Category Archives: Martial Arts

Out the comfort zone.

Hi. As always it´s good to be able to check in with you all. You might of noticed I´m bang on time for the third week running and as this is the last blog of mine for 2018 I´m pleased it´s finished on a good note. You can expect more of the same in 2019 and beyond.

It´s been a nice Christmas in the sun with my family but then again, it always is and for that I´m always grateful. There´s a lot of good in my life these days. Being honest, there always has been it´s just that at points I took it for granted. I´m pleased that these days I remember to say thanks.

Despite not getting any hands on training in this week I´ve still managed to sort out my issue with running regularly again. This week me saw me on some fantastic runs of around 4 to 6k with sprints thrown in to boot. In fact I´ve even managed to run 4 times this week. I guess when it comes to that element of my training I´m back on track. That´s another goal achieved. Go me.

Earlier on this week I sat down to read one of my favourite blogs “Eight limbs us” and a great article on fear of escalation in sparring. Seeing as I´d previously written about venom in Thai boxing it felt that the article had come along at the right time. I guess life can be like that.

“practice aggression the same way you practice any skill. You have to break it down, find why it’s difficult for you: are you too polite? Are you afraid? What does aggression actually look like? Moving forward, blocking, not backing up, striking more… if you know what it means to you then you can break down the elements and work on bringing them into your training in small pieces.” 

Sylvie seems to be very big on stepping into her fear and breaking it down to get better at translating that into fire. I think we think in similar ways. Sometimes you have to push yourself to be at your best and to do that you need to be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.

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2 weeks notice 2nd time around fight against an old nemesis of mine in Bournemouth in 2009. Never been that great at body kicking but I love this photo. 

When you finally learn how to get tough when needs be in sparring you learn usually by trial and error to get tough in the ring too. It´s not that the fear ever really goes away it´s just that you learn how to start managing it better and how to make “fight or flight” work for you. In the ring you can´t run or hide. You either fight or you get shut down fast.

Before you start to think I´m about to head off into super macho Muay Thai land i thought I would take a moment to say I totally get that fighting and even sparring  is not for everyone and that the aggression you need takes a long time to develop.

It´s taken a long time for me to be able to bring it into play when needs be and when I say long time I mean like years. I have never been a fan  of confrontation and I think when I first started competing I overcame that personal demon of mine. Fighting has taught me to cope under pressure, to fight back and to always show my teeth when up against it. Being my gym´s resident short arse means I  have to stay close if I want to get anywhere.

Although I´m never a different person sometimes I have to be a different person. There is  a big difference from responding and being a reactionary in sparring or in combat. Again the response goes back to how you learn to apply your venom. I think deep in my subconscious mind there´s a little voice screaming “in, in in!” and waving an arm in a forward motion at the person in front of me.  Well there always used to be, if it´s not there as much as I´d like it to be these days I need to work on that in training. Maybe it could do with a little more finesse. That´s a work in progress.

I guess my problem is that I never seem to be able to switch off my martial head even when on holiday. We have got the biggest waste of money of the year coming up on Monday so for one night only I´ll let what little hair I have got down and have a good dance. 2018 has been an eventful year for me training wise and I was worried that for a moment back there I might be in danger of putting the breaks on for good.

Now, with 2019 looming and some goals achieved and many still to come it´s clear to me that I still will never give up. When it comes down to it, I  wouldn’t have it any other way. Have a fantastic new year and just like the last time.. I´ll see you on that road.

 

 

 

 

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Venom.

Well, despite almost forgetting to get this blog of mine written this week I´m pleased to say I have as always landed on my feet and defeated procrastination for the second week running, therefore I´ll claim this as a Sunday win. I´m currently overseas with my family for the holidays and despite already feeling the spirit of Christmas taking shape in the form of crap food, too much booze and average telly I started my day with a 5k run this morning. It´s nice to keep my martial head on. They´ll be more of the same tomorrow I´m sure. Bah humbug,

I have already started setting some positive goals for 2019 and beyond that I´ll write a more about next week before another year draws to a close. February 2019 will see me having been training for 12 years in Muay Thai and nearly 13 years in martial arts as a whole. I´m already intending to hit the ground running next year and up the ante with  Thai boxing and martial training in general.

I´m pleased to have kept my mind open this year and it´s been good to have been shown a little of some the other “scruffy” arts that are out there too. Tai Chi fighting like Muay Thai goes through people I have been told. It´s been good fun learning something new from time to time and getting a better understanding of body mechanics. I want to start focusing on delivering more power with everything I do in the new year. Ok, correct form and speed is important but I want to hit harder too. It´ll come. Energy flows where attention goes as they say. The trick with Muay Thai I have been told, is to set your intent and attack with venom.

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“Venom” that´s a good word to remember next time I´m fighting. . When I first started competing I was told I had a distinct lack of it. “You can´t be a nice guy in the ring.” “fighting is brutal.” eventually  I came to realize I had to be a different person if I wanted to win or at the very least fight well. It´s why I started working on that little characteristic in sparring as much as I could and why now if I get hit a little too hard my faces changes and I get aggressive. Venom is the key to applying pressure when you need it.

There´s nothing more intimidating than a forward footed fighter. At least until you learn how to get round them. I have always been someone who just keeps coming, although in my last fight it took me a few round to switch that on again. I want to get back to that and work on what Sylvie Von Duuglas-Ittu calls the Muay Thai “gallop”. It´s frustrating sometimes being a shorter fighter and it´s important to be first. When I´m close I´m dangerous. To get close enough to be that I have to remember to switch on the fire and apply the venom.

As well as getting my body kicks up to a good standard  I´m going to remind myself that sometimes it´s totally fine to destroy your opponent´s legs too. Being able to do that can stop a fight. Here´s to making my left leg a formidable weapon again. I think I´ll get back to training next year with some good training goals and look forward to letting it go when I´m back in the ring in the next few months. After all, if you don´t fight fire with fire then why fight at all. Have a great Christmas and an awesome new year and just like the last time…I´ll see you on that road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reframing the fight.

Hi. It’s good to catch up with you as we agreed last week. I decided to make good on my promise and get this blog of mine back to its usual spot in mine and your life. Here we are again you and me. As always it’s good to be here. In fact, it’s great. Training this week has been a little hit and miss for me due to a nagging injury in my right shoulder but that seems to be a lot better than it was two days ago.

Like a lot of people I have a tendency to work through or around my injuries rather than taking time to rest up and let them sort themselves out, but as I’ve got older and dare I  say it a little wiser I’ve found that slowing down ever so slightly when your body is trying to tell you something is usually a wise move.

In the past, I’ve even found myself back at the gym within less than a week of fighting the weekend previously and only when kicking heavy bags have I noticed that yes ok my shins are officially tenderized.. Sometimes it pays to give yourself a chance to heal. Taking that into consideration, I’ve still managed to train a few times this week so I guess that’s always going to be a good thing.

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You know just recently I decided to start playing around with some NLP techniques (it means Neuro-linguistic programming by the way. Last time I told a friend that he said same to you. How’s the family? )  I learnt way back in the mists of 2010. In fact, I was introduced to NLP way before that by an old friend of mine who is a master practitioner as well as a martial arts expert.

On both occasions It came along at the right time in my life and being intrigued, I decided I wanted to learn a little more. At the time I invested in ‘Introducing NLP’ by Joseph O’Connor and John Seymour because I knew that just like with martial arts it was going to be an investment in myself.

I decided to revisit the book just recently and realized I also have another book relating to the application of NLP in sports ‘Sporting Excellence’ by Ted Garratt that I also intend to get my teeth into when I find the time.

Just like before it seems that NLP has sparked an interest in me and has arrived apparently at the right time, and so I’ve found myself practising some of the techniques I haven’t used for a while. One of which is reframing. In terms of that particular technique, it’s worth a google but I’ve been using it to change the way I look at situations relating to training in this instance fighting.

When it comes to winning and losing it’s very easy to live in a negative bubble or state about competing if things don’t always go your way. I’ve found before that despite carrying on as normal when it comes to thinking about my next fight it’s very easy to let negatives outweigh positives. I found this used to happen a couple of weeks before I boxed and when I realized what was happening it seemed that I was setting myself up to fail. This happened until I didn’t want it to happen any more.

So just recently,  I haven’t just started thinking positively I’ve started proactively reframing my beliefs about myself when it comes to competing and training. I’ve started to move away from I don’t want to happen and towards what I do want. I’ve started to see myself as already having won my next fight and I draw from past experience on how that feels to help make it a reality in the making. I make it so real I can step into it. To remember what that feels like. To remember that I can win.

I’ve thought about how winning not just benefits me but those around me. I’ve seen my body kicks getting better and better and I’ve set a date in the diary for what I want to happen. In terms of fighting right now, I’ve pointed myself at next March. I guess for getting everything else up to speed that could be a good date too.  I’ve reinforced my frame with some solid intention to boot.

NLP is a deep subject for one blog and I’m no expert but I hope this gives you a little snippet of where I’m at right about now and I hope it gets you thinking. It’s something I intend to continue to revisit for what’s left of 2018 and into the newness that is 2019 too. Of course, working with yourself can be rewarding but working as a team always produces the best results so next year I intend to get networking. I’m sure as with all things martial this new journey will be a good one. Have a great week, train hard and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

 

Mindset.

Afternoon all. I’ve got here a little later than planned but it’s good to be back. I have a tendency to arrive late at most things these days including training. It’s something I’m intending to change from today going forward. My trainer said to me yesterday that fighting takes discipline (ok so I do totally get that but maybe recently I haven’t been as disciplined as I’ve been in the past) and that being a part of a team means not walking in late and choosing to warm up on my own whilst everyone else is doing exercises. To be fair, I was expecting a bit of rebuke as I have a tendency to work on my own standard time and at points can be so laid back  I’m almost horizontal.

If gyms are microcosms of life one thing Muay Thai teaches you very quickly is that we’re all the same in and out the ring and no one is better than or treated differently from anyone else. It also taught me that a little humility goes a long way and when your coach tells you off for things you shouldn’t at this stage be told off for it’s worth taking it onboard. Besides, when it comes to fighting a fighter has to work with their trainer and their teammates to get the best results. 

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Anyone who thinks Muay Thai “is all about respect” (let’s be honest, we’ve heard that before from the egos in gyms) is probably a ridiculous little authoritarian who deserves very little themselves. Mutual respect and friendship develop with your trainer and your team over time. It was nice yesterday evening to get a message from my coach saying “sorry if I was hard on you but sometimes that’s my job” Likewise, sorry if of late I’ve taken your patience for granted. I’ll pull my finger out and be at my best. I mean that. When it comes to fighting, like in the rest of my life it’s nice remembering I am never alone.

You know It’s funny because I’ve been thinking about focus a lot of late. Like most people in life, I often have varying plates to spin and the trick is really obtaining the right balance. Sometimes it’s easy to carry the outside world into the gym and it’s very easy to find yourself distracted. Of late I’ve started to try to switch off the internal dialogue and focus on the here and now. Being a human being I’ve found that this takes practice but it’s getting there. Sparring and fighting are the times I usually find myself in the moment so I want to start bringing that into drills.

I think just staying present and attentive all the time especially after a long day is never easy but you know if you want to get good at something you have to be at your very best. Right? Cut out the distractions and feed the focus. I find when I’m fighting this happens naturally. All I can hear is my corner and the rest is muffled background noise. I get tunnel vision.

I think next time I’m fighting I’m going to use that tunnel vision to go through the person in front of me. To get to that point again it’s going to take a team effort as well as a lot of graft from myself and I’ll make sure I remember that in the future.

I find myself caught up a lot at present in procrastination due to that plate spinning thing I talked about a minute ago. I want to be able to take charge of a few different areas of my life and it’s good to know that when I need to do that the right situations and people often present themselves. I’m going to remember to take the energy from training and apply it to all areas of my life and hopefully get the work-life balance addressed, keep my dedication to what I do and feed my focus.

Speaking of working days I’ve got a lot to get done before the end of the day and it’s been nice taking a pause to get my blog written. Sorry, it’s a bit late. (Again.) I’ll make sure that improves from here on in. Have a great week, train hard and as always.. I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never giving up.

Hi!. It’s nice to be back so soon after a slightly longer than usual pause. If you follow my twitter account you’ll see that earlier this week I attempted reverse psychology on myself to get my blog written on Tuesday. Unfortunately, it didn’t work which has meant I’ve successfully managed to put off writing until now. I need to start giving it a lot more of my time again, primarily because some say I’m quite good at it. Which is nice.

I’ve got some big training and fighting goals already lined up for 2019 one of which is to head overseas again and this time hopefully compete. Of course, before next summer comes around I want to make sure I’m back in the game at the beginning of the new year.

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As I’ve said before it’s good to be back and if this year has shown me anything, it’s that when you put your mind to it you can achieve anything you want. It’s a simple case of believing in yourself enough to keep striving for it.

Despite being another year older on Saturday I still feel that there’s a good couple of years of fight left in me and I’d like 2019 to be a year where I get a reasonable amount done. As it stands, I’m still going to be training when I’m 60 and the longer I keep training the better I’m going to get. It may seem glaringly obvious but when I’ve hit a slump (peaks and troughs) it doesn’t always seem that black and white.

Recently I’ve found inspiration to keep boxing no matter where I look. I feel that I’ve really improved a lot as a fighter since the last time I got in the ring and I also feel that the experience I have so far is really going to stand me in good stead in the future, and it’s toughened me up inside.

Even nerves before fighting have changed. A week or so before nerves will pay me a visit for 2 or 3 hours then nothing again. I usually deal with them by shadow boxing. I’ve got a big living room. On the day it’s just mentally getting ready for fighting, right before I start my walk to the ring there is a brief flare-up but that changes into the fire very quickly. Just by thinking it I become it. Exciting eh?

Of course, I’m still not technically marvellous. I get things wrong. I need to work on my focus. I don’t always remember drills. Some days I can’t get stuff I should know by now right, I doubt myself and don’t think very much of myself. I don’t stretch enough. My hips don’t twist like they used to when I first started boxing. Injuries take longer to heal. I don’t run enough. I don’t run far enough. I really hate having to take two steps backwards to take two step forwards but I love what I do, and because I love what I do I know the journey is not only with me for life but totally worth every minute.

I have a little dream that I am going to get good enough and win a couple more fights and get myself a British title before I retire. I feel inspired and I know I can do it because I’ve done it before. Of course, the journey doesn’t stop there but it would be something I could put on my CV? Something to tell my kids about (when I finally get around to having some) maybe. I also intend to get myself out to Thailand again in 2019 and as I’m in South Africa at some point next year I think I’ll train out there again too.

Despite this week being lighter on the ground training wise than I’d like (my birthdays coming up as I said) I’m looking forward to getting stuck in, as usual, this evening. I may even push the boat out and go running today and tomorrow morning. I’d like to make sure I’m doing that 3 times a week again on top of training. Like it or not.

If 2018 was the year I finally made it back I want 2019 to be the year I start winning again. I want it to be a year I remember forever. In the meantime, I guess I need to get on with the rest of Thursday. Run and training later as I said. I’ll see you on that road.

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Closer than close.

Afternoon all. Despite being once again full of germs (which isn’t too great as I’m meant to be fighting next Sunday) I’ve decided to sit down and whip this blog of mine into shape. I just took the time to take a brief look at statistics and it’s always nice to see people still visiting, checking in and reading what I have to say. I’ll do my best to get it back to appearing once a week again from here on in. Procrastination is still an adversary.

So moaning aside, I thought this week I’d talk about something I meant to write about a couple of weeks back but for one reason or another never did, which is, of course, fighting in what some call the pocket. If your a short arse like myself you’ll understand what I mean and most importantly you’ll totally understand the damage we can do when we get closer than close.

Next Sunday I’m going to be fighting with elbows again (albeit with pads on) and of course, when it comes to fighting with elbows as well as knees, I need to think in terms of being up close and personal. It wasn’t until earlier on this afternoon that the first lot of pre-fight nerves decided to pay me a visit which is good because being honest I’d be wondering when they would stop by, luckily I know how to deal with them and instead of letting them get on top of me I let them flow into intention. Which is always a good thing.

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I’ve found in sparring recently that I’ve started to come forward a lot more again and next week what I don’t intend to happen is to spend the majority of the fight on the back foot. It’s safe to say that although I can hang back a little at points when I need to I walk into the person in front of me. Which is what really, Muay Thai is about!

Of course, there’s a lot more to fighting than walking into your opponent but you know every little can help, and an aggressive fighter is often an intimidating one. I think I needed to switch on more in my last fight but I’ve put a lot of that down to ring rust so hope this time around things will be different.

Fighting close or “in the pocket” short distance and in range for all my attacks is something that takes time to get right but it’s getting there. I’ve noticed I’m throwing body kicks a lot more and although not always technically perfect, they usually aren’t bad and it feels good when I land them. Low kicks, of course, have always been a favourite of mine and I can rely on them for stopping power when I need to.

It’s a given that short fighters always have to close distance quickly but there are varying ways to do that I won’t go into too much depth about here. A lot of it can come with developing a degree of ring craft and understanding how to close your opponent down and keep them under pressure. One of the tougher parts of Thai is keeping your attacks constant if like me you do your best to pressure fight.

Taking a note out of the mighty Ronnie “machine gun” Green’s book I’m currently thinking in terms of “upstairs-downstairs” or high and then low attacks. One of my stumbling blocks is that I rely on the basics a  little too much and should really keep my attacks perhaps a little more varied. If it works then it works but it’s important to not be predictable.

Before I start giving myself a hard time it’s fair to say that I’m looking forward to fighting again next week and I want to finish this year on a good note. The week ahead is going to be a monster push to make up for a just about OK week of training but I’m confident I can do it and instead of just going to fight next week I think I’m going to win. See what I did back there?  here’s to the road ahead. And as always, I’ll see you on it soon.

 

 

All good things

Hi. Before I start to make excuses it’s worth mentioning that training over the past week or so has been a little lighter on the ground than I’d like, mainly due to being full of cold. I’ve learnt the hard way a few times when it comes to Thai boxing and germs that training when sick isn’t the way forward.

So, despite a short break (I made it down there twice so at least that’s something )and a despondent week of feeling sorry for myself, this week onwards I’m back on the horse. After all this time somethings never change and really, when all is said and done I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A couple of weekends back I did an interclub locally that went pretty well. I had been out for a pre-birthday night on the tiles with an old friend and it’s always a struggle the day after the night before to do anything even remotely athletic but I saw it through.

I’ve found that I’m getting back to the old me. What I mean by that is that I’m standing my ground a lot more as well as coming forward Although slightly more strategically than my bull in a china shop mentality of fights gone by.  In hindsight, I don’t think it’s ever been that bad. Maybe I don’t give myself enough credit. I have hazy recollections of an old trainer of mine gesturing wildly with his arm from the corner when I wasn’t going forward enough. “In, in!.” that’s the Muay Thai way.

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In a few weeks time, I’m back in the ring for the 18th fight in my up and down fighting career. Of course, I want to win but I also know when I fight I can never really lose.  I think I will always love the combat and I’m going remember to use that as a driver over the next few weeks of training to push myself to be at my very best. It may not be an exam or even a grading but it’s a good challenge and a real accomplishment when you win.

This time around I should be fighting at 63kg and it’s with elbows again but using pads. Last time around I had no idea what to do with my elbows but a lot had to come flooding back quickly. I intend to be a little more prepared for December. We’ll see how it goes. Either way, from tomorrow onwards it’s back to the grind.

Back to the running as well. Only when you compete do you truly understand how important that is. It’s nice to keep fit it’s even better when you get sprints in your life. I think at the moment I’m doing well and it feels like nothing ever really takes too long to sharpen up again, bad colds or not. Here’s to things continuing to move in the right direction in the next few weeks ahead. Being honest, It just seems to get better with time. Have a great week, train hard and I’ll see you on that road.