Why We Fight (2020) Blu-ray Review: Three Athletes Tell Us Why They Do

Why We Fight is a look at three combat sports athletes and why they are so passionate about the Martial Arts. Through interviews with a boxer, a professional wrestler, and an MMA fighter, we learn their personal stories and what it takes to be a fighter both inside and outside the ring. They discuss the hard work and long hours needed to be successful and the toll it takes both mentally and physically. They provide insight into many aspects, from what it’s like to compete to how rough the business side can be. We hear first hand what drives them and why they fight.  

Amberley Shaw, boxer/athlete, was a competitive synchronized swimmer with Olympic dreams until injuries forced out of the pool. Left feeling like a broken, she stumbled upon a coach who urged her to try boxing. It gave her renewed focus and rejuvenated her spirit. Through hard work and dedication, she would eventually turn pro, scoring two wins by knockout. The sport of boxing has given Amberley a new perspective on life. She explains how her training has sharpened her awareness of the world around her, (especially while driving in L.A.) and provided her with a confidence she hadn’t had before. 

Not only does Amberley have the drive to fight, she has a desire to teach those around her at the gym, passing on the knowledge and skills she’s learned. She candidly discusses how boxing has at times gotten in the way of previous relationships as some boyfriends didn’t approve of her fighting, so she quit for a while before deciding that the sport was her true passion and any future partner would have to understand that. She gives a good description of what it feels like when you get caught by that one solid punch that stops your momentum for a split second and the importance of how one reacts to that. It’s like life, you have to keep moving forward.

Keta Meggett is a martial artist, a pro wrestler, and an inspiring business woman. She was a freshman in high school when eight girls jumped her and beat her nearly to death. As she got older, Keta would also suffer through crippling anxiety and abusive relationships before she took a jiu jitsu class to land an acting role. Keta was fascinated by the fact that the people in that class were able to protect themselves against aggressive foes. Her jiu jitsu coach was the legendary Eddie Bravo who saw a spark in Keta and encouraged her to continue. 

With growing confidence, she eventually decided to learn an additional martial art that would teach her to use her hands, Muay Thai. Martial arts gave her the courage to stand up for herself and be assertive when needed. She would go on to become a pro wrestler after winning a few amateur kickboxing bouts. Her success inspired her to give back to her community and open an anti-bullying/self defense school she calls “Team Bully Buster.” At her gym, women and children can learn to defend and protect themselves using jiu jitsu, wrestling, boxing, and muay thai. She also teaches them the importance of nutrition and fitness through strength and conditioning exercises. 

Nico Ruiz, Muay Thai champion/MMA fighter/martial artist, had always been bullied as a kid due to being a light-skinned Hispanic. Even though he spoke Spanish, some kids still picked on him relentlessly. To keep the bullies at bay, he asked his parents if he could learn to box and one day his father took him to a boxing gym where he would learn to defend himself. Boxing transformed Nico, giving him the strength, skill, and confidence needed to stop the harassment. He was no longer kicked around at school. He was able to “change his character in the game” and be proud of himself and hold his head high (chin down). Boxing also gave Nico a lifelong love for martial arts that led him to expand his skills to include Muay Thai/kick boxing and eventually landing him a few pro MMA fights. Nico’s love for MMA led to him becoming a striking coach where he can teach others to sharpen their kicks, punches, elbows, and knee strikes.

Nico (who at the time of filming looked like a cooler/tougher Shia LeBeouf) provides some solid insight into the ins and outs of the pro fight game, what it takes to get a fight together, and how devastating it is to have an opponent pull out of a fight at the last minute, leaving him without a pay day. He expresses his dislike for padding records by paying to fight tomato cans in another country so one can have an inflated win column. He also reveals the trouble he runs into trying to find quality opponents with equal skills. 

Why We Fight is a brisk 75-minute run through the lives of three athletes as they discuss what brought them to martial arts and what their chosen disciplines have provided them. Each has a unique story to tell but they all carry a common thread. Each has learned hard life lessons after getting knocked down and found a martial art that has given them the courage and strength to stand back up. Their passion for martial arts has driven them to success and sparked a desire to pass on what they learned to others who may have gone through similar experiences. Martial arts has brought them growth, success, and happiness. Even if they don’t continue to fight as professionals, they can inspire and teach others to be courageous and fight for themselves. Martial arts taught them how to face their fears, roll with life and keep fighting. 

Having studied martial arts since my youth after watching movies like The Karate Kid and The Last Dragon, I know how martial arts can be inspiring and passion provoking, lighting a fire to pass on your skills and give others the tools to be confident and successful. The saying is “a black belt is a white belt who never quits.” That’s true even in sports like boxing and wrestling where belts mean something completely different. The message remains the same, fighters never quit, they face their fears, and win or learn because there is no losing, only learning. We win or we learn and we carry that lesson with us throughout life. 

I’ve always loved the thrill of randori (free fight/rolling/sparring sessions) but to do so as a professional is something entirely different. That’s a rare breed. I respect these athletes and their choices and wish them all the best in their noble teaching endeavors. Martial Arts training from great instructors is life changing and provides many positive benefits. The fighters featured in Why We Fight share with the audience and their communities some of those benefits. Keep fighting the good fight brother and sister. 

Buy Why We Fight (2020)

Joe Garcia III

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