Reda Messaoudi, also known as “The Cobra,” is full of confidence as he prepares for Sunday’s showpiece.
Rabat – Morocco’s international Karateka Reda Messaoudi is set to fight against the American Josh Quayhagan on Sunday as part of the Karate Combat League’s Anger Wat event.
This is Reda Messaoudi’s second participation in the Karate Combat League (KCL), a full contact Karate competition and the first professional international mainstream league.
Reda Messaoudi, also known as “The Cobra,” is full of confidence as he prepares for Sunday’s showpiece. In an interview discussing his expectations for his KCL premiere, the Cobra told Morocco World News he believes he has much talent and skills to show to the world. Tomorrow’s fight, he insisted, is an opportunity for him to show the world what he is about, who he really is in the fighting pit.
But if Messaoudi means business, his confidence and great expectations do not exactly cloud his judgement about what else will be at stake as he makes his first ever KCL appearance.
As he speaks about the other, humane and personal aspect of the combat, the Moroccan fighter oozes something close to controlled hubris, or humble self-confidence. It was in Karate Combat that he discovered himself and what he was capable of, he said.
This, he suggested, makes his maiden KCL fight a “a big step” in his career, the opportunity for a once-lost boy to show the world that he has found, re-discovered his true self: monumentally self-confident and yet down-to-earth, humble about what it al means and where he comes from.himself.
“Karate Combat combines the best attributes of the traditional martial art — honor and respect — with new rules and an atmosphere that inspires you to bring everything you have into the Fighting Pit,” he beamed.
When asked about the origin of his nickname, “The Cobra,” he said that it has something to do with his eyes and kicks. “I always hear from people when I train or compete, that my fighting style is like a cobra –the way I look at the opponent, and the way I kick in one fast moment like a cobra.”
Messaoudi said that his fighting style is marked by a long observation period; he wants to understand the opponent before he strikes. So “I chose to be the Moroccan Cobra.”
Training in the desert near Agadir, in southern Morocco, has long conditioned himself to harsh conditions. His demanding training environment — of heat and high and dunes — have helped Messaoudi build up his stamina in an old fashioned way.
Training during the pandemic
Even so, Messaoudi does not prevaricate about the numerous challenges he faced during the pandemic, notably the difficulty of finding an appropriate space for his usual training. COVID-19 even made it hard for the athlete to get sparring sessions in the gym, go outside to run, or to practice any kind of physical preparation outdoors.
As such, The Cobra’s preparation for tomorrow’s fight mostly took place in his apartment. He did his best to stay disciplined, and to keep his weight, he stressed.
To remain motivated, Messaoudi convinced himself that self-indulgence would benefit his opponent, whom he imagined going through similar difficulties to train and keep in shape. His mantra during preparation: “It’s not only hard for me, it’s hard for my opponents too — so we’re equal.”
A message from Reda Messaoudi to young Moroccan Karatekas
Stepping from a small city near Agadir to international competitions has inspired Messaoudi to deliver a message to young Moroccan who practice Karate. He is urging them to stay away from anything that could divert them from their goals, steer them away from being their best selves.
For him, self-actualization is not only about determination and talent. The people you befriend and the habits you cultivate have a great bearing on your work ethic and your general outlook on life and personal responsibility, he explained, almost sounding philosophical.
The will to improve, he says, grows and solidifies in an environment that feeds it, sustains it, and allows it to blossom. Then come determination and the hunger to prove oneself while making others –family and friends — proud.
“A few years ago, me and my brother Achraf Ouchen, we were unknown, but we struggled to prove ourselves, but we never let it go,” said Messaoudi. Ouchen, also a Moroccan Karate professional, participated in Karate Combat two years ago.
Competing in 2018 as part of the Olympus event in Athens, Greece, the Moroccan impressed with a knockout triumph against the Spanish champion Franklin Mina.
To young Moroccan athletes dreaming of future glories and public attention, The Cobra’s message is a classic self-help mantra. That the process is as important — if not more important than– the final destination.
But coming from a person of his pedigree, who has known a litany of hardships but managed to rise and live his dream, there is something peculiarly poignant and lively about his message. “And the last thing to tell them: We learn from failure, not from success.”
About Karate Combat
“Anger Wat” is the name of the ongoing event that Karate Combat organizes with innovative technology, putting fighters in an arena with the virtual atmosphere of the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia.
The settings are made with Unreal Engine — the same technology that Epic Games used to create Fortnite.
The events take place every Sunday, and are diffused by beIN SPORTS or the Karate Combat channel on YouTube.
The event’s organizers told Morocco World News that the atmosphere around the fighting pit will change every three episodes. The point is to make the whole thing feel like an action movie setting.
“Some others will have more of a sci-fi flavor like Dune or Blade Runner,” said the organizers.“We have actual knockouts and it’s very exciting. The fights take place in a slope-sided fighting pit.”