Staying brave

Although this week has been a little thinner on the ground training wise due to the ramp up to the holiday break I’ve still enjoyed the sessions I’ve got too. I seem to be spending a lot more time practising clinching techniques and sparring from the clinch than before, and as it’s rapidly becoming my favourite thing I’m pleased to have learnt a couple of new tricks over the past week or two.

The test lies of course in whether or not I’m going to be able to pull them off under pressure but I guess really that’s what the training is there for. There’s two I really like I’ve been shown from both gyms I train at that I can see working for me. Practise as they say makes perfect. At least it does when you believe in yourself and have enough faith to try something different rather than stick to what you know. After all if you always do what you’ve always done..

I’ve found myself a little nervous sparring recently which is unusual, but I’m putting this down to not training as much as I normally do which I’ll blame on mince pies and Christmas. When I got back from Thailand a few weeks ago now I was hit with a real feeling of despondency about boxing. It was just one of those troughs we all find ourselves in from time to time, but being honest it made me realize that of late I’ve spent too much time giving myself a hard time about everything still being very much a work in progress. I’ve been training for a little while now and I still remember a good friend of mine telling me way back when that ‘martial arts is a long game.’ It’s something that’s stuck because I know that it’s very true.

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So when I got back, I did a couple of sessions with my usual gym(s) then I took a week off. I took a little time to remind myself that although Muay Thai is a big part of my life, it’s not all I have. So I saw some old friends and had a night out. I I then realized how much I love training and fighting  and how much I’ve changed since I started Thai boxing. It’s interesting walking around your old home town and realizing the person that has come back is really not the same person who left, and being honest I really like the new me. In fact I’ve been reminded that without Thai in my life things really wouldn’t be the same.

I can remember being in Thailand and getting a taxi from Bangplee to Bangkok airport to fly to Phuket for the last couple of weeks of my holiday to train at Sitsongpeenong. In the taxi, the driver who didn’t speak much English asked me If I  had been training Muay Thai at Fairtex (he’d picked me up from the gym but I guess he was making conversation) I said I had and that it was my first time in Thailand. I asked him (as slowly as I could) if he trained himself. He smiled wryly and only said ‘many years’, As we reached the traffic lights through the madness that was Bangkok in morning rush hour, we stopped and he started showing me different elbow strikes.

Then he pointed at my left leg (for my rear teep) ‘You.’ he said pointing at my leg. ‘Kick here’ he pointed at my stomach. I laughed and nodded ‘yeah that hurts’ Then again ‘you’ pointing at me and showing me a slashing elbow strike. This time we both started laughing. ‘I Like I like!’ I said. We drove on in comfortable silence both of us smiling. As we got to a garage to fill up with petrol I can remember him getting out the car to fill the tank, and then suddenly showing me his fighting stance. His hands were high and he was rocking back and forth. Totally lost in the moment.

We talked a little more on the last leg of the journey and when we finally arrived (if you’ve ever travelled across Bangkok it takes seemingly forever)  I got out the taxi at the terminal and we both gave each a respectful bow. Grinning he looked at me and said ‘champion one day.’ He could see the side of me that at when I am at my lowest I very rarely see. He reminded me that these days there’s a fighter inside of me. And the heart is where he lives.He’s someone I’m going to make sure I start spending a lot of time with again in 2015.

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I’ve found that the best solution for the slumps we all get hit with training wise now and again is to simply stay brave and keep training. I’m also learning more and more that over analysis gets you no where fast and your inner critic only ever holds you back. It’s been good to reflect on the past couple of years and remind myself that really I’ve come along way from who I was when I arrived in Bristol. It’s inspiring for me to know that I’ll be training for many years to come and it’s inspiring to be training with some of you.

So tomorrow is the last session of 2014 and as always I’m looking forward to it. I feel I’ve missed out a little this week as I mentioned earlier but Christmas is always something to look forward too, and next year I intend to hit the ground running. Probably literally. So in the meantime I thought I’d leave you with a quote I found by Ken Venturi that struck a cord.

‘I don’t believe you have to be better than everybody else. I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.’

Have a good week and a fantastic Christmas and new year. Stay brave and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

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