I guess at some point, it was time to take Emma on a date. The endless flirting was driving me crazy.
Were we gonna do this or not?
Was it a full fledged rekindling of an old relationship? Not quite sure. But a single date was definitely in the cards. One date didn’t mean I had to marry her. Didn’t even mean I had to make her my girlfriend or take her on a second. But the electrifying connection we shared most definitely needed to be explored — at least one time for old time’s sake.
So after months of flirting, I finally decided to pull the trigger. The date was set. Saturday, February 26th.
Unfortunately, the build up was so much more fulfilling than the actual date. The date was, well, highly unsatisfying.
We had such a strong connection in the past, but this time around, she was playing hard to get. She barely even let me hold her hand. Not that I expected to hit a home run on the first date, but I thought I’d at least make it on base.
Okay — okay — enough of the games. Who the fuck is this chick, right?!
If you hadn’t figured it out yet, Emma isn’t even a real girl, haha. Emma Mae was my play on words for, well, MMA. In an attempt to be clever and witty in my piece “Her Again,” I’d personified my love for fighting as a woman, and in the process opened up a can of worms, especially in my community back home who knew both me and my ex. People really thought I was dating an old fling. It was hilarious! Whenever I’d go back to the bay, people would ask who she was. The local gossip was that Jon had already moved on and found someone else.
The look on people’s faces once they found out Emma wasn’t real was priceless.
So… now that the mystery’s been revealed, let’s talk MMA :)
The real Emma Mae.
I know — it would have been rad if she was a real chick and I swept my readers away on some romantic novel type shit, but if you know me, that ain’t the vibe here. Cuz if she was a real chick, you know I would have hit it that first night, hahaha. LMFAO!!! I’m kidding! *insert rolling eyes emoji*
Alright, alright, I’m done. For real this time.
It had been a decade since I fought professionally. Even when deciding to move back to the land of sun and samurai (San Diego), I still didn’t see it as a possibility. I mean, I wrote a whole fucking book about walking away from fighting. Well, the book wasn’t really about me walking away from fighting. That was just the surface level storyline that allowed me to unravel the one beneath: the journey to find one’s self.
Things change, however.
In fact, the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself, but you already knew that.
When I fought the first time, everything was so epic and over the top. Fighting was my birthright. My grandfather boxed in the Philippines. My dad and uncles too. My brother was this super badass martial artist and wrestler — still is — and so were many of my kin — still are. Becoming a champion was my -- *insert taiko drums* -- DESTINY. You know, that type of shit. But when you make things bigger than they actually are and they don’t turn out the way you want, it crushes you. When your identity is associated with what is that you do and nothing else matters but that, you create a recipe for disaster.
This time, however, had a much different feel. I wasn’t looking to make a run at a title or venture into a career of fighting again. At least not right away. If that’s where the path took me, then cool, but that wasn’t the objective.
So, what was the objective?
An exploration of flow.
A research study in play.
Since walking away from fighting, I started exploring martial arts and movement from a much different lens. It wasn’t even about combat anymore.
It was about unraveling my soul and letting it express itself however it wanted, even if that meant dancing outweighed striking. It was about letting go of my masculine nature so that the divine feminine could lead the way. That was essence of flow. That was the trick to play.
To continually allow one fish to consume the other.
It was about letting go of who I thought I was so that I could be who I really am. It was about music and rhythm and sensitivity. Creativity. Authenticity. It was about not caring what other people thought and allowing my human to be everything it wanted to be. Free.
So when I decided to make my way back in the cage, it was about that. It wasn’t about winning or losing or becoming a champion. It wasn’t about making it big and becoming rich or famous or whatever else it was that I wanted in the past. (Don’t think that ego wasn’t salivating at those things again though.)
It was “an experiment.”
That’s what my Dad says whenever he cooks the same dish a different way. So that’s what I set out to do: do the same thing a different way.
What if I decided to flow instead of fight? What if I decided to play instead of press? Was it still fighting? Yes. But what if I did it differently?
Could I maintain a state of flow and play in the midst of danger? Could I articulate my movements as I do when I dance and not conform to the accepted ideas of how a punch or kick should be thrown?
Could I run my own fight camp? Could I dance in lieu of hitting pads? Could I laugh and play all throughout camp instead of feeling like I was embarking on a super serious endeavor called my destiny? Haha. Could I fall in love with "the grind" simply because I was enamored with martial arts again? And because it felt good to cultivate my craft?
Yes, I could.
How do I know?
Because I did.
So if my objective was met, why was my date with Emma so unsatisfying? Because the opponent she gave was whack AF. I didn’t even need to withdraw my sword from its sheath. The week of the fight, I was told that my original opponent had pulled out. In his place, was put a man who, in my opinion, didn’t even know how to fight.
I needed more danger.
I needed deeper conversation.
I needed a better dancing partner.
So Emma… my dear, Emma… would you like another?
I want it. The people want it. And I know you want it too ;)
How about we muse the muse and go on date two?
June 22, 2022