CHAPTER 15Finding Balance with the Reinforcement Lever

My first fight at a tournament was always against the scale. On the day of the tournament, all of the competitors must weigh-in by 6 a.m. In the days leading up to the tournament, I would not eat or drink a lot. I wore a sweatsuit in the sauna to help the sweating process. After the sauna, I wouldn’t eat or drink, except for perhaps a small sip of water to avoid my lips drying out. During this time, I was constantly thirsty, had no energy left to train, and would spend the 24 hours before the tournament counting how much time was left until the weigh-in.

The scale is ruthless. One ounce too heavy means disqualification. No fight. Every athlete had to defeat the scale first. The weigh-in at 6 a.m. during my first big tournament was not in my comfort zone. The organization selected a conference room in the hotel as the weigh-in room. When I entered the room, I saw about eighty athletes standing in their underwear, waiting until they could weigh. I joined the end of the line.

It took about two minutes per fighter to check their weight, passport, and accreditations. After two hours, it was finally my turn. My weight was in accordance with my accreditation. I could fight that day.

However, it was already 8 a.m., and the competition started at 10 a.m. My body needed water and some food to rebuild some strength. Two hours was very little time to replenish my system.

After competing in a few tournaments, the weigh-in procedure ...

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