Category Archives: Personal Development

Whilst you’re here

Evening all, I thought I should check-in. Whilst you’re here I thought I’d take the opportunity like many other people are to talk about COVID-19 and the impact it’s having on our training lives as well as many other things. Respecting the fact that not everyone that reads my blog is UK based, here in sunny Bristol we’ve only just begun to start to shut down.  Cases of COVID-19 or the Coronavirus (the last one’s a bit less 28 days later and apocalypse sounding) are unfortunately rising here 

From my point of view, it’s important to not buy into misleading or false information about our situation. I could easily begin to panic about this. Maybe I should. My parents are both retired and live in Spain and have for many years. The country is rapidly entering lockdown. My other family members in the UK are in other cities and many of my friends here like myself, are currently self-isolating.

If you looked up apocalyptic scenarios, you’d probably see this one coming up time and time again throughout fictional history.  No one takes the situation seriously enough and off we go, off the cliff edge. The reality, however, isn’t quite like that. Communities and people in times of hardship pull together. The mutual aid network that has emerged is outstanding and locally has helped me with food and medicine on a few occasions.

You can find a list of UK mutual aid networks here.  There are also many Facebook groups set up by mutual aid organizations to help us. What is mutual aid? Well, if you’re curious about the principles you can learn a little more here.  Right now it’s about supporting one another when we need each other the most.

In a way, it’s similar to training. As fighters or as martial artists as a whole, we support each other in our gyms and dojos. We’re always in each other’s corner and we should always have each other back, in or out the ring. Over the years I’ve heard gyms described as a microcosm of society, so although many of our spaces are now closed for health reasons let’s try and keep that attitude alive regardless. Being a martial artist extends to much more than our personal accomplishments.

On that note, it was good to see Sylvie Von Duuglas-ittu write a nice blog on home training that if your anything like me, should keep you motivated and inspired over the coming weeks and possibly months. It’s been less than a week since I was last at my gym and it already feels like forever. Training wise I can do free weights at home, sit-ups and press-ups, shadowbox and skip and if needs be I may even buy a small bag to put in my living room to keep sharp.

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I also intend to keep myself occupied by writing a lot more, running and helping those in the community by getting involved with community support as well as getting my head into my books with studying and reading in general. Today I shared a picture of my home bookshelf on my Facebook.  I’ve never done that before but I was going through a cat stuck indoors moment at the time.  It made me feel better because I was totally thumping my tail on the carpet. Work-wise, I hope things remain positive as I run my own business and can work remotely if needs be.

It’s difficult to say what things will be like over the next few months but I would recommend remembering that no matter what level of emergency we face, we have rights as citizens. Do check in with organizations such as the network for police monitoring Netpol on Twitter and Facebook for updates on what’s happening with emergency powers as well as Big Brother Watch some are saying we are witnessing an erosion of our civil liberties under the mask of a national health emergency. Only time will tell.

Most importantly I think it’s worth keeping abreast of the situation globally as well as locally. We are not an Island who are cut off from the world despite recent political choices and inspiring tales from overseas as well as closer to home can often uplift us here. I’m sure you’re all sick to the back teeth of do’s and don’ts around good hygiene standards so I won’t start preaching, but if you want to run over the dos and don’ts over the widely misunderstood social distancing you can learn more via this NHS link.

As for me? well, I’m doing good thanks. How are you? I had some symptoms but they seem to have dropped off now and I have a few days left of isolation left so I can only hope for the best. I expect a quiet world but I don’t expect a fearful one. We the people protect one another, and in silence, we can sometimes find the greatest peace. Walk tall, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changing shape

Hi. Nice to see you. I thought I’d take the time to catch up, fashionably late as always but life’s like that. Training wise things are going well and I’m looking forward to competing again when the weather starts to get a little warmer.

I’ve been thinking recently about the need to change my shape when it comes to competing. Just recently, I decided to step back into the interclub world to shake off a little ring rust that’s developed and to make sure that my head would be in the fight game the next time I stepped up for real. Being honest here, I don’t really need to take this route, I train hard and spar regularly but it’s good fun and usually a challenge.

Before I stepped into the square ring (I admit I was buzzing about it)  my inner voice said to me  “fight like you mean it.” Although I could feel the rust when things got going, everyone told me I did ok and I felt confident that with a lot more training and maybe another interclub or two I’d be ready for the next competition that came up.

You see, I’ve been worrying recently about not being able to cope with the pressure of a win-lose or draw fight, due to having those moments (we all get them from time to time) when being hit hard in sparring is no fun and I just don’t seem to want it enough. I miss shots, I feel slow and I don’t always cope when they give it back.

I don’t think it’s helped me by clinging onto the particularly negative memory of my last fight, which I was immensely unprepared for and didn’t take anywhere near as seriously as I should have done. I was more determined to put things right (I’d lost the fight before that one)  than remember me and “short notice” don’t really get on, my body kicking was terrible, I was far too predictable, I panicked in round one an- see? I’m doing it again.

There’s nothing I can do to change results. I don’t have this magic time tunnel that lets me reset, train for six or seven weeks and then give it my all. All I have is the here and now and all I can ever do is learn from my mistakes, build my skills and develop who I am as a boxer.

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To do this has a requirement. And that requirement is that I become a different person from who I am now. Human beings are multifaceted and what we see is very rarely what we get with each other. I have the ability to shapeshift just like you do. I have said before that fighting is brutal. It’s not for everyone and in order to be ready the next time I step up I have to be a different person in that ring. The nice guy needs to stay at home and the fighter needs to step into the driving seat.

I think at the moment when it comes to training I’m striving to get back to being the Thai boxer who won an area title in 2013. I feel frustrated that the fighters still there but he’s clouded with a lot of self-doubts.

At points, I wonder if I’ll ever see him again and I think I need to remember that since then and now I’ve made a lot of progress. He’s always there when I need him the most. It just takes time, dedication and practice and the courage to rise to the challenge, to stay brave as a friend once said and to remember that I’m a warrior.

The easiest way to face my doubts and fears is to get on with the work ahead so on that note I’m pleased to say I’m training later. I’m training Thursday, Saturday, and twice Sunday too. Yesterday I swept someone clinching. I forgot I could do that. But there I go again. proving me wrong. When it comes to this Thai boxing game, I don’t think I can ever really lose. Train hard, fight easy and just like the last time…I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

 

 

Better late than never

Well, it’s nice to catch up as always. Here we are again you and me, and here I am, better late than never. Training like life can have its ups and downs but I was pleased to spend more time than anticipated at the gym last week.

I spent the majority of last week in sparring thinking about speed as well as precision and was pleased on Sunday to find stuff just happening, like the right hook that came out of nowhere not once but twice and finished with a low kick, and the high low combinations including a nice left body shot in the ribs. My hands seem to be improving massively and my kicks are getting better too.

I have to remember at points, its not always about K1 style speed and volume but about the catches, sweeps and more that make Muay Thai so varied in comparison to other combat sports. I have days when I catch a lot and counter, and days when I try and close the distance through pressure alone.

Both methods seem to work, and what I do know is that I’m improving. Being honest, if I wasn’t improving with the amount I train every week, something would be wrong. Small steps can lead to big results and it’s nice to train out of such a technical Muay Thai camp. I’m enjoying the basics just as much as I’m enjoying the more advanced drills we get shown.

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Awesome imagery from “Muay Thai the art of eight limbs” AboutThailandliving

It’s the basics however that often sees me through under pressure so these days I’m making sure I spend as much time drilling them as well as time spent working combinations. Are they getting better? well, my left kick mid and low certainly is, and I’m trying to work on the golden kick because It’s a faster and less Captain obvious way of delivering some real power. It seems to be getting there and I’m going to try it in sparring next week if I can.

I think my fitness is good enough to keep building on my speed right now and if I can get my legs working at the same rate as my hands I’m going to be a happy guy. I don’t kick slow but it can always be faster. I also want to make sure I work on dictating the pace of a fight. It’s very easy to let someone else take the lead, There’s nothing worse than fighting at their pace and not your own.

Like everything else Muay Thai, it is as always a work in progress. I thought I’d leave you inspired this week with some of the formidable Saiyok showing us what training hard is really about. Well worth watching for some Monday inspiration! I’ll be back, as usual, this Sunday, and here’s to another good week at the gym, Just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

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Good for the soul

Hi. I thought I’d take the time to get this blog of my up to speed. I’ve been meaning to do it all week but as always have discovered that the best time to write it is, of course, a Sunday.  Speaking of Sunday’s mine’s been pretty good. I headed out to PCT interclub earlier today with a few of the lads from my gym, and I’m pleased to say we did well.

There were 55 fights over the course of the day starting with kids and juniors leading into adults as the day went on. For those that don’t know, interclub is a stepping stone into the world of competitive Thai boxing. From there you’ll find yourself in the amateurs and then onto semi-professional and professional fights or B class and A class Muay Thai.

Interclubs can be a great way to as I found out today, to shake a bit of rust off, get used to being in front of a crowd and/or gain the courage to step in a ring and square off against someone from a different camp. We’re all at different levels doing this and it was nice to see a mix of skill and ability.

I did ok, I think I could have done better but I always think I should do better. I’ve become adept at forever giving myself a hard time about fighting and training. This is the nature of things with me and anything remotely competitive. Ironically, I did better today than I did in my last competitive bout but I didn’t feel as sharp as my last interclub.

I stood my ground more, I was a bit too hesitant in the last round, I need to come forward a bit more I need to work on my clinch, my boxing, and low kicks was good, and finally, I didn’t throw enough body kicks but the one I landed was alright. I even managed to get some half-decent knees in as well. 

I didn’t feel old and past it but I did feel marginally rusty. The guy I got matched with is fighting in April and I said I want to fight again this year, but will probably do a couple more interclub to get my head in that zone again.  “Don’t wait too long,” he said. Noted. for now, I’ll keep training.

I’m not getting taken to pieces in there. There’s a limited amount you learn from being someone’s punch bag for 5 rounds. The good thing is I still want to fight. Before I got in the ring I was smiling. I could almost see the sparkle in my eyes. Fighting as a whole is exciting and a good challenge. It makes me happy and is good for my soul.

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The first gym I trained out of Sitnawoi Muay Thai, way back in 07.. this photo is from when I paid them a visit in  2015. Time flies. 

I haven’t trained this week as much as I have of late but that’s primarily due to work and other commitments. Next week I intend to make sure I’m back up to training 6 times a week again. I think I need to move through the little rise of fear that keeps trying to fuck with me when I know I’m getting pushed in there and remember that I need to be a different person when the situation demands it. Turn fear into fire.

You know, I feel like I’m beginning again. It’s strange and I can’t get over it. The fighting spirit won’t go away.  As I’m sitting here writing this it’s come in and filled up everywhere. I’m going to have to work hard at the gym to get to the “getting good” point again. It does not get easier you just need to train harder and you know what? It can be done. And because it can be done  I will never ever give up. Have a good week, train hard, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

Round 5.

Round 5. Today after a decent 2-hour sparring session I was thinking about round 5. The session started off at the usual pace, with a good standard of technique and a good mix of experience to keep everyone on their toes. I’m getting sharper and I’m getting faster and my stamina is pretty good. I keep saying that but today it feels more of an accomplishment because I forgot about round 5.

For as long as I’ve competed for now I’ve always been taught the importance of finishing strong. As I’ve also mentioned before I’m a pressure fighter so that means I’m alway forward. In, in, in. This is important for a couple of reasons. The first being my height. Everyone I’ve fought so far bar that one guy has been taller than me.

Even before you start, this isn’t a problem but is the nature of the beast. Staying close and fighting inside the opponent’s range is the order of the day.  You can close that range in a number of ways, but I usually flick my Porsanane Sitmonchai switch and open up with hands and low kicks.

Today I found my range a little more for my Left body kick and was pleased with what happened, I need to change my delivery or way I throw the kick so it’s a less Captain Obvious but I’m training and sparring with people who know me and I know them.I guess that makes me easier to read. Which brings me back to the 5th round and it’s importance. 

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That short guy Dan Tupan. He was a formidable fighter. Sadly retired now. 

Five rounds in the UK are paced similarly to five rounds fights in Thailand. The first two are used to feel your opponent out, although it doesn’t always go that way. And the really important rounds are later in the fight.  I usually try to pick things up from round three onwards and start to let it go a little.

I’m still working on developing my fighting style and these days I catch kicks and teeps a lot more frequently than I have before. It helps me close that range and start to apply pressure. You see, if I’m close I know I can be dangerous.

I’ve always tried to “finish strong”. My cardio and fitness let me attack and attack even when I’m tired. But that’s pressure fighting. I guess some may say, there’s not a lot to us. But what It doesn’t do is make us bad fighters.

Over time and training with some of the people I train with now I’ve seen taller fighters fall back and still score more than I do in a 5th round. Sometimes, I’m still dealing with frustration when they stay out of range but frustration makes me sloppy. So does tiredness.

To win that all-important round 5  I think it’s important I get back to learning how to take my time and find my shots. They are there when I stop looking for them. I landed a couple of body kicks today that caught me and them off-guard. Additionally, we all miss sometimes, the trick is learning to do that and recovering well. Fools rush in and I get that a fighter continuously on the front foot can seem a little desperate and reads easily. 

Today I’ve learnt that what I need to go the distance is there and I intend to remain relentless when fighting. I’ve also learnt that going flat out especially when you’re not doing great doesn’t always give you the best results, but if anything it shows the person in front of you, your heart and determination. Next week, just like this one I’m going to train hard and make sure skill and will start reading from the same page. Even at the tough bits. Have a good week, and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

 

Deep end.

Hi. Well, it looks like I’ve done it again. For the second week running, I appear to have beaten procrastination. This week, as I anticipated, has been a little lighter on the ground training wise but hey, from next week onwards I’m training 6 times a week again and of course, that’s always a good thing.

Although it feels like I’m picking the ball up where it was effectively dropped towards the end of 2019 it’s good to know that  I can find the time to train and put the work in that I need to. Even when I train a little less than I’d like to its always time well spent.

Of course, I’ve got my sights firmly set on fighting later this year but as I’ve said before there’s a lot of work to do between now and then. I’d like to fight over spring and summer, it’s good to have something to work towards.

Today I read this article by Under the ropes on British Trans Fighter Tara Wolf whom I gave a mention to a couple of weeks back. Fighting brings out the best in people and not giving up can be a lot harder than you think.  Learning something positive like a martial art can change your perspective on a lot of things and it’s great to see someone gaining a lot from it.

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Today, I’ve been thinking about comfort zones and why it’s best to avoid them. like Geoff Thompson says there’s no growth in comfort.  I’ve always been someone who’s been bold enough to take a plunge into the unknown and even if I’ve sunk before I’ve finally swum I’ve got to see what it is I want up close and personal.

By taking this approach I’ve learned to know my fear. What it is, what it sometimes looks like and the lies it tells me to prevent me from doing things I’ve always wanted to do. When I’ve come out the other side victorious or not I’ve been able to decide if what I wanted is really for me.

After a three year break from fighting and after losing my last few fights for my current gym it’s safe to say competing is something  I still want to do this year onwards. I need to get better at it. And ok I didn’t like the home truths my trainers gave me but I’ve done my best to take it in and listen without letting my feelings get hurt and my pride flare-up…  I stretch more, I focus on my technique more. Some days I’m fast but I get sloppy quick.. Like all things, martial  It’s a work in progress.

You know being honest, I feel out my comfort zone sparring with some of the guys at my camp. Some days I look for easy options especially if I have a hard time the round before. The tough part is making sure I’m always training with people that I know will always give me a hard time. If anything there’s only ever growth in discomfort

With anything you want to achieve in life, it’s important to give it a shot when your ready to do so. You learn a lot from failure but you learn nothing from repeating the same mistakes time and time again, although sometimes that’s what needs to happen to truly find your way. If you jump in at the deep end you’ll usually find the waters warm and you’ll want to stay there, and even if you don’t the main thing is that you took the plunge. Have a good week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Sharp

Evening all. It looks like I’ve finally managed to arrive on time as promised. That makes a change and looks like I’ve finally got procrastination on the back foot. Which is nice. How’s your week been? mine has been a good one. I seem to be finally getting a few things back on track, and work is taking shape for the year ahead.

Despite only training a few times a week the past couple of weeks I’m pleased I’ve stayed consistent and I seem to not only be fast but pretty sharp too. I’ve also noticed that my techniques improving. Which is also nice. In particular, body kicking is getting better but I still need to let it go a bit more and not kick with the brakes on.

However, despite that being a small problem at points, I’ve still got a nice left body developing that I’m going to continue to work on. It’s pretty fast and it’s strong when I throw it properly. The next part is really about working on timing and finding the shot.

There’s some great articles on Don Heatrick’s blog on flow state mental training and mindfulness  that are worth exploring if you have the time. Staying in the now or the present moment is a big part of fighting, as you progress and gain experience I’ve found that it becomes easier and easier to shut the noise off and ignore the distractions.

There’s no time like the present as the saying goes and staying focused and clear-headed under pressure will serve you well not just in the ring but in life as well. I’m remembering to take what I learn and have been taught over time into all other areas of my life too.

Energy flows where attention goes and when you switch off you become aware of everything. 2 minutes last a lifetime in the ring, and even 10 seconds can feel like forever. It’s what you do in the here and now that can win a fight. The past doesn’t matter and the future hasn’t happened yet.

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I’ve found that my focus is not only gradually improving in training but in sparring as well, although this week and the week before hasn’t seen too much due to having a tooth extracted. Ow ow ow. I’m hoping to jump back on that particular horse next week onwards. When I am sparring, however, I’ve found that I’m also improving I just need to make a conscious effort to add in what I’m being taught. I swept someone sparring the other week. I was gobsmacked. it worked.

If Muay Thai is about one thing when it comes to fighting it’s about keeping things simple. Delivering the basics well destroys people. In fact, I’d say almost every attack is designed to destroy the target. It’s a simple, effective and brutal but beautiful fighting system with a lot of depth.

To succeed in the ring and even defending yourself on the street you need to be sharp. I’m not a self-defense expert but I’ve been in a few fights in my life like young guys will do, and I noticed that when I started training not only did I feel good about myself but I oozed confidence. In fact, at first, it got commented on regularly.  Mr “wouldn’t hurt a fly” you know, “that guy” that trouble used to find became someone bullies avoided. It wasn’t how I came across or because I started handing out beatings but more about the aura I unintentionally projected.

I’ve always been an easy-going guy and do my best to be kind to others but it’s fair to say I’ve had run-ins in the past with those types who see kindness as a weakness. I’ve learned the hard way that the streets can be a dangerous place but it’s toughened me up inside. I’ve learned to be a different person when I need to be. That’s a skill I developed through training for combat in the ring.

The sharpness and self-awareness that Muay Thai has given me have put me in a world where I no longer feel afraid and I can walk tall with love and respect for others. I just don’t have those run-ins any more because I’m different now to who I was then. It’s the aura I project. It’s my energy, and it’s something that develops in all of us the harder we train and the better we get.

I’m fine with January starting off a little slower than I’d like and it’s nice to ease back into training at my own pace. I intend to start taking the brakes off from February onwards and know after all these years, it just gets better with time. Have a good week, train hard and just like the last time…I’ll see you on that road.