Friday, October 28, 2011

Interview: MMA Fighter Courtney Belcher Part 2

This is the second part of my interview with amateur heavyweight fighter, Courtney Belcher (check out the first part).  My favorite discussion with Courtney was regarding the future of WMMA, which is at the bottom of the interview and her gracious, optimistic hope for the sport she loves.

Do you ever get in [your husband's] corner for his fights?
Yeah, I think I've cornered for two of his fights.  The first time it was nerve-wracking.  The second time it wasn't so bad; I was a bit more prepared. 

Do you think training with your husband has improved your relationship?
Yes.  We have an unspoken agreement that whatever happens outside the dojo stays outside the dojo.   Any frustrations, you get them worked out in the gym.

You guys have two children.

What is it like being a mother and still trying to make time to train at the capacity you do?
His grandparents used to babysit for us but as our son got older, he's two now, it became a bit much for them, so we moved closer to the gym.  For a while we took them to the gym with us.  There was a room where we could put movies on for them.  Or we would put the play pen up in the same room as us so our little one could actually see us.  Our oldest is seven and she's okay with it.  I wouldn't take her to the fights.  She's seen our fights on T.V. and I think it is different than to actually go and sit and see mommy get hit.  When she's nine or ten, I'll think about if she can handle being there.  But right now, they don't go to our fights.  They see us train, they see us punch each other and see us kick.  She's interested in taking Karate, so I am trying to manage to get the funds for that.  Our two year old, it is kind of funny, he's picked up a lot of the hitting and kicking.  I watched him in the yard the other day actually throw a combination and kick and I was like, "Wow...I think I shouldn't take you as much."

[Laughs] Future fighter on your hands.
Yeah, I think him more than my daughter will probably be the one who follows us.  I have six hours to get their home work done, to spend time with them, then bathe and get them in the bed.  Between my husband and I, we are both in school, we have about six hours a day to get everything done and make sure they get plenty of time with us.  That is our main thing, that they get plenty of Mommy and Daddy time. 

You guys are really, really busy!  Do you do anytype of cross-training outside of your gym?
I was running and I absolutely hate it.  I have a nutritionist who does my strength training too and we decided since I absolutely despise running we would work some other things for my conditioning.  She felt like I was getting enough cardio in the gym that I would be okay if I didn't run three days a week.  So I do interval sprints on Saturdays; Mondays and Fridays are my days to do strength and conditioning because those are the only days I have time to get it in.

For your strength and conditioning, are you weightlifting?
Yes I am doing weightlifting.  I do squats, clean and jerks, which are my favorite, deadlifts and other stuff I can't remember off the top of my head.

Do you like working on the powerlifting and Olympic lifting?
Oh gosh I love it; I did all that in high school.  My high school coach was very big into that.  We did power cleans, clean and jerk, one leg squat, deadlifts, good mornings, he was great about that. 

I think running sprints are more beneficial then getting out there and jogging five miles.  Do you run 40s or 100s?
Mine is all uphill.  We have a killer hill by our house.  I start at the bottom and sprint for forty-five seconds straight up the hill, which I hate.  But it helps.  You don't have to like everything in training, you just know you have to do it.  But I do forty-five and then I rest for thirty.

Why do you fight?  Why do you get in the ring?
I like to compete and I found the few years that I didn't do something where I was competing I just wasn't happy.  It was another way for me to be healthy and to show my daughter that you can still be a girl and do stuff that most people wouldn't let you do.  When I was younger I was told I couldn't box because I was a girl.  I was very upset and I couldn't understand, just because I was a girl, I couldn't box.  But one of my main things is that I want to be healthy for my kids.   I like to hit people, too [Laughs].

[Laughs] Don't we all?
 I was one of those kids when I grew up who was very angry.  But the only way I can answer that question is to say that I wanted to set an example for my kids.

I think those are really great reasons.  Is training a cathartic experience for you?
Absolutely.  I've worked out a lot of issues in the gym.  I had postpartum depression with my daughter and for a couple of years I struggled with that.  I have found that I don't have those feelings when I work out.  I am working out those issues in a very good way being in the gym.

It is amazing how powerful martial arts can be, in all areas of your life.  Do you think you will continue to compete in MMA?
Oh yeah, I am in it for the long haul.  I don't start something and then drop off.  Once I've committed to something, that is what I do.  I went into saying that whether I was good or not, I was going to stick with it.  I did not expect I would fall in love with it as much as I have.  I didn't expect to meet so many great people.  But this is definitely for the long haul.  I don't think my mom understood that at first, but after this last fight it kind of sunk it.

Do you give yourself rest days?
Sometimes it's Friday, sometime it is Monday, but I always try to give myself at least two days off.  You have to be healthy.

What do you typically do after a fight?  
We stay and watch the rest of the fights because I have other teammates to support.  Depending on how bad you feel afterwards you might go out and celebrate. 

Are you back in the gym the next day or do you give yourself a week off?
I attempt to give myself a week off.

What is your favorite part of your training?
Definitely the sparring.  I get to hit people twice a week [laughs].  I like to do the sparring because it shows me what I need to work on and what I've improved.  If I can get a good combo in on my
Sensei, I've succeeded for that five minute round.  Then I'll see if I can do it on another person.  So it is definitely my sparring and being able to put stuff together. 

What do you think of women's MMA?  Does it seem like a diverse group that is competing?
I've actually seen a pretty diverse group of women.  The first girl I fought was black, then second girl was white.  But I like that it is diverse.  I am pretty happy about that.  I've really been surprised by how awesome the WMMA community is.  I've met so many people on Facebook and in person who are awesome and I really wasn't expecting that.  I did track in college and you didn't find people like that.  You were their competitor, you were not going to be their friend.  You don't find that often.

Where do you see the sport of WMMA going?
I think we're still really young.  Even though we've been doing it for years, we're still really young.  It is going to take us some time to get up there where the men are.  They fought a lot of the hard fights, but our fight is a little bit different.  I think ten years from now we are going to be up there.  It is going to be something so out of this world that people aren't really going to think "oh this is women and this is men," it is just going to be athletes.  They are just going to see us as athletes competing at the best of our abilities. 

Well said.  Thank you so much for talking with me and for being so forthright, I really appreciate that.  Will you keep us updated on any upcoming fights?
I will.  I would like to send a thank-you to Bella Boxer, one of my sponsors.  She sent me a rashguard and some shorts.  Also to Melissa Traynor, my nutritionist and my strength and conditioning coach.  She's been really wonderful, she's gotten me healthier; I've lost a ton of weight, I'm getting leaner.  She's been a blessing.  I don't think she realizes how much she has been, but she has.  And I would like to thank Master Ferguson and my husband.  Without the two of them I wouldn't be where I am now.

Show your support for female fighters and contact Courtney here:
twitter: @MFCsDamnedQueen

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