There are still hills and valleys.

Evening all. Ok, ok I know, I’m a day later than anticipated but be assured,  I won’t let standards slip again. Besides me and punctuality are still getting to know each other.Just recently I’ve found myself entering what could be best described as the long dark tea-time of the soul when it comes to all things martial. I ended up spending at least twenty minutes bickering with myself whilst simultaneously getting ready, heading out the door, getting on my bike and pedaling (whilst muttering to myself) to training last Friday.

Just before I left I had to say out loud “the hardest thing about training is getting there.” That affirmation kicked me up the arse enough to get my stride on and my head in the  game for an hour. (It was only an hour. Not forever.) As it stands I got a good bit of training in with some friends who have just come back from Thailand. It’s fair to say it was worth every minute of my oh so precious couch potato time.

In my infinite wisdom, last weekend I decided to run 9k or thereabouts in trainers that quite simply aren’t built for what felt like a  half marathon. Legs and calves still aching from the 8 and a half k I had done a few days or so before that I ended up jogging and limping, stopping and walking my back to civilization from the always pretty riverside hell I had just put myself through. I’m pleased to say it was worth every minute.

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Me back in the days when I moaned less and just got on with it. 

One thing I’ve also noted of late is that the road less traveled may be a good one to be on but being honest at points it out and out gets on my nerves. Just recently I’ve had days where nothing is easy and nothing flows. The basics feel difficult and I feel rigid and slow.

When that happens I get frustrated with myself and when I get frustrated with myself I manage to successfully forget that the best way to do something is just to do it and never think too much. I’ve got bigger on shutting out the chatter and staying focused of late so I need to make sure that actions always speak louder than words. Talk is cheap and Mr negative can run a marathon. I’ve seen him but I wouldn’t want to be him.

I guess it goes back to switching on as soon as I walk through that gym door. At the moment I can do that by focusing on April. Every minute in that gym is an opportunity to work on what I need to. There’s a lot of work to do between now and then and I’m pleased to find myself sharpening up a little in sparring.

Rather than giving myself a hard time when I have a hard time (the way it should always be) I need to push through it. When I don’t feel that I’m getting anywhere I usually am and when I can truly feel the grind I know I’m in the right place. Sometimes people throw the proverbial towel in when things get tough. I’ve learned that there is no land rover In fact, over the years it’s also become my mantra.

There are still hills and valleys but there are always going to be hills and valleys. It doesn’t come easy. But when it does come I know that it’s mine to keep. So here’s to training hard and fighting easy. Here’s to running 10k runs and sprint training that makes me curse every second of it. Here’s to the grind. It’s good to be back. Train hard and fight easy and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

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Changes

Hi. I thought I’d take the time to swing by this evening to catch up about all things martial. When it comes to training this week things have been good. I managed to fit in a 8.33k run this afternoon before the last session of the week. I’m back on track training wise and will be putting my heart and soul into the next couple of months as I’m fighting on April the 13th in Birmingham.

The guy I’m fighting comes from a good camp ( K Star legacy) and his trainer is the former world champion, Damien Trainor. My trainer has said to me my opponent is fast and he’s good. Speed and volume are what I need to be ready for.

I’m reasonably nervous and I’m pleased it’s happening at an early stage. I once watched an old friend of mine destroy a lad who had around 15 or 16 fights and my friend was only on his 4th or 5th. You never know what’s going to happen until your fighting and you should never underestimate anybody.

I intend to start to pick up the pace next week onwards and really want to make sure my fitness improves before the end of the month. I’m fighting at 61kg (my regular fighting weight.) and haven’t really got a lot to drop but have already decided to clean up my act when it comes to diet and cutting out alcohol.

I’d rather get my head in the game at an early stage and build up the training between now and April than tell myself I can start focusing from March. I’m pleased I’ve got a 6 or 7 weeks training before the next one and intend to make the most of it.

I’m currently limping slightly due to an injury to my knee I either picked up running or training earlier so hope it settles down before Tuesday. I’ve noticed a bit of blackish bruising on the inside of the leg so I think I caught a low kick in the wrong place earlier today. You live and you learn. It’ll right itself.

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Recently in training, I’ve been thinking about (and talking about) Muay Thai economy of movement  I think this is important for me to “get” right now because I want to improve what I do massively and I’ve spent some of this week not be able to do anything other than see the flaws. I want to get better at using my movement to close people down and to deliver shots faster and with more power. I can see that my body kicks literally go round the houses so I want to change that.

It was pointed out that my cross is losing power as I’m winding it up so I need to change that. I need to get my right hook better because it’s hitting the guard of whoever I train with so I need to change that too. I need to pivot my lead foot more on my left roundhouse all the time so I need to remember to do that too. It’s been one of those weeks. It has, however, as always been good. You can’t beat learnings.

Earlier on in the week, I told my trainer I find Thai boxing quite “hard” and being honest, I do at points, but I realized after I said it that if I find it “hard” then there’s something I’m missing. It was never meant to be easy. I just have to keep going. I’m looking forward to fighting again in April and having that to focus on should help me make me the hard bits better.

I don’t think I’ll ever become a totally different fighter but I do think I can become a better one. I want to be at my best for April and I want to win. It’s a long road to be on but it’s a good one. I’ll see you on it soon.

 

 

Always a good thing.

Evening all, I thought I’d take the time to catch up before Monday arrives in all its glory. Well.. maybe not glory. There’s never been anything glorious about Mondays and tomorrow is no exception.

I’ve managed to spend a reasonable amount of time at the gym this week although I’ve been still shifting the last of the flu out my system which has meant despite putting in work, I’ve taken things reasonably easy and not pushed too much.

Next week onwards I intend to turn things up a little more starting tomorrow off with a decent run first thing. I spent some of my time training today thinking about footwork as well as practicing it which was as always a good thing. Seeing as its the foundation of what we do it’s good to focus on the body mechanics and basics from time to time.

A solid foundation and a decent set of basic skills makes a good martial artist regardless of your discipline, and like with all forms of combat staying light on my feet is pretty much the order of the day.

Thai footwork  isn’t always easy to pick up and there are always different variants  Just recently, I’ve been giving Yodkhunpon’s ‘gallop’ a try (see Sylvie Von Duuglas-Ittus video on the subject) as a way to close the distance between myself and taller boxers.

I think I’m going to start practicing it daily so I can get good at it and I really like the way it helps you close distance and cut the ring off fast. As Sylvie says footwork training is “work you can do completely alone” and as I’m still the kind of guy that takes it home with me I think I’ll have fun working on my movement. After all, it’s a big part of my fight game and I want to make sure I’m at my best next time I step up.

I’ve also spent some of this week thinking about the range of attacks and why on some days I seem to spend the majority of my sparring time missing shots I should be landing. I guess the key is not to think too much and to believe in myself enough to know I can land the shot. A lot of it comes down to closing distance and being patient enough to find my range as well as the moment.

Some days I find what I’m looking for, other days it seems to always be just out my grasp. I don’t think there’s ever anything that constitutes as “perfect” doing this but what I  I do know is that practice often helps. If I believe in myself the rest often follows.

4d56d911a004b16b9ba7fa7c41df0e32becbb918It’s good to practice movement drills with a training partner so I hope next week I can use some of my sparring time just working on footwork under pressure. Pressure tests are always one of the better ways to learn and anything that doesn’t go the way I want it to I can just take home with me and work on it some more. The path to self-improvement is always full of learnings and the martial ones are the best.

I like to think by deconstructing myself at points and going back to basics I can develop who I am as a martial artist and I’m confident that little by little I’m getting better the more I train. Of course, time helps with a lot of things and it takes a long time to get good at anything but life is like that. The best bit is that after just over 12 years of training in Muay Thai I love it just as much as when it was brand new. And that’s always going to be a good thing. Have a great week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

It’s what’s inside that counts

Hi. I thought I should take the time to drop by despite having spent the best part of the week coughing, wheezing and sneezing my way through life. Yep, it’s flu season here rather than launch into a full-blown rant about how ill I’ve been, I’m pleased to say I’m well and truly on the mend and as of next week will be back on the proverbial horse.

Despite the reason behind why it happened a week off from training this week hasn’t necessarily been as painful as I expected it to be. In fact, it’s given me a renewed vigor for the week ahead, and with a fighting focus being very much on my agenda from now until the next time I step up I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running (literally) from next week onwards.

When it comes to training I’ve always found it’s essential to adopt the right attitude and to stick with it no matter how hard it gets. Peaks and troughs occur in all walks of life and over time I’ve learned to take the rough with the smooth and to keep fighting. Never giving up is the order of the day.

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A great fight and a draw from 2014.  I could have won it if I pushed a little more… no regrets, however. Not one. 

When talking about what makes a champion Muhammad Ali once said: “the will must be stronger than the skill”. Of course, as Ali acknowledged himself it’s essential to have a good set of skills (it’s not a tickling contest and if your not ready to step up or haven’t been training hard enough it’s a certainty you’ll learn the hard way) but Thai boxing first and foremost (for me anyway) has always been about graft. Whether you be in the ring or on bags or pads you always have to work. You have to have the heart to keep going no matter how hard it gets.

Heart, however, although important (it will never let you down and is always there when you need it the most ) isn’t always something alone that can win fights…although sometimes it does.

I sometimes find myself up against tricky fighters sparring.  I’ve fought a couple over the years too. Being honest, I always get annoyed with tricky fighters. They can make me work and not get anywhere at all for my efforts, but I’m learning that if I take my time, and try to pick my shots I can still turn it on and give someone something to remember me by. Skill and will often shake hands when I relax and remember to do my best.

My last fight has left me wondering in a way what I’m missing these days but I’ve come to realize what I’m looking for has never really left. I remember who I can be when I really put my mind to it. When I don’t think I’m doing well I am doing well and I’m pleased I train with a team that can really push me to be at my best.

There’s a lot I need to improve before my next fight, but what’s been there all the time should never be dismissed or forgotten. People have called me a warrior in the past. I’d like to get to know him again, because after all.. it’s what’s inside that counts. Have a good week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

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Observation

“Focus less on what’s going on in your mind and more on what’s going on in the room, less on your mental chatter”

Evening all. Ok so this week’s blog has arrived a little later than planned but this weekend I  decided to let what little hair I have down and hit the tiles. So I guess my 2 months of sensibleness has had a brief moment of debauchery but hey, sometimes that’s ok and I’m back on track tomorrow onwards. Besides, I may not be fighting until the end of March and I’m already feeling guilty.

On the more positive side of things, I’ve managed to pick things up a little with running this week and intend to keep things moving in the right direction next week onwards. I guess it’s the same as with anything I want to do. When I cut out the chatter and the excuses and the fears and self-doubts fall away good things start to happen.

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“To improve your performance stop thinking about it.” 

Just recently in training, I was stewing over my left body kick. I was actually stewing over the kick at the same time I was kicking and it really didn’t help at all. The fact that I’ve been working on improving this kick now for a while and it is getting better seem to yell “goodbye cruel world!” and leap out the window as self-doubt set in and a nagging voice began to point out everything I was doing wrong.

In fact, it wasn’t until my training partner (thanks by the way) said “don’t think too much” that I started to relax and little by little my kick started to improve! Also recently I watched Sylvie Von Duuglas-Ittu technique vlog “the golden kick”

I like this kick so much I’ve decided to start practicing it on my clothes horse in the living room. Like everything else I encounter in life, it’s taller than me  (well almost) so seemed like a worthy opponent. It’s worth noting at this point that my trainers have been telling me to maybe start kicking like this forever and a day, but as I’m a creature of habit and as Sylvie says there isn’t really a right or wrong just different applications of a technique it’s taken a little longer than anticipated for the penny to drop.

Earlier on in the week, I decided to try this kick a couple of times on the pads with a partner. Almost straight away I started to remind myself that I needed to turn into the kick at the top of the arc, that the way I throw my left arm to help me pivot needed to change, that.. well, you get the idea. It’s also important to note at this point that I am not my thoughts.

In fact, more often than not thinking gets in the way of doing. As soon as I switched off a little and just kicked the technique found it’s home my training partner smiled as he felt the connection and I felt and heard myself kick through the pads. It felt good. Of course, when it comes to all things martial making changes are never an easy thing to do but like with all change it’s always positive and worth my time.

So, I’ve decided to start thinking less and focusing more. Other than getting better at fighting (experience is the best teacher) I want to get better technically too, but as one of my trainers says it’s “no drama”. It’s something like with everything else on this journey of mine comes with time, patience and persistence.

Next week onwards, I’m back on the horse and back to the world of clean living and healthy (ish) eating. As always I’ll put in the work and catch up with you end of the week. I think 2019 is going to be a year of progress and success.  Here’s to making it happen now. Have a great week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

 

Still present

Hi, how’s it going? I hope this evening finds you well. Things are good here and I’ve spent the majority of the week busy with work, life and everything else in-between. I still need to get running back on track but next week onwards I intend to get that resolved. Procrastination often packs up and goes home in the face of persistence.

Although my fitness is good at present it can never be good enough. Today I ran around  4.5 to 5k which was awesome and I want to make sure I start to push it towards 6 next week onwards. It looks like I may be fighting at the end of March provided I get matched so keeping training consistent and my fitness up is pretty much essential.

Just recently, I’ve found the best way to resolve mental hurdles when it comes to training and other areas of my life is to change the way I  look at a situation. Being the kind of guy I am I often internalize and sometimes over think what’s ahead of me. That sort of explains why I am so big about staying present or in the now. 

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Staying in the here and now has helped me deal with everything from pre-fight nerves to self-doubt, limiting beliefs and anything else my mind, not my subconscious can throw at me. The anything else is usually fear, but that’s a much longer conversation for a different blog.

Just recently I’ve started reframing situations I find myself in relating to goals ahead of me. I’ve found it’s a great way to offload some mental clutter and also when it comes to fighting, in particular, can help keep you stay clear, present and focused. Ever had Mr or Mrs negative take varying shapes, situations and characters and try to put through you hell?.. yeah. Me too.

I’ve found it’s important to be able to detach myself from a problem area or more appropriately a situation and see it for what it is (Just a situation) but like with everything else in training it’s a work in progress, These days, I’m pleased to say I find myself succeeding more often than not. When I do, I can observe rather than engage with my emotions and my goal seems clearer than it did before.

If I want to work towards something I really want, then I put myself in the position of having already achieved that goal. I ask myself what it would feel like when I’ve achieved what it is what I want the most and I step into it. Sometimes I draw on past experience to remember what it feels like to win. I ask myself how it benefits not just me but those around me and I focus on having got there. I focus on not just getting through the fight but on winning it and I see myself win. Maybe if I focus on kicking like Pakorn then one day I’ll get there too.

By changing the way I think about a situation I’ve found that I seem to head faster towards what I really want. As I’ve said it also lets me offload the negatives and mental clutter that tries to get in the way of my focus. When it comes to physical training I’ve found that it’s starting to pay off and although there’s always room for improvement I seem to switch on from the moment I walk in the gym.

It’s similar to what happens just before I fight. I’ve started working on setting a trigger “ok I’m here now.” to help me get my head in the game. If distracted by the rest of the day I break that state by focusing on the present situation.

There’s a lot to be said for “flow state” mental training and Muay Thai and I think it’s something that always going to be different for each and every one of us. Just like with all things martial in my life it’s something I intend to develop and continue to apply to the physical aspects of what I do too. In the meantime, have a good week train hard and just like the time before… I’ll see you on that road.

 

 

 

 

 

Good for the soul.

Evening all, I thought I should take the time to catch up before Monday arrives. Besides, it’s always good to be able to sit down and find the time to write. Just like training, it can be good for the soul. Whilst we’re on the subject I’ve got training back to where it needs to be this week and I’m already starting to notice the difference. Running as well has found its way into the weekly equation once again  I’m pleased to note.

As well as abstaining from alcohol my next step is to start to get my diet together and of course as always to keep focused on the road ahead. Speaking of focus it’s starting to come together in training, and through using a handy little NLP technique called “breaking state” If I find myself ruminating on a tough day at work I can bring myself back in the room by simply focusing on what’s in front of me.

What’s in front of me is usually a person holding a pad and some days we all need something to hit so I get to fix internal and external all the same time. I’m hoping from next week onwards I really start to feel the benefits of reasonably clean living (diet you are on my radar) and hit the ground round running. Literally.

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I intend to have my fitness at a much better level by the end of January and all being should be on track for March provided of course, I get matched to fight. If I put in the work between now and then I’m confident that I will.

I seem to be getting my aggression back in sparring which is good and I was pleased to find myself attacking when I had someone cornered earlier in the week. Pressure fighting is something I’ve always been good at and it’s toughened me up as a result. I think these days I’m a little better at it than I used to be and it was good to see the fundamentals are still in my DNA.

The more I train the sharper (and faster) I get. I learnt a long time ago never to give up and it’s good to know that it still pays off. I still need to tidy up my body kicks, stretch more and think less but everything’s improving again inside and out. Speaking of body kicks, I’ve found myself throwing a lot more of them so if I can teach myself just to kick when I see it, I’ve got the fundamentals right. Every else will follow suit.

Next week I intend to keep up the training momentum and turn the running up a notch. It’s nice to actually look forward to sprint training and I’m pretty sure that soon the weight is going to start falling off. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy what’s left of my Sunday evening because Monday is still a day away. (Well, kind of.) It’s been a long but productive week. Here’s to the next one. Train hard, have a good week and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.