Teep

Hi! Nice to catch up with you again, despite clocking in just before the end of Sunday at least I’m here. I guess , fashionably late is ok some days.  I’ve currently reached the bouncing off the walls stage of lockdown and do my best to stay healthy with running and of course home training.

I realized yesterday that my fitness is improving but  I think it could be better if I have a little booze break, so I’ve decided to live dangerously and have a couple of weeks of clean living or possibly longer from Monday onwards. It’ll come as a welcome change and hopefully add a little ray of sunshine into the monotony of lockdown life.

I’ve not trained at my gym for over 2 months now and despite keeping training as varied as it can be at home it’s really not the same. I miss having something to hit. I need something to hit. In fact, I need something to hit so much I even stacked the cushions of my sofa on top of one another just to try out my new gloves. It’ll be me vs the sofa if this sorry state of affairs carries on for much longer.

Even when I’m not specifically training for 45 minutes or so after a run I more often than not spend time working on basic combinations and my front leg and rear leg teep at varying points in the day. In fact, my front leg teep has become a thing of beauty. I’ve even been practicing faking my rear leg and jumping into my lead,  jabbing and then teeping straight away from one side of the room to another, jabbing, rear leg blocking and teeping, and teeping and left body kicking.. the list goes on, and despite everything, it’s keeping me sharp.

10662226_10152540449018731_1385618923310358297_o

“At least you got your bastard heel off the ground.” said my coach. 

When used properly and with good timing the teep can be a pretty destructive kick either on the defensive or the offensive. I’ve gone through stages of throwing the kick at the wrong time and throwing the kick for the sake of it but have gradually learned to use it at the right moment.

Sometimes in clinch sparring I’ll suddenly teep my partner to wear them down if I can see they are gassing. When you don’t see it coming it can be a truly horrible kick that knocks the wind out of you. I’m missing drilling it with another person but I’m doing my best to keep it functional. It’s also great for self-defense. I once read about a female fighter who had been jumped in a car park and stopped her would-be mugger with that one kick.  If someone comes charging into you then you can stop them in their tracks.

I’ve spent a lot of time of late visualizing an opponent in the ring or even out the ring trying to rush me and I’ve just planted my rear leg and kicked through. Putting the jab in front is a nice distraction and sets the kick up well. It can also lead to a variety of attacks to follow up with such as a rear knee or body kick or even low kick. I’ve always been someone who’s very forward in my mentality when it comes to Muay Thai so if I’m pushed I like to push back.

I thought I’d leave you this week with a great video from Muay Thai Scholar  Masters of the Teep  from 2017. I hope it helps with home training and most importantly keeps you motivated. Here’s to gyms reopening, to many more fights, and to never ever giving up. Have a great week, train hard, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

Cat zen.

Hi. Nice to catch up with you again, and being honest it’s good to sit down and get some writing done. You know something, I’ve spent the last week or so procrastinating about writing a thousand words a day to get a project I started over 4 years ago into reasonable shape. For those that don’t know, I decided some time ago to write a book about my life and journey into Thai boxing, and how it helped change me for the better.

So far “The last of the good guys”  is over 160 pages long, needs to be finished, shortened tidied up,and proofread. When friends of mine read some of the manuscript a few years back they couldn’t stop telling me how good they thought it was. In fact people outside of that circle said the same thing.

It was nice for a couple of reasons firstly because my dad and my auntie over in the States are both writers so it kind of runs in the family, and because I think it’s the closest thing I have to a natural bias. You’ll meet people in martial arts circles from time to time who seem to have the same thing going on. You know, the ones who somehow make it look easy. Everyone has something they are good at, working out if it’s something you can excel at takes practice and time.

I’ve been writing this blog of mine for as long as I can remember for the sheer love of it. Right now, the words and sentences are just flowing onto the blank canvas that is my WordPress page. It’s a nice feeling and something I don’t even have to think about. Like with all things martial, it comes from the heart. Which brings me onto the topic of today. Cat Zen.

From “Be more cat” by Alison Davies, a birthday present from a friend! 

Working on observation has been a big part of training this week. Today while running I’ve found the off switch and that’s always a good thing. Letting the world go by as my feet hit the concrete has been pretty much therapeutic and a great stress buster.

I’m still sprint training and still visualizing my next fight but not to the point where it dominates my run. It’s been good to just let negatives fall away and at the very most just observe them but not engage. I’m beginning to remember we are not our thoughts and our mind is not us. Shutting down the internal dialogue lets me appreciate my run a lot more and of course, just like cats are it’s nice to be thankful for every little thing.

Learning how not to engage with emotions and responding rather than reacting is a big part of the martial picture and you’ll find that some of the best fighters have a poker face when in the ring.  Good Thai boxers take their opponents to pieces quickly through responses that are filled with venom, not with anger and hate. Being able to respond rather than react is important in a street situation too.

Observation and presence work is an ongoing learning curve for me but something that I think fits very well into my journey as a martial artist and fighter. Fighting is primarily more mental than it is physical, and learning how to shut down the internal dialogue and remain calm and focused under pressure is something you can practice at home on a daily basis. If you’re wondering where to start from, next time you make a cup of coffee just focus on that one task. Be more cat, and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

 

 

Me time

Hi. I hope your week’s been a good one and that training in whatever form it’s currently taking is going well. Despite ultimately confusing advice from the government here it’s plain to see that we’re going to be navigating our way through the remainder of the current crisis not only by the skin of our teeth but for some time to come.

Sadly, this means when it comes to all things martial we’re unlikely to see gyms reopen for a good few months yet. Personally, I’m hoping it’s going to be before the end of the summer but only time will tell. Of course, like many others, I’m still training.

This week, like the week before I’ve spent time working on my fitness through running, with a bit of core strength training, stretching, and shadow boxing plus Dieselnoi/ Sylvie knee and elbow drills.

18904_10153064498988731_7590867829903560841_n

Boxing sparring at Sitsongpeeenong 2014 

When I’ve been running this week, I’ve spent some of the run focusing on staying present. I do this by listening to the sound of my feet on the concrete.  My run in itself is pretty relaxing and tuning into my breathing has also helped me switch off from distractions and noise.

Being honest, I’m currently missing hitting stuff. This appears to be a mutual feeling in Thai boxing circles at present, and although I love my own company I miss training with my friends and the gym as a whole. We’re a good club and no one’s happy about our current situation. I’m planning to get a small portable bag mid-month that should keep things interesting and most importantly keep me sharp.

Keeping sharp and focused also heads back to the mindset training I was talking about a minute ago. Switching off from the clutter and working on my cat zen is the order of the day as is going with the flow and focusing on the same goals I had in the gym before the pandemic hit the UK.

I thought I’d leave you this week with some Muay Thai goodness to keep you motivated, this time from Yodkhunpon Sittraipum The Elbow Hunter  on pressure fighting. When they push you in that ring, always remember to push back with everything you’ve got, keep the pressure on and never, ever give up. Have a good week, train hard, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

Still training in the age of COVID-19

Hi. I thought I’d take the time to catch up. How’s your week been? When it comes to all things martial mines not been too bad at all. Despite us still being in lockdown here it’s good to see the weather getting warmer and I think that’s been one of the drivers for some truly awesome runs this week.

I’ve started sprint training again to keep my fitness up ready for when I get back to the gym in the next couple of weeks. There are a river and woods near me that make for a pretty scenic 6 or 7k and it’s been good this week to just let it hang out a little and really push. I  start off running to a light jog and then gradually build-up into a decent pace after the first couple of kilometres of warm-up. From there, I start to sprint.

92505762_235917347462359_8178313464746344448_n

What’s been pretty awesome about sprint training this week is that I’ve managed to push through the breaking point and have just kept going. That’s important to me for a couple of reasons. It shows me my fitness is good and it also makes me a little tougher inside. It’s true when they say your mind gives up or gasses out before your body   so it’s been good to hit the point of no return and breakthrough. Nothing, as they say, is permanent and I’ve learnt over time if I can beat myself I can beat fucking anyone.

When it comes to sprints, this week I started with 10-second bursts and have ended with sprinting to just over 30 seconds at a time. Despite the lockdown, there’s still a reasonable amount of people around, so to try to keep distancing at points I’ve used them as sprint markers as well as trees, lamposts and assorted shrubbery. Don’t get me wrong it’s not a country bumpkin disco out here and I’ve not heard one banjo yet but you know..

Along the way, I’ve also found myself working on a little bit of presence and visualization techniques. Staying in the now can be walking or in my case running meditation and today, I focused on my breathing and the sound of my feet hitting the concrete path. I’ve worked through rounds 1 to 5 even with the last 30-second push of the fight and I’m pleased to say I’ve still got it. It’s never been easy and it’s never going to be.

As well as my sprint training and runs of awesomeness I’ve also done some decent home training this week too of between 35 minutes to an hour at a time. I live in a top floor flat heat rises in blocks and at the moment..boy is it warm. My living room has become my ring.

1614241_10152501987308731_4186990750820260418_o

As soon as the front blocking leg hit the ground I came in with my battle axe rear knee. 

I start my home training sessions with around 100 to 150 situps, followed by around 40 kettlebell swings and another 30 goblet squats. As a disclaimer about kettlebell training, I’m not that great (I watched a video I made of myself earlier and almost heard a twang.) and then 50 to 100 press-ups After a 6 to 7k run with sprints this usually destroys me but I keep going.

From there, I move into around 150 bicep curls with my free weights and squats. By this point. I’ll usually have a pause and do some light stretching.) I seriously need to more stretching, but that’s nothing new.) and then around 25 to 30 minutes of shadow. After that’s done I’ll usually finish with Sylvie / Dieselnoi knees. (Check out her videos to see what I mean)  They are a work in progress and an absolute killer.

I’m going to build up reps and drills next week onwards. At present,  I’m very pleased with my hands and elbows and knees. I do my best to keep things simple (jab teep from one end of the room to another as an example here ) and back then build the combination up.  My movement needs a bit of work so I spent some of today practising some footwork too.

This week I’ve been running 4 times and trained at home 3 times. This is a big improvement from my sporadic 20 minutes of shadow here and there when bored the week before and it feels like I’m creating a bit of structure to what I do. I hope from May the 7th things begin to return to normal and that I’m back at my camp soon. It’s good however to get my focus and motivation back and as always I have no intention of giving up, It may not get any easier but it does get absolutely better with time.   Train hard because you’ll fight easy, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

Staying motivated

Evening all. It’s great to catch up as always. It’s been a long time. Or maybe it just feels like it has. My new Twins 10oz arrived a couple of days ago and ever since then I’ve been itching to try them out. I kind of know what the experience is going to be like as I as I’ve sworn by the brand for many years, but right now hitting pads or jumping on the heavy bag would feel brand new again.

We’ve got at least another three weeks of lockdown left here so as always I’ve been doing my best to keep the home training going and to keep my fitness up with running. This morning I had a truly awesome run in the woods near mine, and I already can’t wait to do it again.

Training at home isn’t always easy so this week, to stay motivated  I’ve started getting into strength training as I have a kettlebell and free weights that have been gathering dust for a while and feel now is the time to put them to good use so on that basis I’ve been doing Kettlebell swings and goblet squats as well as free weights.

I’ve been enjoying watching Sylvie’s training videos and have taken a lot away from her Dieselnoi inspired knee drills and like the elbow reps too! although I’m not training as much as I should be I’m going to make sure I’m doing something for at least 45 minutes to an hour a day next week onwards. Works quiet, I have the time, it’s waving a glowing neon sign in my face saying “FREE TIME DO WHAT YOU WANT WITH ME.” so I think I should put it to good use.

Other than the generic physical strength, fitness and shadow boxing I’m also going to spend a little more time working on flexibility. I threw a body kick the other day shadowing and although the kick wasn’t too bad my flexibility made Robocop look bendy. Seriously, I was expecting a twang! 

There is lots of great resource out there on flexibility and mobility and if your not soaking up 5G coronavirus conspiracy theory on youtube (don’t get me started) you might find videos such as this from the awesome Cyrus Washington  useful.

In fact, there’s some great home training material out there such as 100 Solo Training Workouts from the Warrior Collective  from some of the biggest names in martial arts. Whether you’ve been training for a few months or like me you’re a war-torn stormtrooper who’s been training since the dawn of time there’s something for everyone. It’s your journey, make the most of it. 

On that cautiously optimistic note, I think it’s fair to say that for now, that’s all she wrote. Let’s hope life returns to whatever it is they call normal soon (I’m just about avoiding a damning communiqué about society) and that the pad rounds are many. Stay motivated, stay focused and train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Muay-Thai (1)

 

We’re still training in the age of COVID-19

Hi. I thought I’d take the chance to catch up with you again. It’s good as always to sit down and write and I’ll make sure I get my blog back to it’s regular Sunday slot this week onwards.  Despite gyms still being closed and things across the globe looking increasingly like 1984,  I’m pleased to say I’ve stayed motivated and ok although I need to train from home a little more than I am at present, I’ve kept the running up and I don’t have any intention of slowing down.

In fact when it comes to all things Muay Thai I want to make sure I’m ready to step back into training regularly full time when the lockdown over here lifts. A little voice is telling me that’s going to be sooner rather than later so if I feel a little low about not being able to hit a heavy bag or spar or train with friends at points, I take a little strength in knowing that things will inevitably get better.

48331231_102838817436880_4526601788580691968_n

Right now, we’re looking at a lift on this thing in around 6 months, but that’s not to say gyms will be shut for that period of time. There’s been talk of us seeing things return to  whatever classes as normal around these parts by around late May or June,  I’m sincerely hoping that’s the case because although I’ve always wanted a Twins teardrop knee bag, I think I’d begrudge setting one up in the living room and besides I’m planning to get myself out to Europe to catch one of the best martial arts tournaments on the face of the planet as well as do a little traveling.

But in the meantime we are in a state of lockdown so how do we do cope? what do we need to do exactly to make sure we stay sharp and competent for when we get back to our camps and get our fighting heads on once more? I think first and foremost the most important thing is to keep the training up and keep the training consistent.

If you’ve been a little like me at points and struggling to stay motivated (let’s be honest, it’s an easy trap to fall into) then it’s worth catching Sylvie’s home training videos and work on developing your own daily routine. Today I changed my run route a little and along the way caught sight of a guy shadowboxing by the river near my place and intermittently skipping. Turns out he trains at a camp I trained with when I first moved to Bristol way back in 2012.

I could see he is a beginner and it was nice to see someone staying motivated despite everything and I shadowed a little myself. I think in hindsight it felt a bit too Jean Claude Van Damme for me to do regularly but hey it broke my run up a little! I realized that I absolutely need to be training from home more and I’ve already got my eyes on a small portable bag for the living room and intend to get a daily routine worked out for my Thai boxing. Even if it’s 40 minutes at a time (I did an hour or so the other day) it should be enough to keep a degree of rust off my tools.

So far I’ve managed to left body kick the clothes horse into submission and even had a go at making a temporary heavy bag out of the sofa’s cushions yesterday. For a moment back there it was nice to let my hands go but it’s still not the gym and what that tells me is that I need to get a bit of structure into my training at home rather than bursts of activity and moments of so-called inspiration.

I’ve got free weights here and a kettlebell, just about enough space in the living room to have a nice move around and there’s even a strip of grass at the back of my flats away from others (this is seriously so strange. ) that I can use if the weather holds up and it gets warm. From tomorrow onwards I’m going to make sure I’m training twice a day as well as running four times a week. Let’s see what happens. I’m sticking to my guns because there’s still no time like the present.

I’ve also gone for long bike rides to keep my fitness up but still can’t get over how surreal my home is right now. Nothing is permanent and I know it will change for the better but Bristol feels like a ghost town.

It’s worth remembering at this point that what I take away from training has always been mine to keep so on that basis I’m not going to let it go to waste. Here’s to staying focused and motivated. Have a good week, train hard and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

92380826_235843230803104_4360071157597077504_n

Training in the age of COVID-19

Hi. I hope as always your keeping well, and that you are staying safe.  At the moment with gyms having shut their doors and the UK being in a state of lockdown it’s important to stay fit and healthy.

Despite the outbreak and authoritarian restrictions, it’s good to stay positive and stay focused and most importantly, even it’s through phone or video call stay in touch with friends and family.

When it comes to training it’s been nice to see martial artists such as Sylvie Von Douglaas-Ittu sharing regularly sharing home training videos as well as the Warrior Collective keeping us all motivated with useful drills and training tips we can practice at home.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a martial family then maybe you’ve got someone to hold pads for you and if not it’s worth considering picking up a cheap bag to set up at home to keep sharp and fit other than just via shadow boxing and running or cycling. In terms of outdoor exercise, I’d suggest making the most of it whilst you can.

Muay-Thai-Running-Program-RunSociety-thumb

I’m upping the ante next week to running 4 times a week as well as my usual bit of cycling. I’m also making sure I dedicate more time to home training than I have done this week. I’ve found it useful whilst watching some of Sylvie’s training videos to shadow box at the same time she is.

It kind of gives that training together feeling and if you’re anything like me you’re a people person. I miss seeing my friends as regularly as I was but we’re keeping in touch and my gym has a Whatsapp group that we can all share training videos and tips through.

Right now, the state of play is that we might be under lockdown until June, so the worst thing we can do is let our training fall to the wayside, and our tools get rusty. I keep focused on training goals for the rest of the year and I can’t wait to get back to the gym.

I’ve always been someone who takes my art home with me, but that’s just me and as I’ve always said, I’ll be training when I’m 60. I think in these ever turbulent times it’s important to remember that nothing is permanent and everything changes. Tough times only ever make tough people. All we ever have is situations and opportunities to be the best we can possibly be.

From next week onwards I’m going to start blogging about what I’m working on in particular and what drills I’ve been practicing over the course of the week,  if you follow me on Twitter you’ll see me tweeting stuff like “jab and teep from one side of the living room to the other..” or ” block off the rear leg, lead teep, rear leg knee”

It’s not just my train of thought, well ok it is, but it’s what I’m working on too. Maybe that will help give others a little inspiration for shadow boxing drills from home. They’ll be a little more from me on home drills this time next week as I’ve said and On that fairly positive note, I think I’ll leave you with this video from Sylvie on things you can train from home. I hope it helps you stay motivated. Never give up and train hard…and just like the last time, I’ll see you on that road.