By Kelvin Brillante, Tri-California Ambassador
Today I am a highly competitive triathlete, slowly trying to make it up in the triathlon world. I swim, bike, and run a total of about 15 hours per week. But I haven't always been the competitive triathlete that I am today. I haven't always been racing against time trying to beat a PR or earn a podium spot in my age group. Before I discovered the world of triathlon, I was competing in hand-to-hand combat in the kickboxing ring.
I studied martial arts for about 14 years, starting in 1st grade. I started with Tae Kwon Do, then Jiu-Jutsu, Muay Thai, Mixed Martial Arts, and eventually San Shou (Chinese kickboxing). I studied martial arts for discipline, self defense, and to learn how to protect my family and friends.
In 2007 I got really serious about being a fighter and starting spending a ton of time in the gym. I trained Monday through Friday, from 5-9 p.m. Training was a mix of kickboxing, interval training, and weight lifting. Nights were filled with mental challenges, sweat, pain, and sometimes blood.
“Kick harder and get that knockout! Rotate your hips to throw your hook! Reach out when you throw your cross punch!” Today I still hear those familiar words, however, now they are used differently.
“Use your kick to keep balance when you swim! Reach out farther to get a better pull in your freestyle! Rotate hips to breathe!” I got involved in triathlon because I wanted to learn to swim and face my fears of open water. Being a strong kickboxer, I thought I could transition easily into triathlons. I was totally wrong! Sure, I could go out for a run, a bike ride, or a swim (at that time a doggy paddle) but I had no technique, no form. Even though I was in shape, I always trained for an event that would last 9 minutes, not 2 plus hours, leading my body to have a strong anaerobic capacity not fitted for endurance sports.
I had a lot to learn about this new sport. There are certain shoes for certain feet? What’s running technique? What do you mean my freestyle stroke is wrong? Why is cycling up this hill such a pain? What do you mean shift to my smallest chain ring? What the heck is a chain ring? And the list went on…
After 4 months of learning and training, I started to get the hang of things and was able to finish the 2010 San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz, my first and last triathlon. Or so I thought…Some of you may have heard that triathlon is like a "drug" and once you do one, you want to do another one. Well, I got hooked and I’ve since completed 12 triathlons in the past two years.
So whatever happened to kickboxing? No, I didn't put it aside and completely forget about it. I now pass my knowledge onto others as a coach at Fusegym in Campbell, CA.