Monday, January 5, 2015

Photo Book "Fighter" by Janus van den Eijnden

For the last couple of years I’ve dedicated myself to taking pictures of kickboxers after their matches at kickboxing events across the Netherlands. Above all, this book is meant to show the effect these matches have on their heroes. Through the photographs it becomes apparent that the battle these men have fought is anything but uncontrolled.  Winning takes a combination of patience, complete muscle control and strength. These efforts leave a body and soul worn to the core. Even despite this profound exhaustion, the fighter’s faces reveal traces of pride and desolation. The starkly bare backgrounds against which the fighters are portrayed, and the isolated way in which they are captured, serve to emphasize their inner struggles. Even after the match is over there is still another battle to be fought, against their own emotions.
When I first began shooting these pictures I was still very far removed from the world of combat sports. I felt completely out of touch with the men in the ring, attacking each other as if intent on taking each other’s lives. My hands would tremble and adrenaline would rush through me as I’d stand in their changing rooms, where the fighters prepared for their matches through series of loud grunts and rough bumps. Having spent two years in this remarkable world, these matches no longer represent a mere show of violence. To me kickboxing has become a top-level sport, centered around total dedication, precision, mental and physical strength and tremendous amounts of mutual respect.


In the past year the papers have been filled with negative articles on kickboxers and kickboxing events. Although there is no denying that the reported incidents took place, this kind of coverage does the top-level sport no justice. In kickboxing, excelling requires intensive training of the kind that is hardly comparable to what is needed in other known sports. Often the fighters will train 6 days a week, only to measure their strength in a couple of rounds that last a matter of minutes. This book is therefore meant to show the world of kickboxing, which lately has received a lot of negative media attention, in a different light.


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