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Grand Traverse Woman

Life’s a cage fight: Unleash your

Badass BY JACLYN ROOF

DO YOU EVER find yourself wishing you could be more suc-

HIGHLAND STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

cessful or confident? More… badass? You long to be your own version of a badass, but you aren’t sure you know what that means. You wonder who or where you are in life, or if you even have a life. Why do I bring this up? Because this was who I was. And, on some level, it still is. I would love to tell you that I came out on top, hands raised in a guaranteed overnight victory. This was not the case. I battled failure, embarrassment, exhaustion, guilt, frustration and picked up the pieces (and my own body) more times than I can count. But each time I started over, I found myself identifying, owning and unleashing my inner badass in ways that I never thought possible.

A BIG, BADASS OPP In 2016, I decided to train my overweight, cardio-starved “mom-bod” for a cage fight coming up in February of 2017. I had been training for a little over a year at a gym specific to mixed martial arts, boxing and jiu jitsu. It was just a fun way for me to release some aggression, do something physically challenging and feel like a total badass. My trainer and coach told me they had an opponent looking for a higher weight class (I was a 35-year-old mother of two). He asked if I was interested in making my fight debut. I laughed. Then I said yes. Maybe I was on a high from too many hits in the face at the gym, or maybe I’d just gone a little crazy. Either way, I was totally enamored by the thought of a real fight.

TURNING POINT I didn’t know what I was committing to, quite honestly. I knew I was fighting a woman, but that’s about it. I researched her online to get myself amped up, but it was hard to know what I was up against. I wasn’t even sure I could punch or defend myself. I had played basketball and softball in my youth, and strength-trained and added basic cardio as I got older. I started boxing to stay in shape

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and never intended to fight. Then I watched the movie Southpaw. I was inspired and, for the first time: I thought maybe I’d fight someday after all. There was no turning back now; I’d be stepping into the cage in just over three months. Call it my ego, my pride or call it my crazy brain craving something more challenging. Whatever it was, it was a major turning point of my life—more so than I had even begun to understand at that moment.

TRAINING FOR THE FIGHT I would be fighting “Muay Thai.” It is often referred to as “the art of eight limbs,” where you can use a combination of fists, elbows, knees and shins. During my fight, my opponent and I would wear both shin guards and headgear (at the request of my opponent), as well as our own gloves. I trained for hours and hours every night during the week. I ran on treadmills (which I had always refused to do on any level) and was punched, kicked and kneed in all areas of my body. The cardio intervals kicked my butt and oddly, my favorite part was getting punched in the face over and over. I learned my limits on every level. I had to lose 30 pounds even to fight! There would be a mandatory weigh-in the evening

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Profile for Grand Traverse Woman Magazine

GTWoman May/June 2019 Issue