Category Archives: Personal Development

Rocket science.

Hi. I thought I’d take the time to sit down and fit a bit of writing into my life this evening. That, like everything else, is always a good thing, and besides fashionably late is still better late than never. Last week training wise was good but not quite as busy as I would have liked so this week I’ve decided to turn it up a notch again. Pushing myself is always fun and in this heat, it’s hard graft.

Training so far hasn’t been too bad and it’s good as always to find the time to fit in sessions at lunch and runs after work. It’s kind of my camp to let me use the space too, I guess I’m one of those people who always wants to put time as much time in at the gym as I can. It’s a tried and tested way of getting good at stuff.

I’ve got my sights set on fighting towards the end of August and ideally whenever I can over the rest of the year too. Putting in the work always produces the best results and these days gym work looks like training  5 days a week, with the road work leveling out at a few times a week.

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Sitsongpeenong 2014 

When I was training earlier on today and I think the heat had something to do with this (it’s pretty humid and hot here) I felt a little sluggish and a little slow at first but when I relaxed and found my rhythm things resolved themselves quickly. I spent some time focusing on big power shots and noticed how strong my cross has got and how much my left body kick is coming on. Last night on the pads after I’d warmed up a little it seemed to be pretty fast, I just still need to get a little more torque on my hips to get the kick going right through the target.

My cross, on the other hand, hits straight through its target and finishes two or three inches behind. I want to make it into a knock out shot. I’ve seen myself knocking someone out cold with that shot so many times I know sooner or later it’ll happen. In the meantime, I’ll keep working on making that moment my reality.

Visualizing what I want be it winning my next fight by KO or just getting better at what I do goes a long way.  I learned a long time ago it’s important to shut out the chatter and focus on what I want in the ring and at the gym. When I work hard I attract the right situations and people to help me get to where I want to be. I’ve learned over time that we manifest our own destiny. It’s not rocket science.

Getting back to the physical I’ve accepted that I need to work hard to improve and that I’m far from perfect. I feel confident enough to say that I can win more fights and I can keep competing for a good couple of years yet if I want to. It’s down to me to make the decision as to how long I fight for because it’s not about wins and losses. It’s about discovering I’m someone I never thought I could be and developing that someone into a force to be reckoned with in that ring. Besides, I know and you know I’ll be training in 30 years time.

No doubt You’ll find me on a bag somewhere, someplace. It’ll be on a sun-kissed beach that never wants you to leave and I’ll be just as free then as I am now. Because really when all is said and done, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Have a good week, train hard, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

 

 

 

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Liberation

This week has been a good week. I think some of that is due to a Saturday in the sun that resulted in a trip to the museum which was nice.  I took in everything from dinosaurs (dinosaurs are awesome.) to Chinese art pieces from many years ago to a bit of Banksy and even put my anti-colonialist hat on whilst taking a look at the Benin Bronzes,  stolen by the British many years ago from Benin palace in West Africa. Here’s to then being returned to their rightful owners soon.

I was also fortunate enough to get myself down to the Palestine museum in town which is always a very educational and very sobering experience run by some good people that believe in helping others.  My kind of people. They are in fact so nice they gave me a lovely slice of melon when I left and I’ll have to catch up with them soon. The Palestine museum is an important place in the city and covers many different elements of the ongoing fight for liberation. 

What was really inspiring was reading how Palestinians train in and practice Parkour and how it’s become their vehicle to freedom.  It has also become one of self-expression teaching those who practice it that nothing is impossible.

“The idea of parkour is to “find your own way”, and failure became a victory in itself; proof that you’ve tried and learned. The lines blurred until all obstacles in their lives became walls, waiting to be overcome. With renewed fervor, they attempted to better their lives, elsewhere and outside of Gaza.”

The above quote strikes a cord. When a cord is struck I remember that many people are on the same mission as me and it’s inspiring to read about those in the most unbelievably hostile of environments who keep resisting any way they can. Besides, when it comes to all things martial finding your own path is the order of the day. Liberation through sport makes us free. One of the ways I find my own personal freedom is through Thai boxing.

I’ve learned a lot through failure and I agree that it can become a” victory in itself.”I know that if I wasn’t learning I’d be doing something wrong. Of late in training and in day to day life I’ve been working on shutting down the internal dialogue and have done my best to stay in the here and now. Today I spent some time when running focusing only on the run. The sound of my feet on the concrete, the trees and the plants around me and the water in the river.

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I know I am not my thoughts but thoughts can get in the way of a lot of things sometimes. When it comes to my training they can mess with my flow and make me doubt myself and what is already ingrained and inside of me. When it comes to fighting thoughts can affect how I fight and how I feel about competing before I step in the ring. It’s important in this respect to keep my mind clear. To stay focused. To remind myself of who I am, to be more like the Palestinian parkour players and always resist and push through the negatives.

I’ve noticed that when I’m fighting the noise switches off and I’m only ever-present. I want to be able to apply that skill to the rest of my life. The past is always the past and the future hasn’t happened yet. What happens in the ring over 5 rounds can change in instant and I know inside that what happened minute ago is irrelevant when compared to the last ten seconds of a fight.

Training, focus and mindset is something that I’ve come to realize is a big part of fighting. I think from next week onwards I’m going to start to shut down the inner critic so I can be at my best before the next opportunity comes around. When the voice stops I’m a little closer to being truly free. Have a great week, train hard and fight easy. I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closer than close.

Hi and good evening. It’s good as always to catch up and I hope all is good in your world when it comes to training and everything else in between. I’ve just got back from training which was as always awesome finishing with a few not too shabby rounds of sparring and a narrow escape from 83kg left roundhouse. You live and you learn and I’m already looking forward to getting stuck into the last bit of training for the week.

These days I’m training around 4 or 5 times a week which is from my point enough for me to start to make progress. I’m itching to fight again and I’m hoping some good stuff happens over the summer. I’ve made sure that training includes a few runs a week and it’s helping me keep my weight at a respectable walk around weight of  63.4 to 64 kg. That’s a good thing because when the next one comes around I won’t have to drop much at all. I usually fight between 60-63 kg. 61 is where I feel the most comfortable.

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Tuesday this week has also been a lot of fun training wise. I spent some time at the end being reminded sparring that it’s important that I stay in range.  When I get in I need to remember to stay in and to keep close. Being a short fighter the worst thing I can possibly do is play a range game with a taller opponent. Fighting at the range I want isn’t easy, it takes courage to work inside your opponent’s range but not only does it help me find the shots I want it also closes my opponent down too.

I have a tendency to enter rock em sock em robot mode and instead of sticking and moving just sticking. If I’m going to fight with pressure I need to make sure I stay a threat and I change my angles rather play a game of tit for tat. If your fitness is good and you are tough it’s possible to win a war of attrition but it’s better I guess to give your opponent a hard time and make sure your defense is solid too. Like everything else, it’s a work in progress but I can feel myself getting better and I hope it’s going to serve me well next time I compete.

I’ve also started to try to improve the guard on my left body kick as I’ve noted as have other people that my glove keeps catching my thigh as my arm swings. This fucks the kick up and pushes it down into the ribs rather than up and through. Ok, it still hurts someone but it’s not the kick I want. When I break it down and concentrate it comes together. All my inner whinging about flexibility and my lack of it may have a small element of fake news attached, and again when I find my range I can land that kick. When it lands properly it can stop people. I need to keep working on that as well as twisting my hips more.

My low kicks have always been my strength when it comes to Muay Thai so working close range means I get a chance to use them even more than I do already. The right kick is the one orthodox fighters never see coming and when it lands it does a lot of good. My left low kick is my battle axe. Nuff said. I’m going to spend more time drilling them both on the bags to get them sharper than they are at present.

Finally, I think it’s important I step my clinch game up. I need to spend a lot more time working the clinch in sparring but it’s a strength for the little people. Too tall to knee the ribs? knee the thighs. Bring them down to size, then knee the ribs. I love the knee bag in my gym and I’m making it my friend.

With fight number 20 firmly in my sights, I intend to keep putting in as much gym time in as I can. 4 or 5 times a week training for me equates to progress. When good things happen I’ll be ready.  The more I put in the more I get out, which really means the more I train the better I get. It’s not rocket science it’s just relentless dedication. After all these years I really wouldn’t have it any other way. Train hard and fight easy. And just like the last time.. I’ll see you on the road.

 

 

Martial goodness

Hi. Sorry, I missed you Sunday but I’ve been busy. Yeah, that old chestnut. Still, it’s nice to catch up as always and I hope your training has been as good for you as it has been for me of late. Last week, just like the week before was a good one when it comes to all things Muay Thai.

Starting from the top, I hit the ground running and trained hard all week as I was hoping to fight overseas last Saturday, despite my original matchup having pulled out a couple of weeks before I felt it was wise to keep the momentum up and as always to just keep going. I actually finished training on Thursday night feeling pretty good about myself and a lot more prepared than I had been for my previous fight.

I’ve started throwing in lunchtime training sessions with a pal of mine in between days in the week when I’m training at a regular structured class. This has allowed me to invest more time into my gym time and I think it’s beginning to pay off. I finished the week feeling sharp and with a feeling of self-confidence that always bodes well. I’ve had a reasonable amount of fights so far and I’ve decided to let experience take the steering wheel rather than self-doubt but I’ll come to that in a minute. 

On Friday I flew out to Europe for a tournament hosted by a good bunch of people who train hard and have what I consider to be the right attitude about many things in life. It was good to meet the Freedom Fighters crowd as I had heard good things about the camp and the show.  On Saturday morning I got some decent gym time in and hit the pads and bags for a few rounds before the show started later on in the day.

Although I wasn’t fighting, I enjoyed the show immensely and had fun cornering someone for their second K1 fight. I’ve noticed that there was a good atmosphere and a friendly crowd.

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Overall I thought the standard of fights when it came down to the K1 bouts were pretty good. Cornering someone can be exciting too and although we lost on points it was a close fight and at one point I am sure we were absolutely winning. It left me looking forward to fighting again myself and a little frustrated that I didn’t get the chance to step up on the day but I have a feeling they’ll be other opportunities to compete over the summer.

The day finished with a  good old fashioned knees up (not to the face)  in the evening  I managed to drink so much I’m pretty sure I  fell over more than once and woke up on Sunday morning, not at my most spritely for the awesome Pete Irving’s 3-hour long Muay Thai seminar in the afternoon. (The first hour truly sapped my life force but I recovered it (I think) for the remainder.

We focused mainly on countering kicks with catches, sweeps, and strikes and although it got quite advanced it was a lot of fun. We also finished the session off working from the clinch, practicing some throws and sweeps. I think if someone is heavier than you it doesn’t mean you can’t throw them. You just need to make sure you get your technique right. I absolutely need to spend more time working on my clinch game! It used to be a strength of mine and I’d like to get back to that again.

Earlier on in the day at the end of my training session, I’d had a good chat with a trainer from Hamburg way about fighting and winning and losing. When you fight regularly winning and losing become less relevant simply because your fighting. You learn to cope with losses and just come back stronger the next time around. Winning is great but a deeper lesson is learned sometimes in defeat. Fightings not for everyone and it’s a tough world in there but a good challenge. 

I want to get a lot better at it so I think I need to stop giving myself a hard time about fight records. We all go through ups and downs it’s how you come back that’s the most important. And besides, if you’re the best you can be your only ever going to come first place.

You can probably tell at the moment I’m missing the ring but I’m hoping this week will give me a clearer picture as to when fight no 20 is going to be. I’ve decided to set myself the modest goal of getting to 30 fights before I decide on what to do next. I’ll always be training and if I get some good results getting to that point I’m sure I’ll continue in the same vein. Never say never. Only say never give up.

This week should see another decent week of training ahead and I’ve already started with a decent couple of runs. Thanks again to Freedom fighters for their welcoming attitude and hospitality,  It’s training in a little while so I better get going but whilst you’re here do the take the time to read about the current situation at Rozbrat which is their home and a fantastic social center for many from all walks of life. From my point of view, we all deserve our place on earth. Keep fighting the good fight friends, train hard, and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

 

 

 

Forward thinking.

Hi. It’s been a while since we spoke so I thought I’d check in. This week, just like the week before has been an outstanding week training and I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running next week onwards. Fight no 20 was on the cards for next weekend up until a few days ago when my opponent pulled out due to an injury but they are currently looking for someone else for me to box so here I am, keeping everything crossed and also with my sights firmly set on fighting on my own gym’s show in August. This year’s going to be a busy year when it comes to competition. I can feel it in my bones.

As always there’s a lot going on in my world when it comes to training and everything else in between but I’m pleased to have found time  to commit to the hours I need every week to make good progress. Recently, I’ve felt myself hit a training slump which has been made worse by dwelling on wins and losses. The past is the past and the future hasn’t happened yet. It’s down to me to make sure I improve as a fighter and it’s down to me to keep training to progress especially when I feel like I’m making no progress at all.

My biggest critic is still myself and recently I took some time to take a leaf out of Ittu’s book and filmed myself on the bags. I was surprised to see improvements in the little things and could see I put combinations together quite well. There’s a lot of information from the past 12 years plus of training floating around up there so I have a lot of resource to draw on, of course keeping it simple is the order of the day. I want to get my basics really good. A good foundation is always there when you need it the most.

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I’ve managed to get a couple of half decent runs in this week too, my current route is pretty awesome this time of year and is right by the river side. There’s a wood near by that I want to spend some time exploring over the summer as well. You can’t beat a slog through the wilderness to keep you on your toes. I’ve started working through the rounds of the fight in my head too whilst running. Doing a couple of kilometres before moving into the next round with sprints has been the order of the day.  Just like training running is good for the soul as well as my cardio.

Next week is my last week at the gym before heading overseas for a few days and I hope I get a chance to fight. Either way, it’s set to be a superb weekend and will be a lot of fun. I intend to train just as hard next week as I have the past couple of weeks if not push a little more than before. I still feel at points I’m not going all out so maybe that’s a good goal to set for the week ahead.

I thought I’d leave you this week with a bit of Thai boxing goodness from the awesome MuayTies.   This time, a Sunday throwback. Yodthongthai vs Saen from 2014. I watch fights like this and think to myself “I wish I could fight like that.” Maybe one day. In the meantime, I’ll just keep training and keep fighting. It’s what good times are made of. Have a great week, train hard.. and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

Hills and valleys pt 3

Evening all. Here we are again you and me. It’s nice to catch up and I hope you’re well. 🙂 I’ve just got back from my first training session of the week, still feeling mildly tenderized from sparring but life’s like that some days.

I spent last week complaining about being injured and this so far this week wondering why people heavier than me are sparring fairly hard. I also managed to spend the last round of sparring tonight on the back foot, with a little voice screaming “stand your ground! Do something!” my last round today was with my trainer.

He’s tough and I’ll admit it I think today I was scared of him. Walking into people and taking them to pieces is what he does really well. That little voice was right. I do need to stand my ground. I need to remember to stop worrying and just remember that when it comes to fighting it’s not about what they are going to do to me, but it’s more about what I am going to do to them.

Fighting’s not an easy world to be in and it’s not something I have to do out of necessity but it’s something I’ve chosen to introduce myself to again because I enjoy it and I believe in myself and I want to get better at it. So here I am, deciding not to pull myself to pieces over little things and setting my goal on standing my ground. On fighting back. It’s not rocket science and you have to push yourself in the gym. Besides it’s not that bad is it? Heavens don’t open and the sky doesn’t fall.

If I get beaten up in sparring I need to toughen up and give as good as I get. Here’s to not getting knocked out on Thursday. Bags and pads tomorrow afternoon. Have a good week, train hard and I’ll catch up with you on Sunday. And just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

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Welcome back.

Hi. You know, I’m sitting here this morning thinking about a lot of different things when it comes to myself and martial arts. My ribs are bashed up and my left foot’s a little sore but I’m fine. Last night I fought on kind of short notice (I knew about last night just before my last fight out of town but was focusing on that at the time so you know.. ).

As I only made the decision to fight last night on Tuesday this week, I think I jumped in at the deep end.  I train regularly and continued training as normal after the fight before last so I don’t think my trainers would have asked me if I wanted to fight if they thought I couldn’t cope with it and win. I managed to throw in a couple of day sessions in this week as well as training in the evenings but it wasn’t really enough.

My cardio also left a lot to be desired which is a first as I’ve always had good fitness. Again to me, that’s lack of real preparation and that’s all it is.  Lesson learned. In my past few fights since my return to the tough little world that is Thai boxing, I’ve been pretty much outclassed every time. On two occasions I’ve gone the distance and lost on points both fighters telling me afterward that I’m tough. I know that.

My body seems to be able to soak it up. I need to start getting a lot better at answering back. In my fight before last, I was stopped in the first round but these things happen. I think maybe because that happened I was determined to try and put it right and wanted to beat him which is why I decided to fight again yesterday. That’s the right attitude but I need to improve a lot.

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I’ve watched the video of my fight a few times now and I’m not particularly impressed with it. First-round = ok.  Second round = holding on, third round = surviving. Fighting is about winning and unless I start to get my basics a lot better and work on changing my angles more frequently I’m in for a world of hurt.  If you do the same thing over and over again you cannot expect different results.

I may not be about to transform into something new but I can make the basics better and fight strategically. If I prepare properly I can get faster and sharper and feel better inside about stepping in the ring, which funnily enough brings me onto my next gripe.

Years ago one of my first trainers told me that my biggest enemy is myself. I still think that’s true. I know because of the hard time I gave myself on the way home and because of the hard time I’m giving myself right now. It’s easier to predict failure than it is to predict victory. You attract what you don’t want to you, faster than what you do want.

Before I start quoting from “The Secret” I’ve noted that although it’s improving my nerves have been pretty full on before I’ve boxed recently. They usually settle down quickly but there’s a lot of anxiety kicking around up there at points. It’s important to remember that fear is a mind killer and nerves can work in one of two ways. They either turn you into a beast or they suck you dry inside. They gave me a hard time yesterday until two fights before I got in the ring.

The way I cope with my nerves is to shut them down. I focus on the present moment and watch people on pads or shadow box or focus on what’s happening around me. The problem begins if I let myself home in mentally on possible failure. Thoughts are just thoughts and when the bad ones flick through it’s better to just observe them. It’s only fear. I need to remember to make it my friend. I want to work on visualization

You see, I’ve lost a lot of fights, won a few and drawn a couple. The important part is to remember that I can win. I could get misty-eyed over what’s gone before or I could just stay present and get a good set of basic skills together that I can build on. Do I seem like I’m putting myself down? I feel like I am, I do it a lot you know. The bullfight critic is me and it’s ok to be critical right now, but it’s important to not let it turn into self-pity. I enjoy training and I enjoy fighting. Even the tough bits.

You see, I want to turn “not very good” into better. I want to make sure I prepare properly when I’m competing. At least four weeks is ok. That’s a month of graft. That’s a month of making the time and putting in the work. Ideally, I want that month to be six weeks of graft but there’s a lot of things I want including to get my basics better as I’ve said. Everything comes together with time. Watching guys in their 30s and 40s go to war last night made me very happy because it shows me that it can be done. I didn’t start competing until I was 31.

On reflection, I’ll put last night down as an important lesson. I’m tough but I need to get better, I’m not in my twenties anymore so I need to fight strategically. On the plus side of things and this is what has made me smile, is at points I could tell I was hurting him. And there were moments when I found the moment. Do you know what I mean? it’s kind of Like pulling some into a reasonably tight clinch and throwing some ok knees as a payback for the last six you took in a row and just for a second thinking “Got him.” It’s like throwing a monster hook and seeing the expression on his face when it connects, it’s like hearing the slap of a left low kick connecting or seeing the pain in his eyes when you land that cross.

It’s like realizing that maybe if you keep training and you keep pushing to get better, in the end, you’ll turn it around again because after all you really cannot beat the combat. Thanks as always to Eagles for having me and thanks to my awesome corner. Big respect to my opponent from last night. You’re a good fighter and a strong lad. Train hard, fight easy and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.