(which you can watch in the video at the bottom of the page, happens at the 3:30 mark) I couldn't believe it. He tried to fight for a minute but I landed another hard kick and he couldn't take anymore. The ref counted him out. I wasn't really sure what was going on though. When he got up and I almost went over and started fighting again but the ref stood in between us and raised my hand. I thought to myself, "I guess I won." Paul grabbed me and told me not to celebrate, just walk to the back. It was all very strange. I had fun. All I wanted to do was throw him once but ended up stopping him and throwing him twice. My head was killing me though, it felt like it was busted open. I asked Jenna if my head was bleeding and she said no. It started swelling up to the size of a baseball. Oh well. Anthony went on after me. His fight was pretty funny. Every time he hit the guy he hurt him and every time the guy hit Anthony he hurt himself. But Anthony waited too long. Part of the reason, which I found out after his fight was over, was that Paul had come up to him before he fought and told him not to knock the guy out like I did. Anthony said he looked really scarred. I think there's some crazy stuff going on behind the scenes here. They probably would've killed somebody if Anthony knocked his guy out. He ended up losing a decision but we knew before we came over here that if we didn't knock them out than there's no way we would win. Anthony knew that he beat his guy so he was happy. Afterward we had to go to the hospital because Anthony thought that he broke his hand. They looked at it at first and told him it wasn't. We both start cracking up, it was over twice it's normal size. I had a huge knot on the back of my head the size of a baseball. It was killing me. They gave me a giant bag of ice, like the ones from 7-11, to put on it. I came to find out that the guy I fought was the son of the Master. I guess he was some huge important guy in the martial arts world. I'm sure he wasn't to happy.

Well it's been an interesting couple of days. They came and picked us up yesterday for the second fight. Once again we got to enjoy another death ride. I'm actually starting to get used to almost dying every ten minutes that it doesn't really bother me anymore. We had no idea where we were going. They kept saying that we were getting close but it seemed like we were getting further and further from anything that looked like civilization. I started to think that we would never make it back alive. We were driving through these slums on these bumpy roads. We needed a 4 wheel drive car but we were in a minivan. I couldn't believe it, I thought that any second the wheels were gonna fall off, on top of the fact that my stomach was killing me. Had been this entire trip. I think I definitely have an ulcer or something. Everyone's stomachs have been messed up from all the crazy food we've been eating. As we were driving I was looking around thinking that they could kill us and no one would ever know about it. Nobody knew where we were, who we were with are where we were going. So we're driving around for a while and there isn't anything around, we were in the middle of nowhere. Then, in the distance, I see this huge temple looking building. I knew right away that this is where we were going. As we were getting closer we started hearing this noise. Nobody could figure out what it was at first but as we got closer it became more was drums! Then, I saw it, a long driveway that led up to the temple. Both sides were lined with people clapping or drumming. It was straight out of a movie. There were tons of them. That's when I knew that we weren't going to make it out of there. They have been telling us that this fight was just for fun all this time. That's when I realized that the first fight was the show. They were sending us to the slaughter! So we get out of the van and none of us knew what was going on. They took us in this room and the head trainer there, who we called the bad man, wanted to get a picture with us. All of a sudden Sefu Song came in and said,"Let's go", and grabbed us. All of a sudden this horrible feeling came over me, even worse than the one I already had. I was thinking that we were going to have to kill someone to make it out of there alive. After that they sent us upstairs. It was the head guy's office. He looked and was dressed up just like that dictator Mao Tse-Tung. He looked crazy as hell. He was just staring off into the distance, not saying a word. Then I was thinking, "Oh shit, this is the guy who's son I beat up. DAMN!" I knew he wanted me dead. As we were sitting up there all these important people kept rolling up in these nice cars like Benzes and Mercedes. I knew some crazy shit was going down. Then they came up and said they would take us to a room where we all could rest until the fights. They said we would have two hours. We all went to the room and sat down to relax but the atmosphere was so tense you could cut it with a knife. Everyone knew that something was going on so no one was really relaxing. Then all of a sudden, about ten minutes later "the squirrel master", a guy from the fights who had been 'helping us', came to the room and said, "We fight now". Of course, what else is new? They walk us over to where the fights are going to be and we had to walk up these huge steps where all the students were lined up along them clapping. Just like in the Roman days, they were applauding the gladiators who were about to die. How'd I get myself into this? Oh well, at least I get to fight. They showed us the room where we could change and warm up. It was the size of a bathroom. We made the best of it. Just picture all three of us warming up, including Jenna's mom, Sefu Song and his wife in this room that was about 6 feet by 6 feet. Then the bad man comes knocking. He says this is just a show, they're not going to go hard. We were all thinking the same thing, "Yeah right it's just a show, they're gonna try and kill us!" As soon as he left, Sefu Song said,"He's a liar". I knew that they were going to try and at least cripple us if they couldn't win. Now, I was in a difficult predicament. I was the only one who had won the previous day. I knew they wanted to hurt me bad. I was thinking, "what should I do? Should I go out and try to destroy this guy and if I do what are they going to do to us?" If it was just me I would destroy the guy without question but I had five other people with me that I had to think about. I didn't want to do anything that would put them in jeopardy. I didn't know what to do so I asked Sefu Song," Do you want me to hurt them?" He looked right in my eyes and said,"Go hard!" I was so pissed off at how much disrespect they had shown him. I thought of him the same way I think of Master Chan. I wanted to make him proud. I was looking out the window and this sense of peace came over me. It was such a beautiful view. I was thinking, "This is where I'm going to die", and you know, it didn't really bother me. I was thought. "At least I'm doing what I love, how many people get to go out like that." I actually took a picture of the view out of that window. It's crazy to look at it now. Jenna fought first, again. She fought the same girl she had the day before. This time she really took it to her and gave her a beating but she didn't get the win, of course. We all knew she won so we didn't care much. I was thinking, "At least she doesn't have to worry about getting killed now." Then, it was my turn. They walked me out through the crowd and everyone was starring at me. It wasn't like the usual stares you get when you walk out to the ring. It was as if they were thinking, "There's the American who beat our champion." They wanted to see what I was all about. I started thinking that the whole reason they had the first fight was to soften us up. Now they could say we fought the first time and they never saw us again. They could kill us and no would ever know, plus we were in the middle of no where. So, if this was going to be my last fight, I was gonna smash this guy out. I kept wondering why they would want to piss us off. Don't they know that we're gonna take it out on the people we fight. I make my way to the ring, hop over the ropes, which the crowd thought that was pretty funny. I bow to the judges and then to my opponent. It was on. I had absolutely zero fear of this guy. The only thing on my mind was going right through him. I just made sure that I kept my hands up cause my head was still killing me and wouldn't you know it, he blasted me with an over hand right at the start of the round. It wasn't that hard but it dazed me a little bit, which kinda worried me. I know I have a hard ass head and I've been hit way harder by some big dudes and not even been bothered but for some reason this one did. I just smiled and kept walking him down. I knew he was thinking to himself, "Oh shit!" Then he put all his weight into this side kick which landed square on my stomach. It didn't even budge me. I hit my stomach to let him know that he couldn't faze me and the crowd let out his big "OOOOOHHHHHHHHH", and I just kept smiling. I started lighting him up with leg kicks, they were landing hard and I knew that he couldn't take too many more. He was running from me. He threw an ax kick, which landed on my shoulder. It stuck there so I grabbed it, bent down, picked him up in the air and slammed him hard on his back. The whole place went dead silent, they couldn't believe it. Even Jenna and her mom were like, "Where the hell did he learn that from?" Right at the end of the second round I drove a knee into him that picked him up off the ground. He let out this big 'UUUGGGGHHH'. I knew he was finished. He didn't come out for the 3rd. I won but I felt no joy like I usually do. I take no pride in beating someone that has no heart. I will fight until I'm dead and I have no respect for people who don't go all the way. I respect all fighters because I know what it takes just getting in there but if someone will just quit because they're hurt I can't respect that. You shouldn't be fighting if you're not willing to take it all. Anything can happen in this game, even if you think you're being safe, so why do it if you're not willing to risk it all? He came up to me after the judges announced my win and said he was sorry. He was a really nice guy but then I had to walk back through the crowd to get to our dressing room. I was thinking, "This is it, someone is going to stab me in the back and no one will ever know who did it." But I made it back to the room safely. Anthony was up next. He was fighting the same guy again. I knew this guy was hurting, as was Anthony's hand. I told Anthony to light him up like a heavy bag because I knew that he wasn't going to block anything. "You have nothing to worry about, just put all your power into everything", I say. Once again the guy just ran from him. It was so hard for Anthony to get in anything clean cause they guy was constantly going backwards. I was trying to tell him to cut him off but it wasn't working. He beat the guy's ass for three rounds. One time the guy through a kick which Anthony blocked. I thought the guy was gonna fall to the ground because you could just see the pain in his face. It was the funniest thing. Anthony started cracking up. He was having fun and I knew it. We was putting on a great show and he knew he was killing the guy but I knew if he didn't knock him out he wouldn't win. It's pretty hard to knock someone out that's running from you. In the end the guy went away with the win but he also went home beat up. He came up to Anthony afterward and said that his country had dishonored, "You beat me up for three rounds and they still let me win." So the fights went well, now all we had to do was make it out of there alive. All of the students were so nice. They were all hanging out waiting to talk to us and take pictures. As we walked out the whole place was pitch black. It was like the dark side of the moon. I was so happy after talking with all the kids and then I was like, "Now we're gonna die." I started slowly walking down the stairs just waiting for someone to shoot me a stab me or something. We started walking towards the cars and there was a light on in one of the offices. One of the guys was standing there waving us towards him. I was like, "Hell no, I ain't going in there!" but Paul told us it was OK. One of the trainers, who was actually very nice, wanted a photo with us. So we took our pictures with him and made it back to the car. I felt like the soldiers must when they are on their way back from war. They made it out of that hell then they're just praying something stupid doesn't happen like the plane crashing. We were driving back though no mans land, there were no lights, no houses, nothing. It was very eerie. We pull up to this toll booth, which wasn't a toll booth at all, just a guy standing there with a makeshift poll across the road. I was thinking, "Now we're definitely dead!", but we made it through. As soon as we got past that point this huge weight was lifted off my shoulders, not that we were safe yet cause 'the bad man' was still with us, but I definitely felt better. When we got out of the cars at the hotel, and out of earshot of the bad man, Paul told us that his friend was coming to get us in the middle of the night so that we could escape. At this point so much crazy stuff had happened that nothing fazed Anthony or I anymore. I guess when you almost die every single day you kind of get used to it and it's not really a big deal. I guess that's why none of the Chinese people seem to mind the psychotic driving. They figure if it's there time to go then so be it. So they came and knocked on our door in the middle of the night, we had to make the great escape. Unfortunately our driver was a complete psycho, just as they all were. I never thought we would make it to our destination in one piece. We saw a fatal wreck where a car had ran into the back of a tractor trailer and the driver of the car had went through the windshield and splattered all over the back of the trailer. Not the best thing to see as you're praying to make it out of this country alive. Well we finally made it to a city, a very nice city, where people actually lived. The next day Paul's friend took us to a San Shou school, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The people there were so beautiful. They were so overjoyed to have us there, all smiles. So they have us do some shadow boxing and hit some pads to put on a little demonstration, it was a lot of fun, even though it felt like I had broken my foot in the fight the day before. They had Jenna do a sort of exhibition with one of there female students. They told her that she was just going to go light but this girl came out trying to kill Jenna. It was kind of funny afterward Jenna did great and everyone was happy. We also did some sparring with some of their students, then they had us do some TV interviews, I had no idea what they were talking about. They had me arm-wrestle this jacked up buff dude. I was like, "Oh shit! He's huge", but actually ended up beating. They had us switch hands and go left after that and he beat me, so it was fun. We took photos with everyone there, it was so amazing. They told us that all the students live and go to school there. It amazed me how full of joy everyone there was. It made all the bullshit that we had been through worthwhile. We went out to dinner with all the trainers and Paul's friend. They told us how happy all the students were to have us there. The expression in Paul's face was completely different than it had been over the past few days. You could see that all his stress was gone, it was like looking at a completely different person. It was so good to see. Anthony, although he doesn't drink, decided to get drunk. He figured after everything that we had gone through that it was time to relax. They would bring out these cases of beer. For some reason they only gave us these tiny glasses, like a glass that you would put a mixed drink in. They would keep filing them up and someone would make a toast and we'd drink. Anthony got smashed, it was a lot of fun. We were eating some crazy ass food. Sea slugs, donkey, fried locusts, and who knows what else. It was the best time I've ever had at a dinner. Everyone was happy and relaxed. It was like winning the war and celebrating at home with your family. After we ate they took us back to the hotel, Anthony and I went out, got some beers and walked around the city. Everyone was starring at us but most people would stare then smile and wave. The people here are so amazing. You get so used to people in America that you think everyone is like that. It's a nice change. We went back to the hotel and passed out. We all got up in the morning and walked around the city. Went shopping and had lunch at Pizza Hut, it was great, although I'm still having some serious stomach problems, maybe it was the slugs I ate. We went and had dinner at this really nice restaurant with Paul's friend. The next day we got on another death ride to where Paul grew up. We've almost died so many times out here, I wonder if I'll ever make it home. I've been so blessed, God gave me a gift that has completely turned my life around and has brought me to the other side of the world to experience things that I never could have dreamt. All I wanted was to have at least one fight, now I've had 16 and I'm cruising around in China, it's crazy. It wouldn't be a shame to die now, I've almost died so many times when I was younger being stupid (partying). How many people have experienced what I have?

We took another 5 hour death bus ride to another city and spent the night. The next day we got up and went to the mall. I finally got some medicine for my stomach, apparently it was an ulcer because that's the medicine that fixed it. I was so relieved not to be in constant pain anymore. We walked around the mall for a while, found some of those massage chairs and passed out in them for like half an hour. We went and had lunch at McDonald’s and went back to the hotel. Had about 6 hours till we had to get on another 10 hour death bus ride back to Beijing. I was losing my patients, at that point all I wanted to do was to be back home. I was thinking that our luck would eventually run out and that we would never make it out of China alive. Every time those thoughts would enter my mind I would realize that it had nothing to do with luck, God was watching over us and if it was time to go then it was time to go. I kept remembering what Gina's mom had said to me before I left. She said God will not let you go until it's your time. I knew that if that was the case God had a reason for it and there was no need for me to worry about it. Anthony and I didn't feel like sitting around so we walked around the city for a while. Then, we saw it, Popeye's Chicken. It was the greatest thing to see, I was so happy. We practically ran there. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. Apparently they don't have the same recipe as they do in the states. It tasted like hot trash, on top of the fact that they didn't have any hot sauce. It made me sick. Oh well, I guess I should have known better. We went back to the hotel and just rested until it was time to leave and go to the bus stop. We got there around 8:30 at night and it was supposed to leave at 9. They had these amazing top of the line buses, I had never seen anything like them. Every person had their own recliner that went all the way back into a bed. The driver had these video camera monitors, it looked like a cockpit. I was like, "Damn, this will be a great ride to Beijing, finally something nice." WRONG…..should've known better. Our bus finally pulled up, what a heap it was. First off they couldn't fit all of our bags on the bus. There was this lady there who was like drill sergeant yelling and screaming at everyone, not that we knew what she was talking about. She was like a Nazi, all I could do was laugh. I felt like we were in prison or something. Finally get on the bus and it was packed. Picture this; Three rows of stacked bunk beds all the way down the bus with two walking lanes in the middle. When I say bunk beds I should say cots that no normal sized human could fit in and the so called 'walk ways' were lined with people laying down, packed in there. This was a death trap for sure. If we wreck everyone in this bus is dead. I was the lucky one whose cot was right next to the toilet. I crammed my long ass into this bed that wouldn't fit a midget and tried to sleep in the stink. People were going to the bathroom almost every 5 minutes, luckily it was only a 13 hour ride ha. I did however somehow manage to sleep a bit and the time went by rather quickly considering the circumstances. I could just hear us flying through traffic and all I could think was how we were all going to die in a fireball and be trapped. Come to find out after the ride that those buses are the number 1 killer of tourists in China because they are so dangerous and deadly. Thanks for the heads up people! Well we finally made it to Beijing and got in a cab and went to the hotel. We had some breakfast and went to our rooms and rested. I was thought to myself, "Finally, we get to relax!"... WRONG………………..About an hour later we got a phone call. It was Paul telling us that we were going to go and eat lunch and then go see these caves from WWII. Although I didn't want to miss any opportunities to see things that I probably would never have a chance to, I just wanted to sleep, but I went anyway. We had lunch at this very cool restaurant, it was like a nursery and had all these plants and trees on the inside. I guess it had a lake or pond under it so they had all this vegetation inside. It was very relaxing. There were two Americans there who were friends with Paul's sefu. One of the guys used to fight and knew Master Toddy. They were very nice. It was actually kind of weird since we hadn't seen anything other than Chinese people in a week. Paul's sefu asked me if I wanted to fight one of his students the next day at their school. I wanted to so badly but my head was killing me and I was extremely dizzy. I knew that it'd be a bad idea. It was actually starting to worry me. I knew that another shot to my head was the last thing I needed. Besides, Paul wouldn't let me do it anyway. I think he was pretty worried about my head as well. They told us that we could just train with them instead. However, they were going to have Anthony and Jenna do some exhibitions. After lunch we went to the tunnels. It was so interesting to see all these places where WWII took place. They had a museum on the spot with a bunch of artifacts and things. After we went through a tour of the caves we went back to the hotel and rested for a little while then went over to Paul's sefu's school. It was actually at the Olympic training center. We pulled up and the place was packed. There were all these students who looked so eager to see us. I kept wondering what they had told them, why did they seem so eager to see us? They introduced us to everyone and then all the students put on demonstrations of there particular styles. It was very cool and intriguing. After that they had Jenna and Anthony spar some of their students. I was so disappointed that I couldn't participate. Anthony ended up almost knocking his guy out, not on purpose, he just caught him good. It was such a wonderful experience. They took us back to the hotel so that we could shower and get changed before dinner. Paul showed me the tape of my first fight. When the guy kicked me in the head it sounded like a watermelon exploding on the pavement, it was the nastiest noise. I hope that never happens again, at least not anytime soon. We went to dinner but Paul had somewhere to be so he left us with three of his friends, who didn't speak a word of English. It was actually a lot of fun. We ate and then went back to the Hotel. Paul told us that we had to leave at 4:30 in the morning because he wanted to take us to Tiananmen Square before we went to the airport. We got a few hours of sleep and then came the knocking on the door. Tiananmen Square was so amazing, it was like being in another world. I can't even really explain how it looked and felt being there. We walked around a lot and Paul showed us all the memorials that were built in remembrance of the students who died there, it was very interesting, once in a lifetime stuff. We finally get in the cab and head to the airport. After we take off I fall right asleep. Suddenly I'm woken by this lady saying, "We're landing." Now in my head I thought we were over the middle of the ocean so needless to say my heart jumped a bit. I looked over at Anthony and asked him. He said we were landing in China somewhere. We didn't know if it was a normal thing or if something was wrong with the plane. We tried to ask but no one seemed to be able to give us a straight answer. After we land, they tell us all to get off. I was a bit freaked. After all that I had made it through in the past week or so I was in no mood for anything else. We get off the plane then they had us go through all these security lines and checkpoints only to get back on the same plane again. We finally found out later that they always stop there to drop off a few people and then go on to America. We get back on the plane, at this point there was no way I could fall asleep no matter how hard I tried. It was the worst flight back. Flying to China was so nice and peaceful, we didn't even hit one bump. I don't know if the pilot was drunk or what but the entire flight back was bumpy. I just wanted to jump out the plane at that point. We finally land in San Francisco, I can't tell you how relieved I was to be back on American soil. We said our goodbyes to Jenna, her mom and Paul, then Anthony and I went and waited for our plane back to Vegas. We reminisced how crazy the trip was. I was so glad that we had gotten through this crazy journey together. We got on our plane and made our final flight of the trip. Another bumpy ass one. I was thinking how perfect it would be to have made it all this way and then have this stupid one hour flight crash on us. When we landed the damn plan hit the runway sideways and bounced back up in there air about 30 feet and landed again. Anthony and I just looked at each other and started cracking up. I had lost it. I was mentally, physically and spiritually drained. My body and my mind were spent. I just wanted to be home. I had been through every emotion known to man on this trip. It was the best and worst experience of my life. In the end I am so happy that I went and I would actually go back in a heart beat, as long as we had a few things straightened out. This was a once and a lifetime experience and I am so grateful to have had it and to have spent it with a great friend.
The end.

-I was back into training for about a month after being back and was noticing that my head was still messed up. Every time I got hit, even if it was light, I would see flashes of light. I had a headache since that second fight and things were very foggy to me. I finally, waited long enough huh, went and got my it checked out. Apparently I had about an inch and a half fracture in the back of my skull right, where I had been kicked. The doctor told me that I was very fortunate it hadn't killed me. He said that if I had been hit in that spot again it would have either killed me or I would have become a vegetable. This freaked me out a bit considering I fought the very next day. I ended up having to take 3 months off from taking any impact to my head and unfortunately had to miss a huge fight here in Vegas because of it. I actually still tried to do it but the ring doctor just so happened to be the same doctor who had diagnosed my skull fracture. Go figure. I was pretty bummed but I still would do it all over again. I told the doctor the story and he told me that the only way he could've cracked my skull is if he had steal in his shin guards, I knew his kicks seemed a bit hard ha.

One thing that this has taught me is to appreciate every moment, no matter what. I know that every fight could be my last. I used to be in the middle of a fight and be so tired that I would just want it to be over already. Now, no matter what is happening, winning, losing, injure, etc, I appreciate it. That's why I always have a big old smile on my face. I'm living my dream and even if it's not going exactly how I want it to, at least I'm going after it. This applies to every aspect of life as well. We never know which day will be our last. So, even if you're having the worst day ever, appreciate it, at least you're are having "a day". Appreciate it for what it is. Live your life and enjoy. It could always be worse and it usually does get better.
God bless you all!

-The end...for real this time

First fight


1 comment:

  1. Hectic trip! You certainly DO get around... You have a very interesting life man! Next time you have to go to that part of China, take me with, I love adventures! :P