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.