Win some, lose some.

Just recently I saw a friend of mine who had just come off the back of losing a boxing match. He’d told me that the fight had been a mismatch with his opponent coming in a good 3 or 4 kilograms heavier than his own weight of 60. From looking at the short video I could see the difference between the two fighters was apparent.

He gave it his all and was unlucky enough to get caught with a hard shot that ended the fight. It’s one of those things and in any combat sport can happen. Listening to him talk about what happened in the ring, going over the situation I could hear the frustration in his voice. I’ve been there myself and it’s not the best place to be. In fact sometimes it can be a very tough place to be, and it can stay with you for a lot longer than you’d like.

10348938_10152179360293731_7851256722725497444_o

Losing my first few fights was pretty tough. In fact it was really tough. I had hoped at first that the sting of defeat would lessen after losing my first couple and when I finally landed a hat trick for all the wrong reasons, I unsurprisingly felt a little deflated. In fact, I felt small and the runt of the litter in a gym that had a reputation for producing tough fighters with good technique. I didn’t know if this was how most people felt about defeat but I knew that I didn’t like the feeling. In fact, I hated it.

Why fighting was taking so long to come together for me and others just seemed to have that certain ‘it’ was beyond me. ‘It’s a learning curve’ were words that often repeated like a broken record in my mind as I replayed the fights over again. Some days, a fifteen minute walk back to my flat would last a life time.

I found the hardest part of training from fight number three onwards was pushing myself to get back to the gym after another defeat. If Id’ known then that I would have to lose seven fights in a row before I won my first I’m not sure if I would of stayed in it, but as it stood what I was developing more and more was an understanding of competing and myself in the ring, I was also gaining some good experience and even though I’d only been fighting at an amateur level I’d had some tough fights.

In fact, I’d often heard it mentioned that fighting at an amateur level could be a lot more grueling than anticipated as fighters were often wanting to make their mark and move onto bigger and better things. I didn’t really think like that. I just wanted to win and it was a case of proving to myself that I had what some thought I was lacking, and besides despite the crushing nerves, the unrelenting training sessions and the weeks of low self esteem following a loss I loved the fight. It brought out the best in me and was something I never ever thought I would do.

When you’ve been at the bottom for what feels like forever, getting to the top of your game, of any game can seem like an almost unachievable goal at points. At least it did for me anyway. I’ve always found the will to succeed has been a driving factor in anything I set my mind to and fighting has been no different. It’s tough at the top (not that I’ve ever really been right at the top) but it’s even tougher at the bottom.

In fact, picking yourself up from any kind of defeat in or outside of the ring requires a lot of self belief, determination and focus. It also requires being around the right people, and luckily for me I’ve always been able to draw inspiration from those standing next to me on a bag rather than just from those fighters with their names up in lights.

1614241_10152501987308731_4186990750820260418_o

I guess when you want something so much its all your focusing on, you can make it happen. I can remember becoming so accustomed to losing that winning almost seemed something that other people did. “It’ll tip mate.” One of my trainers told me one day. “It always does for people that train all the time.” The words gave me some solace but didn’t make the work that lay ahead any easier. It was a long road to be on and only seemed to be getting longer.

When it finally tipped for me I was caught off guard and completely elated. As always it had been a close fight. I was fighting virtually last on the show, it was close to eleven at night and I had been waiting for felt like forever. Right from the word go I was tired but right from the word go I hadn’t given up. Something had happened half way through the fight, It had suddenly shifted from the familiar feeling of impending loss to a small voice I had never heard before telling me I was winning. It must of been that that made me push harder than I had before.

It wasn’t the tidiest of fights but the result was something to write home about. It inspired me to keep competing and from there I won again. I did good, but then again I put in the work. I can remember training twice a day at one point for my area title fight  I wanted it that much. I’d always been told to stay hungry and I made that a rule of thumb.

On reflection, I’ve wondered if losing has given me more drive to succeed than winning has at points. It’s certainly made me push myself more than I thought I could and the hard time I give myself can often bring out the best in me. There’s a lot more to fighting than wins and losses but then again there’s a lot more to me than what I do in a boxing ring or gym.

I’ve learnt more about myself over the past 5 years or so of competing than I thought I would. I may of slowed down a little of late but the drive to spend more and more time at the gym is creeping back, and this week I’m pleased to say I’ve been there more than the week before. I don’t think the passion for the sport /art is ever going to diminish and I’m hoping I get back in the ring this year. It’s a tough little world and it doesn’t come easy to some. When I say some I mean that it doesn’t come easy to me. But then again, the best things never do. In the meantime have a good week, train hard and always keep your head up. No matter how “hard” it gets. I’ll see you on that road.

906626_10152382172078731_5620028950485710821_o

 

 

 

Actions speak louder.

Last week training was.. well it was ok. I’m currently carrying an injury in my right shoulder. I’ve pulled something major and it’s not been too great for the past couple of weeks but it’s slowly on the mend. Needless to say it’s affected training but the main thing is I’m still there. Well as much as I can be at present. Luckily, whenever I run into one of life’s little hurdles it very rarely gets in the way for too long. Everything changes after a while. Especially the bad stuff.

Other than  a niggling ache in my right arm things haven’t been too bad of late. There’s been a lot that has been keeping me busy and I’m hoping this week I manage to spend as much time as I want to at the gym. Even when things start to feel a little too much I’ve taught myself to load balance mentally and carry on as normal. It’s kind of similar to fight training. It’s really kind of a pressure test to see how much I can give. Just like with that I just keep going.

I’ve set a goal this week onwards of getting writing back on track. My writing project has been gathering dust for the past few weeks. In fact, the last time I picked it up was at the beginning of August, but every time I write I remember why I started and things just seem to flow the way they’re  meant to. I should be giving this blog more attention than I currently am. Goals. I’ve always been a big fan of them. So I’m hoping with all things martial and otherwise, this week I’m back on the horse.

12491954_10153476638953731_1887778825627055257_o

I’m noticing that as usual the year seems to shooting past much faster than I’d  like. I said a couple of months ago I’d really like to fight again in the winter and I’ve still got that in mind, but with that decision comes a big commitment and that of course is the training. I’m pretty sure I can pick up the pace when I need to and as soon as a little bit more regularity emerges I’ll start thinking about that a little more seriously than I am at present. Again it’s another goal to work towards and one I know I can achieve.

Looking back at recent decisions I feel that I’m in a better place than about 4 months ago. There’s reasons for that, but that’s a story for a different day. As always I keep going, and as always I’m getting back to enjoying training just for the sake of enjoying training. I feel free, but then again I’ve never liked being told what to do and prefer to have that freedom on tap.

Although training isn’t quite exactly where I would like it to be at present the exciting thing is that it’s still there. In fact, everything I’ve learnt that is in a continual cycle of improvement may not always be perfect, but it’s  still always “there”. It used to feel like a struggle to get back into the swing of things or back on that proverbial horse I mention so much but these days things feel a lot more natural than they did before. I’m hoping it stays in that vein for many years to come.

So when it comes to goals and things that lie ahead in all things martial and otherwise. I guess it’s the actions as always that speak the loudest, but from now on I’ll  make sure that the words don’t come second place. In the meantime train hard, have a good week and I’ll see you again Sunday and as always.. I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

 

Pressure test

So another Sunday has arrived, and I’m finally sitting down to get this blog of mine up to speed. I think I spoke to you last earlier in the week?… you’ll have to excuse me but sometimes I feel a little vague about these things so thought I should double check.

Although things have  been lighter on the ground training wise this week than last I’ve still most importantly found the time to train, and I was pretty pleased to note that the option of training all week is ever present. Where there’s a will there’s a way and I’m happy just to have one gym to train out of. Financially it makes a lot more sense and avoids anything that might amount to gym politics too. I can’t stand gym politics.

Either way, I’m happy and still looking forward to getting back to it next week onwards. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve not been training as much as usual  this week or because I decided to put on my infamous (it’s infamous to me and that’s all that matters) blue tracksuit top to train in to get to a bit of weight off, but this week things have felt a lot tougher.

After 4 or 5 rounds of sparring at one of my sessions this week I was pretty tired and I’ve always prided myself on my stamina. Luckily the ability to just keep going doesn’t seem to have left so I guess my fitness isn’t that bad but this week has equated in a bit of graft.

Then again, I’ve been going out a little more than usual of late so I might put that down  for a couple of weeks and have a detox. Alcohol other than being generally bad for you, is a great way to knock your fitness. But I’m  sure you know that already.

When I’m having one of those moments training it’s usually a good push and tells me quite quickly how much I can give when I really need to. I think the trick with Thai is fundamentally having the ability not to give up no matter how tough it gets in there.

Video 3 0 00 28-11

I’ve had fights where I’ve gone through hell and back but I’ve still kept going. Even when I’ve been  on the back foot, I’ve found that sheer grit and determination has often helped me either see things through to the finish or on a few occasions tip the odds in my favour. When your sucking on canvas with a crowd baying for your blood (I’ve been there a couple of times in the past) getting up can be the hardest thing in the world. If you do make it up then you have to try and recover what you lost.

My last fight (towards the end of 2015) saw me come back stronger to the point a few people said I won. I’ve found that the drills I’ve been taught in training and the combinations I’ve found work for me are always tested when I’m under pressure. It’s not really the techniques  I remember but  what my body remembers that I find are the most effective under pressure. Muscle memory as it’s called is crucial when your getting a push.

There’s been a few occasions when I’ve been training hard for a fight, I’ve flaked out after a tough session at the gym only to be suddenly woken up by my left kick (it’s always the left ) trying to give the duvet a dead leg. I guess that’s when you know it’s finally sinking in.

I’m pleased I’ve had the summer off. It put things into perspective and it’s nice just being at the gym and not thinking about when the next fight is all the time. As a paradox I’m looking forward to hopefully making a return later in the year. Ha a return… well you know, it’s good fun.🙂. Unless your getting filled in. That’s not so great.I promise to think positive from here on in.

Even though I find it’s important to be able to cope under pressure, it’s just as important to be able to keep the pressure on when your fighting. I’m still of the mindset that the later rounds are the most important (I know this is the general attitude in Thailand) and as the saying goes its not how you start but how you finish that can make or break a fight. And I think that really applies to whatever level you fight at.

I think next week onwards I’m going to focus a little more on picking my stamina up a little and switching my Mr relentless head on, although this week I’ve started to make myself stand my ground a little more and make people come to me if their taller.

It’s kind of working but I still need to get my speed up with my counters although a few aren’t too bad. Walking forward never hurts anyone ideally other than the person in front of you, so I’m pleased that little bit of courage is still there too. Courage is one word for it anyway.

It’s been good catching up with you as always, and I thought this week I’d leave you with another fight.. this time one from way back when. Rungravee vs Seooi. It was the 6th time they fought and you’ll see what I mean by keeping the pressure on/ coping under pressure. Anyway, enjoy, thanks for stopping by and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Rungravee vs Seeoi VI

 

 

 

 

 

Being different.

This week has been a reasonably full week of training and whilst we’re on the subject of exercise and fitness I’ve just rounded things up with a good run. It was a run I meant to do about 3 hours ago, but  then again this was a blog I meant to write at the beginning of the week. I guess me and procrastination are still quite good friends.

All in all, training at the moment is going well, although a few sessions isn’t really the same as 4 or 5 but you know.. hills and valleys, finding the time, balancing stuff out. The usual excuses are never too far away. On Saturday, I headed down the gym for a couple of hours and got some sparring in with a friend of mine who has a boxing match coming up.

It was a good few rounds, and I enjoyed the push as well as the usual Thai sparring and bags and pads that make up the best start to a Saturday you could possibly have. Boxing always keeps me on my toes too. I think it was in the later rounds that I felt myself really switch on, maybe I got caught with a good shot or maybe sparring in the ring got me fired up but either way I did good. And to be honest, my friend is a pretty good boxer too.

KOH_401_aspect16x9

I switched off  but switched on for a little while and I found myself caught up in the moment. Which was good, because I haven’t felt that way sparring for a long time  and it also showed me that the fire that  is reserved for fighting is still very much there. In fact it’s safe to say I think it’s alive and  well. Heart has never really been a problem.

It reminded me that when it comes to fighting it’s important for me to leave the nice guy in the other room. In fact I’d say  it’s absolutely essential for me to be a different person and let the fighter take charge. And over time that’s got easier. When I first started training to fight and  began fighting itself it was the hardest thing in the world. I’ve learnt that you don’t need to be a thug to be a good fighter.Some of the humblest kindest people I’ve met in martial arts are absolutely formidable in the ring. Fighters out in Thailand are living proof that this is true.

You don’t need bravado or ego. I think you just need the will  to succeed and you need to be tough inside, as well of course having a bit of skill too.. but  ‘The will must be stronger than the skill.’ as the late great Muhammad Ali said. Again essentially, I’ve learnt it’s really important to be a different person. I used to find it hard to switch the fighter off some days. Over the years  I’ve realised that he’s there all the time. Especially when I think he isn’t and that’s usually when I need him the most.

The characteristics I’ve developed through martial arts and training as well as fighting I’ve learnt to apply to a lot of my life. To say I’ve been forged into a  better person would be a little ott simply because I’ve never really been a bad one, but over the years Thai has certainly improved my self confidence and self belief as well helped me develop my inner ‘grr’ that had been wanting a voice for years, and was forever pushed to one side. My inner ‘grr’. Ha. I’ll remember that.

Martial arts across the board give a lot back. What is it I normally say about now? ‘the more you put in the more you get out.’ And it’s just as true as it ever was. I think they build character and when it comes to all things Thai, I’ve been taught to be a different person in the ring and a better person out of it.

So looking at the week ahead, I’m hoping it’s even more full of all things martial. In fact, it’s safe to say I hope it keeps me well and truly on my toes. Train hard, have a great week and just like the last time I’ll see you on that road.

Stones+on+beach+iStock_000006757699_Large

 

 

 

Last week..

Phew! I made it. I guess it’s better late than never and I’ve already reset myself to get back to writing on a Sunday. I’ve still got to get back to writing every day but that’s a different story. No pun intended. I’ve decided to start the day with a run so I’m feeling reasonably sprightly and mildly invigorated. Maybe that’s the coffee. Anyway, it’s training tonight and that’s always a good thing.

Speaking of training last week was officially awesome. I got near on a full week in at the gym and it feels good to be back on the horse. I always notice the difference when I’m putting in the work and I’m sure this week is going to be better than the last, it’s not been a bad summer so far and putting fighting down for a little while has done me the world of good. I’m looking forward to climbing back onto that particular horse a little later on in the year. Good times and some new goals lie ahead.

Despite starting off last week feeling considerably rustier than usual, I finished on a good note and even wound up getting some clinching and sparring in as well the usual. I like the freedom an open gym session gives sometimes because it lets you work on what you feel you need to, which for me is usually everything. But then again, I am my own worst critic.

1614241_10152501987308731_4186990750820260418_o

We spent a little time last week drilling basic combinations to use under pressure. I’ve mentioned before that I like to remember simple combinations that I know I can use without having to think too much (if that makes sense)and I’m pleased to say last week saw me drilling a couple of new ones. Ones that I knew already granted but ones that I’ve never really thought about using.

Testing them under pressure I was pleased to see that they work and I think I’m going to make a point of continuing to drill them and use them sparring whenever I can. Getting back into the swing of things is of course officially awesome but it’s made me realise there’s still a lot I need to work on. However, I’m getting sharper and I’m still pretty fast when I want to be.

Come the winter I will have taken a year out from fighting and it’s going to be good to see where I’m at and how much things have improved. My left kick is rapidly heading to a good place although frustratingly I don’t twist my hips kicking a pad nearly as much as I do kicking a bag. It’s the little things like that I’ve been focusing on improving and it’s the small adjustments I make that often lead to the biggest improvements. I’m happy with my hands these days too. I hit hard. In fact I hit harder than I used to and that is always a good thing.

I’m going to make a point this week of getting at least a couple of rounds of clinching in as well as usual sparring as I’m feeling rusty and it’s a strength of mine. I’m still just as happy spending time in the clinch. In fact, the fight in the picture above was a clinch war. That one was a draw but a great fight.🙂

Next month I should be heading out to Europe to catch a martial arts tournament as well as have a well deserved break from the norm. I’m looking forward to a bit of  downtime and if I’m really lucky maybe a bit of sun. Taking a back seat till later in the year isn’t a bad thing, but ok I can feel a familiar itch beginning to bubble up again. Fighting. Yeah that’s good fun. Just before I first started competing I watched a couple of shows and thought ‘I’d like to do that’, these days I’m like ‘might as well get stuck in again.’ ha. Good times.

So looking at the week ahead I’m hoping it’s just as martial as the last one. Training is good fun but it’s graft so I’m going to keep doing my best to put my one and all in again because when it comes down to it, I really wouldn’t have it any other way. Have a great week and train hard. I’ll see you on that road.

10334460_10152199382513731_1041001601405992775_n

 

Tough.

So this week I’ve managed to get myself to the gym and it was awesome. Next week I’m going to be back at the gym again and I’m sure that will be awesome too. In fact I’m going to make a point of spending a reasonable amount of time getting back to where I need to be again. As always it’s a long road but it’s a good one and I’m glad I’m still here.

I realised just the other day that I’ve been training now for over 9 and a half years. Go me. I never thought I’d be able to stay  focused with anything for this long. Sometimes it’s surprising what you can achieve when you simply put your mind to it. I guess really it’s the same rule of thumb with anything that you enjoy and that gives you the slightest touch of inspiration. You stick with it and you don’t give up. At least, that’s the rule that I apply to myself anyway.

That’s not to say it’s not tough. I stay away from the word hard because I think ‘hard’ is only ever self imposed anyway. There’s a lot of things I’ve encountered in my life I could class as ‘hard’. Fighting, losing fights, getting back on the horse and turning things around in general was never meant to be easy.It was only ever meant to be a challenge. And challenges are only ever as tough as I let myself think they are

If I set a goal no matter what it is I make sure I stay focused with it and I won’t stop until it’s done. Some days I call it determined and tenacious. Other days I call it pig headed and stupid. It’s one of those things, but either way I don’t give up and either way no matter what I always believe in myself and what I’m doing. Besides when the training is hard, the fighting is easy. (At least that’s what they told me.)

11898639_10153224811673731_1026707443660932237_n

Everyone has their own individual goals when it comes to training and when it comes to all things Thai not everyone wants to step into a ring and compete. There’s many things it gives back to you other than competitive skill. It’s given me focus and made me stronger inside. Tougher if you will.Some days I can feel that reflecting from my core outwards.

In general Muay Thai has taught me a lot about myself as well as learning to respect others, it’s reminded me that it’s important to stand up in life as well as in the ring and rise to the challenges I face on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. I’d say it’s fair to call that one a life lesson.

Training goals for me are ongoing, and I’ve successfully avoided the trap of achieving ‘this’ much and stopping. I realised a while ago that the journey is something that is always going to outweigh the destination, and although progress sometimes feels like a long road it’s a road that’s always worth travelling.

So looking at next week and beyond it’s really a case of making sure I spend as much time at the gym as I can. The balance I’ve been looking for seems to be asserting itself and things are moving in the right direction. It’s been a good summer so far and I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring later in the year. For now, and just like always.. I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

 

Faster.

Well it’s been a slightly slower week on the ground training wise this in comparison to the week before. In fact, I’ve yet to get myself to the gym but will probably make my way down tomorrow. Life being life I’ve been kept on my toes with everything else bar boxing but I guess sometimes you have to prioritise.

As always when it’s a quieter week training wise I value what time I manage to spend there. I’m aiming to make sure I’m back on track towards the winter this year but I’m enjoying taking things at my own pace and training as and when I can. Training and writing seem to be a little hit and miss at present, so apologies but rest assured normal service will be resumed shortly. “We are experiencing technical difficulties.”

Last week was very much a martial one,  and I found myself with a reasonably full week of Thai boxing finished off with some self defence training to boot which I always enjoy. Just like with anything the more you practice the more it sets in and although that’s currently only happening once a week I’m picking up the general premise.

Mondays have been relegated to the realms of “when I get around to it” for now but at some point Kali is still on the agenda. Like with a lot of people I often find there never seems to be enough time in the day to fit most things in. However, like with everything Thai and with everything else in my life I get there in the end.

1614241_10152501987308731_4186990750820260418_o

I’m still keeping running on days I don’t make it to training and even on days that I do. At points it seems like a poor substitute but at least I know that I’m doing something. and I’d rather be doing something than nothing. That’s something I’ve found applying itself to a lot of areas of my life.

I made a decision the other day to start bringing in sprints when I can to the runs I do (usually around 4 to 6 k sometimes a little further ) to make things a little more interesting. Not only does running fast get your stamina up it sometimes gets you thinking and reacting a little quicker too. At least I think it does anyway.

When I have a fight coming up I will usually (I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before so sorry If I’m treading old ground) pace the fight in my head along my run. “Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, 4” and 5 is the big push. I think I want to get back to that because it makes me push myself and gives me a bit of extra drive to succeed.

Sprint training I’ve found helps with those 10 – 15 second bursts of energy that are  often needed at any moment in a fight, and I find can be essential for me when I need to start putting the pressure on. When it comes down to time spent at the gym I realised a little while ago I’m a lot quicker than I think I am when I want to be. If that makes sense. I started working in short, fast combinations that I knew would work and that I knew I could remember easily. That’s something I want to get back to.

I’ve found however that I’ve got sharper and I’ve got stronger of later. The speeds still there when I want it but it’s something I’m going to work on. Faster is the order of the day.  That’s always a good thing. And technique although it could do with having a little more time given to it at points is on a slow climb of improvement. Bad habits can be hard to break but you know what? I’m getting there and really that’s the most important thing.

So next week onwards it’s back to the norm and no doubt I’ll find a lot more time than this week to be the best I can be. And that’s something I aim for in all things. I thought I’d leave you this week with a little more boxing Pornsanae Sitmonchai (Muay Thai Rocky) vs Superlek. You can see those short sharp combinations I was talking about back there. Although it didn’t go his way that day it was one hell of a fight. Enjoy, have a great week and train hard and I’ll see you on that road.

Muay Thai – Superlek vs Pornsanae, Rajadamnern Stadium Bangkok, 10th September 2014 (Full Fight)