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ST. MARYS — Ashley Rickard enjoys challenging herself, and one of her most recent challenges has been inside a chain-linked cage.
The St. Marys Memorial High School graduate has been training for cage fighting for more than a year now at Sudden Impact in Fort Wayne, and also does jiu-jitsu and kickboxing. Rickard said she was drawn to the sport because of the competition.
“I was in wrestling in high school and I always liked that type of competition,” Rickard said. “I was always into martial arts — I wanted to be. I moved to Fort Wayne for school and found a job so I could pay for training and then I found a gym close by and thought I would try it.”
Rickard noted the technical side of the sport also intrigued her.
“I like how it’s a challenge and it’s not always the strongest wins, it’s usually more technical and about who can outlast the other person,” she said. “It’s more endurance, technique and keeping cool than it is about pure strength.”
Rickard noted that the most challenging part cage fighting has been the cardio work.
“I don’t really like running so I have to push myself to do it,” she said.
She also noted that remembering to keep calm in the cage is important.
“In any type of fighting you need to keep your calm and don’t get overwhelmed because then you freak out,” Rickard said.
Rickard said it is also important to rely on the technique of the sport and not strength alone.
“You have to remember that when you get someone that’s new and they try to use brute strength that you can’t fall back into that,” she said.
“It’s about remembering that technique will help you overcome that and to stay calm in different situations.”
One of the keys to fighting, Rickard said, is to focus on what you are capable of and executing it.
“Don’t worry about what the other person is doing,” she said. “See their technique and what they’re good at and what their weaknesses are and then go from there but also focus on what your strengths are and focus on what your abilities are and what you can do as well.”
Rickard has fought her way to win first in the novice division in a judo tournament in Indiana, where she also placed third in the brown belt division. She has also competed in two cage fights in her career.
“I’ve done two cage fights — one in Lawrenceburg, Ind., and I lost by decision and the last one was in Lima and I won in the first round by submission,” she said.
This weekend, Rickard will fight in her third meet, when she competes at Riverfest in Cincinnati at 5 p.m. Sunday. The free event is open to the public.
“It’s supposed to be a really big show,” Rickard said. “It’s free entry, first come, first serve on the seating. It’s supposed to be outside.”
The competition, she said, is one she is looking forward to.
“I’m excited,” Rickard said.
Rickard said she would like to continue cage fighting in the foreseeable future and await for her next challenge.
“I want to try it for a while and see where the competition goes,” she said.
“I’m going to keep with it, keep challenging myself. I want to do a few more judo if possible and also some jiu-jitsu tournaments as well and maybe one day become a trainer.”