Think Wrestling is fake?
Try this: jump up as high as you can, kick your feet straight out, and land flat on your back. Okay. That's one. Ten more to go.
The men and women who undertook training at the (now defunct) Pro Wrestling Mid-Atlantic are as dedicated a group of athletes as I've ever met. After their day jobs they'd travel as much as two hours each way, several evenings a week, to a tiny warehouse space in an industrial neighborhood in Virginia Beach, Virgina. Then they'd climb into the "squared circle", which was crammed into the space with literally inches to spare and practice their bumps, slams, and stage theatrics. Once a month they'd pack into a van and drive to a community center or high school gym in North Carolina to show off their stuff to sometimes empty seats.
I grew up watching professional wrestling on TV. Growing up in small-town Maine I have purportedly applied my share of headlocks. I've allegedly body-slammed a few friends into snow drifts. I supposedly (and likely failed) to dropkick my older brother once. I understand the fascination. But, despite alternating daydreams of wielding a championship belt and getting slammed through a table (I know, I know) I have never gotten into a "real" fight in my life. Professional wrestling is fun. It's theater. It's spectacle.
But that doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt.
In the two shooting days that I re-experienced some of the emotions that I felt as a kid. I witnessed bruises, sprains, and even a little bit of blood. These things make the passion felt by the students all the more tangible. It made me think about my own passions–
–When was the last time I actually bled for something I really wanted?
Favorite thing I learned on the shoot: True passion requires sacrifice.