Warrior Code is proud to announce that Tessa de Kom, two-time world champion and one of the most successful female kickboxers in the Netherlands in recent years, will be writing a monthly column with us. The intention is that De Kom will give the followers of Warrior Code a unique insight into the life of a world champion. For example, how a busy training and competition schedule can be combined with school (or not). Furthermore, De Kom will share her experiences about the kickboxing world in general and everything related to it.
This first column by Tessa appears at the beginning of September: the month in which the new school and academic year starts. A new year with new opportunities but also with a lot of homework, projects, exams and a social life. In short: high expectations. How do you combine that with a professional kickboxing career? The honest answer: survive.
My name is Tessa de Kom. You may have seen me pass by here on Warrior Code or in Warrior Talk where I was a guest in January. And where Remy told me I got a title shot at RISE in Japan. A few months later this competition was and I became world champion for the second time.
The first time was at Enfusion here in the Netherlands and the second time at the Japanese organization RISE, where I managed to dethrone Manazo Kobayashi. My life revolves around kickboxing, a sport where all my passion goes.
But I am also Tessa de Kom, 22 years old and a final year HBO student of sports marketing and management at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences who lives in Maassluis with her younger sister and mother. Although my life has been more or less completely devoted to kickboxing and I have, hopefully to put it modestly, been able to find success here and there, I can't afford to assume that I will be able to continue with the sport alone until to my pension.
It all depends on how long I stay injury free and how interesting sponsors will find me.
So I have to make sure that I have a Plan B, so to speak. Well, that also sounds a bit dramatic. But, I hope you get what I mean. That's why I'm doing an HBO education next to my sport. It is true that in the run-up to each new school year it is a puzzle to combine sports and school.
Kickboxing is of course not like football that you are on the field every week for a match. We do that on average three to four times a year, so on paper it should be a less intensive “season”.
What many people don't know is that we spend an average of 5 days a week in the gym to stay fit when we're not working towards a competition. If we do, we train on average twice a day, 6 days a week. Such a training camp starts on average 6-8 weeks before a match. So, do the math: 4 fights a year times 8 weeks is about 32 weeks that we follow a schedule that dominates our entire lives at that time.
So how do I combine that with school?
Planning ahead of games and training times and important deadlines at school is one thing, of course, but the reality is that I often rush through training in the morning and then run to school and often end up being late all the time. I often test the patience of my teachers and am very grateful to them for the patience and flexibility they have with my kickboxing. Also, when I went to Japan for the title fight last December, I brought my laptop and schoolwork to complete a big project I was working on with classmates.
Although my intention was to finish school work in a good way, I can admit in my first column that I didn't open my laptop in the end. Sorry mister teacher...
Yet there is no denying that you always feel that you or the sport or your school are falling short because you have to leave a little earlier at one place and are always late at the other. I hate feeling like I'm cutting corners when I really don't want to.
I am glad that my last year of study has finally just started. In recent weeks I have been looking hard for a graduation internship that will start from January and the search will continue for a while. One more year to go, but I'm looking forward to it.