A Powerful Kick to the Head

OK, I’m going to lose some of you, hopefully not for good. Just bear with me. I think there’s something important here, although I’m not quite sure what it is.

Holly Holm, tearing up

Living in New Mexico, I have been following Holly Holm for years. She is what they call a mixed martial artist, and at 135 pounds, she competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Bantam Division. An Albuquerque native, she was trained as a boxer – including kick boxing – and is known as the “Preacher’s Daughter” in fighting circles. I have had a soft spot for this tough as nails athlete because of her straightforward, honest demeanor, and because she cries a lot. At almost every press conference or pre- or post- fight interview she cries – because she loves her supporters so much, because she really hopes she can do well and make everyone proud, because she is thinking about her family, or for no seeming reason except that her emotions are close to the surface. I cry a lot, too, and I have always identified with this weepy warrior.


On November 14, the day after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Holly took on the world UFC champion Ronda Rousey in Melbourne, Australia. I saw her interviewed before she left, fighting back tears, and gave her a silent sendoff. She was the underdog, 20-1 by some odds, and it seemed unlikely that she could win. In pre-fight interviews Ronda was full of trash talk; Holly expressed admiration for her opponent and said she felt honored just to be able to fight her. A lovely, humble native New Mexican going off to battle.

And then it happened. I didn’t see the fight but that night before going to bed I looked on my smart phone for the results. She won! The first report said she ended the match with a “powerful kick to the head” in the second round which knocked Ronda Rousey the champ to the floor. I ran to tell my husband. “Holly won with a powerful kick to the head! She knocked her cold!” I was so excited, and it lasted through the next day and the next. “A powerful kick to the head” kept running through my mind. And I would smile and repeat it under my breath — a powerful kick to the head. I even announced out of the blue over lunch at the kitchen table: “She nailed her with a powerful kick to the head” and my eyes were on fire. My husband looked a little concerned.

Holly Holm’s winning kick

Indeed, what was this about?  Why was I, a professional mediator and peacemaker, so excited, enchanted even, with one human pummeling another nearly unconscious in front of 56,000 screaming Australians? I had to think about that. And then I realized that the other thing that I had been struggling with for the past 48 hours was the attack in Paris. Helpless and panicky I had watched news report after news report of the devastation of lives, ordinary lives like my own. I identified keenly with the witnesses who had escaped and were shaken to the core. Something deep in me wanted to give those terrorists a “powerful kick to the head,” to send them flying, crashing to the mat, never to get up again. Holly did that for me.

And so I thank Holly, my home girl and fellow teary-eyed one, for helping me through these hard times. I bet it felt really good to deliver that “powerful kick to the head.”

16 thoughts on “A Powerful Kick to the Head”

  1. Lucy, I wonder how many “powerful kicks to the head” you have effectively used to shake up people’s perspective, way of seeing, point of view, etc.? A legitimate tool of peacenak I ng for sure, metaphorically. Next time I visit I will wear a helmet. Great story, I may even cry.

    1. Thanks, Tom. Nice translation of my story into a metaphor for our field of mediation. But I can’t get out of my mind the image of you landing a kick….you’re a big guy!

  2. As someone who has been known to tear-up over a Folgers coffee commercial, I relate to what you describe. I think we al need an occasional “kick to the head” to wake us up to what is happening in the world. As much as we work to bring peace to those in conflict, there are times and groups where only a kick in the will get their attention.

    1. There was a phone company commercial that turned on my faucet every time — the one where the older couple is at the kitchen table and the woman says that their son just called, and the man says in alarm “Is everything all right? Are the kids ok?” and she, tearing up (as I am, just thinking about it) says, “He just called to say ‘I love you’.” Excuse me, Larry, have to go find a kleenex.

  3. I too was thrilled by Ms Holm’s victory. I saw the tape of her winning kick and was both impressed and horrified at its power and timing. I get your connection of your sentiment between the kick and yet another round of terrorism against which we can’t kick. I think all of us would like to let Holly loose in a room with those creeps. At the same it ain’t the solution, right? We to find a way to bottle up this rage that leads to mindless acts of violence. In Holm’s case she contains her power to a ring in which a referee tells her to stop and she does. After that she become a normal–and rather weepy–person. Sports have often channeled our less desirable violent traits. Anyway we can use the lesson from sports to find a solution to controlling the unbridled anger around the world? Don’t know, but thanks for your thoughtful posting.

    1. Thanks, Jamie, and no it is not the real solution for the violence and hatred in the world, I agree. And for that I am in despair at this point. Holly’s kick is more of a personal solution — how to carry on and try to have some good impact, rather than hiding under the pillow and not getting out of bed.

  4. If it had been a man, our reaction might have been much different.
    Almost apologetic, her goal was to land a legal blow, win and live to fight again.
    I flash back to Muhammad Ali, “float like a butterfly sting like a bee, ” who had the courage to resist the warmongers.
    Always love to hear of honest, real feelings.

    1. Really lovely, Roy. Thank you. And how interesting to think about it’s being a man…and yes, Muhammad Ali was a true champion.

    1. So much to cry about! But some cries are really cathartic and helpful, don’t you think? I saw a brief clip on Rosa Parks on the news today, anniversary of her brave and simple act. I cried at her courage, and the example she set of the power of one person to do something enormous… in a good way.

  5. ​Human beings – at least most of us – have both violent and conciliatory tendencies.
    What matters is what we do with our instincts toward vengeance and violence; denying that we have them won’t work, but giving in to them is problematic. The critical thing is to recognize and acknowledge both our destructive impulses and our better natures and balance them in a thoughtful way.

    This is one of the aspects of power that politicians have: they can potentially bring out the best in us or bring out the worst – it is all there to be tapped into.

    I love how Holly is powerful and competent, but doesn’t use that to act in some pseudo-macho way, but actually respects her opponents.

    1. And I’m glad to know that Tony reads — but I already knew that! Thanks for all you do, Tony, for the Alternative Gifts International and for our local non-profits here in Santa Fe. You are our Santa Claus!

  6. Hi Lucy. It’s been a while since we communicated. This blog touched a deep conflict about violence in our culture that I struggle with. I am repulsed by MMA and the brutal nature of the sport, yet it’s widely popular especially as presented by the UFC. And yes, most of us enjoy the somewhat controlled mayhem of sports like football. Our son is a doctor and his wife is a nurse; they both revel in the UFC (he even trained as an amateur). One day while visiting them we watched a video of tests measuring the forces and effects of a punch to a human skull. How is it that we agonize over concussions in football, basketball, soccer and similar sports, yet seem unconcerned about inflicting serious damage on participants in MMA? How can we abhor the violence associated with terrorism while embracing violence in athletics? Is it really OK that Holly kicked Ronda senseless as long as she had a tear in her eye? I say this all while reflecting on my own infatuation with and admiration for Muhammad Ali – I listened on the radio to his first fight with Sonny Liston, my heart racing as Clay/Ali escaped Liston’s advances and jumping with excitement with each blow he delivered…

    1. Thank you, Dale, and good to hear from you. I’m glad my post touched you — in a gentle way, I hope! You are so right about the brutality and the injury this sport, and others, inflict, and our ability to somehow gloss over it, or make it a lesser priority than satisfying some primal need for violence. Maybe I shouldn’t lay the blame at the feet of “primal”…. Here is a deep dark confession: after 911 dust had settled and things were sort of back to normal, I felt some kind of vague let down, a hunger (!) for more shock to my system. Maybe this is where addiction is born. Big topics, thanks for weighing in.

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