Where attention goes.

Yeah, so training recently. Well it’s not been too bad actually. It’s been a little lighter on the ground some weeks than I’d like but despite general slackness I’ve still been consistent and I’ve made sure I’m there as much as possible. Some times it’s easy to feel like your going through the motions and sometimes I feel like I’m making real progress. Either way, it’s always important to have a goal to focus on. So just recently, I’ve decided to set a new one.

I’ve realized I’ve got loads of free time between now and October and this means I can get down the gym as much as I want to. In short, this has made me very happy. Realizing if I want to I can start training practically all week again has made me even happier. I’ve made room for a lot of graft and commitment so realistically whoop there it is, if I want to I can start fighting again.

This is something I’ve been wanting to get back to for months but haven’t really been able to justify the time and have made a shit load of excuses as to why I can’t commit to competitions any more. I’m kind of at a point where it’s not that important if I fight or if I don’t but it’s good fun.. I’m passionate about everything  I do and when it comes to competing  I’ve grown to love proving myself wrong.

So stepping boldly out of comfortable little box I think in May I’m heading overseas to either get some Thai or K1 in my life. I meant to head out to Europe last year but for whatever reason didn’t go, so have decided to give it a shot this time round.

If all goes according to plan  it should be a good weekend away and I need a holiday anyway. I think I’ll decide at that point if this is going to be my last year of fighting or not. I decided a while ago I wanted to get up to like 20 odd fights and seeing as I’m sitting at the 15 mark currently I could maybe of signed myself up for an interesting year.

On average, I’ve usually fought a few times a year so already that particular goal is spilling over into 2018. I think the best thing to do is not actually a put a cut off point in place. Besides I only listen to myself and have no interest in anyone telling me I can’t do something. I can and I will. No one tells me what to do. I’ve always been an Anarchist. 10348938_10152179360293731_7851256722725497444_o

So when it comes down to training this week onwards I’m going to push myself. I’ve got a couple of weeks until April to get my head in the game ready for about 5 weeks or so of graft and the really nice thing about what’s ahead is that I really feel that I’m doing it just for me.

There’s all the usual factors to take into consideration, there’s all the usual worries and no doubt they’ll be the usual nerves but I’ve set my sites on a goal and I’m going to achieve it. The next couple of weeks outside of the gym is going to be about sorting out logistics but you know what I’m quite excited about it. It’s for a good cause as well and I love having the freedom to be autonomous. Being the boss of me is a liberating thing. I hope I get a chance at fighting for my gym a little later in the year too.

So, as the minutes tick past and Monday rolls on by I think for now that’s all she wrote. I’ve got a fairly easy Monday morning ahead and I can sense a nice run coming on at lunch time. I managed to do 5k yesterday so I think today I’ll go for 6. Energy flows where attention goes and  you know what? It’s good to be back. Have a great week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

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Mojo

Well, I’ve finally found  the time to get this blog of mine back on track. I know we caught up earlier in the week but I thought I’d take the time to sit down and write this evening too. It’s a different kind of therapy that other than Thai and training in general I really enjoy doing.

The past couple of months at points have felt like an uphill struggle but life has a way of putting you through your paces when you don’t feel like you can cope. In a way it’s a little like fight training or competing. Always a challenge and something you should never ever give up with.

I’m pleased to say that I very rarely do. I’m a natural fighter inside, and I’m tough. An old friend of mine once called me a survivor. Even when things get harder than I’d like them to be I always seem to land on my feet and I’ve found I pick myself up just as quickly as I’ve fallen down. You see, the thing about writing this blog is that it’s always come from my heart.

It’s always been a part of me expressing myself in written form. Does it give you an insight into who I am? does it tell you my inner most workings and what makes me tick? it gives you an idea and maybe some insight,but it’s like gleaning information from a Facebook post. It’s superficial at the very best. Facebook in particular can be a pet peeve of mine. A series of likes, shares and the occasional rant does not define  a person. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it does.

You need to  spend time in my company to get to know me just like I do with you. I feel I should say this because at the moment I’m very determined to get back to a place I want to be. That’s with a few things in my life. My inner critic often tells me that there’s other critics wanting to lay the boot in when I feel lower than low. Wondering what everyone’s thinking should never hold me back because when it does I don’t get anything done.

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Today I realized that I’ve really let myself down with my degree I have been studying since 2009 with the Open University. I need to retake a module for the 3rd time and haven’t been coping with the workload. I’m doing what I feel is best because I want to succeed but what I want is no longer right in front of me it’s ever so slightly out of reach.

This and a couple of other things has reminded me that the last time  I felt like this was when I was trying to get to my first win and had been on loss after loss. I worry sometimes when I write like this that some people think  I’m trying to come across like I’m more than who I am. But this is me, and this is it. And my individual journey is not meant to be a comparison to anyone else or any other fighter out there.

I’ve convinced myself sometimes whilst on that streak,  that some people don’t want me to succeed whilst the whole time failing to realize that the biggest enemy along that one particular road was only ever myself. Maybe I’ve never really had that much self confidence. Maybe I have too much self doubt. Either way, I’ve always been a survivor. I’ll never refuse to stand up.

Thai has made me tougher inside than I used to be, but I’ve always been tough. I said that a minute ago and every time I write it, it’s an affirmation to myself. It’s a statement of intent to keep going, to not give up. “I’ve always been tough.”  I wonder if to you it seems like an explosion of ego. It’s just these days when I look in the mirror I can see it in my eyes.

When I fail at something I get angry with myself and I forget that there’s no such thing as losing in or out the ring. You only ever learn. When I lost fight after fight I’d always ask myself what can I do better next time? but that’s me. Reflective to the core.  I kept doing that and hitting the same hurdle. I  even bought a big book on sports NLP to try and change my mindset about fighting.

Little old me, just an amateur nobody no one gave a fuck about anyway. But seriously, it meant that much to me. If I could get in there and fight then I could get in there and win. Until, when it finally tipped  I realized that all it ever needed from day one was the drive to succeed. I found myself wanting  to achieve and not only get in there and give it my all, but get in there and win. To not just go to fight, but to go to win. “I’m not going to fight, I’m going to win.” .. “I’m  going to win.”  Did you see what I did there?

I can apply the same mentality to every aspect of my life. I’ve taught myself not to hold back in a ring, and I’ve learnt not to hold back with what I want in general. There is no such thing as failure. You only ever learn. Even when you do the same thing twice. And when it comes to fighting, if you love doing that, well you can never really lose. 😉 Besides, I love the combat. We all need at least one Rocky Balboa  moment in life. This is mine and I’ll remember it forever.

I need to start applying the focus and drive I have with training when I’m on a roll to areas of my of life where  things aren’t so hot. I need to and I’m going to get my mojo back not just when it comes to boxing but when it comes to everything. I feel out of sync and lacking equilibrium  some days when really  I’m doing fine. I take a lot on my shoulders and I never say because I’m an island. I have always been and I always will be. Adversity makes me strong.  I do my best to keep my ego in check and sometimes I feel  small inside when really I’m walking tall.  I stamp on the critic and let writing become my therapy.

Next week, sees me back at the gym as usual. This week training hasn’t been too bad, but I still need more Thai in my life. I have a lot of goals to set and I need to pick up that writing project I put down. I need to stop telling myself I will when sometimes I don’t. Bullshit runs a marathon. I’m not in New Jack city and I don’t want Wesley Snipes to throw me off a bridge so it’s time to get my mojo back. Not just for next week but for now and forever. And besides, I don’t think it’s really that bad. Have a fantastic week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

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Outside the box (awareness pt2)

Well, I’m pleased to say last week saw me pick training up a little more than the week before so slowly but surely it’s heading back in the right direction. Which of course, is always a good thing. The past couple of months has felt like an uphill slog to get training back on track but I guess there has been a lot of distractions.

I’m doing my best to get back to a place where it’s something I do without thinking rather than having my mulling it over days. Lucky the latter is falling away, and I think things are balancing themselves out rather than fall into the mists of should of, could of, would of and besides I went running yesterday. It was tough, but as always that as well was awesome.

Training overall last week was pretty good, sparring as always is a good push and reflecting on last week’s blog I think when it comes to being aware I don’t think a tunnel vision mentality is a bad thing. I even find myself faking a little bit sparring to try and open the other person up a little. It doesn’t happen that much but when it does it seems to work. I guess that’s an ongoing area to develop like everything else.

I’ve noticed my defense has got a lot better and I’m moving more than I have previously. Slowly but surely I’m looking for my shots a little more than before but also keep still keep the pressure on too.

I’m enjoying mixing up training a little and some of the time I spend training self defense as well as the usual is keeping me on my toes. It’s got me thinking  outside the ring as well as keeping me focused in general. Besides, thinking ‘outside the box’ is always a good thing.

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Real world situations are very different from anything that happens in a ring but I guess just like a competition all it is, is simply a situation and just like with fighting Thai it’s about how you respond rather than how you react. Of course, like with fighting in a ring there’s always going to be an element of fight or flight. Maybe that’s a subject for another day and I’m no self defense guru.

Last year I read a good article on situational awareness. Being aware of your surroundings and what’s happening   is something I think is important inside and outside the ring.  Inside the ring it’s almost a no- brainer but the reality is it’s very easy to freeze especially when your under pressure and shut down. Especially if the punches, kicks, knees or whatever is thrown at you never stop coming. ( We’ve all had those duck and cover moments. )

“Absorbing information about your surroundings so you can make rapid, logical decisions is a great gift” and it’s something I’ve noticed that training in general will help with. It really goes back to focus and if your out and about I’ve found that staying “in the now” is something that always helps. I wrote a couple of pieces about this in particular last year, but maybe make Google your friend if you want to find out a little more. It’s amazing what you notice when you keep your mind empty. Now that one in particular is a work in progress. 😉

When it comes down to responding instead of reacting we spend time drilling fast responses to kicks, punches and anything else thrown at us in training. If you practice something enough it’s there when you need it the most and really boils down to muscle memory. I can remember when I first started fighting, falling asleep after a heavy training session would sometimes find me trying to left round house the bed sheets..I think I even did it on the way to a show once after dozing off in the car due to an early start, much to the amusement of everyone else. Something that made me smile but also made me realize I’d been working hard. I need to get to back to that place.

So although this week’s blog has arrived fashionably late, for now that’s really all she wrote. Training yesterday wasn’t too bad at all and I’m sure tonight as always is going to be more than worth my time. I’ll catch up with you again  sooner rather than later. In the meantime, have a good week train hard, and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Awareness pt 1

Morning  all.. well, despite a lighter than I’d like week of training it finished on a great note over the weekend, and it was a lot of fun. This week I’m aiming to get back on track as is the norm and despite Monday being a rest day martially I’m starting the week off on a good note with a decent run later.

Sparring last week was  probably  one of the highlights for me as usual. It’s an element of training I’ve been taking a lot away from for what seems like forever and a day and other than pad work it’s something that always keeps me on my toes and of course like anyone knows who competes or trains simply for the love of it, it’s a great way to test what you can and you can’t do.

Pad work always sharpens you up, sparring always put it’s to the test. At the moment, I feel pretty rusty and want to get back to a regular appearance at the gym. Training the best part of a week is where progress lies and I can always find the time. Work, university and life, the universe and everything only ever gets in the way if you let it. The way I’ve always seen it is that  martial arts are an investment in yourself. The more you put in.. well you know the rest.

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I can remember someone telling me once that when it comes to fighting boxers in particular have great spatial awareness. What  do I mean by that? ?In short, “Spatial awareness is the ability to be aware of oneself in space. It is an organised knowledge of objects in relation to oneself in that given space”  Or in lament’s terms just being aware of your surroundings.

“Ring craft” is a term I’ve often heard mentioned when it comes to fighting and applies to any combat sport that requires stepping in that ‘square ring’ or even a cage. To me,  It applies to an understanding of your environment as well as development of your fighting style. If you’ve ever heard people talk about “holding the centre of the ring” or even do just that you’ll know what I mean.

I never understood the importance of understanding your environment when I fast started training but the longer I’ve trained for the more I’ve been taught about movement, fighting your way out the corner, keeping someone cornered and I’ve even watched people choose to fight from the corner, pushing their opponent back across the ring as well as using  the ropes to their advantage too.

Having fought in a cage once during my fighting career, I know it’s a completely different environment from fighting in a ring and can quite rapidly become a tough fight. Ever tried to corner someone in an octagon? Yeah. Well you know what I mean. Unless, your used to fighting in there all the time it means you need to adapt to your environment.

The same rule of thumb applies to situations outside of ring, and I’m pleased that within my training these days there’s an element of self defense thrown in too for good measure. When I first started my journey into martial arts I trained with a friend who taught me the basics and some self defense techniques for good measure.

I ended up training in Ninjitsu off and on for around 6 months after I was left to my own devices and finally found Thai. The rest of course is history, but even when I  first stated Muay Thai it was never something I viewed from  a competitive perspective. In fact, fighting never even interested me. It was the martial art I wanted to learn, as something I could use as a foundation and that still rings true today.

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A  old trainer of mine once said “A good background in Thai will get you a long way”. 10 years on I’m still training hard (well when I actually get down the gym ) and still realizing that there’s more to what I’m learning that what happens in a ring. But I digress.  Training in Ninjitsu we always practiced ‘situations’ as well as drilling techniques. I can remember practicing pre-emptive striking before I read about pre-emptive striking.

Just like in a ring we were taught it’s important to always be aware of what’s happening around you and the environment you find yourself in. Training last week made me realize that I have a very forward thinking mentality. What do I mean by that? I get tunnel vision and focus on what’s in front of me. But that’s how I’ve always fought, so maybe this week I need to start thinking about movement more whilst keeping up the aggression that has always served me so well. Eventually, the penny drops. 😉

So looking at the week ahead I intend to spend the best part of the week doing what I love the most. I’ll class the last 2 weeks of tardiness as a slight glitch in the matrix and will aim to catch up with you on Sunday, although Monday’s ok now and then. In the meantime  have a good week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

That old chestnut.

Why is it whenever I get back into the swing of training something happens that throws a spanner in the works? happy Sunday by the way. Sorry I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks but you know.. excuses excuses. As you can probably tell I’m not in the best of moods.

Last week saw a full week at the gym and some training over the weekend too. This week has been full of sneezing coughing and general germ ridden shenanigans. And when I say shenanigans I mean sitting at home feeling sorry for myself, luckily the worst is over and I’ve managed to get a couple of decent runs in over the weekend

Still, although I’m back at square one next week at least I’ll be back. Surprisingly I’ve listened to myself for once and kept myself out the gym to rest up and get better. With age comes wisdom. In a way. Despite being back at square one it’s going to be good to be back.

Whinging over, it was good last week at least to get back into the swing of things. And setbacks being setbacks come up when you least expect them or want them to happen.training was good as always last week and I think making sure I’m there least 4 times a week is a good place to start to make real progress from.

Being honest, I’ve noticed that there’s been a few improvements happening over the past couple of months but as I always say (and I do always say it) the more you put in the more you get out. I guess I say it so frequently mainly because it’s true.

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Running as well for me is a necessity when it comes to training. A while ago I shared an article that made it clear that if you  don’t run? don’t fight! it’s something I had drilled into me by the other fighters and my old trainer at my old gym in Bournemouth a while ago. I’ve competed since 2011 (albeit a year or so out of late) and it’s something that’s still an essential part of training for me.

Having good stamina is essential for me (and I guess anyone that takes fighting even remotely seriously) and when I’m training again next week I’ll make sure I push myself, from my point of view it’s important for the way I fight which usually involves a lot of pressure and in an ideal situation up  a lot of  “up close and personal.” The life of a short arse is never a easy one when it comes to all things Thai, but then again it’s not the easiest of fights full stop.

I’ve always found it’s important to be able to keep fighting and keep attacking no matter how hard things get in there, it’s very easy sometimes to get hit and freeze (especially if you get hit hard) and then spend too much time covering up when really you should be answering back.

I’ve learnt that it’s important to respond and not just react. Responding to me means coming back with an answer quickly. If you look at things from a point scoring perspective you even out the odds too. And besides, no one likes getting a pasting.

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The more intense the fight gets the more it takes out of you, and for me I’m sure like many others a few seconds can last a life time, in retrospect I never knew 2 minutes could last forever till I stepped into a boxing ring. I think I’m going to make more of a point of running between sessions from here on in as it’s another area of training that’s felt light on the ground. My fitness at present however, isn’t too bad.

So as usual I’m looking forward to getting back on the training horse next week onwards. (that old chestnut ) Time well spent at the gym always yields the best results, and who knows if I play my cards right, stick to my guns, don’t give up and all that good stuff.. maybe I’ll be fighting again soon. In the meantime, have a good week, train hard and as always  I’ll see you on that road.

Ground Hog day.

Afternoon all. It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote last so I guess that’s one new years resolution already broken. Being honest, despite things in my life going pretty well at present in general it’s not shaping up to be the best of years globally.

The world may not currently be in the best of places but I believe that people have the power and we can put things right if we all work together.. Because what affects one of us affects all of us. And that’s the triple truth. Ruth. (If you’ve never seen “Do the right thing” watch it. And watch it today.) My slightly political moan over, this week unlike last week sees me back on the training horse. Again. Let me explain..

Training wise last week was pretty thin on the ground, in fact being honest it was an out and out poor show but the little time I did spend at the gym I enjoyed. But that’s a given and I can’t see it changing any time soon. This week, I’ve decided to make sure I’m training best part of the week.

With Tuesday out the way I’ve got tonight and Thursday and Friday ahead and well, maybe a little over the weekend too. I’m getting far too adventurous considering last week’s laziness so we’ll see but that’s the plan. Cue next blog “I need to spend more time training”.Ever seen Ground Hog day? I currently feel like I’m living it.

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Still I guess it’s not that bad in hindsight. And things often take time to head back in the right direction. I was checking in with myself earlier about how many hours a week I spend training at present. I’m there on a good week at least 3 times a week and on a better than average one 4. So that’s about 6 to 8 hours a week. Which isn’t too bad.

Training in Thailand you do that in  a day or 2 days but you know…  Getting back in the “like it or not” mentality I’ve adopted for such a long time is never easy but like most things in life, it can be done.

I noticed yesterday  training that although things felt “ok” they weren’t somewhere I felt 100% comfortable with. I’m still as flexible as Robocop but more flexible than I was a few months back. At least, it seems that anyway. I’m being shown a slightly different way to kick to the body at my current gym then I’ve been shown before so I’m doing my best to modify my left kick and then my right.

Either way, it’s come on loads  and the slight change just allows it to be a little more direct and takes less time getting there..and I feel overall I’m improving. I’ve noticed how I spar changing slightly  and my defense is getting a little better although nor massively. I think I’m faster as well than I was before but then I tend to work on my speed a lot these days in sparring. Being a light fighter I need to be quick. For a while sparring with bigger folk got me focusing more on power, but it needs to be snappy.

Yesterday we were focusing on fighting “in the pocket” or within rage of each other. If you watch Thais fight you’ll understand what I mean. The decent fighters in any gym always seem to stay so they are always in range, again not an easy task and when I’m training with someone bigger than me or who knows if they get close I’ll fuck them up if I can,  I sometimes get frustrated and sometimes miss shots that I should never of thrown anyway so just recently I’ve tried to let them come to me a little more.

I want to get better at counter fighting but I’m pleased I’m still not afraid to walk into them. Pressure fighting works especially if you get hit really hard and just keep attacking, it can be disconcerting for your opponent I guess and besides I’m trying to build on how I do that too. I don’t just block stuff with my face and hope for the best.

. I’ve decided to have a couple of weeks booze free (although I’m meant to be going to a gig on Saturday so we’ll see how that pans out) to get the fitness up too. I really feel it when I’m running and I miss the “body says thanks” feeling when I wake up in the morning. As fun as going out can be alcohol does you no good at all. I guess I need a goal to focus on.

Tonight is free reign on the pads and sparring and it’s usually a good couple of hours training. Being honest I’m already looking forward to getting stuck in. In fact, it usually works out to be the best part of the day. Here’s to this week not panning out like a martial Ground Hog day and just like the last time, I’ll see you on that road.

It’s what’s inside that counts.

Well, another Monday morning has arrived. I thought I should touch base as it was meant to happen yesterday but one thing led to another and I got side tracked. So apologies. But here we are again you and me and it’s nice to see you. Thanks for stopping by.

I’m gradually easing myself back into training so last week only saw a few sessions overall and this week I’ll get myself back out of that comfort zone of mine it’s all too easy to become familiar with.

January is still about getting the fitness and training up and from there on in we shall see how it goes. As always it’s a long road but worth it none the less. Come February this year I will of been training for ten years, so it’s nice to know that after all this time I’m still as tenacious, stubborn and utterly determined not to give up as ever.

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Really, when it comes to me and fighting that’s always been a prerequisite. An unwritten contract between me, myself and I if you will. Under no circumstances have I ever given up. Having heart goes a long way,  and besides the more you do something the better you get at it. That much is a given.

I have a friend who doesn’t seem to be able to take losing very well. Or at the very least gives himself a hard time when he does lose. I’ve met a few people over the years who are the same. The worst thing you can ever do in any type of competitive sport is to take things to heart, but I guess it’s only human to doubt yourself from time to time. Besides, I’ve done that enough and I still do it now.

I’ve always found that the toughest part of competing has been getting back on the horse again after a loss. You learn a lot about yourself. Bravery in the face of defeat and all that PMA type stuff. With me I’ve always kept going back because I love the combat. I only ever listen to myself. I’ve never liked being told what to do.

I’ve found it’s just as important to apply the same mentality when you under pressure. Even if it’s tough in there I know that I have to keep fighting. I say even if it’s tough, it’s always tough but it’s always worth it regardless of the result and besides the experience you gain is invaluable.

I read an article last year (or maybe it was the year before) ‘Does your record really matter?’ that made me take a step back and look at how I’ve developed as a fighter. “While it is very easy to criticise  someone’s record, it’s important to remember that the record does not define the fighter.” is a statement I agree with completely.

A couple of things happened last year that made me feel a lot better about competing and training than I have in a while. Starting from the beginning, even though it was a while ago I lost my last fight.

I think I had drawn the one before that and being honest when it comes to draws I feel like it’s a no man’s land that leaves a result in hiatus with no conclusion so although I wasn’t too happy with the result, I was over the moon that I fought as well as I did and came back from what easily could of been a crushing defeat. No matter how hard you hit me I always get back up. It’s how I’m built.

Not the last one but a tough one.. 

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The fact a lot of people said they thought I won helped to take the loss on the chin and knowing that I have and can win also gave me a mental pat on the back too. At the time I can remember people saying that I am a very tough fighter and a good opponent which gave me some additional resolve and determination to get back on the proverbial horse.

As it stood that horse was more about getting better than just leaping back into things and I’m pleased to say although that goal is ongoing it’s also been achieved. Towards the end of last year someone mentioned to me when discussing another fighter that like him, my record doesn’t do me justice. I was quite pleased  and it gave me a little boost, and it encouraged me to think about getting back into things this year. So thanks. You know who you are. 🙂

It’s not that I rely on affirmations from anyone other than myself but it’s nice to hear comments like the two above from time to time. If anything, it encourages me to keep focused and not to give up. You can only ever get better at these things and as it stands I’m very much a reflective person and that applies to everything that I do.

So coming back to the here and now I’m still just as determined this year as I was last to succeed. I say this at the beginning of every year of training and it doesn’t change. Like with everything else it’s how I’m built. Procrastination may of been one of my biggest enemies of late but that’s pretty much down for an eight count so far and I don’t think it will be getting up any time soon.

I’m hoping that this week of training is a little busier than the last and I push myself a little harder than before. If I want to fight I need to spend more time at the gym. 3 times a week is recreational training to me and as always I know I’ll find the time. Have a good week, train hard and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

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