Today marks the twelve-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As a New Yorker, I can still remember exactly where I was when I first heard what happened. To this day, I can still recall seeing a billowing pile of black smoke coming from the direction of Manhattan, looking out from the crowded third-floor window of my high school.
In remembrance of this anniversary TheFightNerd.com and Kahleem Poole-Tejada (with the help from MMA apparel company Ranger Up) collaborated on this short-film that commemorates this event alongside the New York MMA community. "A Fighting Spirit" is a video memoir that interviews members of the NY martial arts community and discusses where they were when the Towers collapsed, how they have coped, and how New York and America have grown stronger.
Directed by Kahleem Poole-Tejada (director of the full-length documentary "New York MMA") and produced by Matthew Kaplowitz (Editor-in-Chief of TheFightNerd.com) in association with Ranger Up, the film takes viewers around a tour of downtown Manhattan and provides a glimpse inside several of New York City's top MMA gyms. It features many NY-based fighters, such as Renzo Gracie, Chris Weidman, Pete "Drago" Sell, and Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro, as well as Stephen Koepfer of NY Combat Sambo, Mark Yehia of "Elite Plus MMA," Rob Constance of "The Renzo Gracie Academy" and President of the "Ultimate Absolute" grappling tournament, and Emilio Novoa, President of ADCC North America. Also appearing is retired UFC middleweight fighter Jorge Rivera, as well as UFC middleweight Tim Kennedy, who adds the voices of members of the U.S. Armed Forces to this emotional piece.
Looking back on this two years later, it's still incredibly difficult to watch this and even comment on it, so I won't. Instead, I hope that you Bloody Elbow readers will tell me where you were when this happened, and how it affected you and your friends & family. Never forget...