It’s good to be back

Evening. Or should I say morning. I have to admit in terms of eventful months I don’t think things could of got more eventful than March. As always, despite it being a little later than anticipated its good as always to sit down and find the time to write. I think this happened this evening after literally an entire month off blogging.

For one reason or another, I just felt a need to put this blog of mine down for a little while and focus on other areas of my life, and of course navigate the monumental events that have occurred in Bristol of late . Briz has of course been all over the news recently, and in the wake of the recent uprising and Kill the bill demonstrations I’ve literally felt pushed from pillar to post.

I handle stress well and I attribute that ability to over 15 years of martial arts training. After a point you learn to switch off outside distractions in your environment and stay focused on the here and now and what you need to achieve. This is something I have learnt to do in and out the ring. In the ring, the noise of the crowd disappears and all that matters is the person in front of me I’m fighting.

In fact at points the people even my friends giving me encouragement sound like they are almost in the next room. All that I can hear with crystal clarity is my corner. All I can see is the person I intend to walk through. Like Masta Ace says in the amazing track ‘fight song’ You might slow me a little bit, but you won’t stop me, You might stand in my pathway, but you won’t block me” it’s a mentality and determination that’s deep in my inner and absolutely will not let me back down or give up. At my weakest moments I always have something left.

And being honest, in March there was plenty of weak moments. I did have moments where I wondered if I was really coping. At 42 years old that’s a scary feeling. I guess it’s one that forces you to put yourself under a microscope and assess what’s working and what isn’t working very quickly. There have been points through the thick of it all, the sheer weight of it all it has really made sense. And at those points I’ve known I’m walking in the right direction. The really beautiful thing during the intense month of March (end of year returns, police monitoring and media appearances, interviews, Open University, work and endless cat memes ) was that despite everything I just kept training. I just kept running.

In short I just kept going, and the best bit was when I was training I was switching off. The chatter at points disappeared all together because I had something positive to focus on. I had techniques to improve. I had strikes to make stronger. Elbows to sharpen. I could imagine my shit day looked like the bag in front of me. As always my art was there for me when I needed it the most.

The energy I’ve learnt to take home with me from a good run or a nice bit of shadow or some bag work when the opportunity emerged I’ve learnt to apply to the rest of my life in everything I do. Everyone at present is going through a lot and many of just keep fighting. We don’t give up or roll over because we’ve never been losers. We are what winners look like and we always have been winners. We fight many battles and we don’t always win but we fight.

Bristol has a spirit, soul and energy I love and I think I’ll stay forever. Seeing a ground swell against government and police repression is an inspiring thing especially when you understand why it needed to happen. It’s fair to say that most people out here feel the same as me, and for those that don’t I forgive you. Just don’t spend your lives living small and afraid to speak out.

When I look at the month ahead it’s already a daunting prospect. It’s an exciting time for many reasons and although I’m loving media attention due to my unexpected new found PR skills (I never saw that coming. Someone told me yesterday to get an agent?!) I also want to be that shy kid again, the one who would stand there open mouthed if I could go back in time and tell him him one day he would be me. I think despite the tough times, I’m walking in the right direction, and that means I’ll just keep walking. I feel less fragmented than yesterday just because I answered a calling and sat down to write. Isn’t that something?

Of course, training is going to be as with all good things a constant in my life in the month ahead. I keep wanting to ramp it up but I need to just ease back into it when classes start again. I train virtually all week anyway when the gyms open as normal so pushing myself will be something I’ll enjoy. Besides, I’m getting better at what I do. It’s giving me confidence and self belief that’s beginning to seep into many areas of my life. And despite everything, I’ll never stop proving me wrong. Have a good week, as always train hard and I wish you the utmost success in all of your fights. It’s not just good to be back it’s fantastic. I’ll see you on that road.

Getting back on track

Hi. Nice to catch up with you once again. Sorry it’s taken a couple of weeks to do so, but I guess it’s just down to multiple plates spinning all at once. Something as they say has to give and being honest, for a minute back there I thought that something did.

Training unlike writing despite not being as frequent as I’d like has been consistent and is showing slow signs of improvement. Maybe I’ve got access to a bag from time to time maybe I haven’t. Either way the time I do put in every week as well as the running and shadow is absolutely paying off. Just like with everything else in my life, the more I put into something the more I get out.

And speaking of getting out I absolutely need to get out more when this lockdown thing finally blows over in the next couple of months. Other than overseas trips to see family and friends planned this year I also want to reclaim my social life. There may not be a return to out and out normal for a while yet but you know what? whilst the world keeps turning I keep on pressing forward. And while the word keeps burning I just keep training.

The last year or may of been something that has caught most of us off guard but I refuse to let it be something that holds me back. Earlier on this evening (in fact about 45 minutes ago when I was working through the last of my university studies for the evening, something I’m behind on but know I can recover) I realised that although at the moment every element of my life is challenging, I only ever thrive in discomfort. In fact it’s where I grow.

I have a lot of creature comforts, like my super dope gaming PC, more channels on my Virgin subscription than sense, an endless bookshelf of politics, business reads and horror stories and lots of other nice stuff to keep me occupied. The problem is the comfort they create. Earlier on I mentally jotted down what I need to get on track this month.

Running a small IT company with a handful of customers is a lot of responsibility and is stressful at points but I enjoy the journey. Of late, I’ve not really been that great a director. My work life keeps running into my volunteer work life which I love with a passion. On top of that my work life also consists of me working as an IT contractor to keep the lights on.

The business and contracting has taken a massive hit due to COVID but the lights are still on and I’m determined to recover things this year. Although the prospect of getting these 3 elements of my working life flowing in complete harmony with each other is going to be challenging it is absolutely essential it happens. Is it frightening or daunting? Absolutely. But so is fighting. I know fear. Just writing down what I need to do is the first step to making it happen.

On top of this monumental hill of tasks and goals is the importance of passing my current university module. I’m on level 3 OU courses and in my final year or so of study, so if I think things are hard now I need to remind myself it’s going to get tougher. I should welcome tougher. I should pat it on the back and ask how it’s doing and buy it a drink when the pubs reopen again. Hell, maybe we should do lunch. After all. I owe it a thank you for all the growth. In fact I outright regret not taking it seriously of late.

To finalise the transition from hill to mountain I need to remember to keep on track with training work just as hard out the gym as I do in it, and really focus on improving. It’s probably the most natural of my biases other than writing as it never seems to go away, and it’s where I draw my energy from to channel into other elements of my life that need serious attention. On top of that, I’ve got PR skills to hone for the truly awesome community project and monitoring group Bristol Copwatch

This isn’t my only role in the team but it’s one I’ve taken a shine to and I’m quite good at and enjoy doing. Balancing interviews and upcoming TV appearances with everything else in between isn’t always easy but hey it’s for a good cause. My heart is in the support work we do and although it’s an emotional journey at points it is by far one of the most rewarding ways I could possibly spend my time other than training. Helping others may be something I’m biased towards too.

As the weeks roll by and we head closer and closer towards the end of lockdown there’s going to be a big requirement for a lot of resilience and a lot of perseverance. I’m pleased I train in a martial art that makes you mentally and physically stronger on the inside and the out. There’s a lot of people out there right now who aren’t doing so good so I’m thankful for always having been a survivor and a fighter. However daunting my mountain looks today it’ll be liberating when I reach the top. The air might only ever get thinner on the climb, but I’ll always be able to breathe. Have a great week, train hard because it’s how we fight easy. I’ll see you on that road.

Improving

Hi. Good to catch up once again. You know something? before I sat down to get this week’s post together I felt procrastinations claws attempt to sink themselves right into the back of my neck. Shrugging off the wanton assault on my life force I’ve managed to actually do what I said I was going to do and catch up with you during our designated rest period together. Phew! And you know what? what with all these do’s and don’ts about mingling at present it’s a breath of fresh air. Things in a lot of respects are improving.

I’ve cancelled and rearranged my Christmas flight out to see my parents at least six times in the past eight weeks but I’m pleased to say it seems that the last rearrangement has struck gold, as from the eighth of March we start heading our way back towards normality. Of course, things change rapidly in the coronavirus landscape however I’m pleased that we appear to be on the way out of what could be best described as Tory bedlam. At least, it seems that way for now.

It’s going to be good to see the family and a change of scenery never goes amiss. See? I’m excited already. Although I still struggle with plate spinning I’m getting better at it and in general I’m a busy guy. I’ve got more press interviews and TV appearances coming up this year when it comes to all things Copwatch. We’re a good team and we’re growing. It makes me warm and fuzzy inside. Work appears to be on the slow road to recovery and when it comes to training things are absolutely improving too.

ENYBK Brooklyn

This week I’ve noticed the time I’ve put into my training despite things being different from the norm at present (let’s all breathe a sigh of relief when classes are on again) has absolutely been worth it. I’ve even thrown in a couple of runs and although that’s something I need to step up from next week onwards. As well as technique running is absolutely improving too. Which is nice. But then I do a lot of sprints. And I also shadow box by the riverside from time to time. Slowly but surely I’m carving out my own little training space that gives me room to breath

Yesterday I felt a little cooped up in my home (although I love it here) and it’s easy to get into a “we can’t do anything” head state. It’s funny because we were talking about this in a men’s group I go to. There’s a lot you can still do despite lockdown if you really look. I’m luckily enough to have nature right on my doorstep. I’m not too far from Easton which I love and is where some of my friends live.

If you know Bristol at all, ( I’m nearly at year ten in my stay in one of the best cities on the face of the planet) you’ll know that Easton has a lot of character, is a melting pot of colour and has one of the best senses of community I’ve seen in a long time. But most places in the city do. It’s the people’s republic of Bristol after all.

And getting back to training one of the best gyms I’ve trained out during my journey through martial arts is based here. I’m sure I’ll be training with them for many years to come. Like everyone else in this game I’m looking forward to getting back to training as usual because as the world burns we just keep doing Muay Thai. I’m hoping we start fighting again this year too. As I said last week, there’s absolutely some fuel left in the tank.

Although I’m sure the rest of 2021 is going to be a lot tougher a ride than we’d all initially anticipated I have a gut feeling that things will just get better with time. On that reasonably positive note, I think it’s fair to say that just like Jessica Fletcher that’s all she wrote. Have a good week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

By any means necessary

Hey. Good to catch up with you all after another extended absence, rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated but here we are again you and me. And as always it’s good to be back. So how’s things? as pissed as I am that gyms aren’t likely to be opening again until around April? or are you doing what I’m also doing and training as much as you can by any means necessary? Because that’s me right there. ‘Going all out to put my one and all in again’ as usual. Besides, it’s good fun.

As I mentioned last time we caught up I’m now officially 15 years old when it comes to training in Muay Thai and that’s liberating because when I first started my journey I didn’t think I’d even be training for 15 minutes. It’s funny how things work out, but as with everything else I’ve set my heart, mind and intention to it’s been absolutely worth it.

I caught Emma Thomas ‘Under the ropes’ mention on her Facebook page that yesterday was Muay Thai day and so as always it makes me feel a bit bigger inside to say that after 15 years of training, fighting, actual blood, loads of sweat and some pretty real tears… Muay Thai, I’ve got nothing but love for ya.

I’m hoping that when the worst of this pandemic is over and lockdown has finally begun to wind up, and our lives start to head back towards some degree of normality that I can head back into training with just as much heart and vigour as I always have, because you know what? I’m getting better. And you what else? there’s still fuel left in the tank. That’s right. Mr never give up just won’t roll over and die quietly.

No, he’s insistent on never giving up and proving everyone (mainly himself) wrong by winning his next four fights in a row. Whenever they may be. Determined mixed with stupid is a dangerous combination if not managed properly so I’m pleased I’ve got a good team and a great coach behind me. Just like always and of course the way it should be.

If there’s one thing we all need right now it’s goals to focus on in everything we do. So I’m keeping my eyes firmly on the prize, even if the governments finish line keeps changing with this lockdown situation I’m going to keep the training up and stay focused because there is still no landrover. Have a great week, train hard and let’s catch up soon. I’ll see you on that road.

Fifteen.

Happy Wednesday all. It’s good as always to catch up. Lockdown and national health crisis aside I hope all is well with you and yours and that in your own way you’ve managed to keep your training consistent. You know, it’s not easy staying motivated when gyms are closed but if you take your training seriously and want to keep your tools sharp it’s important to do so.

During this lockdown I’ve spent slightly more time running than during the first, but it’s also a little tougher to stay motivated and home train. To combat this, on occasion I’ve broken up runs with bursts of shadow boxing by the riverside ( I’ve got a nice little route that takes me down by a river and out to woods near my pad.) I’ve also started sprinting a lot more, whilst sometimes quite vocally keeping myself motivated. But that’s just me. I get bored when I can’t box so I look for new ways to keep things interesting outside the gym. It’s either that or stagnate.

At home, I’m starting to get more into my shadow again as well as press ups, sit ups and weights. Despite telling myself I’m going to train on x day or x times a week I find myself more in a place where I train as and when I want to. Being honest, I currently miss the gym. Lockdown here is probably the strictest yet so its debatable how soon we’ll get back to doing the things we love the most. This February, I will of been training in Muay Thai for 15 years. It’s been a long road so far that’s not been without its ups and downs and my journey into fighting started way back in 2010.

My ‘ram muay ‘ at Bristol Thai’s Broadplains show way back in the mists of 2010 fighting for Sakaprasert gym Bournemouth. I lost on points but many people told me I won.

Like with all journeys it’s been a good one and being honest, I don’t think it’s over just yet. At 42 years old I’m still in good shape, still young and just as determined as I always was. Most importantly I’m better than I used to be and have a reasonably amount of experience in the ring. There is one thing I do know and that it’s not going to get any easier and than in fighting years 42 classes me as an old fighter.

I hate thinking like that. It seems self defeating. negative and pessimistic but it’s an inescapable truth. It doesn’t mean I’m any less capable than a guy in his 20’s it just means I need to fight smarter. I need to get used to conserving my energy and really find my shots. I’m getting a little better at doing that but it’s also taking me a long time to get used to standing my ground again under pressure.

Most of the guys in my gym are a lot heavier than me (although I’m usually walking around at around 65kg ) and this means I will usually have a tough time sparring the more experienced fighters if they turn it up a little but that’s the way it should be I guess. The main disadvantage I have is not being able to spar with people who have had more fights than me.

Although there’s better fighters than me that train out of our camp we’re pretty much fresh faced when it comes to competition. I’m sitting on 19 fights with only a few wins a couple of draws and 2 titles under my belt. (i fought the same guy under Muay Thai and then K1 rules and beat him twice.)

Although I’ve lost more fights than I’ve won I feel I’ve leant a reasonable amount along the way. Some days it feels like I’ve learnt nothing at all but sometimes it feels like I’m improving in leaps and bounds. There’s more to Muay Thai ironically than fighting so even when this part of my journey reaches it’s conclusion (some think it has I’m confident there’s still fuel in the tank) I know I’ll be training for many years to come. In fact, I know I’ll be training when I’m 60.

If Muay Thai has taught me one thing over the years it’s that when I put my mind to it, I can achieve anything and when I want something enough I bring it to me. It’s also helped me fundamentally reshape and restructure my life by giving me enough focus and discipline to break a cycle I once found myself in.

As a young man I was often stop searched by the police, and being mixed race found myself racially profiled from the age of 16 years old, even before I did anything wrong. Without going into a lengthy tirade it’s fair to say I’ve been through the justice system and it didn’t fix me.

You see, there is a fundamental truth about stop and search policing and that’s that it’s racist to it’s core. The law is not meant to punish you for an indefinite period of time and police are not meant to consistently harass you on this basis. In the end I fixed me with a little help from Muay Thai.

I started training at the age of 27 and shortly after that my last stop search occurred in my home town of Portsmouth. I’m writing a book about my life experiences and how martial arts helped me turn my life around. As Geoff Thompson would say I’ve been round a few corners and as he would also say write about what makes you uncomfortable. Go to the dark places. It’s where healing starts.

When it come to the rest of the year and training I’m not sure what it holds simply because no one else is. It’s fair to say we’ve started off 2021 in exactly the same place as we started 2020 but I have faith that things will begin to improve over the next couple of months. Doing what we do isn’t an easy path at points but just like in the ring I’ve learnt to adapt to what is currently being thrown at me.

I think I’m going to try to work out a more structured training approach until the gyms reopen and do my best to keep busy with shadow and fitness. Last Sunday I spent the best part of the day training and also finished by teaching in an online class. It was a good day. Here’s to many more like them. I may miss the heavy bag but for the first time in a while, I’m starting to miss the ring too. But here’s me nearly fifteen years old. Isn’t that something? They used to say I’d never make it to twenty five. Have a good week train hard, and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

While you’re here

Hi. I thought I’d take the time to catch up as promised so while you’re here, now is as a good time as any to run over the pros and cons of 2020. It’s an emotional topic for many in and out the gym as we saw our entire world turn up side down due to the global pandemic that is COVID-19. I’m not a champion of “muzzle” speak nor am I someone who takes a stand against vaccines, but I agree with the consensus that the government here has consistently failed working class communities for many years. (I’ve known this since around the age of 15 though. Ssh! tell no one!)

For me here in Bristol, life continued on as best as normal could be during the first lockdown period but of course, the most frustrating thing for many of us was not be able to train at all. If like me your someone who trains most days of the week (it’s not a way of life it’s just my hobby, I’ve been in it for nearly 15 years now and I love every minute of it) you no doubt feel my pain. Especially if your still in a tier 4 area! (I’m not going to call them zones. I nearly did back there. Let’s move on.)

Despite set backs like, not having a gym to train out of many of us pressed onwards keeping each other motivated with home training suggestions, running tips , videos from some of the best and ok, maybe now and then we decided to play catch up to do a little bit of what we love the most, literally in our own back yard!

I was pretty impressed with Sylvie’s COVID19 Muay Thai Vlog and most importantly I was motivated, in fact her Diselnoi knees became my “Sylvie knees” and I also spent some time drilling elbows from one side of the living room to another!. I also used this time to get into a bit of strength conditioning on free weights and kettle bells, plus good old fashioned sit ups and press ups. Other than home training I spent a lot of time running. It was therapeutic despite the lockdown. I’ve always enjoyed running and intend to keep things moving in the right direction.

As we headed into the summer months, we saw a global uprising against the police triggered by the brutal and horrific murder of George Floyd. We’ve been here before and It’s always the most tragic events that spark a collective flame in a community. Let’s be honest, the world knew that once again the police were the catalyst, a flash point if you will for an uprising against their brutality and seemingly never ending racism.

The welcome resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement globally was quite frankly awe inspiring as was the US resistance across the country to yet more horrific acts of violence by the state against protestors and the global call to demand an end to structural and institutional racism. (Trust me, as a mixed race black guy who’s been on this spinning globe for 42 years I can tell you for nothing, these problems exist and are absolutely worth fighting to dismantle.)

In Bristol, a 10,000 strong BLM rally and march became global news as the statue of infamous slave trader Edward Colston was torn down by the people and ended up going for a swim in the river close by! Speaking in front of 10,000 people was an amazing and powerful experience especially when I uttered the immortal words “We remember Mark Duggan!” We will never forget him, or anyone the police have murdered in the UK.

Speaking on the day Colston came down has led into several more appearances at All Black Lives Matter in Bristol, and as always I’ve focused on what’s wrong with British policing as well as my own personal journey of police harassment and trauma gained on the way. This is one of the reasons that I’m now a member of a local cop watch and police monitoring group. Thanks to ABL for hearing my voice last year. I’m glad it was well received. It’s been inspiring to see such strong demonstrations and marches around the country over the course of 2020 despite the inherently racist policing of BLM that reared it’s ugly head but being honest was of no surprise to any of us. Keep fighting for change and keep pushing. This year it really matters.

Of course, whilst all this was happening and at points the world seemed like it truly was burning, the gyms reopened. And of course, I was still training as well as writing this little blog of mine. I think as Muay Thai students, fighters and martial artists as a whole there is very little we let get in the way of our focus. Despite it looking less and less likely that anyone was going to fight in the year I kept focusing on little goals to keep myself motivated.

Bag work, pads when we could, sparring when we could and just keeping our training consistent was really the order of the day. When something like COVID happens, you learn quite quickly how committed people are to staying in it. Home training can get side tracked but even if training is socially distanced shouldn’t we all still be there? Of course, this year I’d like to fight again, and this year as well I intend to head out to Europe to catch up with some of the awesome tournaments I missed in 2020. Let’s hope things improve for everyone.

As we headed into the end of 2020 things absolutely seemed to get worse before they were getting better with a new mutation of the coronavirus emerging but of the months leading towards the end of the year the one constant in my life has always been there for me, and that one constant is Muay Thai. It’s given me a gift to put my energy into good causes and projects as well my own life and my business. ( Self employment is tough at the best of times but hey we made it through!!)

When you learn to channel your energy into positive outlets good things happen. I guess over the course of 2020 that’s really what I did and I guess that ultimately that’s what I’ve always known. When it comes to all things martial it’s fair to say that although I’m far from perfect I’ve been getting better technically for a while and I’m still hungry. I intend to stay hungry and rise to all the challenges ahead, in and out the ring. Because as the Nomad says. life is similar to it. Happy new year, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Keep fighting.

Hi. it’s good to see you. I hope all things considered that you had a nice Christmas. If like myself you weren’t able to spend time with your family due to tiers and travel restrictions then be assured that I’m just as pissed off as you are. Thankfully, (at least for the time being) I’m able to head out to see my nearest and dearest in January of 2021. I guess having two Christmas celebrations next year isn’t necessarily a bad thing and in a small way makes up for the autocratic incompetency of the UK government.

Training wise things have been getting better and better for a while. I’ve managed to keep a good level of consistency up with time that’s always well spent at the gym and although it’s taken a while I’m starting to improve, of course there’s a lot of work to be done. I need to not chamber my left body kick because that’s strong and I need to keep my hands higher. Perseverance of course is key but so is noticing my mistakes and working on removing them.

it’s easy to get lazy on bags and I think that’s what created some of the problems I’m seeing emerge at present. There may be no wrong or right with technique (Well there is, but let’s not forget it’s an expression of who we are and how we develop our own unique style) but getting sloppy at this point is something I need to be mindful of. Its better for me to keep it tight and stay focused then get lazy because you know, bags don’t hit back.

Despite a brief Christmas shutdown the gym opens again tomorrow so I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into a pre 2021 piece of Muay Thai action. As always I’ll give it my everything and I hope that when we’re on the tail end of this thing in 2021 we get back to doing what we love the most without fear of infection or of any of challenges that emerge in and out of our camps. Train hard, fight easy, have an amazing new year and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

Good Wolf

Hi, it’s nice to catch up once again. Earlier on today I had a great opener for this week’s blog spring to mind. Unfortunately, the moment has passed and what that’s told me is that when I start to formulate the good stuff, I need to act on it straight away. There is always time to sit down and write despite my excuses. In fact, I need to make sure I’m doing a lot more writing.

Of course, excuses aside I have been generally busy, but it’s been a good kind of busy and a large part of that busy has been spent down the gym, in fact I’m even getting into my running again. Training may be a little different at present but hey I’m pleased I’m training. The more you put in, of course the more you get out.

I’ve put a lot of energy the past few weeks into my business and of course into my work as a police monitor. I’m a member of a grass roots police monitoring group and community project taking shape in Bristol and being honest, helping others is just as rewarding as training and fighting, like with all things martial it takes up a lot of my time but the best projects always do. We’re a small team but we’re growing in capacity and are getting a lot of coverage, support and interest!

Its nice to be able to focus my energy into different areas of my life and to keep training itself consistent and balanced. I also study with the Open University and being honest need to get my head into my studies next week onwards. As long as I’m focusing on the right areas of my life things generally seem to go my way. As Geoff Thompson says “everything that happens to me is good” and is always a learning experience.

As we head towards the end of 2020 its fair to say it’s been eventful and of course not without it’s challenges when it comes to training. 2020 for me has also been an exciting time and there’s nothing that I regret. In fact I’ve learnt a lot more about myself in the past 6 months than I have in the past 2 years of my life. Writing is still a favourite thing, training is still second nature and public speaking has become my new favourite thing. I feel confident that I’m going to step into 2021 in good spirits, undefeatable and focused and ready to fight again. As someone said to me at training this afternoon, it’s good to have goals to work towards.

Next week sees my just about last week of training before the Christmas break and I’m already looking forward to heading out to warmer climates for the festive season. Of course, this means I’m going to have put myself through actual martial hell before I wrap up for the year. On this basis alone, I think it’s best to make sure we catch up next Sunday so I can let you know how I get on. Despite it’s best efforts, procrastination will not defeat me. Have a great week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Home

Hi. It’s good to catch up with you all once again.. as always I’ve been pretty busy but want to try to find a little more time to write than I have of late. Writing as well as training can be therapeutic and it’s nice to let the creative juices flow. My dad is a writer as well as a former stage actor and a teacher so it absolutely runs in the family.

When you find your natural bias it’s important not to let it fall to the wayside. You might find it easy to pick up again but I guess if you want to get good at anything you just have to keep doing it. Speaking of dad it was his 90th birthday this weekend, having lived through and resisted apartheid, he started a new life here met mum and of course the rest is history. His life experiences and journey are something worth writing a book about. He’s my hero and on my best day I wish I could be more like him.

But that’s me, I often draw inspiration from those closest to me and when it comes to training its pretty much the same. I’ve never had an issue with looking at those who have made it to the top of their game or become legendary fighters such as Muhammad Ali as inspirational people but as this is my journey I want to be the best I can be. I don’t want to be like them.

The attitude, mindset and achievements of world class athletes is certainly something to aspire towards but there’s a big difference between aspirations and putting people on pedestals. Something I strongly disagree with, and not wanting to be like them doesn’t mean I can’t learn from them and much closer to home learn from people I train with every day.

Those people who find it hard and who struggle, and those people I see get consistently better even though it doesn’t come easy to them are the biggest inspiration for me. They are the ones who will be in it for life because right at the beginning they gave their all. That’s relatable.

Of course, martial arts isn’t all about inner journeys and battles against the odds it’s fun as well, and if you don’t find it fun then it’s worth considering doing something that is. Who knows, maybe your art will grow on you. You just have to stick with it and give it time. If you do you are also my hero. Just do me a favour and remember to take it home with you. It’s yours to keep forever.

When it comes to taking Muay Thai home with me I’m still shadow boxing. running and keeping myself as sharp as I can before the gyms reopen once again. At the moment it looks like Lockdown 2 is finishing here at the beginning of December so being the eternal optimist that I am when it comes to all things martial, I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with the heavy bag between then and the Christmas break. Whilst the rest of the world burns and society collapses “I go back inside and I tighten my own game”. (Ok maybe that’s a bit melodramatic.)

2020 has been a tough year for all of us but it’s good to see so much positivity about keeping training up at home and staying focused. If you are wondering what you can do to bridge the gap between now and the gyms reopening it’s worth looking out for online or home training sessions some of which you’ll find, have actually been out there for a while. You can always find motivation when you need it the most and its always worth practicing what you know already because tools need to be kept sharp! I guess for now that’s about all she wrote so in the meantime train hard stay focused, stay motivated and just like the time before.. I’ll see you on that road.

Gentle as a lamb.

Hi. It’s nice to catch up as always, and as we approach the end of week 1 of Lockdown 2 (and what a good name for an action film that is) it seems that not much has changed. The city may be a little quieter (but not that much quieter) more people seem inclined to wear a mask walking down the street (although many still don’t) and the gyms may unfortunately be closed (again) but life as always continues as normal.

Personally, I’ve not let myself be drawn into the conspiracy nonsense theory around the pandemic because being honest, there’s been problems with the government for years there has been massive social inequalities in this country for years and it seems that a lot of people who need something to get paranoid about have jumped on a bandwagon laden with snake oil salesmen and the far right. It’s really not for me. I don’t think it ever will be.

At times like this, it’s important to remain grounded and level headed. There’s lots to be angry about at present and if your going to do that, hey that’s great just make sure your energy extends into real world activism beyond the safety of your keyboard and most importantly make sure your energy flows into the right places. There’s plenty of wrong out there to right.

When it comes to all things martial I’m glad that this week I managed to catch the last couple of sessions before the gym shut it’s doors once again. I hope it’s going to only be until the beginning of December but as with the rest of the year so far, it’s safe to say anything could happen so on that basis I’ve decided to make sure I keep on top of running, home training and all that good stuff you can practice without the need for a gym, training partners and a load of kit. Besides, my sofa cushions make a great makeshift heavy bag and my cross will still make orphans of your future children.

In fact, I’ve spent a lot of time working on that and my left body kick on the heavy bag of late. There’s a knockout punch sitting there but being honest, I think there always has been. My left leg has never let me down and I doubt it ever will, in fact over the past month or so it’s got consistently better and stronger. And faster. Which is really when it comes down to it what you want. In fact, I’ve broken the habit of stopping when I kick and I can now kick through the target without having to put too much thought into the process.

It can be really easy to overthink techniques just like it can be really easy to overthink situations in sparring or even in the ring. Sometimes, the best results emerge when I switch off. The samurai used to call this moment “Mushin” or “empty mind” I’ve read some call it flow state, but either way what it means is ignoring the mental distractions and focusing on the here and now. After all, there’s no time like the present. When you can switch the noise off the world is yours.

Mindset as well as technique is something that be practiced intentionally or maybe unintentionally in home training, running or even when doing something as simple as a making a coffee. Being an observer allows you to detach from a situation and let’s you respond accordingly. Additionally if you’ve experienced a fight slowing down when your opponent throws something at you, you’ll understand what presence is. You are 100% in the moment and don’t respond with emotion. In fact, you don’t let emotion get in the way at all. Some of the best fighters answer back with pure venom but never like it’s saturday night outside the chip shop.

I spend a lot of my time on the bags focusing on not just speed but power but that’s never an out pouring of aggression. It’s getting better because my technique is, and if you deliver something as directly as possible you will always get the best results. I think over the next few weeks I’m going to make sure I keep working hard in training as when the gyms open again I want it to be like I never left. I want to make sure that I’m still sharp still focused and still committed to what I do. But that’s me. Goal setting. And after all this time, still as gentle as a lamb and as fierce as a lion. Have a great week, and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.