Karate Combat newcomer Kaye Asesor might be new to the pit, but she’s no stranger to the martial arts.
We had the opportunity to learn more about a fighter who could arguably be described as the most unique athlete to get a chance in the league. A mixture of nun and ninja whose mom sent her to knife-fighting lessons as a child, Kaye works 60+ hours a week, trains to fight as a professional karateka, and spends her “free time” helping the elderly. With a win at KC36, her dream of turning pro may be realized.
A Young Kaye Asesor meets boxing legend Manny Pacquiao (Image Courtesy of Kaye Asesor)
At the beginning of Kaye’s martial arts journey, we were surprised to learn that there was a bit of reluctancy. Kaye reflects on that time and recalls, “In my early years I was like, ‘Mom, why are you doing this?’ My older sister was really into fighting but I wasn’t. And what we trained was very full contact and it wasn’t just karate. We did Judo and a sort of mixed martial arts where we learned some knife-handling, some army stuff.”
This training began at a very young age and persisted until Kaye left for college.
“I won some competitions but once I left college, I decided to just focus on my career instead. But then I felt like I heard God’s calling, telling me to get back into it. And now here I am.”
It would make sense that fighting was a part of her upbringing, considering that Kaye shares the same stomping grounds as another famous combat sports athlete. “I was born and raised in General Santos city in the Philippines. That’s where Manny Pacquiao is from, that’s his home town too.”
Young Kaye Asesor greets Manny Pacquiao with a garland upon his return home from a boxing match. (Image Courtesy of Kaye Asesor)
Kaye and the Pac-Man have met on numerous occasions, and many of those encounters have stayed fresh in her mind. “I was part of this group where we welcomed him home from his fights in Las Vegas. There’s a picture where he’s got all these bruises on his face and I’m putting a garland on him. Everyone in the Philippines knows him, especially everyone in my city. I couldn’t say if he remembers me, but I was there with him many times.”
Kaye also shares another connection to the boxing world through her boxing coach, who also is a trainer of world champion boxer Amanda Serrano.
COMING TO AMERICA
Kaye believes it was no coincidence that she made her way to the US and resumed her martial arts training. Hearing that still small voice call out to her, it said, “Hey, I think you can do this.”
Kaye recounts, “That wasn’t about Karate Combat specifically, it was just about karate itself. I was still in the Philippines (at) that time.” So in 2017, Kaye came to the USA on a foreign exchange student program where she stayed in Virginia for a year. Not finding the right fit for fighting, she relocated to California where she began her WKF style training. This led to being recommended to an instructor on the opposite coast, all the way in New York.
She made her way cross-country and claims, “…now I feel all the dots have connected and it’s blown me away.”
KARATE COMBAT 36
Christina admits to knowing little about her opponent, which you can read about in more detail HERE.
“At one point I had actually been watching Karate Combat and feeling like, ‘Man, I missed out.’ And I was also missing full-contact training, that intensity, the reality of it. So when a Karate Combat opportunity was presented to me, I was like, ‘Wow, is this really happening?’ And I just thanked God, because through him I still had that fire in me the whole time to do what I need to do.”
What Kaye Asesor needs to do is no small task. She will be competing against undefeated fighter Christina Kavakopoulou, who looks to climb to 3-0 and cement herself as the top athlete in her division.
Kaye says of her opponent, “So I've been watching all the girls in Karate Combat but Christina has really stood out to me as someone I want to fight, because I want to fight the best in the category and I think that’s her. I think all the fighters are good, don’t get me wrong, but I think she’s the best of them and we will match up well. I don’t want anyone to say I got any easy fights.”
Christina has the benefit of experiencing the Pit on numerous occasions, but Kaye has the element of surprise.
“I think my biggest advantage is that she doesn’t know anything about me, whereas I have watched a lot of tape on her. For me this fight is about fighting smart, keep landing different techniques, keep the pressure up.”
UNDERNEATH THE LIGHTS
We all know that the environment Karate Combat produces for fighters and fans alike is second to none. So, how does a fighter prepare for their first time stepping into the pit?
Kaye says, “It's overwhelming. I've been actually training myself to deal with that and talking to my coaches about how to prepare for it, because even the most experienced fighter hasn’t encountered something like this before. Even if you’re a really good fighter, you can potentially lose it when you see that for the first time. So I’ve been training just to focus on my opponent and black everything else out.
ON RELIGION, CHARITY, MEDITATION
Outside of fighting, Kaye works as a caregiver. “I was already working really hard before this Karate Combat opportunity was presented to me. I get up at 4am, work out from 5:00am to 6:30am and then start work at 7:00am, finish at 5.30pm and then go to my second training session of the day. That’s my life Monday to Saturday.”
Kaye is also a member of The Legion of Mary. “It’s a Catholic thing focused on charity and service. And my favorite service of this Legion is the visiting of the elderly. I love, love, love, love, love, just being around with this elderly because it reminds me a lot about life. So that’s what I spend my spare time at the weekends on.”
“If we, really truly want to find the real purpose of life, it's not just about us, it's about helping other people and helping to make this world a better place instead of just being selfish.
Fighting here in Karate Combat with that kind of purpose really helps to ground me, knowing that it’s not all about me, it’s about spreading the word and being a good example.
I also really want to encourage everyone to learn karate, especially put your children into it. Karate teaches respect, focus, purpose. It's not just about kicking or punching, it’s about defending and helping others. What a world it would be, if everyone had the kind of self control you learn from karate!”
Kaye is a fighter filled with conviction, courage, and copious amounts of skill.