Harder than you think.

Well, it’s the second week running I’ve managed to get this blog together when I said I would. It’s nice to have the writing as well as many other things in my life back on track.. I’m still waiting to hear back about fighting on the 22nd but thinking negatively as I assume if it was going to happen it probably would of come together by now.

Sometimes I  feel there is something doing it’s best to stop me from getting back in the ring but really when it comes down to it that something is only ever myself. Thinking positive like I often do I’m hoping for  some good news next week.

As it is often is with these things I usually have something sprung on me out the blue so want to make sure I’m keeping training consistent and frequent enough to warrant competing even if it’s on apparent short notice. That in itself is harder than you think. Getting ready for a fight in 14 days is also a hell of a lot harder than you think but it’s somewhere I’ve been before and if needs be will always revisit.

Fighting  this year  (as I’ve said consistently forever and a day ) is something I most certainly have in my sites and opinions and criticisms are often put to bed by hard work and graft. Pushing past my own personal negatives has never been an easy part of my journey but it’s been an essential one. At one point all I thought I was going to do was lose. I love proving myself wrong.

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One of the hardest parts of fighting has always been picking myself up after a tough one and carrying on as normal. It’s harder than you think but it’s a part of fighting and this might be a cliche but if you love fighting you never really lose.

There’s been more than one occasion when I’ve hit training with the will to succeed and a blazing inferno raging inside only to instantly deflate after 3 rounds on the bags. When the thought “Why am i doing this?” has entered my stratosphere motivation has rapidly hit an all time low.

Sometimes, when I’ve been training hard and getting ready to box I’ve asked myself “do I really want to do this again?” motivation can suddenly go the same way. Pulling yourself back from that brink of near defeat is not an easy task. In fact, it’s harder than you think. In fact, it’s tougher than getting back up after an 8 count.

If I’m dealing with a little self doubt (in my case it’s usually a lot) I do a couple of things. Firstly I forget about the fight ahead. At my old gym in Bournemouth there was a blackboard with a list of fighters names and opponents and dates. I’d see it without fail every time I was at the gym. You couldn’t not see it. It was right in front of you when you walked through the door. My trainer used to tell me to concentrate on the training and not to worry about the fight ahead.

I’ve found that the more I focus on the training the less the anxiety sets in. These days I walk into training and can sometimes spend a good fifteen minutes trying to switch off, so working on a bit of presence is clearly something that wouldn’t go amiss. Mental conditioning is just as important as physical.

Secondly, I’ve taught myself to try to see beyond the fight itself. As an example, I used to box thinking only about the fight. I was never really thinking about the win. When you start to focus on the end result you find you want to succeed more. Visualization is something that I’ve found will often help.

I’m not the best fighter but I’m certainly not the worst and when I finally tipped the balance it was because I wanted it so much I made it happen. In fact, a friend from my old gym said “you wanted to win so much you did”.Or something like that. It was a while ago now.

Adopting both of these mentalities when it comes to competing in no matter what discipline you choose at no matter what level your at isn’t always easy. It can be hard. In fact it can be harder than you think.

I’ve never really seen myself as a fighter just like I’ve never really seen myself as a champion. I do my best to keep my ego in check and keep my feet on the ground. I keep my head in the game and I get on with the work ahead. I do my best not to listen to the little voice that tries to fill me with negatives. I go out my way to prove me wrong. To silence the inner critic that tells me all I ever do is fail.

It’s a long game and it’s taken a bit longer than I’d like to get myself heading down the right path again but I’m feeling more and more focused every single day. There are good things coming. And if you know anything about good things you’ll know that they are never to be rushed. Have a good week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

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Super Simple Stuff.

Well, this week like last week has not being the Thai full week I anticipated but I’m not giving myself that much of a hard time about things. At least not yet. I intend to get things up to speed next week onwards and hopefully next week I’ll know about fighting next month for definite.

I’m practically willing it to happen so if your a massive fan of the power of intention or at the very least believe that if there’s a will then a way will almost certainly appear you’ll know how I feel right about now. In short I’m quite excited at the thought of it.

I guess that’s a good thing and the thing is with good things, they often come to those who wait. (Or who take a bit of time out and then remember they really like punching people in the head.)

Despite training a little lighter than I’d planned this week it’s still given me a lot to take away. Life’s like that sometimes and today I’ve remembered (in fact it’s something I should never really forget ) that we all have to start from somewhere and no matter where we are it never hurts to work on your foundations.

The basics aren’t just important in any martial art they define what makes good fighters and bad ones. Super simple stuff.

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It’s easy to find yourself out your depth sometimes when you start something new and even years down the line I still find it’s really important to work on simple things you can rely on under pressure.

It may not mean becoming an all singing all dancing flashy fighter overnight but from a personal level drilling what I know works means it’s there when I need it to be the most. Repetition can get boring quickly for sometimes so sure, it’s fun to learn some of the higher end techniques and incorporate new ways of looking at a situation and try different things but especially if I’m fighting I like to be able to practice a few techniques and combinations I know will come without thinking. Whether I’m hitting first or answering back.

Some people say who spar with me regularly sometimes I can be a little predictable so just recently I started drilling a turning kick on the bags. Honestly and truthfully you land these right (and I did the other day sparring and I saw the look on his face. Luckily I pulled the power) and they will take someone to pieces.

It’s a very powerful technique but something I’ve added into my essentials box and I try now and then sparring. Again, it’s not rocket science and it’s easy to remember. (Not so easy to set up) It needs a lot of work but it’s getting there. Go me.

When it comes back to basics as it often does in this game  working on areas like stance, foot work and simple drills have always helped get things heading in the right direction. Balance is a big one in Thai so rocking lightly from foot to foot I’ve found can help me not only feel a little more centered and stable but also has the additional bonus of helping me relax a bit more.

All your attacks need to be fast and explosive but you should be able to go back to the place outside where your straight back into stance, and inside where your calm and ready. One of the first combinations I was ever shown and I use consistently mainly because it works and thrown at the right time can do a lot of damage, is jab, cross and a low kick to finish.

I still rate the low kick as the most devastating  kick in Muay Thai although it may not score as high as a kick to the body it can destroy someone. (One of the most satisfying moments in a fight can be landing that kick right and then getting it right again and again and seeing your opponents leg buckle.) And that’s what we want right?

So upstairs followed by downstairs is always worth getting set into your muscle memory. Saying that my left body kick has improved massively over the past few months so that’s not to say body kicks are all about points..

I’ve watched some outstanding fighters over the years and every person I’ve fought has been a real challenge (and I hope will continue to be so) and some of the best at the top of their game have always kept fights simple right from the word go.

If you don’t believe me just take a look yourself on you tube or maybe visit Muay Ties page and you’ll get my gist. Again it’s really important to have a solid foundation for whatever situation you find yourself in be it in the ring or otherwise.

I’m looking forward to getting back to it next week onwards. Training has been and always will be an investment in myself and I know it’s always going to stay that way. Instead of hoping to get better I’m going to keep on training and instead of simply wanting to fight again I’m going to make sure it happens. Like it or not. Have a good week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

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Fighting

Morning all. Better later than never, again but I think it’s marginally more punctual than the last time round. Last week, unlike the week ahead was pretty light on the ground training wise. Sometimes we all have weeks like that. It’s not always a bad thing.

In hindsight I think last week I just needed to let off a little steam and let it all hang out before getting my head down (for real this time) and getting stuck into the weeks ahead. The one thing I’ve noticed with the gym I train out of is that not many people seem to fight.

It’s not to say no one ever does (I’ve seen some of the fighters out there a few times ) and I guess it’s not really a bad thing but it’s something I’ve picked up on  and it’s strange because it’s the first gym I’ve trained out of in a while where it’s not happening as frequently as some (mainly me) would like.

I think I’ve moved from a place where I wasn’t that bothered about competing again to really wanting to take the plunge once more.The only thing that’s really different is that I wonder how well things will go if everything comes together for July. But I guess as long as I have the right attitude then the world is mine.  I’ve spent well over a year out of the fight circuit and don’t believe in doing things by halves so really do want to take the bull by the horns again.

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Thailand 2014 

There is most certainly a lot of fuel left in the tank and as it’s myself behind the mental steering wheel and no one else is in charge, I’m pretty confident I’m going to step things up again. It’s certainly not something that’s essential but gives me something to work towards and at the moment I feel that’s what training is lacking. Of course the main driving factor behind competing certainly isn’t fighting for the sake of it. If you think that’s what I’m about then you probably don’t know me as well as you think you do.

Last time I stepped up (and even though it was a great fight ) I lost unfortunately, which was a shame as I’d won the fight prior to that. I came away knowing that I’d done my best and that it was just bad luck in the first round that cost me the decision. Well, maybe a bit more graft in round five could of tipped it but that’s a different conversation.

When something like that happens, it does have a tendency to throw me into a “if only I” and a “why didn’t I” moment. Ultimately, that really does serve no purpose other than grinding myself down. So what I did manage to do was walk away and decide “I Just want to get better.”

A year or so down the line I think I’m still on that particular road (let’s be honest it’s an ongoing one for most people) but I do feel better than I was. I’ve been training a long time now and I think there’s habits that are doing their best to die hard. It’s probably unlikely I’m going to transform into a completely different boxer but I can certainly work on being a better one.

When it comes to fighting in itself there’s a lot of motivation to succeed and a lot less complacency on the back of a loss (winning is great of course)  so I’m hoping that I adopt the right attitude to everything in the weeks ahead. At the moment I am pretty heavy for me (about 64-65 kg) so need to shift some weight.

I guess when it’s this hot running with a couple of tops on can help with that little problem. It’s horrible, no one likes doing it. I keep gassing out at present, and that’s never happened before but me and beer have been good mates for far too long now so when I cut that out of the picture I think that small (and temporary) problem will be resolved.

In fact, I’m going for a run at lunch time. I did a half arsed might as well of been walking run yesterday round the block so will get my stride on later, and then of  course it’s training in the evening. Being honest, I’m already looking forward to the week ahead and in general have this weird positive feeling going on. Anyway, as it’s Tuesday and I do have a working day to salvage I’d pretty much say that’s all she wrote. It’s going to be a good week. Train hard and enjoy the sun. I’ll see you the road.

 

 

Hills, valleys and the usual twists and turns.

Phew. I’ve finally made it. i feel slightly hypocritical after my generic and all too familiar “I’m getting my writing back on track” speel last time we met. But here we are again you and me. And ok I’ll be honest… it’s good to be back. 🙂 training this week as always has kept me on my toes (more like the balls of my feet) and although I’ve leveled out at present at a few sessions a week,  I intend to start picking things up next week onwards. Graft is always good and entering a booze free existence to get in the right place for July if it comes together hasn’t happened just yet.. but it’s getting there.

There;s been a lot of focus on clinching over the past few weeks in training which is always a good thing. In fact, at least two days a week we spend time focusing on clinch techniques and often spend a few rounds clinch sparring. And besides, it’s always nice to work on your strengths.

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When I first started training  I rapidly discovered that clinching is an art within an art? it’s what separates Muay Thai from a lot of other stand up arts and I’ve always found that no matter who I train with and no matter how hard it gets I’m always learning something new.

Like with everything else we’re taught it’s very easy to fall into the mindset of sticking to what you know your good at or works best, and although I’ve felt a little rusty with clinch of late I’m determined in sparring to start attempting some of the techniques I’ve been shown recently. In fact this morning I  managed to pull one off.

There’s a wealth of decent information out there about Thai clinching but I thought this  article was pretty informative. It comes a reasonable amount of ground.. of course the best way to truly understand something and find out how it works for you  is to go out there and do it.

When I first started Muay Thai I used to hate clinching. In fact, it used to be my least favourite part of training but practice makes perfect (or the very least let’s you get to grips with things )  and over time I learnt if I practice it enough I’m not too bad at it.

Of course, with the clinch comes your knees and also elbows Sparring with one of the newer lads this morning I realized how easy it is to spend too much time focusing on grappling and looking for sweeps rather than remembering at it’s grass roots base level it’s about destroying people with my favourite weapon. knees.

In hindsight, I really need to start working on using them more. Being a short arse it makes sense to focus on short range weapons. If I’m close I can hurt you. There. I’ve put my fighting head on.  A punch may be faster than a kick (sometimes) and you can always follow it up with an elbow. I’ve seen it done, have never done it myself in a contest but practice it from time to time on the bags.

I also remember very clearly fighting a lad years ago (I actually fought him twice ) who was very determined to knock me out from the clinch by throwing upper cuts every now and then. At the least it’s a distraction at the worst if your tied up and being kneed and hit it can end in a face full of canvas. Luckily it didn’t go that way. Dan Tupan I haven’t forgotten about you. 😉 (lol)

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We’ve spent time over the past few weeks working on counters and sweeps as well as the basics. You can never spend too much time working on that. 🙂 and today I finally felt a little sharper and was landing knees a little quicker than before. I’ve moved past the point of moaning internally about sparring people bigger than me because it’s always a good push and at the moment I need that.

Looking at the week ahead I’m going to step things up a little more and will finally venture into a bit of K1 on a Friday from time to time to keep me on my toes. Things at the moment are ticking over and just as always I often encounter hills and valleys in training but the trick is really just to keep going.

When I don’t think I’m getting anywhere I usually am and when the going gets tough I keep pressing forward. And besides, like I always say it’s good fun. I’m still waiting to find out about July but have decided to start training for it anyway.  I have a feeling it may just come together. In the meantime, train hard and just like the last time I’ll see you on that road.

(as it’s Saturday here’s a video on how to develop devastating knees by Master A from the warrior collective. worth a watch.  )

Where the attention goes.

This week training wise, has been a slightly lighter or lazier week than of late. Now and again it’s ok to pull back a little I guess. At least that’s what I’m currently telling myself. A run later is going to round the week off and next week it’s into first gear as I’ve still got my sights set on fighting mid July.

Despite slowing down a little this week training of late has been pretty good. I feel that I’m making progress but I guess I’m always making progress. You always do when you make the effort, and besides as this weekend is a nice long one next week onwards is most certainly about shaking off bank holiday cob webs and getting back into the swing of things. But I guess for now, I’ll let myself off.

When it comes to writing, it a  seems to be a bit hit and miss with consistency at the moment and at points it’s become almost a second thought but seeing as it’s been going well over the past couple of years I’m going to make more of a point of catching up with you all on a weekly basis again. Excuses and procrastination often get in the way with these things. I put my energy into a lot of different areas and it’s not always as easy I’d like to maintain focus on every little thing.

Before I start whinging about procrastination (again) I’ve been pleased that just recently I’ve really made an effort with training and just adopting the like it not mentality has worked well. Being honest it always does, and training in itself has been pretty good. Some days it’s really technical and a good push other days it’s similar to training out in Thailand, usually finishing with 200 hundred knees on the bags and the rest.

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Energy flows where attention goes as they say so after a long battle mainly against myself (that ones ongoing) getting back on the horse hasn’t really been as difficult a task as I once feared and in fact, just for this week not being at the gym as much as usual hasn’t been as much of a problem as I thought it was going to be.

Being a goal setter I’m hoping there’s a new goal to work towards from the beginning of June onwards. We shall see how that one pans out. Hopefully I’ll know more before the end of next week.

In the meantime there is as always a lot to work on, I guess by the end of next week I’ll have a lot more to talk about training wise, and being honest as long as I’m doing and not just talking then I’m a happy guy. Training for the sake of training is good and training to improve serves a purpose but training because you know your going to be tested is the best motivation ever.

I’m currently reasonably excited and still planning to head overseas in the future too. If I fight in July the show is going to be in Wales. They’re a good bunch round that way certainly something to look forward to and most definitely one to work towards. I’ve still got my beady little eye on fighting overseas,  so will of course be keeping tabs on what’s happening there as well. I’ve gone from mildly deflated back to motivated again.

In the meantime. I’m enjoying the rest of the bank holiday weekend here, you can’t beat Monday becoming an extended Sunday and I guess some days there’s still no cure for lazy. Well, at least until Tuesday onwards anyway. Have a good week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

 

Wherever you go.

This week just like the week before has been  a good week of training. It’s nice to be back on track and pretty consistent with what I do, and despite being tempted to train earlier I settled with a run to finish the week off. Saturday morning was pretty good so it felt kind of ok to have a rest today.

So plans for heading overseas this weekend.. yeah so that fizzled out into nothing unfortunately. I’ve still got a possible opportunity to fight in July to work towards but life got in the way of what I wanted to do this weekend so mid week I decided to cancel.

I’m not sure if it was life getting in the way or myself (more like a mix of both )  but either way this month is keeping me on my toes. Things however in general are going well when it comes to all things martial and I’m planning to make a trip overseas when the next show comes round.

I should of bought my ticket last month and got everything sorted then but it’s easy to live in the land of could of, would of and should of. I’d rather live and learn and do everything at an early stage next time round.  I’m keeping in touch anyway and besides either way, I’m pleased I’ve got my focus back with training.

It’s not always easy getting yourself down the gym 4 or 5 times a week but it’s good to be able to do that. The more I put in, well the more I get out. I’ve got my mojo back and where there’s a will there’s always a way.

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Despite having my proverbial tail slightly and it is only slightly between my legs about the weekend I’m intending to get straight back into things next week onwards. I’ve even found I’m starting to eat healthier as well as run more. When it comes to doing anything remotely competitive I’ve still got a couple of years left if I want. That much I’m certain of.

If July comes together I want to give myself about 5 weeks of serious training. I can probably get ready in about a month and I’m happy to step out my comfort zone if needs be. I’ve had enough fights to do that really. And besides I think I’m getting better.

So, for the next couple of weeks it’s beer. pizza and bedlam. Na, it’s just the usual graft that I’ve grown to love. I’m keeping the self defense training going too. I took a lot away from being shown some Tai Chi last week and casting my mind back to a few weeks before that I got shown some pretty useful ground fighting techniques at a seminar.  It was good  and reminded me a little of some BJJ/ Krav Maga techniques I got shown just before I left Bournemouth.

Cross training always helps keep my mind open and despite training in Thai as much as I was then it was refreshing to get shown some techniques then that I picked up well too. I’ve always got on well with the “empty hand” side of things and it was nice to see how well Krav complimented Muay Thai. There was a load of boxers raving about it at the gym just across the way which prompted the exploration.

I think with both Muay Thai and everything else happening in the background I might be in danger of becoming a well rounded martial artist this year. That’s pretty exciting. 10 odd years down the line and I’m still just as passionate about what I do as I was way back in the mists of 2007. I think I’m still a work horse when I need to be.

I’m still horrendously lazy at points but ultimately it’s good to have something to focus on again. Despite things not going according to plan this weekend I just reset and carry on as normal. I think that’s how Iv’e always been. When you find your passion it’s like that sometimes. Have a good week, train hard and just like the last time, I’ll see you on that road. “Go with all your heart.”

Well that was interesting.

Last week. Well that was interesting. It was also awesome because I spent the best part of the week at the gym. I’ve finally got back to my space of training 4 or 5 times a week again plus running a couple of times too. In fact I’m going to do that later.

Sorry to be a little later than expected by the way. The best intentions of Sunday do on occasion spill over into the next working day (or even the day after that) but being my own boss I can invest a little time into doing the second thing I love the most which is of course writing. Yeah. I need to get a lot more of that in my life.

I’m pleased to say I’ve decided to have a little break from the blue peril (Facebook ) for anything other than business related stuff and hope that  it’s going to let me get the focus I need back in other areas of my life including writing and training. At the very best it’s an entertaining distraction and at it’s very worst it sucks the life out of me. The sun’s shining and there’s people and stuff.. yeah. Let’s do that! If you catch my blog on the regular then you’ll still find it in it’s usual places outside that little world.

Getting back to all things martial it was good to have spent the best part of last week training and the week certainly finished on an interesting note. I’ve mentioned before I occasionally train at the weekend with some mates and last weekend I got sbown and I like to think learnt a bit of Tai Chi boxing.

It’s one of those martial arts I’ve always respected but have never really known a great deal about but on a couple of occasions I’ve seen what it can do and have been impressed. One of the more impressive instances was when an old friend of mine sent me half way across the pub he helped manage with what seemed like a very simple strike to my chest. You learn humility in the funniest ways sometimes.

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DCF 1.0

We worked on grounding ourselves so it was harder for someone to disrupt our balance “qigong” and also practiced a couple of drills, one of which is logged in my subconscious and even sitting here writing this now I can see myself doing. That’s good. In fact that’s excellent. I’m a firm believer in keeping my mind open when it comes to martial arts and it’s always good to think outside the ring and in the real world as such.

What’s also interesting is the similarities in Tai Chi striking and Muay Thai striking. In both instances the key is really to stay relaxed to generate the most power and from the little I was shown it seems that like with Thai there’s real economy in movement. I liked the way a simple sidestep out the way of a punch opened up a whole realm of possibilities. I guess that’s kind of like Muay Thai. There’s always a lot of ways to answer back.

And just like with Thai, my friend made it clear then when you respond it should be a sequence of attacks. One flowing into another. Even though we only trained for a couple of hours it made me realize how rigid and stiff I can be sometimes. All my trainers have consistently said one thing to me. “Relax.” I find myself saying it to newbies at the gym from time to time when holding pads so I know I’m not alone and just like everyone else I’ve got a lot to learn.

This week I’m straight back into  the mix and it’s good to be able to train 4 or 5 times again at my current gym. They’ve started doing Saturday sessions which makes me happy. In terms of fighting overseas the opportunities there and I’m hoping I can get out there this weekend to have a bit of fun.

I also should be fighting in July in Wales all being well. That one like the one ahead is a work in progress. How do I feel about fighting again? Up for it. I’ve gone from a little uncertain to realizing how much I miss it. You can’t beat a good challenge. Even at the scary points. It’s nice to keep things varied with training  and I think it plays a big part in staying motivated and focused just like working towards a fight does.

But that’s just me. Not happy unless I have a goal to focus on. Something to say I’ve got better at. Something to say I’ve done. Something to say I’ve won at. Something to keep forever. Train hard, keep focused and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road. 😉

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