The thing about the Olympics that has triggered me though is the fact that I was on Team USA as well. In 2009, I was scouted by Hanshi Alberto Friedmann, head coach of the US Martial Arts Team, to compete the following year at the World Martial Arts Games in Las Vegas. Unlike any other open martial arts competition, the WMAG was sanctioned by The Association For International Sport For All (TAFISA) which is governed by the International Olympic Committee. So although open sport martial arts isn't part of the Olympic Games, medals and titles won at the WMAG are Olympic recognized, and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
At the WMAG, I was signed up for three events: Point Fighting, Kickboxing and Team Point Fighting. After narrowly making weight, I remember feeling nauseous the entire Games. It was nearly a week-long event, with adult fighting not taking place until the second-to-last day. It would've probably been better if I stepped off the plane right into the ring, because as the days dragged on and I watched my team members, I grew more nervous. It's not that I didn't think I was ready, but I get stuck in my head sometimes. I was even asked to judge one day of competition at the Games, which was a great honor.
Following the World Martial Arts Games I retired from sport karate at the ripe old age of 18. I continued teaching and coaching, with several students earning numerous titles themselves on everything from a Regional to World level. I finally stopped teaching sport karate altogether in 2015, though I am honored to help coach my close friend Shihan Dell Sharpe's competition team. I'll admit it. There are sometimes I miss the rush from getting in the ring, the adoration from the crowd. But with as many injuries as I've sustained, the long term damage to my joints and the extra forty pounds that have miraculously appeared, I don't think I'll be competing on the world stage any time soon, and that's ok. I'm perfectly content with my 15 minutes of fame. Besides, I find it way more rewarding to know I am imparting the most practical self defense information I can to my students and give them the confidence they need. Every four years though, I'll get to look back on my experience with Team USA and feel warm inside. And that's something I'll have forever.
Below are some of my fights from the World Martial Arts Games, including my championship fight against Canada's Joshua Griffin (I'm in the blue helmet for all of the videos). Thank you to the entire coaching staff of the US Martial Arts Team for helping me reach this goal, but most of all I have to give thanks to my father Randy Gordon. My dad has coached me at all levels of competition since I was 15, and he was right there by side for every fight in Vegas. These last three and a half years since his passing have definitely been trying, but I know part of him is still in that arena screaming at the top of his lungs.