Category Archives: Martial Arts

Anger

Hi, it’s nice to check in with you all once again, and thanks for the visits to my blog despite there being a fairly lengthy radio silence. I’ll do my best to write more frequently from here on in. After all, it’s good for the soul. I want to take the opportunity to focus on the subject of anger, next week I’ll aim to follow up with a piece on balance and presence.

Anger is a very powerful emotion that I’ve run into a lot of late due to moving through cycles of grief. When it arrives it manifests itself in different ways but one of the most common times is when I’ve been drinking and of course, when it happens my anger is righteous. Just recently I can see it even if I’m out on the town and I shut it down quickly.

Grief and alcohol seem to shake hands disturbingly well, and my anger is indiscriminate. Whoever has seemingly wronged me gets told very loudly how wrong they are because some days everything is wrong but it’s really no one’s fault. There’s a young man I’m currently in the process of reconnecting with via the help of my lovely friend I see every couple of weeks. Like me, she’s been through a lot and is an outstanding therapist. She can see me as they say. Not everyone can.

Over the past month or so despite training a reasonable amount every week and actually getting better for it (I forgot that you learn stuff doing this martial arts thing so I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see improvements I probably hadn’t noticed were happening. ) I’ve been having fun and partying. I have a very busy life and need to unwind from time to time so other than Muay Thai a good dance is also always welcome.

Of course, with that comes hangovers and of late wondering if I’ve upset anyone. There’s nothing worse than wondering if you’ve upset anyone. I think it was this realization that has made me decide to have a booze break for a little while from next week onwards. I can still go out and do whatever I want but alcohol isn’t the be-all and end-all of a good night out. In fact, I rolled in at around 6.45am this morning and still had a decent training session this afternoon.

I’m pleased to say the traumatized young man who misses his daddy immensely, who used to get stopped and searched for riding on the pavement, and who sometimes dwells on women who have hurt him but also needs to have women in his life, the kid who got bullied didn’t make an appearance. Well, he tried to but I could see him so asked what was wrong and promised we could talk about it later. He needs a voice because I’ve always just bottled it up.

You see, I created barriers to protect me that I’ve learned to take down and that I’m still learning that it’s ok to keep down. I may seem stoic but maybe sometimes I’m just a little bit shy. I know my younger John was. Being reflective it’s been a very intense, emotional, and interesting discovery and journey over the past few months, I realized today how young I look. I think I have Muay Thai to thank for that, but hey I am young still. I’m not middle-aged till I’m 45. You can Google that one.

Training has helped me navigate a lot of what at points has felt like being trapped in a glass case of emotion and being completely honest here, August was possibly the lowest I have ever been in my life, but I still just kept pressing forward. Carry on as normal, ok today I can’t do anything. Today I don’t want to get out of bed. I miss my dad I miss my friend Ahmed. My mum went through the same. Grief comes in waves, but training gives me my focus and helps me go back to my centre.

I’m a naturally strong person just like my dad. He fought back against white supremacy, racist cops and you know what? he won and built an amazing life here with mum. He will always be my hero, on my best day I wish I could be more like him, in fact, it’s his strong voice I remember “keep your cool” which is what he would say to me about anger especially when I went through a cycle and effectively hit the self destruct button. And you know what dad? These days I do. And these days I remember how tall I walk. I see it and detach from it. Respond never react. That’s something fighting teaches you too, and it can serve you well outside of the ring.

I’m pleased I have a good circle of friends in Bristol and some of my closest friends although we live in different places in the country these days are always there for me like I am for them. Connecting with myself and taking every day as it comes can be overwhelming at points but I’m getting stronger and stronger. There are days when I don’t want to do anything at all and on those days I listen to my heart. Community work and volunteering give me a lot of focus but I’m pushing that more into my working life too. I’m in the driving seat again and it’s good to be back. It feels like it’s been a long time since we spoke. I shouldn’t have left you. Have a good week and train hard, and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Resilience

Hi. It’s good to catch up with you again. I’m writing after a good sparring session at the gym and then a brief stop at my local on the way home. After training it’s always a soft drink and never booze. The pub is surprisingly busy for a Wednesday night but the crowd in there was nice and closer to how I remember it way back when.

I’ve only lived in Bristol for just over 10 years now but I guess that’s a long time to live anywhere. Other than Portsmouth it’s my base, it’s safe and it’s my home from home. I can see myself staying here for many years to come.

The past few weeks have been very tough emotionally due to a dear friend of mine passing suddenly and of course, navigating the bereavement of losing my dad last December. Ahmed left us earlier this month and my heart broke into a thousand pieces. My mum has just come out of an intense period of grief and I have been supporting her and so went to Spain to spend some quality time with her. The weather was fantastic.

Speaking to my friend on a Wednesday on the phone only to receive the tragic news the following day that he had suddenly died was quite the opposite. The grief I’ve learned arrives and leaves in waves of sorrow. I’d thought I’d overcome the worst of losing my father forgetting my father died less than a year ago. Ahmed said such beautiful things to me about dad on the day he left us, in fact, Ahmed was the first of my friends to call to see how I was doing.

We connected due to our heritage, he was black and from Sierra Leone, and his wife Martina is white, his children like me are mixed-race black. Dad and he would have hit it off straight away. Maybe they’ve met wherever they are. Ahmed reminded me that not only do I look like my father I am him in everything I do. In fact, it’s fair to say when it comes to helping others and my work in the community everything I do celebrates his life.

The wave of grief and depression that arrived just after I left Spain, to be honest, caught me off guard. I remember finishing a run out in the Sun, it was over 30 degrees and absolutely fantastic weather when I boldly made the statement “I’ll carry it for mum. I’ve got big enough shoulders.” to myself.

I’ve learned to my intense sadness my shoulders are only those of a man who rarely puts down his own and other people’s trauma. I’ve had days of late when I’ve not been able to do a thing other than sit and cry at random intervals. I’ve had days where I’ve wondered if I’ll ever feel like myself again and ranted on my Facebook expecting strangers to understand because someone anyone must be to blame for my suffering and my dad and friend not being here.

My mum is now vastly improved can see it and I can see the concern in her eyes. Training and volunteering are helping me as well as parties and dancing. July was fun August has been a challenge but just the same. Amongst the depression, there’s an acknowledgment that the summer has been a good one. Life’s like that and this weekend is Notting Hill carnival so there’s nothing like finishing things off on a good note.

I’d like to say training has helped me navigate the emotional minefield I’ve become but being honest the young guy no one understands has been in the driving seat a few times and he finds a problem very quickly. You’ll be pleased to know I do have a therapist as well as a lot of emotional intelligence to steer me right even when the waters have been the murkiest.

However, as the saying goes it’s always darkest before dawn and everything changes. Even me. Underneath all of this has been a brave light that’s getting stronger and stronger all the time. A new me is coming and that’s something to celebrate. Some lights never go out and Mr never gives up still will never ever give up. In fact, you’ll have to hit harder than that grief because you won’t stop me. Right now I may be the lowest I’ve ever been in my life but still. I rise and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

Here comes the sun

Hi. It’s good to catch up once again. I hope you’re enjoying the weather and that you’re having a great summer. Mine has been good so far, and it’s been nice remembering how to put things down and enjoy myself again.

I’ve just come back from a well-deserved break in Spain to see my mum. The weather was Thailand-level hot with temperatures soaring into the early forties some days so as usual I focused on my road work and enjoyed swimming every day during my stay.

Tragically a friend of mine and valued member of Bristol Copwatch’s core team passed away this week. Ahmed Fofanah was a strong black man, dedicated to holding the police to account, He was also an amazing dad and loving husband and my thoughts are with his equally amazing wife Martina and children during this difficult time.

Navigating the loss of a friend and the loss of my own father whilst supporting my mum may seem like quite a crux to bear but as always I’m taking it in my stride. I’ve become stronger over time and know when I need to put down what I can’t carry and give myself time to breathe.

My own legal battle against Avon and Somerset Police is ongoing and I’m currently in the process of building a strong claim to justify them paying me the compensation I am owed for a serious DPA breach. I shouldn’t have to justify it but the police are notoriously racist as well as corrupt here, and the treatment of POC in comparison with our white counterparts is quite frankly not only disgusting but outright scandalous. Ahmed could see them and I can too. In relation to what the brother went through you can learn more here. In both instances, the police must be held to account for what they have done.

It’s fair to say I’m carrying a lot right now but as I’ve already mentioned I know how to put it down. I know what I want and I know what I need and really that’s the most important thing. After what seems like a long period of hiatus work is also springing back to life, and I had a very positive conversation whilst away about a new PM contract that will run ideally alongside my business with no clash between the two.

Although life can be tough life is also getting better and better. I was training 6 times a week before I headed out to Spain and I intend to continue in that vein from next week onwards. Training is of course truly awesome but there’s also a lot more to me than that. It’s a part of my life however that will always be there and is a good stress buster and area of focus to put my energy into. Muay Thai gives a lot back to me and always will do.

I feel at the moment that I’m slightly older and wiser than a couple of months ago but I look and feel very young inside. This is because believe it or not I’m happy being me and I keep myself in good shape. A recent guestimate was an early 30-something and as your early forties might as well be your thirties at least by my logic anyway, I guess it’s all gravy.

Speaking of keeping in shape and training I’ve got more of that lined up for this afternoon. There’s a self-defense class that’s on just after open mat so I’m helping out with that too, other than that I’m looking forward to some much-needed John time this evening. I miss my friend just like I miss my dad but everything I do in my life and volunteer work honours both of them. Here’s to a great August. Have fun, train hard and enjoy the sun. I’ll see you on that road.

Sit with warriors.

Hi. It’s good as always to check-in. This week unfortunately is a gym-free one due to me not only coming down with a pretty terrible cold on Monday but also testing positive for covid. Despite 3 vaccinations it still managed to sneak its way in but I guess I was never immune anyway. Thankfully, I’m on the mend and even my cough has decided to make its departure.

Illness aside including road traffic accidents all is well in my world. I’m going to be training again from next Tuesday onwards and I’m sure next week should see me getting back into sparring too. There are some big shows coming up over the summer and although it’s very easy to get weighed down with setbacks I think if I put in some work at some point I might get a shot at fighting again. Even if I don’t that’s ok too. I’m off to Notting Hill carnival next month with good friends so that’s also something to look forward to.

This Sunday and Monday I’ve got a nice run out to the woods near me already planned and I need to make sure I start working on my stamina more as of late I’ve been pretty lazy with running. I train a reasonable amount although I need to train more and I’ve been procrastinating a lot about running. it’s all a part of what I do as a martial artist and a fighter so I need to make sure I’m making the effort. I’ve also cut down on alcohol. There’s a lot of chest-beating locally and I can’t help but smile when I see local “lads” playing hairy eyeball, I know full well a 100-yard sprint would no doubt write them off for the best part of a week.

However, to me, it’s just water off a duck’s back. I’ve got too many positives in my life to allow room for idiots. As one of my trainers said to me I need to remember to check in with myself more. It’s not me it’s them but I’m a lot more emotionally intelligent and wiser these days than I used to be. Training is something that has always helped give me focus and balance in my life so I’m looking forward to getting back to it from next week onwards.

When it comes to training itself there’s a lot I need to work on but hey it’s improving. Bag work can have a limited shelf life so testing what I know is something I’m looking forward to as well as building on my current skills. The nice thing about sparring is that it’s like riding a bike, it never goes away and the same applies to fighting. It’s very familiar territory, even if there’s rust there I know it and it knows me. We’re old friends.

When it comes to bag work I work on my basics but also work on counters and simple but effective combinations. I seem to spend a lot of time focusing on my power but it’s nice to know when I need it my speed is there too when it comes to hands and low kicks at least. I’ve spent some time of late working on turning my cross into a knockout punch by taking a step forward. Sometimes I follow up with a straight knee off my lead or a low kick.

My left body kick is strong but needs to be a lot faster, and I’ve started working on moving around the bag to focus on getting off the centre line and not being such a static target. I hit and kick hard and from what I’ve been told my knee game is strong. I need to spend more time drilling them from next week onwards.

As you can probably tell, I’m currently missing the gym. Maybe I just need to rest up and let my body heal from the injuries it’s sustained of late. It’s very easy to push too hard when really your body is telling you otherwise and slowing down for a brief pause never hurt anyone, what’s a week these days anyway? Tuesday soon come. I guess for now that’s all she wrote. Have a great week, train hard, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

Zooming forward relentlessly.

Hi. It’s great to catch up with everyone once again. It’s been a long time and I shouldn’t have left you. So how are things with you? things are good with me and always I’m zooming forward relentlessly into all my challenges, never really pausing, and doing my best to be a force for good.

I realised yesterday that I need to spend a bit more time giving myself John time and allowing myself time to not only continue to grow but to heal from the loss of my dad. I’ve coped as well as I have by keeping busy and with personal fights for justice as well as supporting others on the sharp end of abuse of power taking up quite a lot of my free time at present spending some quality time at the gym is more welcome than ever.

To be honest, I need to be training more and I’m looking forward to picking things up again properly from Monday onwards. I’ve also decided to have a well-deserved alcohol break. It’s really easy to spend a lot of time at the pub during the summer but I think I’ve forgotten I can do that without drinking alcohol, and besides, there’s more to summer than pubs and nightclubs.

Next month I’m expecting Avon and Somerset Police to do what they should have done last month which is admit liability to a DPA 2018 breach and pay me well-deserved compensation money. They are probably the most corrupt and morally bankrupt police force I know of other than the Met but they aren’t invincible. As I keep reminding myself justice will come and as always I remain utterly unshakeable. When fighting for truth and justice the rule of thumb is never ever give up. The same rule applies to helping others do the same.

I’m not sure at present if I have enough capacity to consider competing again this summer but as my trainer Dave said to me the other week, never say never. He also said I need to improve a lot of things including flexibility (my nickname is bendy McGee so I really don’t know what his problem is) and generally just improve what I do because he won’t put me in the firing line again unless he feels that I’m ready for it and that I’m likely to win.

A couple of years ago I would have taken this sort of conversation very personally but these days I know it’s better to be realistic and set my goals and work towards them than jump into it again all guns blazing having really learned nothing from the time before and besides if he wasn’t a good trainer he wouldn’t have had that sort of conversation with me which being honest wasn’t anywhere near as melodramatic and serious as it seems writing about it.

I’d like to compete again and at least win a couple more fights but also I know that I’ll be training for many years yet and fighting is just a small part of the journey I’m on. For some people, it’s where it begins and ends but if you are a hard-nosed Muay Thai stalwart who at best is like me just above average in ability tough as old boots, and determined to zoom forward relentlessly regardless of the opinion of bullfight critics and most importantly you love what you do and are just utterly determined to get really good at it, you’ll know that what we’re doing out here is learning a very deep and rich martial art system. It’s a lifelong journey. If you have a good background in Thai you’ll go a long way.

I’ve been training out of my current gym for over 5 years now and it’s good to be training at a camp that pushes you to be your best and sets its standards high. Most importantly it’s great to be training with people who really do care about what’s going on in your world and are very supportive when you need them to be. That means a lot to me so as always thanks so much for checking in from time to time.

Despite it being Thursday I already have that Friday afternoon end-of-the-week thing going on but as work, is pleasingly incredibly busy I guess for now that’s all she wrote. Seriously, though I need to get back to it. There’s never enough time in the day, but I promise to remember to make more time for myself. Tonight I’m in Weston Super-mare with the formidable Bristol Copwatch presenting a workshop and talk on the cops and stop and search for the Racial Equality Network at a nice space called The Other Place. If you’ve never caught me getting stuck into the man you truly are missing out so try and get yourself along!

As we were talking about bullfight critics a moment ago I thought I’d leave you with this incredible little poem that inspired me way back when, when I lost all my fights bar a few.

“Bullfight critics ranked in rows Crowd the enormous Plaza full, But he’s the only one who knows— And he’s the man who fights the bull.” Domingo Ortega

I guess it’s for everyone who zooms relentlessly into everything life throws at them. Train hard and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.





Courage, dear heart.

Hi. It’s nice to catch up again so soon after the last time we spoke. I hope all is well in your world, things are certainly improving in mine. Despite police attempts to wear me down in the vain hope, I drop my data protection breach claim against Avon and Somerset Police, I’m pleased to say all is well.

The lengths “rogue” police stoop to attempt to protect themselves is not only concerning it’s outright laughable. I guess it is what happens if you are not white and fight for your rights, in fact, it came as little to no surprise for me last week to discover the revelations that the police had waged vendettas against black people in the past. In fact, it’s safe to say that they still do and these are the people that are meant to protect us? You tell me.

However, the biggest revelation for me is yet to come when I receive my NCTPOC SAR on 27/5/22. Finding out what the problem is can be a daunting task but toughing it out and pressing forward is the best recourse, especially when legal remedies are available.

I’m comparing my current journey through community activism and police monitoring more frequently than not to my journey as a martial artist and Thai boxer. Both take a lot of strengthening, resilience, and courage to succeed at and ultimately win through. Mr never gives up still I am pleased to say never gives up in or out of the ring, especially when it comes to the subject of injustice.

The determination and resilience I’ve built as a fighter and martial artist over the years have only ever really built on what has been inside of me and I guess what I inherited from my amazing mother and father. Like with martial arts this current journey is a long one and I am confident this time around I’m going to win.

The growing confidence I have in myself is something I’ve developed not just through Muay Thai but through public speaking which is a new journey that I’m really really enjoying. It runs in the family as one of my dad’s sisters my auntie Blossom often spoke loudly and publically about the apartheid system my family and of course other South Africans vehemently resisted.

I can only imagine what living through those years was like. I’m immensely proud of my father and always will be. He’s where I get the majority of my bravery from and when it comes to being brave and staying in it I’m pleased to say I may if I work hard, improve and listen have another opportunity at fighting again this summer which is pretty exciting if it takes shape because I want to win. It was very casually mentioned to me last month and I put in the work and I’m improving so can only hope for the best. I’d like to see what I can do again.

Speaking of putting in the work and staying brave I better cut this one short as I’ve got a 4000-word assignment to finish for my Open University degree tomorrow. This is the year I get my bachelor’s degree. I’m on my last module. It’s looking like I’m going to pass which is, of course, amazing, however like Geoff Thompson says there is no landrover. When it’s done and I am at the graduation ceremony I’ll know I’ve won and in terms of the rest, have courage dear heart. It’ll work out just fine. Have a good week, train hard, and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Who is he?

Who is this young man?

Who we’ve broken before

So different

So angry

Who is this young man?

Scars on his knuckles

Carrying pain in his hand

Who is he?

Who is this young man?

So different from those times he ran

From any problem

He couldn’t defeat?

He was often tired and beat

Who is this young man

Lifting others up in the cup of his hands

Who says if you want justice then let’s take a stand!

Who is this man?

Who always take a stand

Thinks fighting is grand

Who is this young man

Who is he?

Stand up

Morning all. It’s good as always to catch up once again, training this week has as always been good and although at points it’s tough I feel that I’m learning and like most things in life it’s not always an easy process. At the moment I keep incredibly busy with volunteering as well as focusing on my working life and as such I’m doing a lot of public speaking, workshops, and events for Bristol Copwatch.

I wrote a while back about taking legal action against Avon and Somerset Police for a 2018 DPA breach. I’m pleased to say the case and claim have taken shape and the police have until the 4th of June to admit liability. I am of course represented by the formidable Bindmans LLP actions against the police team.

The police of course have not taken things at all well. But when it comes to the general public taking a stand over misconduct and malpractice they very rarely do. I’m still pretty much convinced what has happened has been solely vindictive in its nature just like the original wrongful and malicious prosecution of 2018.

In terms of that, I’m pleased to say that the Criminal Cases Review Commission is assessing the case and conviction to see if it can be taken back to the court of appeal. I’ll know more in the next couple of months. It was also good news to see the Information Commissioners Office uphold my complaint against Avon and Somerset Police.

They said “We have considered the issues you have raised with us. Based on this information, it is our view that ASP has not complied with their data protection obligations.” The ICO will by now have written to the police about the breach and their information rights practices.

We have told them they should now take steps to ensure that:

  • rectification requests are appropriately responded to within 1 calendar month; and 
  • subject access requests are responded to within 1 calendar month;

We have also asked that ASP review your request to have your PNC record amended to reflect the findings of the court, and to provide you with a response to this.

Of course, we know that my PNC information in its current state is inaccurate, unfair, and unlawful so it’s going to be very interesting to see what the police’s response is to both the letter of claim and ICO decision in a couple of months. I am of course still funding raising via CrowdJustice.

Police harassment

I’ve been on the sharp end of police harassment for some time due to my ongoing fight to clear my name, something Avon and Somerset Police have consistently denied but from my work, as a volunteer caseworker for Bristol Copwatch I see the same patterns of harassment emerging with other POC who take a stand against police wrongdoing.

Whenever people, in general, take a stand against the police or the state whether it be through community monitoring groups, public speaking, or just doing your bit by going on a march we will always get the police’s attention, but it seems that Avon and Somerset Police are particularly malicious and vindictive in their treatment of black and brown people more so when we decide to fight for our rights.

Yesterday Bristol Copwatch held a small event at the Malcolm X Community Centre in St Pauls with Co-POWeR a University research project that is investigating the impact of emergency power policing on black and brown communities during the lockdown. We also held a stop and search workshop.

Although the event was fairly quiet (we are still getting to know St Pauls and understand the long and volatile relationship the community has had with the police here so kind of expected it) we were generally surprised to see area police turn up to check out what it was exactly we were doing. The police not only walked directly into our space for the afternoon but decided to park up outside the venue keeping a watchful eye on the entrance until finally driving off.

The monitoring group I am a founding member of respects all views on policing but we maintain a healthy distance from direct relationships with the police as it erodes trust in the communities we support. I personally have supported POC who have been through hell and back due to racist cops. It’s really hard for me to want to have any kind of engagement with the police when they consistently treat us so very badly. I know others in our core organising team feel very much the same.

What’s interesting is that after our event we headed to an anti-repression talk not far from the community centre and were monitored through our journey by local area police. Why is it that in white communities in Bristol this sort of attention to any event just does not happen? do the police feel so utterly threatened by a community event in St Pauls happening that they have to attempt to harass the organisers and intimidate the public from even walking through the door?

We had no more than 8 people in the Malcolm X Community Centre yesterday afternoon and yet still the police put pressure on us. When I was in Oxford two weeks ago the workshop myself and a fellow Copwatcher presented was busy and also monitored by the police. We’ve noted in Oxford that the police are keen on shutting down community organising if they can.

From my point of view as an organization, they feel threatened by anything they cannot have control over. This is an autocratic and authoritarian policing strategy and we need to resist it. It’s clear that if grassroots organising happens in areas they deem to be a problem (black and brown communities) we by default become “a person of interest.”

When we headed to the event held by anti-repression groups such as Bristol Defendant Solidarity and ABC we were made to feel very welcome, but then we were made to feel very welcome by the lovely staff at the Malcolm X Community Centre too. Today I’m very angry that the police attempted to create the perception that Bristol Copwatch must of either a) been up to no good. or b) was working with the police yesterday afternoon.

Co-POWeR we know felt very much the same about attempted police engagement and understand how important trust relationships are with communities like St Pauls. I respect the fact that some feel to monitor the police effectively you must build relationships with them (I strongly disagree and feel that this affects a monitoring group’s ability to critically analyze them as an organisation )but I also feel that had the organisers of yesterday’s event at MX all been white we wouldn’t have received the extensive attention we did.

I have been on the sharp end of racist policing a lot of my adult life and know what it looks like in action. I’m hoping that in the next couple of months I see a few things start to be put right. In the meantime, of course, I’ll keep campaigning. Next month I’m on the Bristol Radical History Group’s speaker panel at “Set the people free” talking about mobile fingerprinting and PACE stop and search. Following that, I’m with fellow Copwatchers at the awesome Bristol Transformed festival hosting a workshop on dealing with the police.

I’m a firm believer in taking a stand when it comes to injustice. In the cold light of day, I see the police for what they are and I know that I’m doing the right thing. The last bit of training for the week is going to be a welcome stressbuster this afternoon. I still hope that you can see me. Just remember to stand up and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

Muay Thai is importanter

Hi. I hope you’re enjoying the Easter break and that all is well in your world. Despite planning to head to the gym this afternoon I’ve been defeated by my Saturday hangover which is a shame as I’ve spent literally every day this week bar today training. It has been good and although I still need to step my running game up again I feel that I’m benefiting from the extra push I’ve decided to give myself. More of the same is ahead next week onwards, and of course, I know if you don’t run then you don’t fight so I intend to step things up on that front too.

The past few months have been tough primarily due to navigating bereavement and it’s good to finally feel that I’m ready to start letting life head back to its normal pace. I think I’ve been doing that anyway but there are days when I just don’t want to do anything at all. My mum is pretty much in the same place as me and we talk every day and often video call in the evenings.

I think training has helped me get through what seems to have been the worst bits if that makes sense and volunteering has also helped keep me focused. I’m getting the volunteer and paid work balance right once again and I actually just finished opening letters that have been sitting in a small lonely pile for weeks and weeks and weeks.

Easter break as well as training has been awesome so far, and it’s been nice to get out into town over the weekend as well as have a good couple of nights of decent music and good company. You can’t beat dancing to chase the blues away.

Training wise I’ve got back to a good level of consistency I just want to try and get to open mat sessions a little earlier. And sort my time keeping out. I’ve also broken the bad habit of kicking with my foot instead of my shin. When you get put under a lot of pressure( I get to be put under a lot of pressure in sparring at points but I’m an experienced fighter it’s really to be expected.) )it’s also understandable to want to stay at a safe distance but kicking out of range isn’t really the way. I’m making myself stay close and stay in if I can.

This week I did some good stuff clinch wise and it’s an area of training I really feel I need to focus on. One of my first trainers called it an art within art and I’ve always found that to be true. I’m working on ways to shut down taller fighters so do my best to catch kicks and counter quickly, if there’s a lot of pressure from hands clinching is a good way to stop them, you just need to be brave enough to take the bull by the horns. Besides, when we’re that close we’ve got our elbows as well as knees.

Looking at Muay Thai from a self-defense perspective knees, elbows and clinch are half-decent tools to have in your arsenal, unless of course, you run into a knife in which case as Geoff Thompson once said pick up anything that isn’t nailed down and throw it at them then run. I’ve only ever been in a situation once in my 16 years plus of training where I had to defend myself and my training was there for me when I needed it the most.

I say once, going back a few years I was the victim of a racist attack. Three of them jumped me and one had to hit me with a bike lock to come anywhere close to hurting me. I was drunk at the time and had I been switched on and sober I don’t think firstly I would have ended up in the situation in the first place and secondly, I would have defended myself with vigor. I stayed on my feet, however. My friends the next day all came over to see me from Easton in Bristol and were generally amazing.

But that incident aside, I’ve found that bullies including racist ones got a lot warier of me when I started martial arts, not because I walk around with my chest puffed out but because it’s about how you carry yourself as a person. It’s about the aura you project. As I said towards the beginning of today’s blog I feel stronger in myself as I carry on the long path of healing from loss. I actually feel how I did when I started this martial journey of mine and there’s an inner toughness that’s growing inside of me again. I believe in putting others before myself. It’s a characteristic I’ve inherited from both my parents but in particular my beautiful father. I have a lot to thank him for and I know he was always proud of me and all my achievements.

I’m back at the gym tomorrow afternoon and Monday morning has got first run of the week written all over it. Enjoy the rest of the Easter break. I’ve had the best Easter Sunday of nothing ever and my hangover is now at the time of writing just about gone. Dancing and good times are fun but Muay Thai is importanter. Here’s to the week ahead and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Here comes the sun

Afternoon all, it’s nice as always to catch up and I hope that all is well with you. Despite having last week off from training as I was away in far from sunny Spain (red sand rain, miserable weather but good company) it’s been nice to get back into the swing of things at the gym and of course, I intend to keep things heading in the right direction.

Training has been going really well, and I’m enjoying my time there. Although I was away last week I still managed to get some running time in and it’s the one area I feel that I need to be a little more consistent with here. The last training session of the week is looming and when I get back I’ll have to make sure I finish the week off with some quality stamina building.

The thing is, I’m just lazy about these things and forget a half-decent run is literally on my doorstep. I’m looking forward to it already. Training is however improving my fitness as well as my ability but that’s the way it should be. I train 5 times a week again these days but this month intend to step it up to 6 from time to time. It’s good to push a little harder sometimes just to see where it gets you.

As I’ve got older I’ve noticed injuries take a lot longer to heal, old fighting injuries creep back in from time to time but in general, I keep on trucking. I’ve decided that competing is something I’ll focus on for as long as I’m fit enough and competent enough to do so but I know there’s more to Muay Thai than just stepping in a ring.

Fairtex Bangplee

Right now I’m loving the confidence boost and general sharpness training regularly is giving me again. It’s just procrastination I still have to beat, which is one of the reasons it’s taken me so long to get around to writing my blog. Other areas of my life I want to improve I just put the same energy into as well, but you know something? Life isn’t always about self-improvement. Sometimes life is about just being comfortable in your own skin and being you.

Being emotionally intelligent is really the order of the day and I find that training helps me be less reactive and assess situations and people with a lot more clarity than before. It’s easier to manage my emotions these days than a month or so ago. I guess that’s part of the healing process I’m going through at present. Everything changes.

I feel a lot more confident about stepping back into the ring if the opportunity arises again than I did last year and as another fighter said to me it’s about picking up from where I left off. Not reinventing the wheel. I’d like to fight this year and of course, have told my trainers that too. We shall see. I still enjoy combat even if it is only sparring at present.

Speaking of gyms, sparring, and training the last session of the week is rapidly approaching. I’m maybe going to focus on bag work today as a preference but might have a little spar too. Have a good week, train hard, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.