Category Archives: Muay Thai

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.

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.

Unbreakable

Hi. It’s nice to catch up with you once again and I’m really pleased to be writing regularly and often a couple of times within the space of the week. One of my biggest fears about writing this blog is that it can be either too much or too little. Right now it feels like I’m in the writer’s Goldilocks zone so here we are again. You and me.

I’ve just come back from a well-deserved stress-busting run and I’m pleased to say training is just around the corner. Of course, I do have a day job it’s just that I’m a lot busier when I’m freelancing as well as running my business. Although, maybe I need to give my business a little more time than I do currently.

Last year ended in a family tragedy and although there’s no time limit on dealing with grief I’m pleased to say every day I get a little stronger. As my mum said to me just yesterday “It comes over me in waves.” Although both of us are in different countries we speak at least twice a day. Mum is where I get my strength from and of course from my beautiful dad too.

You see trauma can be a crippling thing. I’ve been unfortunate enough to go through a lot of it in my life. From police harassment and a journey through the Criminal Justice system to toxic relationships, it has taken many shapes.

These days I’ve learned to carry other people’s trauma and find that by helping them navigate their own journey through the damage the police create I heal some of my own. I’m not ashamed to say I have a therapist who is helping me forgive, love and respect my younger self. That guy who made all those mistakes. That kid the police never left alone. The one who misses his dad more than you will ever know.

in 2020 we saw an upsurge in resistance to police misconduct and brutality across the globe following the horrific murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin. Misconduct and brutality that had existed for years within the police in the UK was once again headline news but with every event, every story of those we have lost at the hands of the police came a barrage of emotions.

Those new to the push for our civil rights learned to respect and stand with the families and individuals on the sharp end of abuse and brutality, I learned to navigate what the police have done to me over the years by helping others take action. When I first spoke to both my mum and dad about my stop and search years, I found myself in tears after they told me that the police used to stop me almost every day. Once a criminal always a criminal was burned so deeply into my psyche for a while I actually believed it was all I could be.

My healing, in the end, started with martial arts and ended with Muay Thai. Over 16 years on I’m still here training just as hard as I always have. It’s good to be back in the room. I’m here for life. Through( in my humble opinion) one of the tougher fighting systems out there, I found myself again. My shadow fell away and I realised all the misconceptions of me and the lies that I felt had been said about me didn’t matter anymore. The only person I had to prove wrong was myself. The only person I was really fighting was myself. Some things are just as relevant now as they were back then.

We’re only 2 months into the new year and already I feel confident that it’s going to be a good one. There is so much I want to do and have in my life I just need to remember to give myself time. One day at a time will become one month at a time and the waves will become less frequent and more beautiful. If you didn’t know already I’m fundraising to hold the police to account for a breach of data protection. Navigating the most recent trauma from local police harassment gets easier day by day. In the end, everything changes. Have a great week, train hard, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

Happy new year

Dear dad,

I’m sorry we missed each other for the second year running last Christmas. I remember seeing nice photos mum sent me in 2020 and I’m pleased we got to spend some quality time together in 2021. I remember you asking me if I needed your help with anything and at the time I didn’t have much to say, but I guess fathers just instinctively know when their children need their support. I’m sure I’ll be the same when I settle down and have kids myself one day.

In answer to your question, (sorry it’s taken so long) there are a couple of things I need a bit of guidance with but I’ve already asked and you know what? It’s coming together. I was thrilled to bits to learn that mum said you were very proud of me for getting a community police monitoring group and project set up with my friends, and I wish I talked to you more about South Africa and how you helped your community and country fight for freedom.

When it comes to that, thanks for every little thing. Black lives matter. I was stoked when you told me you felt I had a right to speak on the day Colston came down. It was great to see how supportive you were of my journey into public speaking and I welcomed the advice you gave me.

I know auntie Blossom was outspoken as me and I know you were too when it came to black liberation and our fight for freedom and ongoing struggles against racism. You can really see the energy in the photo mum gave me and I’m going to buy a proper frame for it at the end of the month. I know you were always worried about me and work but you know what things are alright. My business is picking up again and I’ll have a new PM contract sorted soon.

I’m still getting my new year -plate spinning right balancing volunteering and paid work but hey it’s getting there. This year I’m focusing on getting everything moving forward as it was just before you left. Christmas just wasn’t the same without you. To be honest, I don’t think it will be the same again. Mum’s doing ok and we both love and miss you more than I can ever put into words. I’m doing good but taking it day by day.

Little things remind me of you. The waves are less of a crescendo now and I’m getting back into my martial arts training. I remember how happy you were for me when I won an area title all those years ago. You didn’t get why I was fighting at first but then you said “hey man!” when I started winning. I really miss you sometimes. I’ve just started crying again, but you know what?

“Where’s there’s sadness in the room, there will be hope and light again.” I have a lot to do this year and I won’t let me or you or mum down. Maybe I’ll fight again if I get consistent enough with my training. Either way, I’ll make 2022 a real success in all things. Happy new year. Love you forever.

John x

The Little things

The Little things

Now you´re gone

It is just the little things that make me love you

It´s why I miss you tonight

The first Christmas without my dad

My unsung hero

Do you remember when I used to ride around the lounge on your back?

I used to pretend you were a horse

I don´t think you liked it but hey it´s your boy so you did it

Maybe I´ll be the same one day

Like father like son they say

I miss you today

More than words can ever say

It´s just the little things that make me love you

24/12/21

Reflections

Hi. It´s nice to catch up once again. Yesterday I got myself out to Spain to see my amazing mum for the Christmas break and of course, depending on restrictions on travel I plan to be home in Bristol for New Years Eve. This however is and always will be my second home in the sun and its nice to remember that of the many things my dad did with his life he also always did for me.

It´s been less than three weeks since he left us and like mum I´m taking it one day at a time. Some days things are good some days I feel like a black cloud is following me. Like an omnipresent weight is bearing down on my shoulders that is loss , acceptance and grief taking shape. Thursday this week was one of those days and I decided to train.

I walked in the gym instantly feel like I didn´t want to be there. Planning to only stay for an hour resulted in me staying to the end and releasing negative energy and channelling it through a positive outlet into something that might be a little rusty right now but is ultimately good, made me feel infinitely better.

After training as I cycled home it felt like something said to me ´come see me again soon.” I haven´t heard or felt that in my inner in a long time. In fact the last time was when me and Muay Thai first met way back in 2007. Since that point my art has been a constant in my life and always there.

I´ve forgotten the power it has to pick me up from the ground. It´s taught me how to fight in the ring and helped me defend myself on the street on a couple of occasions. But then again, I have always been strong and a survivor. Some say I´m a natural fighter. They make us South Africans tough. My fighting spirit stems from my roots.

Another thing I´m grateful for at present is the strength and presence I have when it comes to navigating the trauma caused by the loss of my beautiful father (Bayete Nkosi). Mental toughness and emotional intelligence have been the order of the day. These are traits I have been given by both my parents and have developed through my art.

My mother is an incredibly strong woman and just as beautiful as my dad. They have both taught me to walk tall and fight for what I believe in. They have always both been incredibly proud of me for everything I have achieved in my journey through martial arts.

As I approach my 16th year of training in this long and rewarding road that is Muay Thai I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for every little thing. You are my second family. Despite my world seeming bleak at points spending time investing in myself training with you then and training with you now has always brought out the best in me. Here´s to many more years. I´ll see you on that road.

43

My dad passed away of lung cancer on the 02/12/21 at 4.30pm. He was at home and with my mum and was asleep and just never woke up. I had a call at 7.30am that morning asking me to come that day or the next day at the very latest. I could only get a flight on the Friday.

Before he left I had a video call with mum. She showed me his face and asked if I could see the difference. “Yes.” I said calmly. I decided to go running around lunch time that day. I checked in with mum and she said he was sleeping peacefully but his breathing was slowing down. Vs the pain he was in first thing in the morning before nurses gave him some medicine I was relieved in a way but knew what was coming. I was ready.

On my run all I could see was dad´s face. The sun was shining the sky was blue and I was grinning. All I could see was my dad. All I could hear was the sound of my feet on the road. Road work is sometimes the best work. It is therapy in motion. It releases energy and brings in something better.

I got home from my run and ran a bath- Work had been up and down all day so didn´t care stage had been accomplished. Emails could wait. Bids could wait. In my bath a small voice said gently “your dad´s gone.” I got out the bath 10 minutes later thinking how awful it would be if I missed a call whilst in the bath about dad passing. I ignored myself saying calmly “I´m ready” as I dried myself off.

Dressed and relaxed I checked my phone. Oh a missed a call. I phoned mum. She told me dad had left us. I video called her back as an alternative to voice and told her how much I love her and dad and how one day I´ll have kids of my own and how…. hanging up the phone after the call I broke down. It had been happening off and on all day.

It felt like parts of me were falling away. The gut twisting anger of the day before, the grief like waves breaking on the shore seemed to be observed by me. I felt outside of myself. This is what shock is. I thought. My plans to train that evening were cancelled but I did spend time with good friends.

I had calls off of cousins and uncles and aunts over the following days. Thursday feels like two decades ago. My gym were and still are just as concerned caring and loving as everyone else in my life. We are a family. Just like me mum and dad always will be. We are forever.

The death of my father at the time of writing is something I am still coming to terms with. We say goodbye to dad tomorrow and next year me and my mum are travelling to South Africa to scatter his ashes. This may seem too personal but right now I feel raw. Next Wednesday I turn 43 which from what I´ve been told is young ,so when it comes to many things in my life I intend to just carry on as normal. This includes Muay Thai. I need to give it a lot more of my time. The silence and flow is where the healing starts.

When it comes to community activism, police monitoring and anti racist campaigning the beat goes on. However, that particular torch is going to get picked up again in the new year. For now I need time to heal and need to support my amazing mum. All of these things would make my father proud.

I´m back home in Bristol for my 43rd birthday next week then I´m planning to spend Christmas and new years with my mum shortly after. Time as they say is the best healer but you know what, so is Muay Thai. Rest in eternal power Owen Pegram. Thank you not just for being a lion of South Africa but for being an amazing dad. Even on my best day I wish I could be half the man you were. I´ll see you on that road.

People look up.

Hi. It’s good once again to find the time to sit down and write. I’ve not caught up with my writing for a while now but being honest life as always has been pretty busy. Things however are always looking up. This has been and always will be a good thing.

Although I’m not always as training as much as I’d like to right now, I’m still just as determined as I always have been to keep on moving and to keep following my heart in everything I do. Relentlessness and determination is the key to success in everything in my life. This month my dad is 91 years old so I’m looking forward to getting out to Spain to see him and my mum. He’s doing good. Like me, he supersedes everyone’s expectations and I’m sure surprises even himself.

Although everything changes with time, the light and love between me and my parents will never go out and I’m looking forward to spending Christmas with them both too. I’ve decided that in 2022 I’d like to get myself to a point where I can start fighting again. This means a lot of hard work in the gym and a lot of dedication.

But that’s ok because it’s the one area of my life where I’d like to dedicate a little more time. Everything else is balancing itself out well. I work as an IT professional and IT project manager. I’m a public speaker and community activist who helps communities hold the police to account. The rest of my life has been righting itself for some time and I’m learning how to walk tall again.

But I want to be a fighter again. I want to be a fighter who doesn’t just win fights occasionally but wins regularly. I accept a little begrudgingly that it may not happen. I can accept that but I know that if I believe in myself everything else usually follows suit. It’s just the little things that matter in training. Things that were said to me today like get your kicks faster on the return. I want to see you start doing that on the bag.

The simple things sometimes are the most important. Instead of spending all my time working on the kick, work on the speed. After all, I can kick I’ve been training long enough, it’s just that I need to kick better.

“I want to be a fighter again” ha. That’s funny. yeah, I saw what I did back there. I’ve never stopped being a fighter. I am a fighter. He just needs to step his game up if he wants to stay in the room. It’s not standards that are being imposed on me it’s standards that I’m imposing on myself. I want to pick up from where I left off not start from the beginning.

These days I sometimes find myself laughing in sparring when I get caught with a good shot or swept. I love training it’s good fun. If it wasn’t fun I just wouldn’t be doing it and like everyone else I’m learning all the time. I don’t always listen when I should but I do my best and I’ll work on the focus thing too.

As of February 2022, I will of been training for 16 years. They say the higher up you ascend the mountain of your choice the thinner the air gets. But that’s ok. I’m one of those people that looks up. Have a good week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Acceptance

Hi. I thought I should check in with yourselves as its been a while since last we spoke. Things are good with me and I hope they are with you too. I think I might be slowly becoming one of those guys who has to remind the world how busy he is whenever he can. Being honest, I forgot how to slow down a long time ago but you know what? That’s ok.

Training of late hasn’t been going too badly. Some weeks like this week, I’m there all the time other weeks not so much. I balance it out as best I can and put as much time in as I possibly can. Its hard to stay motivated sometimes and I need to get my teeth into running again. In fact, I’m off for my second run of the week in a moment. Well, when this blog is finished at least.

It’s almost funny that I give myself such a hard time about training and running on the days I miss it but it’s always rewarding when I put in the time again. Martial arts gives me a lot of focus and although I analyse myself just as much as I did 5 years ago these days I’m very comfortable in my skin.

Sitsongpeenong 2015

In a brief moment of revelation yesterday at the gym I realized that my technique isn’t actually that bad anymore (I don’t to be honest think that it ever was) and watching a video of myself sparring showed me what I need to do better without me cringing inside. I’m improving and I’m feeling a lot more confident about fighting again. I’m also happy to accept that to get where I really want to be is going to take work and small steps forward are better than big leaps into disaster.

I’ve spent a lot of time watching varying training videos and some of the shows that are appearing online when I’m not at the gym. It’s good to see that things are slowly creaking back to life and I’m also looking forward to catching a show later this month that one of the guys from my gym is fighting on. Fight nights are always good fun and if I’m not in the ring I just enjoy watching the fights.

I feel a lot more motivated with my training than I have for a while and as always I’m enjoying the journey. Personally life is good, and although things with my family life are tough at points at present I’m spending as much time with my parents as I can. I accept there are something I just cannot change and I love being in their company. Besides, when I’m out in Spain I spend some of my spare time running and shadow boxing. That fixes a lot of stuff.

So anyway, time once again is slipping away from me. Between now and when I hit the gym for an hour or so I want to have got a 7k run in the bag as well had a half decent lunch. You know it almost feels like Thailand today but not quite. Muay Ties videos will have to do in the meantime. Here’s to a great week ahead of training and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Dad

Hi. It’s great to catch up with you once again. It’s been a long time and reports of my endless procrastination have been gradually exaggerated…mainly by me so now I’m here I know that I’ve won. Training of late has been a little up and down but I guess it’s a reflection in some respects of my life at present. Work is going well, social life is going well my family and my dad’s health? well.. that’s been emotional.

Being honest, I don’t want to go into the ins and outs of that right now, I don’t think it’s fair or right at present but being the amazing guy that he is, he is once again winning. His determination and endless resilience is where I get mine from He’s an amazing stage actor, incredible teacher formidable former ANC activist, writer and African story teller. He’s also a palliative cancer patient. He’s my hero, but then so is my mum.

Just recently I headed out to Spain for 10 days to spend time with both of them and despite the circumstances it was the best of times. I got to spend quality time with my mum, we ate, drank and did our best to merry, and we saw my dad at hospital every day. Seeing him laughing, smiling and demanding to go home was like speaking to my dad 20 years ago.

He is home now and that can only be a good thing. He’s fighting his way back to the best his health can be and right now every single day is a gift. Like me he is a fighter, he is tough and brave and strong and so incredibly gentle I hope he is here for many years to come. I’m out in Spain in the next couple of weeks and it will be good to see him.

I realised the other day that everything I’ve ever done has always been dad speaking through me. My writing, my boxing, my public speaking when I look in the mirror I see my fathers eyes. When I write these words I remember him in his study at home writing his memoirs. When I talk about why Black Lives Matter I see my daddy raise his fist.

When he first heard I was training in Muay Thai and fighting he didn’t know what to say. His little boy stepping in a ring. Winning a title. Then winning another one. And just never giving up. He used to play cricket for Cambridge and was an outstanding sports man. He has seen so much violence in his life he is a pacifist. The one thing him and my mum have always been is proud of me but never as much as me of them.

At school for my GCSE English exam the last question was “who is your biggest hero?” I wrote about my father and South Africa. There is a lot I want to and need to say right now but I keep pushing the wave of emotion down. I keep being resilient John, not little super John who’s daddy will never ever die.

It hurts to much to let him in and to tell him dad’s poorly and he’s fighting but its really serious and that I’m afraid. Every single day of my life I think about my mother and father and how I can support them. I want to train Muay Thai full time again not just “getting by” twice a week training but family comes first and work comes first and in the end, when everything changes all I will have is my mum, my friends, family, my art and my beautiful father. I’m sure it will be all or nothing as usual in the gym soon. Thanks for listening. I’ll see you on that road.