There’s more to it than this.

Last week I wasn’t at the gym as much as I would of liked to  have been but never the less I was training and that really is the most important thing. I’ve said that a lot recently but I guess in a way it kind of reinforces the fact for myself, so I feel better about being slack than I did five minutes ago. Onwards and upwards as they say.

I got a text this morning off my friend who has just recently taken up boxing and has been brave enough to start testing himself in interclubs. He seemed a little disheartened that his first one hadn’t gone as well as he’d hoped it would and that his nerves got the better of him.

I smiled because your nerves never go away. When I first started fighting  my nerves used to be terrible. Sparring with your friends is very different from fighting on a show, and even interclubs are very different from sparring with your friends. What made me smile even more is that he isn’t giving up and is giving it another go in a few weeks. Once bitten forever smitten as they say.

I used to love Thai interclubs. I don’t really do them any more (At my last count I had done well over 30) but I constantly put myself out of my comfort zone because I wanted to see what I could and couldn’t do under pressure. And being honest, it was good fun and pretty exciting. My old trainer in Bournemouth used to have a rule (and he probably still does) that you had to do at least seven interclubs before you were asked if you would like to fight for the gym. I think I ended up hitting the 15 mark before I stepped up for real.

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 Interclub no4. Don’t ask. (2009) 

What made me a little sad about my friends message was that he started off by saying he’d lost his first interclub. The one thing I’ve always been told about them is that it’s a stepping stone and a good way to gain experience before you step up for real.

Granted things can get a little feisty sometimes (me and many others from my old gym are likely to remember that little bout pictured above for a long long time.) but like with most things it usually comes together, and besides you get to experience what it’s like being in front of a crowd as well as fighting someone you don’t know and don’t train and spar with on a regular basis.

My first interclub left me feeling elated. All I did was kick the lad’s leg again and again and clinch now and again (old habits seem to die hard round these parts) but it left me wanting more. And more, and more… well you know the rest so far anyway. My second interclub, ha well that wasn’t too great. But that was how I met a gym I trained with for nearly four years… and I got to find out what having a cracked rib was like.

Just like with fighting at a competitive level there’s nothing you ever really “lose” as such and you only gain experience. And ideally some good (although sometimes not so good) memories. I’ve always been a very reflective person so have never really had a problem with assessing how well I’ve done and bench marked against where I am now. I’ve found that just by setting myself the goal of wanting to be the best I can be, I’ve achieved more than I ever expected I would. Self improvement is always a worthy cause.

When I’ve come off the back of a loss I’ve found that I’ve usually learnt a lot more than when I’ve won. At points it’s felt like I’ve come back even more determined to succeed than before. How we deal with nerves, stress, pressure or fear in all it’s myriad forms I guess is truly down to the individual but I think it’s really important to transform that natural fear into “go out and get em” fire.

And if it’s an interclub you need to remember to be respectful and keep it on a level. Mismatches and losses do happen (When I first moved here I was the on the receiving end of a horrendous mismatch that took a long time to get over so I know how it feels) but regardless of what happens on the day, it’s important to remember it’s how you come back that makes a difference and it’s an awesome feeling when you come back and win.

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Although winning  is what the goal of fighting or competing  should always be, I’ve learnt over time that really there is a lot more to it than just that. Regardless of the result If I’ve stepped up and been the best I feel I could be then I know there is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. And even if I haven’t been at my best (and that’s happened on a couple of occasions) I’ve learnt from it and I’ve come back stronger. I apply that learning thing to practically every single area of my life. In short, I’m always learning.

I might feel tougher inside and out than I have been before but I know that it’s a long road and I hope in a few years I’ll look back and  read this and smile, because I’ll still be training. I might even still be fighting. Who knows. Either way I do know one thing. It’s a great journey to be on and I’m still loving every minute of it. There’s more to it than this. Thanks as always for reading. ..I’ll see you on the road.

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