This wasn't the topic I had planned on writing about but it seems to be a topic prevalent in my newsfeed as of late and I just wanted to share my experience from a similar scenario and how getting into martial arts became my saviour.
If you have watched the season of The Ultimate Fighter I was on, or if you were one of my friends at Haughton school back in 2000-2005 you'll know I started Thai Boxing after I ended up in a 'fight' with 3 girls one night when I was 15 years old. I use the term 'fight' loosely as I don't think I actually got any strikes in whatsoever!
I was walking home one night when a girl came out from behind a bus stop, she was storming over to me shouting about me slagging off one of her friends, now if that was true I wouldn't have had a problem but it wasn't, she was picking a fight and I knew it. What I didn't know was what to do next.
I stood my ground as she came right up to my face (exactly like some of the intense staredowns you see at weigh-ins) but she continued to yell and all I could think was 'who is this bint and what does she want with me?!' so I put my full palm on her face and pushed her away telling her to get out of my face.
Looking back, I shouldn't have even let her get that close to me...what's the first sign of defence kids? Awareness! By this point, two more girls were behind her and a group of lads nearby stopped to watch the entertainment.
After I had pushed her away her friends all said she should hit me back. Technically I didn't hit her. Anyhow, I didn't want to fight her, my heart was pounding, I was hating the whole situation, the confrontation, the audience, the fact that I was going to have to fight this girl for no apparent reason, I had no idea what to do but I knew I was going to have to get stuck in.
If anyone has seen me compete, I'm usually known for having heart and determination which is great, I don't think you can teach those things. But those didn't help me that day. As we collided she immediately went for my hair pulling my face down onto her knee...she knocked me out because the next thing I remember was one girl in full mount, one girl ragging massive clumps of my hair out (this actually hurt like hell!) one guy shouting about me being outnumbered and trying to pull me out from under them and some nearby neighbours trying to scare everyone off who then picked me up and told me to go home.
I was wearing white jeans at the time which wear completely covered in mud and grass, I had a fat lip, bust nose and huge amounts of hair missing, my head was so sore! Luckily I have great Thai skin so the next day I looked fine, a bit of makeup hid a faint black eye and my lips weren't as fat. I just had puffy eyes from crying all night!
The whole thing had been filmed, but Facebook wasn't invented back then so it never went viral, well I'm assuming people saw it but not on the scale we see today. I'm seeing more and more videos popping up of very similar scenarios happening and it's awful to watch as I'm sure you will all agree, no one likes bullies.
I had just started Thai boxing by this point but I was just in there to keep fit really. After the altercation, a switch flipped.
I was embarrassed. I wasn't even thinking about getting revenge because I knew I had no idea how to fight and I thought the same thing would just happen again. I didn't grow up watching Rocky films or doing anything even close to martial arts. The closest experience I had was my older brother practicing his WWF wrestling moves on me...now looking back I've realised it was never my turn to practice! Ha! My mum is Thai and for girls to fight just wasn't acceptable so I lied about going Thai boxing and competing for a long time, I just said I was going to the gym to keep fit, which technically wasn't a lie!
My training went from a bit of enjoyment to hardcore overnight. Paul Hamilton, my coach at the time would laugh at me when I first started and he once said this exact sentence 'Lanch, you're the only Thai I know that can't kick'. That soon changed, I was training 6 days a week and I picked the art up very quickly.
After some dedicated training, then a couple of inter clubs, I had my first amateur fight at 16 years old. Back then, the fight itself wasn't as important to me as the status with which I thought it would bring. In my head, I thought that if people knew I could fight, then they wouldn't think I was a pushover and therefore no one would pick on me!
Well, it turned out I was actually alright at this Thai boxing malarkey so I continued to compete. Studying always took the forefront but I had one or two fights a year, I travelled the UK and overseas, I literally took on some of the worlds best fighters, I won some, I lost some then I beat the UK no1 ranked 50kg female fighter in my last outing back in 2013.
I have had a couple of confrontations since the first, none that ended up in physical contact but even though I still experienced the pounding heart, nerves and extreme uncomfortableness of the whole situation, I felt confident that if shit hit the fan, I had a better chance of coming out on top this time. Now let me just say, I wasn't an angel at school, but I never bullied anyone. Sometimes there are revenge stories behind these attacks we are seeing, sometimes there isn't. But bullying isn't going away, so at least let's try and be prepared both physically and mentally.
So the purpose of my blog was to a) share my experience and hopefully inspire anyone that this has happened to that it's not the end of the world, some people are just arseholes and b) if you have kids, I highly recommend getting them involved in some form of martial arts.
Now, this isn't a plug for my gym, even though I do believe we run an amazing program for children and adults too, with techniques that apply across the board, not just in a sporting environment. But get your kids involved in something that will provide them with the necessary skills should they ever have to use them (I hope not).
Martial arts can help with confidence, self-discipline, self-belief, learning how to respect one another, to work hard to earn anything and even just growing up around like-minded positive people will have a positive impact. There's a lot of fun to be had along the way whilst picking up what I believe are essential skills for life. Everyone should know how to defend themselves and do not have to walk around in fear and worry about the next person that is going to pick on them or worse physically hurt them. Please don't suffer in silence.
Although my experience was an unpleasant one, it has helped shape my life today as I continue on my martial arts journey, 12 years and counting 😊.
Thanks for reading! Lanch x
Lanchana Green is a professional MMA fighter and star of the UFC's The Ultimate Fighter Season 23. Follow Lanchana, her training techniques, nutritional tips and general athlete well being here 👇🏼
Lanchana trains at The Lab, Darlington offering self-defence classes, 1:1 training sessions and strength and conditioning classes. Their Facebook page currently has 67 x 5 star ratings.*