The days are short the nights are long

Evening all, I’ve finally decided to sit down and play catch up with this blog of mine, and as always it’s good to be able to sit down and find the time to write. Training the past couple of weeks has truly been a thing of awesomeness. After spending well over 12 months contemplating training 6 times a week, I’ve found myself in a position where I am training 6 times a week, and on one of those days, I’m training twice a day.

How has this happened? you may wonder. The one thing I’ve noticed about the gyms in my neck of the woods is that although there are some great places to train (my camp, of course, is the best) some of them only train a couple of times a week in Muay Thai as there’s a lot of other activities and disciplines taking place too.

I’m pleased to say however that landscape is changing, it seems that more are offering the ability to train at least 4 times a week in your chosen discipline. Just recently, an open mat session launched at my camp on Thursdays and Fridays allowing me to step things up from my usual Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday to suddenly finding myself in a position where I could really put in the work I needed.

Although mornings the past couple of weeks have been a little shorter for me than my long evening sessions due to work commitments it’s good to know it’s there, one of my trainers is there and despite a quiet week before last (literally just me and him with me doing intensive rounds on the bags to improve cardio and speed) it was good to see familiar faces there this week, some of whom were sparring.

This means one thing. Next week I get there early because although no one likes being punched in the face at ten in the morning you can’t beat the grind.  I hope it gets more and more popular.

muay-thai-wallpapers-3

Of course, despite finding the gym hours I’ve been searching for it’s important to make sure I’m progressing in what I do. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results so in order to put my money where my mouth is, next week onwards I need to make sure I’m bringing what I’m being taught into play in my sparring. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking. It just needs to hurt people. It’s down to me to discover what works and what doesn’t.

I’m determined to get my foundation better, as those at the top of their game have a very good set of basic skills. Mine isn’t too bad but it needs to improve. It’s getting there, however. I’ve been working a lot on getting my body kick faster and overall my speed seems to be improving on the bags.

I need to make sure I take that speed into sparring with me. I have a bad habit of fighting at someone else’s pace and not my own. fighting with the brakes on if you will The more I train the sharper I get but next week onwards I intend to get my responses to where they should be because at the moment I take too long and I miss too much. “Be first” as someone said to me once.

I’ve been bitten by the Muay Thai bug once again but I think I’m also going to go out and find people to train with who are at my level fight experience-wise to see where I’m going wrong and what I need to do to put it right. Good things may come to those who wait but good things also come to those who go out and make them happen. Have a good week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Advertisements

Gyms and Muay Thai quests

Yes, I’m back y’all, and as always it’s good to catch up. I hope your weeks been one full of martial goodness. Sadly, for the second week running training hasn’t been as full-on as I’d like this time due to the tail end of a nasty cold managing to sabotage my best-laid plans. Moaning aside, I’m intending to get myself back on the proverbial horse next week onwards.

I’ve been thinking over the past few days (I do that a lot)  Gyms can be funny places sometimes. I’ve been training for nearly 13 years now and over time, due to one thing or another I’ve found myself training out of and also fighting for different camps. Let’s put one thing to bed at an early stage and that’s  I don’t and never will gym hop.

Being reasonably well-traveled and seasoned for my age (I’m really not that old at all) I’ve lived in a few different cities around the UK  due to work or the insatiable travel bug that blessed my mum also digging its claws into me… and since I picked Muay Thai up I’ve never really been able to put it down. In fact, I made a pact with myself way back in 07 that wherever I find myself in the world, I’ll find a camp to train out of.

So far, I’ve trained as far south as you can go without getting your feet wet, Bournemouth and my current home town as well as South Africa, Europe and of course Thailand. (twice)  See what I mean? well-travelled. Every gym I’ve been to has its own style of fighting, etiquette and uniqueness about it that I’ve made my own.

10710448_10152583615713731_6974740105947464812_o

Every gym has had a variety of trainers and people that have caught my attention. interest, inspired and brought out the best in me. Just as equally, I’ve run into a lot of egos, cliques and a mild degree of patronization (intentional or not) My current gym of around the 4-year mark is somewhere I’m happy to call home and it’s fair to say I train with some good people.

Just recently, one of my trainers who’s sadly not around as much as I’d like to see at present (Hi Dave) said that if I want to keep fighting I need to train with people who are going to push me to help me progress. I think at the moment I’m in the right environment to do that but it’s fair to say from my gyms and my own perspective there’s a lot that’s expected of me right now.

My other trainer has already said he wants to see some drastic improvements between now and my possible next fight in December (I’ve mentioned this as humbly as possible because I want it, so you know…) or else they’ll be no fighting for anybody. It was that blunt too but sometimes I need that.

Of course, getting myself ready over the next 8 weeks or so means not only am I going to have to listen but take valid criticism too. Sometimes in gyms, the critics I’ve encountered have criticised me because they need someone to pick on. There’s a word for these sort of martial artists but I won’t drop down into expletives here. The best sort of criticism comes from people who want to see you progress and develop. I’m lucky to have spent a lot of gym time around these kind of people too.

Muay Thai doesn’t come easy to the best of us. It’s a simple system but there’s a lot of depth to it and I often cast my mind back to what my first trainer told me years ago “I can only ever show you the way” in other words it’s down to me how I interpret and develop what I do.

I feel at the moment that I’m making progress but I’ve been training for a long time. Things are starting to come a little easier than they did 3 years ago or even 6 months ago. I no longer feel that if I have light training weeks that I’m back to square one. More often than not  my body says thanks for the rest and I have more energy than I thought I did.

As a paradox, there is so much more that I need to do better that I should be doing better by now. My life seems full of bad habits and one-dimensional fighting so maybe I just need to stop sticking to what I know start correcting more and use what I’ve been learning since the dawn of time. It’s all there. Other fighters have told me that too. It never goes away, and I often see it. I just need to get better at using it.

I’m looking forward to hitting the gym next week as well as throwing in some decent road work to compliment it and get that fitness better. The gym and training is a habit. I guess fighting is a hobby I just can’t seem to put down. I want to get better at. Here’s to the next eight weeks and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

 

Comfort zones and the burden of familiarity

Afternoon all I thought I should check-in as promised. Of late I’ve been busy and as such, that means I’ve not found nearly as much time for writing as I’d like. But hey, here we are again you and me and as always it’s good to be back.

Last week, unlike the week before, was incredibly quiet training-wise. Less can often be more and slowing down from time to time never hurt anyone. This week, however, I’m back on the horse and looking forward to another week of martial goodness.

I’ve decided to spread my wings a little and start training a little further afield as well as at my current camp. Of course, my loyalties lie with where I’ve trained for over 3 and a half years (I think it’s closer to 4 these days) but me being me I always need to be able to put in the work to make sure I’m progressing.

Although the standard and state of play at my current gym is good it would be nice to train and spar with people that have a good amount of fight experience behind them. I have enough of a tough time with some of the folk I spar with at present but I want to make sure I keep pushing myself so if that means stepping even further out comfort zone then so much the better.

37877667_261798094412228_4785140458814701568_n

And that’s the problem I always seem to face doing what I’m doing. Comfort zones, Familiarity. I need to get better at this but some days I’m happy where I am. I tell myself I need to train 6 times a week 5 minimum but some weeks like last week make excuses and barely scrape past 1 or 2 sessions. (Being honest, last week was a bit of a glitch in the matrix but you know what I’m talking about.. right?)

I’ve found that routine although important in martial arts can allow for static to develop in myself if I don’t find ways to push myself. It’s why I love fighting so much because it always gives me something positive to work towards. Even on my worst days, I try to find a goal. Something I want, or something I need to work on other than my strengths. At the moment, everything feels tough but that’s a good thing because I know I’m learning.

I find myself pep-talking myself if it’s just me on the bags these days and making myself do more if I stop halfway through a 2 or 3 minute round.. it’s something I noticed when I trained in Thailand. Every day we would finish with 200 knees. If you stopped in the set you would be told to start again and do 300. It’s that sort of mentality I want to get back to because it’s that kind of training that makes me tougher inside and less prepared to give any quarter in the ring.

I’ve discovered that fighting is 90% mental and when it comes to myself there’s always something left in the tank. It’s very easy to shut down under pressure and not cope but understanding that pressure is where you develop your skills and your coping mechanism isn’t as easy to accept. We look for the easy way out a lot of the time but being courageous enough to fight even when it seems that’s all is lost is what in my opinion defines us as martial artists.

There’s more to our art than facing off in that square ring but I’ll be honest when we do it brings out the absolute best in us. I’m looking forward to training hard this week and stepping a little further out my comfort zone than I was the week before and it’ll be fun seeing how much I can push myself, in the meantime have a good week, train hard and just like that last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

That’s a given.

This week, just like the week before, has been a good one when it comes to all things martial.  I’ve found myself training 5 times a week again which is of course for me, where things need to be to make real progress. I’ve got a couple of runs in this week and next week intend to step to my game up to start turning my fitness up a notch.

I ended the week’s training earlier feeling a little burnt out but I guess that’s just part of getting used to training all week again. It’s nice because as soon as I start pushing myself I want more, and when I want more of what I already love doing I know good things are happening. In and out the ring we always have to work hard.

Just recently, I got thinking about fighting (being honest, I’m always thinking about fighting), I’ve found over time that Muay Thai training is a road of hills and valleys and peaks and troughs, of ups and downs and highs and lows. No matter what I feel is improving something else always needs to be worked on. I guess it’s the same in many other martial arts both competitive and non-competitive. I guess being honest, It’s the same in anything. Practice never makes perfect but persistence and determination are kings in the goal-setting game.

Muay Thai
Muay Thai boxing at Lumpini Stadium. Muay Thai/Thai Boxing Bangkok Thailand March 2003 ©David Dare Parker /AsiaWorks Photography

It’s not always easy to be able to translate what I learn in training and drills into what happens in sparring and fighting and I think I’ve become a little stuck in my ways in how I fight. I totally get that my last couple of fights have not really been at the level they should be by now (according to my standards which are probably tougher than yours) so I want to keep pushing myself in training to not only toughen up but to fight a little smarter.

I’m getting better at delivering pressure and I’m getting faster but I need to make sure I’m bringing more of my training into the ring. At the moment it feels like I’m getting better but I don’t always feel tidy. I rush in when I shouldn’t and still become a little bloody-minded when I should be countering more.

Looking back at my area title fight from 2013   I’d like to get to a vastly improved version of that determined aggressive version of me. At the time, People told me a different fighter was in that ring that evening. I think he’s still kicking around in here and he just needs a bit of a push to come out to play again. I believe in myself enough to know that if I put in the work good things happen.

I think I moved away from the amateur fighter a little while ago. I don’t think it’s arrogant of me to say that as I’ve got better since last time around. in order to keep on moving ahead, I need to make sure I train hard and remember that it’s a given that hills and valleys are always going to be out here on the road. Train hard and I’ll see you on it soon.

 

On my best day.

Hi, I thought I’d take the time to check-in. I know, I know.. we said Sunday and it’s now Wednesday. What can I say? Muay Thai may be the king of all martial arts but procrastination is next in line. ( Don’t even get me started about monarchies.) This, week like the week before has as always been a good week training. I’m enjoying being able to throw in a little extra bit of training on the occasional lunchtime because as we all know the more you put in, well.. the more you get out.

Just recently I watched my first fight back after a few years out.  Although it’s far from perfect it was good to see that despite everything I put up a reasonable fight over 5 rounds. In fact, I actually fought better than I have the last couple of times I’ve stepped up. That was 2018 and now is now and there is no point in dwelling on what has been and gone. I’ve got more courage and heart than any bullfight critic out there. Fighting doesn’t come easy but I’ve got a lot better since then and I can hold my own in that ring.

On my very best day, I can win. I realized the other day that sometimes I find myself comparing myself subconsciously to other fighters and expect a lot of myself, which is why when I look at myself through a microscope as a boxer I can feel disappointed. On those days, my worst days I forget I’ve achieved a lot. I forget that every time I step in the ring I’ve already won.

37844363_261798104412227_1791792040141389824_n

I remind myself of my failures and deny that I’m improving. I wish I could be better but don’t think I ever will be. I let limiting beliefs control my narrative and shatter my dreams. I forget that the little fighter has always had a big heart and a will that cannot ever be broken. I forgot that I’m getting faster, I’m getting sharper and I’m getting stronger and that I’m still hungry. At 40 years old I still can’t get enough.

You see, fighting is like writing. When I relax and let it go, relax and let it flow it all comes together. But like with anything these things take time. Do I feel like I’ve stepped back in time? that I need to lose and lose until I finally get it right? I try not to because that’s me asking a prophecy to fulfill itself and my future hasn’t happened yet.

You see just up until recently.. on some days, I’d tell myself I’m never going to be an amazing fighter. Some days all I seem to be good at doing is beating myself up whilst simultaneously forgetting how tall I walk on my best day, forgetting how the first time I walked up to the ring it was my Rocky moment. Forgetting how as soon as my foot touched the canvas I’d already won.

That’s why just recently I’ve decided to start focusing on being my best. On putting my back into my training again and pushing myself to be the best I can be. It gives me focus and most importantly it gives me joy. Just like winning does, just like losing does, Just like fighting does. Because it’s more than just a tally of wins and losses and draws. It’s part of who I am. I am on a Muay Thai quest and I will be for many years to come.

The rest of the week ahead is going to be another good few sessions of graft. I need to make sure I run more this week. I need to make sure I sprint more this week. I need to start eating right, get a couple of kilograms of bone idleness shifted. I need to remember to be the best I can be because it always produces the best results. I’ll do my best to check in with you on Sunday until then have a good week and train hard. I’ll see you on that road.

10486020_10152395459578731_8162185164782589843_o

 

When facing the right direction..

Evening all, I thought I should check in with you before I head to the gym in a little while. Sorry, I’ve been quieter than usual but I’ve been so busy of late that I’ve not had the time to sit down and write. I’m hoping this week that things return to its usual format so, for now, let’s put a date in the diary for Sunday this week. Don’t be late.

Training of late has been heading in the right direction. Although I’ve been wanting to put in a little more extra time than usual I’ve found myself levelling out at around 3 sessions a week which, I guess is ok but I’m hoping to turn things up a notch again this week onwards.

The world of work has as always been keeping me incredibly busy hence the unintentional writing break but all things in my life usually find a balance and I think the playing field is going to level itself out from here on in. Plate spinning has never been my favourite thing but I’m rapidly learning how to get better at it.

I’m sitting here watching the minutes shoot by until I need to get myself out the door to make training on time whilst simultaneously preparing myself for the monumentally busy day I have tomorrow. Despite feeling decidedly unmotivated about both I know that as always I keep pushing forward. As the saying goes if we’re facing the right direction, all we have to do is keep walking.

muay-thai-wallpapers-3

On Sunday last week for the first time in a long time I had the opportunity to let rip on the bags and do you know what? it really did feel good. I decided to let it go and when I did that I realized that I’m hitting harder and getting faster than I was before.

It’s very easy to unleash hell on a bag it’s not always as easy to do that on a fellow human so let’s see how sparring goes this week and next. I want to spend more time in the week ahead working on my clinch game. I think it may still be a strength of mine so I’d like to get back to that.

It’s looking like I should be fighting again towards the autumn and then I hope again in the winter. I’ve got a lot of work to do but you know what? the more I train the better I seem to get. Funny that hey? In the meantime, I’ve got my beady little eye on the clock and still have a million and one things to get done before training, so I guess for now that’s all she wrote. Have a good week, train hard and don’t forget to check in as usual on Sunday. In the meantime and just like the time before.. I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

Harm’s way

Hi. After a slightly longer than planned absence from writing this blog of my I thought it would be good to catch up. So here we are again, you and me..it has as always been a good week training. I’m pleased to say I’ve managed to get running back on track this week, but as is always the way I haven’t trained as much as I’d planned to. However, not to be perturbed I’ve decided to put my back into it once again next week onwards. But you know what? sometimes it’s ok to slow down a little. Here’s to next Tuesday.

At the moment I’m enjoying getting a little bit of pressure from some of the people I train with and being honest it’s good getting a push from time to time. A push doesn’t mean kicking chunks out of each other because let’s be honest, no one learns anything at all, and when we’re on the same team we shouldn’t be competing against each other but learning from and helping one another.

10538668_10152540483553731_1805310145576560955_o

Competing in any combat sport teaches you how to how to deal with fear and self-doubt quickly. A good way to learn to deal with that fear is to spar a lot and then maybe take your fight game into the interclub world before stepping into the amateurs if that’s something you want to do.

It’s good to practice putting yourself in harm’s way and it’s just as important to spar with people that treat each other with respect and keep the pressure at a level that works for everybody. I think it’s easy to let nerves and hesitation get in the way of action in sparring and of course, fighting too. Being first is just as important as it’s always been to me, after all, he who hesitates is lost. I’ll remember that next time I’m fighting.

I enjoy pressure testing myself in the gym at points so next week I’ll start turning it up a little again. I’m hoping to fight again soon so want to spend the last of the summer working on what I need to and look forward to the autumn bringing in some new opportunities to test myself. It’s taken a good couple of months to get over a confidence knock from losing my last couple of fights but I’ve started training more and more and feel that I’ll be ready when the next one comes around.

I thought I’d leave you this week with some Muay Thai goodness from Muay Ties, a classic fight from way back when Pornsanae vs Kwankhao . He’s always been my favourite fighter because he’s always been fierce and determined to win, and when he loses he just comes back stronger than before. Sometimes when we look at others we can see a little bit of ourselves in them. Stay inspired, train hard and just like the last time, I’ll see you on that road.