The long game

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks training a little lighter than usual. Just a few sessions a week to keep things ticking over, and after the bank holiday I’ll start to put my foot back down on the gas again to get back up to my usual training momentum. Time that I have spent at the gym as always has been time well spent, and it’s been the familiar routine of sparring, pads and drills. Little improvements happen in sparring and sometimes it’s the little things that make me happy.

Catching a knee and sweeping someone, a little bit of lateral movement I wasn’t expecting myself to do.. it’s all indicators that improvements happen, but of course they take time and most importantly they take consistent practice. I guess that’s why I never really feel happy unless I’m committing myself to as much as training as I can in the course of a week. It’s too easy to get complacent sometimes, so from time to time (in fact practically all of the time) I take it home with me. The way I look at it is training is an investment in myself and I want to get the most from that investment.

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At the moment when it comes to myself and fighting I want to keep working on fighting on the inside. Most people I spar with will usually keep me at a distance. When I’m close I know I can hurt you. They know that as well, so working inside people’s range is always a good challenge. I walk forward a lot, but a problem of mine is that I don’t always keep the pressure on.

I think sometimes in sparring (being honest not all the time)  I worry too much about what’s going to happen next rather than what I want to happen. If that makes sense? So I’m going to see if I can improve on that. Beyond the technicalities of closing distance there’s other strengths I can draw on to help me. Fitness and determination go along way too, as well as constant pressure. My countering is improving too but I want to get it faster. My knees are still a good weapon when I’m up close and personal, so every minute I spend in the clinch makes me a happy boy, and when it comes to clinching I find I’m learning something new every time.

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One of my trainers mentioned this week that I need to change the ‘I do something you do something’ mentality I can let myself slip into when I get lazy. I’m going to make sure if I get hit I’m defending and coming back fast. Again improvements come with time but it’s getting there. I’ve been show some good combinations over the past couple of weeks and there’s one in particular that’s stuck and I want to see if I can add it into sparring.

I like it because it’s simple and it works. And when it comes to fighting keeping things simple is the order of the day. I find that some drills are very good for flow, but when it comes to fighting I think you need to economize. I’m in the process of choosing a few new combinations that work for me that I can practice all the time sparring so their registered and there when I need them.

I don’t think I had a blank moment in my last fight but I didn’t put things together as well as I should of (and being honest know that I can do)  so I want to amend it.Translating techniques from pad work to sparring to fighting in a ring isn’t always an easy thing to do, but it’s just  part of that long game that is training.

Every time I fight I improve and I understand a little more about myself than I did before. Win or lose. My cousin in Canada has competed a lot in the BJJ/MMA arena, and told me when I first started fighting, that fighting is 80 per cent mental and these days more than ever I’m inclined to agree.

He’s also said how frustrating it is watching fights on the metaphorical side lines and has encouraged me to keep competing. The underlying message to me is ‘make the most of your time. See how far you can get.’ A shoulder injury messed with his training. I hope he goes back to it. Being honest, right now I can’t see me wanting to take some ‘time out’ or step away from what I’m doing.That’s changed from a month or so ago when everything seemed and felt very bleak. I’m back out to Thailand in June so that’s additional motivation too. You can’t beat learnings, especially when it’s with some of the best.

If I’ve learnt one thing, two of the most important characteristics of being a fighter are heart and determination. I’m lucky enough to be blessed with both of them. Everything else comes with time. Have a good week and I’ll see you on the road.

“losing,winning..never take it personal.” – Cus D’Amato

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