In this episode of Fight Like A Girl, Sarah Gohier the TBA Novice Flyweight Champion joins Emily Bisk as they discuss why more women should get involved in mixed martial arts and how they both got their starts in Muay Thai.
*TW: sexual assault and abuse*
Emily: Hello and welcome to fight like a girl, a show where female fighters discuss their experiences in male-dominated combat sports. I’m your host Emily Bisk.
welcome to fight like a girl. I’m your host Emily Bisk. Today we’ll be talking to Sarah go here. She is one of the most inspirational fighters and female fighters in the DMV. And she’s also the 2019 TBA Novice flyweight champion.
Hi, welcome Sarah. joining my podcast.
Sarah: Oh, no problem.
Emily: I just want to ask you a few questions. So first off, how and why did you start Muay Thai?
Sarah: So this is a really cool story. For me, I attended a retreat from an organization where they provide education and different grounding skills as well as therapy for women who’ve been sexually abused when they were children. So incredible, incredible options called the unique foundation. And you get to go for four days, fully paid, you just have to get there. And they literally take care of you housing, food, everything. And it’s just really incredible. And one of the things that they used during that time was muy Thai. It was kind of more therapeutic. It wasn’t incredibly technical, but just kind of an opportunity for women to put on gloves and hit pads. And the second the glove hit the pads, I fell in love. I just knew I had to do it forever. Like I didn’t know what it was. But I was all in.
Emily: Yeah, I had the same experience. When I first started. I like I started with my dad at NOVA MMA. And as soon as I started hitting, I was like this is I love this. And I want to keep doing this. So my second question is what made you want to become a fighter?
Sarah: So it’s funny because like I say, it was love, I really started because I loved the workout, it felt good. And I wanted to keep doing it. And I mean, who doesn’t want a really fun way to work out, especially compared to running or different things that I. So I just fell head over heels and started training a few times a week, that up and up and up to multiple times a day, multiple classes, and started sparring started going, basically eventually unlimited. So five, six days a week. And it just kind of became the next test the next opportunity to really show or test myself to see how good I was. Like you can spar you can hit pads, you can hit the bag. And that’s great. But that is nothing compared to a fight. And so once I was moving in, and it just was like the next step. So that was my first push. Let me see what it’s really like when someone’s coming trying to kill me in the ring.
Emily: Yes. So when you first started fighting, was it really nervous? Were you really nervous because I know I was extremely nervous for my first fight? And I just want to know your like, emotions throughout like your first fight camp and all your fight camps that you’ve been through. I know sometimes it’s really hard to find fights as a female. I’ve trained for several fights and just don’t get matches. So I just want to know your like emotions throughout the process, especially your very first flight.
Sarah: Totally. Yeah, my first fight. My favorite thing is, I was it was a smoker and I was sitting there waiting and I saw my opponent like across the room. And I was just chilling with my friends, the coaches kind of talking and I froze like, I was smiling and chatting. So no one really noticed except for one of my friends, but I literally had to go to the bathroom and start talking to myself in the mirror and shadowboxing reminding myself what my game plan was. Otherwise I like I was so stiff. That was the first time and the first fight it was I’d like prepped a lot specifically thinking about what I wanted to do to kind of help combat all of the normal pitfalls of a first fight, you know, gassing out. Now, as far as not breathing, not moving. And so all of my goals were literally just, I want to keep breathing out gets out. I want to keep moving. And I want to know how to cut angles. And as long as I do that, I knew I would at least jab, cross or Yeah, do anything else. But if I could get those foods things down, that I wouldn’t end up just dying.
Emily: Yeah, I remember. I like I feel like my brain turned off and the things that I was like practicing the most during like, my fight camp with my coaches on the pads, was like, I just kept on like, jab cross kick. I kept kicking, I go me through like my coaches, like my brain turned off and all I can hear is my coach. Yeah, yeah, it was very scary. And I remember I was also really scared to see my opponent because she had all these tattoos. And she was like, 20 years older than me. I was so intimidated. But I’m glad I did it.
Sarah: So yeah, my first opponent was like, ripped. And I love her. It’s great because we’ve stayed really good friends. Yeah. But it was really funny. She was super fit. And I was like, I’m definitely not showing muscles really right now, which is fine.
Emily: All right. So my next question is, why should we encourage more women to start martial arts or self-defense?
Sarah: I think this ties in a lot to how I found my love for my tie. Honestly. I think it provides so many benefits. One, selfishly, please come join us, we need more women so we can continue to have it. Like you said, there are lots and lots of fight camps there. I think I can count at least like I want to say almost 10 fight camps that I’ve done and never gotten an opponent. And I’ve been fighting that long. But more holistically, my tie is one of the most therapeutic things that I’ve ever done. It makes me better for my entire life, but especially like as a woman.
Emily: I feel Oh, my God. Yeah. So I feel like as soon as I step on the mat, or step into the ring, everything that happens like that day outside the mat just completely disappears. And all I can think about is my training, which I feel is truly magical, especially like, at a time that’s really stressful. Or like you have like a lot going on. So I really do encourage more women to start doing martial arts and self-defense.
Sarah: Yeah. So yeah, there’s mindfulness. And then like the confidence that comes with it. And I think the other thing that I love, especially is it encourages women to be aggressive. When else in life Do we get to be aggressive? Exactly, yeah. Yeah. So that’s something that’s big for me. I’m really loud. You’ve been in the gym with me. And I like I’m very, very loud. Because like, if I’m mad, or if I’d done a really, really hard pad round or something like I will just screen. And it’s such a great release. And it’s so important to have those spaces. Like when was the last time you screamed just to scream? Not like even screaming at me? Just like you’re letting go. Yeah. I think they’re just like a lot of opportunities. That’ll help people.
Emily: Yes. So my next question is, um, so what’s next? Like? Are you gonna keep fighting? Or what’s like, what’s next in your fighting career?
Sarah: Yeah. So COVID obviously put a pause on everything. I actually had a championship fine light up, like, two weeks before everything closed down, or two weeks after that. Yeah. Yeah. So that was, it was hard going from the best shape of my life, best everything. But it’s been good. I’ve been able to do a bunch of different things. So I’m actually currently preparing to move to Thailand. This year. Yeah. So that’s in the works. And then also Additionally, I’ve been working to create a women’s group. So Wow, this is specifically for women. Why tie wanting to give us a place to connect where a minority realistically Oh, yes. If you see, like, more than three women in a gym at any given MMA gym, it’s shot.
Emily: No, yes, definitely.
Sarah: And that’s been something that’s just been so passionate for me. Finding the women in Muay Thai is incredible and you’re able to connect and there are things you can talk about that Men, coaches, or fighters don’t understand. And so we need each other to progress and get better. We need to be able to talk about, hey, how do you train on your period? Because even one other woman way might not have the correct answer for you or something that resonates with your experience. So I’m actually currently creating a well created Instagram group where we’re connecting and starting to have conversations and wanting to showcase all women and Muay Thai fighters and brand new women and just connect, and then I’m trying to build a website as well, sometime later in the year. Those are the right resources.
Emily: Yes, that is so cool. But unfortunately, that is all we have time for today on this episode of fight like a girl. Thank you so much for joining and pursuing the show. I really appreciate it. Well, that’s it for a fight like a girl. I’ll see you next session. Bye. All right. Bye.
Sarah Gohier, TBA Novice flyweight champion
Transcription by otter.ai