My jab flies true.
His head snaps. Leaving me an opening for my right kick.
I feel my shin make contact, and stop against the bone of his ribs.
I hear the groan, see the drooping of the eye lids.
I am fast, strong, supple, and accurate. My timing is perfect.
I feel good.
I am not here to feel good. I am not here to be fast, strong, and supple. I am here to face my enemy. I loath this feeling. I wish to banish it from my self.
I push the pace. My opponent gives more ground. The bell sounds. He is unwilling to face the enemy today. He succumbs to the enemy's Champion. We embrace. Next time, my friend, next time you will face him.
I look for another. He is easy to find. He has scorn and contempt in his eyes. Not for me. For the enemy.
We touch gloves as the bell sounds. In that caress of leather, there is an agreement, we do not stop until we have faced the enemy. We will not fall to his Champion.
Move away from the power. Back leg crashes in to his lead. I see him stumble, I shoot. He sprawls. In the clinch, his chest on my head. I know the knees are coming.
I feel the shift of weight the mass of flesh and bone speeds to my head.
Pain is not the enemy. Pain is the teacher. I have sinned. Pain is my penance.
I duck, and move sharply, I escape, but not fast enough. He shoots. I am suddenly floating. Only one thought in my head. The teacher is coming.
On the ground now. The pace is ferocious. My heart bounds in its cage. I feel the enemy watching me.
I shift left, my leg comes free. I wrap my legs around my opponent's body. He knows his peril. He knows he made a mistake. He knows the teacher is now coming for him.
The enemy now watches us intently. It is almost time for him to strike. He sends in his Champion to tease us. Like all cowards, the enemy has those to do his fighting for him. The Champion is formidable.
I now hear the Champion whisper in my ear. "Just hold on to his arm and head. Stall. No need to expend more energy."
I snarl. Not because the Champion says such things, but because I want to heed his poison advice.
I shift left, my legs come high. My opponent moves, feeling the coming danger. I let go of his head for a split moment. I am punished immediately when he lifts his head up and smashes my face with a hard left hand. As the right rears to join what its brother did, I raise up grab his head, elevate my hips, and bring him down on to my chest.
He manages to push my leg down. His knee on my thigh. I turn in to him, pushing desperately on this knee and hip to avoid the pass. No avail. His pass is perfect.
His hips and legs free, he settles all of his weight on my chest. My breathing slows with the pressure. Spots fly in front of my face.
The Champion now laughs with glee. "Tap out" He says. "You know you want to."
"You need not be in this position. Tap out"
I hate the Champion. I hate myself, because my hand raised to give the tap. NO. I am in no danger here! I have been here before. I will be here again. I WILL NOT TAP.
Inside move inside. Get your back off the mat. MOVE!
He raises up to deliver an elbow, I growl at the Champion and use the space to move my knee inside. A bump later and I am back in guard.
But the Enemy is here now. The one I wanted to face. He saps my energy. Takes my speed. Robs me of my courage. His Champion laughs at me, but I know I have moved past the Champion. I face the enemy now.
My opponent faces him too. Our breath is labored. Our strikes more like pats. Our movement is gross, with out its earlier fluidity. The Enemy takes that from us.
I must defeat the Enemy. "You can not defeat me." the Enemy says. "I am you."
"I will beat you back then." I say. "You will not dominate me."
"I have before." The Enemy retorts. "I will again."
"Not today." I say. "Not today."
I shift quickly to my right. The move is unexpected and sudden. My left leg moves up, past my opponent's shoulder. I push his right arm outside. My left leg snaps down on my opponent's neck. My right knee locks over my left foot. The choke is tight, powerful, and technically perfect.
"Can you hold it?" Asks the enemy.
"Just let it go." Says the Champion. "It is too hard."
I feel my opponent tap softly on my leg. I release him. The bell sounds.
We look at each other and laugh. We faced the enemy. We beat him back. We did not succumb to his Champion. Not today.