Saturday, August 15, 2015

Thoughts about Ronda Rousey

I was trying to think of what to write after finishing Ronda Rousey's biography, My Fight/Your Fight. In case you have no idea (really?), Ronda Rousey is the first woman fighter to make it to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and is still its reigning champion and shining poster girl. She has captured people's imagination, with her fierce combat prowess, and her personality. In her book, she mentioned the advice she got about acting - it's not good acting that makes people pay money to watch the movie. It's the actors - people pay money to watch the personality of the actors. I thought it's a valid point - that's probably why I pay money to watch Angelina Jolie, who essentially is just playing Angelina Jolie in every single movie she does. This charisma of the character is pretty much why Ronda Rousey captured my imagination, and why I ended up reading her biography.

I was at a loss about what to say about the good. It is an engaging read, and easy to read. Every character starts with a nugget of Ronda's life philosophy, so it had a touch of a motivational read. It wasn't until I came across this article, Ronda Rousey vs Daddy's Little Girl, that I thought of what I wanted to say.

The article is from the point of view of a father of a 9 year old girl who wanted to be just like Ronda Rousey.

I asked my daughter if she knew who Ronda Rousey is. She gave me the “please, Daddy” face, and said yes, “Ronda is the Queen of Boxing.” I asked her if she’s bothered that her admirers called Ronda a “beast.” “No, Daddy,” she said. “That’s a compliment. It means she’s better than anyone else. Better like me. She fights to show she’s better than the rest, and other people’s opinions shouldn’t stop her dream.”

The child is actually training with her 7 year old brother in fighting, and the training routine is intense. The writer has no answer to his little girl who wants to be something not-quite like the usual Daddy's Little Girl. He grapples with what Ronda Rousey represents for people, and how MMA is a sport where violence is at the core of what they do, the increased risk for brain damage for professional fighters. He rationalises Ronda Rousey's rise in UFC, in a sport once dominated only by men, and what it now means. Against this is, I read how because women are now occupying these new spaces in our cultural consciousness, and how it's allowing our daughters to reimagine who they want to be - and the subsequent unease as parents have to reimagine what their daughters are going to grow up to be. The writer didn't quite answer the question. I guess not all questions can be easily answered.

For me though, I would say this to my daughter: When you watch the way Ronda Rousey fights, think about how she got this powerful. Look behind the fierceness, the power, and see the hard work behind it. Understand that Ronda Rousey trained really hard to get this strong. I want my child to see the discipline Rousey needed to keep showing up and doing the same judo-throws a thousand times over, and then a thousand times more, to get it right. Bruce Lee said: “I am not afraid of a person who knows 10000 kicks. But I am afraid of a person who knows one kick but practices it for 10000 times.”

"Learn her discipline,"I would tell my daughter. "Learn her work ethics. Then apply this to your entire life."

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