The wave breaks on the shore.

Evening all. It’s nice as always to find the time to write and I hope you are keeping well. Despite not having trained as much as I’d like to this week it’s still been productive and most importantly it’s been a lot of fun. I’m noticing that I’m gradually improving in sparring and in general. It’s taken me some time but it’s getting there.

I think a lot of that is due to the fact I’ve been training for a long time and I know myself. One thing I do know is that of late I’ve probably spent a little too much time down the pub and not at the gym. Socialising and spending time with your friends is important but Muay Thai is importanter. Sorry I just couldn’t resist it.

This week I got back from Spain after flying out last Saturday for my dad’s 91st birthday. This Friday as well my mum turned 80. Of everything that I have to deal with in my life at present the fact that my father has lung cancer has been the hardest to process. In fact, I think I am still processing it.

My mum who is equally as amazing as dad said that it’s terrible to see a guy who has done so much in his life and was also at one point like myself a sportsman end up with an illness that inevitably destroys people. He hasn’t smoked in over 40 years. I had to say as gently and calmly as I could that dad is only in the next room and still alive whilst trying to ignore the little voice that said quietly to me “he always will be.”

My point was that as a family we have to live in the present and cherish every moment we have together. I’m pleased to say that at the time of writing he’s doing ok. I’ll do my best to keep processing. Muay Thai takes my mind off my family’s situation but also makes me stronger mentally. Fighters have to be tough and observe situations for what they are. What has happened doesn’t matter. The time that matters is now. I can’t afford to live in the past but I can value my time with my amazing father and cherish our memories.

Outside of my family life, I’m still dealing with a lot of trauma from the past but have a lovely friend who helps me through the tough bits. However, I’m learning to help myself and these days I see the cycles and patterns when they emerge. Being emotionally intelligent 40 something I’m gradually learning to love the young man who went through stop and search hell, through the criminal justice system as well as consistently surviving anything life threw at him. These days I use his experiences to be a force for good.

But you see, even before I began my journey into Muay Thai I was always tough inside. I’ve always been strong, but strength and courage have never stopped me from being only human. I’m not perfect I’m flawed and I fuck up from time to time, it’s just that these days I see the cycles and I see the patterns. I want to be better than who I am but love and respect myself along the way.

Sometimes I sit down in my living room in my favourite spot on the sofa and let it come through. It feels like a wave breaking on the shore. It’s something that training has helped me navigate and I can observe it and let it leave. These days the energy I take home from training I apply to positive areas of my life.

I invest it into work in the community helping others who are going through hell with the police, or take it into a 6k run through the woods and back, the confidence it gives me I take into the public speaking arena or I use it for a workshop to teach people about their rights.

Today sparring a new guy asked me if the belts on our gyms wall were mine, I said no they are our trainers but I’ve got a couple at home myself. I forget that the fighter is sometimes clearly in the room. It was nice to have him present this afternoon. I think my dad has always been proud of my journey through martial arts. His sport was cricket. He used to play for Cambridge.

At present I’m looking forward to getting my teeth back into training at least 4 times a week next week onwards, I’m going to cut down and not cut out alcohol. I’m going to start dealing with some of my shit better than I am at present and stay focused on what I want. I know myself and the waves that will always break on the shore. I’ll see you on that road.

People look up.

Hi. It’s good once again to find the time to sit down and write. I’ve not caught up with my writing for a while now but being honest life as always has been pretty busy. Things however are always looking up. This has been and always will be a good thing.

Although I’m not always as training as much as I’d like to right now, I’m still just as determined as I always have been to keep on moving and to keep following my heart in everything I do. Relentlessness and determination is the key to success in everything in my life. This month my dad is 91 years old so I’m looking forward to getting out to Spain to see him and my mum. He’s doing good. Like me, he supersedes everyone’s expectations and I’m sure surprises even himself.

Although everything changes with time, the light and love between me and my parents will never go out and I’m looking forward to spending Christmas with them both too. I’ve decided that in 2022 I’d like to get myself to a point where I can start fighting again. This means a lot of hard work in the gym and a lot of dedication.

But that’s ok because it’s the one area of my life where I’d like to dedicate a little more time. Everything else is balancing itself out well. I work as an IT professional and IT project manager. I’m a public speaker and community activist who helps communities hold the police to account. The rest of my life has been righting itself for some time and I’m learning how to walk tall again.

But I want to be a fighter again. I want to be a fighter who doesn’t just win fights occasionally but wins regularly. I accept a little begrudgingly that it may not happen. I can accept that but I know that if I believe in myself everything else usually follows suit. It’s just the little things that matter in training. Things that were said to me today like get your kicks faster on the return. I want to see you start doing that on the bag.

The simple things sometimes are the most important. Instead of spending all my time working on the kick, work on the speed. After all, I can kick I’ve been training long enough, it’s just that I need to kick better.

“I want to be a fighter again” ha. That’s funny. yeah, I saw what I did back there. I’ve never stopped being a fighter. I am a fighter. He just needs to step his game up if he wants to stay in the room. It’s not standards that are being imposed on me it’s standards that I’m imposing on myself. I want to pick up from where I left off not start from the beginning.

These days I sometimes find myself laughing in sparring when I get caught with a good shot or swept. I love training it’s good fun. If it wasn’t fun I just wouldn’t be doing it and like everyone else I’m learning all the time. I don’t always listen when I should but I do my best and I’ll work on the focus thing too.

As of February 2022, I will of been training for 16 years. They say the higher up you ascend the mountain of your choice the thinner the air gets. But that’s ok. I’m one of those people that looks up. Have a good week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Acceptance

Hi. I thought I should check in with yourselves as its been a while since last we spoke. Things are good with me and I hope they are with you too. I think I might be slowly becoming one of those guys who has to remind the world how busy he is whenever he can. Being honest, I forgot how to slow down a long time ago but you know what? That’s ok.

Training of late hasn’t been going too badly. Some weeks like this week, I’m there all the time other weeks not so much. I balance it out as best I can and put as much time in as I possibly can. Its hard to stay motivated sometimes and I need to get my teeth into running again. In fact, I’m off for my second run of the week in a moment. Well, when this blog is finished at least.

It’s almost funny that I give myself such a hard time about training and running on the days I miss it but it’s always rewarding when I put in the time again. Martial arts gives me a lot of focus and although I analyse myself just as much as I did 5 years ago these days I’m very comfortable in my skin.

Sitsongpeenong 2015

In a brief moment of revelation yesterday at the gym I realized that my technique isn’t actually that bad anymore (I don’t to be honest think that it ever was) and watching a video of myself sparring showed me what I need to do better without me cringing inside. I’m improving and I’m feeling a lot more confident about fighting again. I’m also happy to accept that to get where I really want to be is going to take work and small steps forward are better than big leaps into disaster.

I’ve spent a lot of time watching varying training videos and some of the shows that are appearing online when I’m not at the gym. It’s good to see that things are slowly creaking back to life and I’m also looking forward to catching a show later this month that one of the guys from my gym is fighting on. Fight nights are always good fun and if I’m not in the ring I just enjoy watching the fights.

I feel a lot more motivated with my training than I have for a while and as always I’m enjoying the journey. Personally life is good, and although things with my family life are tough at points at present I’m spending as much time with my parents as I can. I accept there are something I just cannot change and I love being in their company. Besides, when I’m out in Spain I spend some of my spare time running and shadow boxing. That fixes a lot of stuff.

So anyway, time once again is slipping away from me. Between now and when I hit the gym for an hour or so I want to have got a 7k run in the bag as well had a half decent lunch. You know it almost feels like Thailand today but not quite. Muay Ties videos will have to do in the meantime. Here’s to a great week ahead of training and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Dad

Hi. It’s great to catch up with you once again. It’s been a long time and reports of my endless procrastination have been gradually exaggerated…mainly by me so now I’m here I know that I’ve won. Training of late has been a little up and down but I guess it’s a reflection in some respects of my life at present. Work is going well, social life is going well my family and my dad’s health? well.. that’s been emotional.

Being honest, I don’t want to go into the ins and outs of that right now, I don’t think it’s fair or right at present but being the amazing guy that he is, he is once again winning. His determination and endless resilience is where I get mine from He’s an amazing stage actor, incredible teacher formidable former ANC activist, writer and African story teller. He’s also a palliative cancer patient. He’s my hero, but then so is my mum.

Just recently I headed out to Spain for 10 days to spend time with both of them and despite the circumstances it was the best of times. I got to spend quality time with my mum, we ate, drank and did our best to merry, and we saw my dad at hospital every day. Seeing him laughing, smiling and demanding to go home was like speaking to my dad 20 years ago.

He is home now and that can only be a good thing. He’s fighting his way back to the best his health can be and right now every single day is a gift. Like me he is a fighter, he is tough and brave and strong and so incredibly gentle I hope he is here for many years to come. I’m out in Spain in the next couple of weeks and it will be good to see him.

I realised the other day that everything I’ve ever done has always been dad speaking through me. My writing, my boxing, my public speaking when I look in the mirror I see my fathers eyes. When I write these words I remember him in his study at home writing his memoirs. When I talk about why Black Lives Matter I see my daddy raise his fist.

When he first heard I was training in Muay Thai and fighting he didn’t know what to say. His little boy stepping in a ring. Winning a title. Then winning another one. And just never giving up. He used to play cricket for Cambridge and was an outstanding sports man. He has seen so much violence in his life he is a pacifist. The one thing him and my mum have always been is proud of me but never as much as me of them.

At school for my GCSE English exam the last question was “who is your biggest hero?” I wrote about my father and South Africa. There is a lot I want to and need to say right now but I keep pushing the wave of emotion down. I keep being resilient John, not little super John who’s daddy will never ever die.

It hurts to much to let him in and to tell him dad’s poorly and he’s fighting but its really serious and that I’m afraid. Every single day of my life I think about my mother and father and how I can support them. I want to train Muay Thai full time again not just “getting by” twice a week training but family comes first and work comes first and in the end, when everything changes all I will have is my mum, my friends, family, my art and my beautiful father. I’m sure it will be all or nothing as usual in the gym soon. Thanks for listening. I’ll see you on that road.

Armour.

Hi. I hope your keeping well and that this week just like the one before has been a good one. When it comes down to me and all things martial all is well. Although I’m not training as much as I’d like at present I’m still enjoying my time at the gym and feel like I’m progressing. I intend to get myself back on that proverbial horse over the next couple of weeks but as always it is what it is and I’m enjoying the journey. Fifteen and a half years in and I’m enjoying it just as much as I did at the beginning. But that’s just me. Mr never give up will still never give up. He’s always learning.

Along my internet travels this week something caught my attention. In fact it caught my attention so deeply that I smiled and wondered if they’d done it on purpose. Just for me to see. That’s been happening a lot recently. It’s called timely algorithms in action.

Wear your armour. Whether it’s a makeup, a band t shirt, your fandom pins, tattoos, jewellery your favourite pair of ripped jeans or something else no one else can touch or see your favourite song repeating like a mantra inside your head, the sound of your own heartbeat or the knowledge that you were brave enough to get out of bed today when everything else inside you said “no”. Wear your armour.”

My armour reflects my fighting spirit. Have you ever seen my dragons? my left arm and my right arm and shoulder are covered in dragons. On my back my dragon fights a Samurai. Order vs chaos. Fire vs balance. My dragon protects my soul. I’ve seen him in my dreams and he has a fearsome roar. He is the fighter in me and is there when I need him the most just like my art.

My armour also has put up barriers over the years that I’m in the process of tearing down. This is also a long road but an important journey. I see the cycles and I see the abusers. I remain emotionally intelligent and remember that a grown man is in the driving seat these days not a reckless kid, although sometimes it’s good to be spontaneous, not give a fuck and go with the moment. That’s a part of me too and something that’s kept me competing over the years. I get you need to get good at these things but if you have the heart then that’s half the battle won.

Muay Thai over the years has also become my armour. It’s about the aura I project. People know martial artists when they see martial artists like we know ourselves. Water no get enemy. The unintentional armour my art projects resonates from my heart and outwards. It’s a fearsome dragon when it needs to be and gentle as a lamb, even on my worst days. It pushes me through round after round and lets me keep fighting in that ring, win, draw or lose. Sometimes it feels like fire and more recently it just feels strong.

What I am underneath is someone I’m growing to love more and more day by day. He’s someone who despite all odds will rise time and time again. Training is part of his healing process and his gym is his safe space. Later this year I hope that fighting enters my life once again because I want to test his mettle. I want to see how new he really is inside and out. It’s where I’ll cut my teeth and it’ll be brand new again just like the first time. From now until then I’ll keep pressing forward training hard to fight easy, and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

On appearance – Black

Hi. It’s nice as always to catch up with you once again. How’s your week been? mine’s been pretty joyous of late. Let’s rewind back to the end of last weekend and my trip overseas to see my parents. I’ve not seen them in close to a year but it felt like longer. I spent a good few days in the sun, had some nice runs and spent lots of time in the pool. Carlos says hi.

Most importantly, I got to spend time with my mum and dad, and if work wasn’t calling this week onwards I would no doubt still be out in Spain. Which brings back to the second joyous event which is after a significant lull in contract work I’m lucky enough to be working with a community organisation for the next few months in London as an IT project manager.

Of my many skills in the sector I’ve worked in now for over 10 years project management has become one of my most well paid and developed. I like challenges and I like helping people achieve their goals. I guess some of that stems from martial arts and the desire to help others from community volunteering and organising.

Either way, I’m pleased to be addressing areas of my life that were falling short. I’m also back on the horse when it comes to police monitoring. Which is always a good thing. As the saying goes when your facing the right direction, just keep walking. It’s something I can apply to most areas of my life and more often than not do. Helping others is rewarding and in my own way I guess it means I’m fighting back too.

You see, Bristol Copwatch is a lot more than a social media presence despite the lies the police and their allies (by allies I mean rats.) may tell you. We are an independent community focused police monitoring group who monitor the police on the street and across the UK. We are also a group of people with lived experience of police harassment and brutality and most importantly police corruption. We’ve been out in St Pauls, in Easton and around black and brown communities in the city off and on for over 12 months. We’re still young and have raised over 3 thousand in funds.

There is a long history of resistance to the police in black and brown communities and of course, many people in society these days can see the problem with policing (it’s going to get worse before it gets better.) If you’ve ever taken action over any matter you’ll be well aware of what the cops try to put you through, targeting, harassment, malicious arrests.. we’ve been there and most importantly I’ve been there. Sit down with me and I’ll tell you what’s been dealt to me since the age of 16.

It’s something that’s left it’s scars and that I’m working through healing with the help of a lovely friend. Those scars came back into focus earlier this year when I discovered that despite my brown skin I’d been misidentified as white. After much wailing and nashing of teeth the home office (you read that right, the home office) put me in the right box. “On appearance BLACK”. Well it was kind of the right box… but let’s not nit pick.

However, it got me thinking about the micro aggressions I’ve faced consistently over the course of my life to out and out racism (I first experienced it at about age 6 ) and at points the lack of my acknowledgement by some of my identity as a black man. Because, despite what you may be thinking I don’t have a “tan” and I’m not “half white.” White supremacy has never allowed for being half of anything let alone it’s favourite colour. Race and identity matter. It creates barriers and aggressions that I run into that you, if your a white person just won’t.

Sadly in martial arts those aggressions have reared their head more than once. My clearest memory of encountering racism in a Thai boxing gym was being told very vocally one summer many years ago that I looked like I’d jumped in the fucking mud. Silence from me. The person of course was just joking it was just a joke mate!. This of course in a training environment is completely unacceptable. So are monkey noises as is being told that I’m a “monkey looking c***” just joking just joking. Of course it’s just a joke.

I may be so laid back I’m almost horizontal but there are things that I don’t find ok. And I question the white silence that has emerged when the events above have occurred. We may live in a racist society but if anything that means we should all strive to be more anti racist than ever before. I walk into a gym to escape the day to day bullshit I run into. This includes police harassment, (I went through the stop and search paradigm in my youth so I’m no stranger) work and volunteering trials and tribulations, racism on a daily basis (the insidious snide sort the middle classes like is the worst) and everything else in between.

What I’ve never expected to have to deal with and still don’t is continuations of that racism in a place that has over the past 15 or so years become my home. But sadly, from time to time whoop there it is and I realise some people have a lot they need to unpack. However, me being me I just walk on by, hit the bag , hit the pads spar and have a nice time. When these events have unfolded in the past I’ve shrugged them off. Sometimes I don’t think I should any more. However, just like in life its not representative of the city I live in, and in training when its emerged its not representative of the calibre of my gyms past and present.

I’m pleased to say I’m training again the rest of this week, and I’m completely COVID free. I guess I’m blessed. Well that and partially vaccinated. It’s going to be good to get back into the mix and focus on improving once again. Looking at photos of myself earlier was like looking at an older version of me. It’s going to be fun seeing what the new guy has to offer. On appearance he’s black. He still has a soul and will no doubt be back in the ring soon. Watch. In the meantime. have a great week and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Carlos is here only once.

Evening all, despite arriving every so slightly fashionably late than last week my blog has once again returned. It’s good as always to be able to sit down and write. I hope things are good with you they really aren’t too bad with me at all, travel hiccups and summer colds aside last week including the weekend was a good one.

I’ve got so used to delays and complications with travelling abroad it’s water off a duck’s back although ultimately upsetting when things go wrong. Do you remember the good old days when you could just get on a plane and go where the fuck you wanted to? Yeah me as well. Thankfully, I’ve successfully reset since Saturday and this week prepare for round three of my very own personal groundhog day. Or maybe it’s the Edge of tomorrow.

Either way, I’m looking forward to a long weekend in the sun with my nearest and dearest. Of course, I’ll be back out to see them over the summer too but seeing as we’ve spent nearly 2 years apart I have to admit I’m excited.

If you follow my Insta as well as Twitter brace yourself for a weekend of Jazz hands and my infamous “I’ll tear your soul out” Thai boxing shark like grin that happens when I’m either really happy or when I’m about to punch someone. Competitively of course. Besides, it’s over 40 degrees and most importantly we’ve got a swimming pool and that swimming pool has a dolphin I miss. His name is Carlos.

Carlos is here only once.

Despite this post being slightly more bling than usual, (I don’t normally share photos of my secret Spanish villas just in case ) I just want you to know I am infinitely grateful and lucky to be able to go and see my parents. Both of them have always put me before themselves and are selfless people, who are both ex teachers and worked very hard for what they’ve got. There’s no disputing that some of their traits have absolutely rubbed off on me and there’s no better feeling than being able to recalibrate, recharge and come back refreshed for the rest of the summer. Even if I face more delays or complications there’s very little that will keep us apart or ever damage the relationship we have as a family.

Being an only child some say carries a lot of responsibility. My parents have always let me live life on my terms and just as fully as they have. My father as a black man growing up in South Africa resisted the apartheid regime with his sisters and came here to teach and start a new life. His life and his journey is truly incredible, beautiful and ultimately liberating. He was actually one of the political exiles that fled South Africa at the height of the troubles and wasn’t allowed back home until the fascist regime was broken and done.

My mum met my dad in London when she was teaching black kids with one of his sisters. She’s a feminist and has travelled around the world and has seen all 7 wonders. She’s a working class lady who knows struggle and taught me to get to know my African roots and culture. She’s also just as amazing as my father and from what I recall was a formidable teacher way back when. They’ve always taught me to just be me and to stand up for my rights. They’ve also watched me fuck up and fall time and time again and have never turned their backs on me. I’m a survivor and a fighter because I’ve inherited it from them. I have African blood. What did you expect?

At the moment I have clear and defined goals with everything I want in my life. There’s a lot I’m putting right and it’s fantastic to have my focus back at the level I do right now. I’ve realised that nothing needs to be rushed when it comes to training, relationships, work and everything else in between. The roadmap I’ve created as I’ve found my feet once again is clear and the way ahead is bright and most importantly I’m out here and I’m having fun just being me.

It’s got new speaker bio photo written all over it.

Because you see, I’m confident that this well deserved break is going to do me the world of good. In fact, right now for the first time in a long time I feel like I’m winning and I’m stronger. As soon as I’m back from my weekend in the sun I’m back to training five times a week again although even four sessions a week is currently enough. I’m improving and what’s nice to see is that I’m listening to my trainers more than I was before. We’re a good camp, in fact I’d be as bold enough to say we’re one of the best in Bristol.

I’d like to be able to fight under full Thai rules at least once in my fighting career and to do that I need to continue to push myself to be better than what I am right now. It’s exciting that the energy in my quest for self improvement in the gym is helping fix some areas of my life I’ve neglected for far too long. Observing myself and my thoughts and understanding my limitations and how I can surpass them is an ongoing process, but it’s a good journey and going back inside to tighten my game has given me a new found confidence I forgot existed.

Of course, throughout the past five weeks or so my friends have been there for me when I’ve needed them the most and I know that I’ll never walk alone. My dear friends like my dear family have never turned their back on me. It’s the sort of thing I don’t forget and will repay in my own way and in my own time.

I can see and hear the 20 something inside who’s still as reckless, adventurous and impulsive as he always was. I’m getting to know him again and I’m learning how to fix what hurt him little by little and day by day. He’s been stop and searched by the police over 50 times in his life. He went through the criminal justice system backwards. He still has a lot to say and like me he loves helping others. I think in time, that we’ll be good friends. I’m actually that fighter and ex champion he never thought he would be.

Being able to see the parts of me now that around two months ago were screaming for recognition and to be heard is liberating. It felt like everything had fallen to pieces and my life was a mess when the worst happened. The burnout breakdown that came, came hard and was down to never giving myself time to breathe. . I saw the cycle develop and stopped when I saw the edge. I’ve put that down to life experience and letting the grown man drive the emotional wreck to safety at the time.

Nearly two months on I’m back on my feet again and better than I’ve ever been. Everything as they say happens for a reason. Sometimes, things fall apart so something or someone better can emerge. As the I Ching said to me recently “good things are coming and are not to be rushed.” I think the new John is going to leave the negatives in his life in the dust. For now, that’s just about all she wrote. It’s been good as always catching up with you and I hope this week is an excellent one. On your way out don’t forget to say hi to Carlos. He’s only here once. Train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Nothing I do is perfect

Hi, good to catch up once again. How’s your week been? mines not been too bad at all. Running and training have been consistent as always and it’s good to see that freelance work is finally taking shape after a massive hiatus period that I can only attribute to lockdown. I think my business is also going to successfully come out of hibernation too. All in all things are looking much brighter than they did 2 months ago, so I guess that can only ever be a good thing.

You know it’s funny just having been through a pretty rough period in my life that things as always seem to be righting themselves. Nothing it seems, is ever permanent and everything changes. From time to time I use the I Ching (The book of change) regardless of what you think about that sort of thing I’ve always found it never tells you anything you don’t know already.

In regards of what I’ve just been through and where I’m headed it’s told me the future is bright and to take my time with everything I want to improve in my life. This is sound advice. When it comes to Muay Thai little by Iittle I can see improvements happening. There is no rush and I’d rather develop what I do at my pace. I have a lot to learn but so does everyone. Nothing I do is perfect but what’s perfect anyway?

It is meaningful and important to notice your limitations, where you need to grow, and your mistakes. It is not meaningful – ever – to judge those exact same observations. Because they are perfect, just as they are. They contain the whole of your potential, just as they are.

I spend a lot of time pulling myself to pieces over the smallest things when it comes to martial arts and it’s taken me over fifteen years of training to realize that self improvement is an ongoing process. It never really ends unless of course you decide to throw the towel in. I’ve never been a quitter.

Sakprasert Bournemouth , 2009

Today I realised that I’ve been training for nearly fifteen and a half years. Overall in martial arts I’m close to 17 years. I never thought this was going to happen but now that I’m here I’m very pleased it has. Once again, Muay Thai has been there for me when I needed it the most. I met it when I was a shadow of myself and on the tail end of a very messy breakup with a girl I loved very much.

It gave me some self confidence back again and then it pulled me out of a cycle of police targeting and constant stop and searches. It showed me there was more to me than I thought and the shy kid who used to get picked on by wankers? He decided to leave and a confident man emerged in his place, stronger than he had ever been walking taller than he ever had before.

This time round, although things are different they are also the same. I fell down and got up but instead of glossing over the damage I’ve decided to sit down with it and ask it how we can heal, and in the background always there for me is my art, letting me switch off when I need to and reminding me that I’m a lot stronger than I ever thought I would be.

I don’t react to so called problems in my life any more I respond to them. The emotionally intelligent 42 year old man knows when the impulsive 20 something wants to drive and assesses if he should. It’s fun letting him charge off into the sunset but you know what? I’ve learnt from past mistakes so know how to not make the same ones again. Training helps keep me focused, sharp and my heart big. Us fighters aren’t thugs. We’re martial artists and life warriors. Nothing I do is perfect, but I only ever grow. Have a good week and train hard, and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Basics

Hi. I thought I’d take the time to sit down and catch up with you. Training wise this week has as always been a good one. I’m pleased to say that in fact, all is well. I feel a lot better in myself than I have done over the past few weeks. Most importantly I feel a lot stronger. There’s a lot to focus on at present but little by little it’s getting easier to put it down, so I can get back to basics.

I’m start to sharpen up a little on pads and bag work plus sparring is something I’m enjoying. For the first time in a long time this week I’ve stepped into my gym and left everything at the door. It’s literally happened every time I’ve started training. Learning to switch the noise off is never an easy task at the best of times but when I’m training I am perpetually in the present moment. When my thoughts start to drift I focus very briefly on my environment.

“The mat is blue.” has become a trigger for me to shut down the chatter and concentrate or maybe not concentrate on what I’m doing. I’ve laid an anchor and when it drops I feel awake and in the game. Today during our Sunday open mat session I found myself stalking my pad holder like I’d stalk an opponent in the ring to close them down.

My footwork is getting better and my aggression is coming back. We worked through a long 4 minute round before swapping and it was a good 4 minutes. She’s a good pad holder. I feel that around 3 to 4 weeks ago I was going through the motions with training and wasn’t really “in the room” as such. This week has felt different. This week has felt better. I’m very pleased with me.

I’ve written a lot during the course of this blog about staying in the present moment and why it matters. Mindfulness to me, is just as important outside of training as it is inside. Early today I shared an important piece of writing on Twitter about being the observer. It’s also known as the silent witness. I’ve begun to start practising walking and riding meditations. As a good friend of mine once said to me “see what you notice”. Just observe and let the thoughts wash over you into nothing. They have no power.

It’s an important skill to master because as martial artists it lets us respond rather than react. Looking at situations where we need to defend ourselves it lets us detach from emotions and deal with a problem whether it be on the street or in the ring. Some of the beauty of Muay Thai is the switch from calm to venom. Every shot and every counter attack is always in the now. As I’ve said, it’s there for us when we need it the most.

Over the course of the next week I’m going to spend a lot of my time working on presence outside of the gym. I’m not perfect and from time to time I react to day to day life encounters. I realised an hour ago that I just don’t need to. Microaggressions and antagonisms only have power if you give them power. It’s not like I face them every day but where of late I have had a rough time of it I’m well aware I can fire up inside quickly. There is no problem unless it’s a problem. I hope I have to say no more than that. The biggest goal for me training wise at present is about taking the energy, focus and peace from the gym home with me and applying it to all parts of my life. After all, as a trainer once said to me, it’s mine to keep. Until the next time, train hard and fight easy. I’ll see you on that road.

Sometimes I don’t want to get up.

Hi. I’ve decided to sit down and get this blog of mine up to speed as just for once, I’m on lunch. Lunch for me is usually working through with coffee as my only fuel. I’ve come to realise of late I need time to rest and heal. A moment ago, I tweeted

For the rest of this month all of July,and to a lesser extent some of August I shall mostly be reconnecting with myself and my spirit. Which is of course fearsome, indomitable, and absolutely unbreakable. I shall then be truly back in the game.Copwatch is there if you need them.

All of this is true and all of this is so very me, but there I am focusing on the end result with no attention given to what happens between then and now. Like I just said, all of this is so very me. One of the most refreshing things I’ve had said of late was said less than 2 hours ago. ‘There’s nothing wrong with you. You just need to join the parts up.’

Focusing heavily on community activism rather than on other areas of my life has become a coping mechanism of late. As the saying goes “you can’t help me if you can’t help yourself” so with a couple of gentle nudges from friends old and new I’ve decided to attempt to switch off. Not just because it’s what I need but because it’s what I want to do. And there’s so much I want to do right now. The summer has Europe written all over it, and I’m pleased to say it’s starting next month with Spain. I’ve not seen my parents for nearly 2 years so I can’t wait.

And trust me, just like Obi Wan once said I’ll come back more powerful than you could possibly imagine. Well, refreshed and relaxed at the very least. Last weekend saw me head home to Portsmouth for the weekend and it was good to spend time with friends I’ve not seen in over 5 years. I’ve already made a note to head back down South over the summer. It kind of looks like one massive weekend at Bernie’s combined with self healing.

I’m pleased to note that Muay Thai plays a massive part of the journey ahead. It gives me focus and it’s something I love doing. Things are actually better than they were last time we spoke and in fact they’ve been getting better for a while. I’m stronger and I’m walking taller. The fighter is a natural part of me but sometimes, I don’t want to get up. I don’t want to but I always do.

My self proclaimed Wolverine like healing factor kicks in and I just carry on as normal. People tell me I’m physically and mentally very tough, I guess I am and I don’t think that will ever change but I also need to remember that there’s a young man who needs to sit down with me and fix what’s wrong. He’s angry but he’s hurting. He won’t ever stop fighting just like in the ring but he needs time to heal, and to make friends with the new me that’s coming.

And whilst we’re on that particular subject, they say we become new and better versions of ourselves when the old ones stop working. I realized this morning I have coping mechanisms so taking a bold leap of faith and on good advice I decided to put those mechanisms down. Just for a little bit. Sometimes I don’t want to get up but this time, just like the time before I am and I will. If you look close enough you’ll see the fire in my eyes.

All the causes and commitments I believe in and work towards are still going to be just as important. I’m still intending to help people in my community fight back against abuses of power and against injustice. None of that will change, I just need to focus on me for a little while. Training is something I can put my heart and soul into, and now that I’ve found the time maybe I can start focusing on some solid goals in the gym. I’d love to fight again this year, but as Dave Wilmott said to me I need to be a new John. Being that guy sounds exciting and full of potential so maybe I can do that?

It probably seems reading some of the above that I’m currently trapped in a glass case of emotion. Honestly, I’m doing good. Moments of clarity take many shapes and I often need to write them down. This blog is for me not just you. I think sometimes I forget that too. It’s 1.30 on a Tuesday afternoon and I’m not drinking coffee I’m eating a nice lunch. Every day isn’t just a school day it’s a step in the right direction. After all when your taking steps in the right direction, all you have to do is keep walking. Here’s to training later and in the meantime, have a good week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.