Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige is all set to make the next step in her exciting ONE Championship career.
The Thai star has been competing under the bright lights of the ONE Championship cage in all three of her professional bouts to date, winning two and losing one as he looks to continue her martial arts journey on the global stage.
She had to overcome adversity to get there, having suffered at the hands, and words, of bullies as a youngster growing up, before transforming her life for the better by discovering martial arts.
“I do not remember the first time I got bullied, because I used to get bullied since I was young,” Ishige said.
“When I was a junior in high school, I was bullied by the seniors because I am only half Thai.
“At first they made fun of me verbally, like calling me terrible names, and after that I was physically bullied. I got pushed from behind and had my hair pulled.”
With her teachers seemingly turning a blind eye to the bullying, Ishige and her friends were subjected to ever-increasing levels of mental and physical bullying.
With her half-Thai heritage and slight stature, Ishige found herself as a consistent target, as she explained.
“If you have a weak point or are different, you can be the target of bullying.”
Ishige did her best to keep out of the way of the bullies, but that wasn’t always possible, and she eventually decided to enroll in a martial arts class in a bid to equip herself with the skills needed to defend herself, if the situation required it.
“I did not learn martial arts to hurt people, just for self-defence,” she explained.
“I decided to start practicing aikido and karate.”
It had an almost instant impact on her self-confidence, and she also found it helped her deal with the mental side of the bullying, too.
“I became stronger — not only physically, but mentally,” she explained.
“I felt calmer and better at controlling my emotions.”
Over time, the bullying started to ease off, as Ishige’s confidence started to soar. She says that change was without doubt a result of her taking up martial arts training, and said she’d recommend others in similar positions do the same to improve their situation.
“You cannot change others, only yourself. Get ready to deal with every situation,” she said.
“You should get physical strength by working out or practicing martial arts to protect yourself from physical or sexual bullying. Also, you will build mental strength for dealing with verbal bullying, including cyberbullying.”
Ishige explained that you don’t have to be physically big and strong to benefit from martial arts, citing her training in jiu-jitsu as crucial to her development.
“Jiu-jitsu helped me a lot, both in my normal life and in matches. It is good for small people like me,” she said.
She also had a message to those who bullied her as a teenager, saying it’s important they teach their own children the value of kindness and steering clear of bullying.
“Now we have become adults, and I think some have children,” she said.
“Please teach them to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. No one wants to be bullied.”
Ishige may have used martial arts to beat the bullies, but now she’s using her talent to win inside the highly-competitive environment of the ONE Championship cage.
Her next adventure sees her return to action on home soil in Bangkok, Thailand when she takes on Rome “The Rebel” Trinidad at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD on 9 December.