Tag Archives: Combat Sports

On a Good note

As always it’s been a good week of training. I think it’s fair to say that of late I’ve been training hard but that’s always the case when I have something to focus on. And with Muay Thai whether it be fighting or otherwise there’s always something to focus on.

I step up for the fifteenth time next Saturday in Cardiff  (fight no 10 for Bristol Thai )and I think I’m going to go for a last bit of push next week rather than just train a couple of times in the week  and have a few days off. I think that’s the best way forward.

After all, I want to make sure I’m at my best. You know from time to time there’s a part of me that steps back in utter amazement that I’m coming up to.. what was that again? fifteen fights now? There was a time when I never thought I would even have one.

I’m pretty much convinced if me now met me 15 years ago, old me would be in for a surprise. What tickles me even more than that statement is the fact that I enjoy fighting so much. After all fundamentally, we’re getting in a ring to hammer each other into submission over five rounds.

My old trainer in Bournemouth once said to me ‘fighting is brutal! it’s not for everyone!’ I thought then he was just trying to put me off, but maybe he was just testing my resolve. People are like that. When they see potential in another sometimes they push them to be the best they can be. It’s just the same with my trainers at present.

So what I’ve learnt not to do is put  Muay Thai on a pedestal when it comes to combat. It’s tough in there at the best of times,  and the more you compete the tougher it gets. It’s true that it’s not for the faint hearted but first and foremost it’s also true that it isn’t just a sport it’s an art.

It has a rich history that extends beyond the ring, and it’s something that I hope to continue to explore way beyond the day I finally decide to have a little rest. Though the rest probably wouldn’t be for that long.

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I’ve found that training and fighting isn’t just  developing my skills as a boxer /martial artist (I’m finding that at the moment things I never thought would click are beginning to fall into place, and although there’s a lot of work to do as always progress is inevitable.The more you put in.. well you know the rest.)  it’s developing me as a person too.

People train for all kinds of reasons and when it comes down to it you don’t have to fight. It’s not a prerequisite for stepping into a Thai boxing gym and I think I knew that from the beginning. In fact, at the beginning I used to watch the lads spar at my gym and think to myself ‘I hope I can do that one day.’

Like with most people who train, Muay Thai has given a lot more back to me than just techniques and raw combat. It’s made me walk a lot taller than I ever did before and it’s shown me that ultimately the one person who should always believe in me without question is myself. And that’s the sort of gift you can apply to the rest of your life.

So coming back to the here and now (I could almost see the screen swirl as I ventured into a misty eyed flashback a minute ago) at the moment I’m feeling pretty solid mentally about fighting again. I’ve had six months out from competing and although I did have a moment of doubt flicker last week about performing well, I’m sure by next Saturday I’ll be ready.

At the moment I’m feeling pretty good but again, I just want that final  push for the majority of next week to make sure everything is how it should be. Just because I’m going to stay away from sparring for obvious reasons doesn’t mean I can’t work hard.

Although as a paradox, I’ll make a point of not over doing it when I should be taking time to relax mentally and physically too. Overall, as you can probably tell I’m pretty excited. I’m also  waiting for the nerves to strike.. that’s kind of a given but the more experience I get the more I learn how to deal with them and most importantly to use them to my advantage.

It’s all about that fear into fire thing again.It’s funny because now that I’ve mentioned nerves I can feel them bubbling up a little. The one thing I do know is the guy who’s writing this blog today isn’t the same person as the fighter who will step into the ring next weekend.

So right now I’m all about the here and now when it comes to what’s ahead. I’m looking forward to the last bit of training next week and I’ve got my sights set on what I want to achieve.  As always I’ll  be the best I can be, and I hope to end the year on that good note I’m always talking about. Train hard and have a great week. I’ll see you on that road.

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, your right.”  – Henry Ford 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What it takes

This week as always has been a good week of training. It’s been a full week that’s pushed me and I’m pleased that my fitness is up to scratch and training is moving in the right direction. When you put in the work it usually does. I thought I’d approach this week’s blog with a slightly different format than normal, so rather than give a round up of what’s been making me tick this week I’m really thinking about what it takes to make a fighter.

We’ve all got our strengths and weaknesses but in my opinion there’s common denominators that define all of us no matter where we’re at. So starting from the top, I’ve found that when it comes to competing fundamentally you need to have..

Good fitness – It’s a well known fact  that Muay Thai is one of the tougher forms of stand up fighting out there, and fights can go the distance or be over in a few minutes. Either way, when I’ve stepped up I’ve always known that my fitness needs to be at it’s best if I want to go the distance.

Be it pad work and drills, running, skipping or good old fashioned bag blasting it all helps to make me a stronger fighter inside and out. And of course then there’s the sparring.  I make sure I train at least 5 times a week if a fight is coming up and although every day isn’t always perfect I make sure every week is worth my time.

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Heart and mental toughness – One of the characteristics that really defines a fighter is having ‘heart’ or the will not to give up and keep fighting. I’ve watched some incredibly tough fights before where neither fighter has given any quarter, and   I’ve learnt that you don’t just need to be tough on the outside when it comes to competing you need to be tough inside too.

A fight can tip in a heart beat so you need to be strong enough not to give up!. As the saying goes ‘it’s not how you start but how you finish.’  I’m lucky that I’ve never been someone to give up easily and it’s a characteristic that’s served me well so far!.

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A good set of tools-  When it comes to training there’s a lot of techniques we practice and drill week in and week out. There’s a lot we get shown, and if your like me and have trained at a few gyms over the years then you’ll appreciate that everyone has their own perspective or take  on things. We’re all doing the same thing it’s just that there’s different approaches to doing it. Fundamentally, we’re all given the same tools to work with and it’s down to the individual to find what works the best for you.

I’ve found that it’s better to keep things simple when it comes to competing so there’s certain techniques and combinations I’ll use a lot in sparring or practise on bags so there registered and ready for when I need them the most. A  fighter should always make sure they have a good set of tools at their disposal. This much is a given. They don’t call it the science of eight limbs for nothing you know…

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A good palate – ‘You are what you eat’ as the saying goes, and of course we all know that when your fighting you have to change your diet and make a few sacrifices especially if you’ve got weight to cut. I’ve been blessed with a high metabolism so manage to cut weight quite quickly from running and training hard but in general I eat pretty healthy anyway.

Earlier this year I had to cut to 60kg and found myself on the Riveta and tuna salad road, believe you me it was a long and irritating one. Especially when every time I went shopping all the stuff I couldn’t have seemed to go out its way to get my attention.

Being a good boy I make sure I cut down on indulgences (most of the time) and stay away from booze too when I’m fighting. A good palette doesn’t limit itself to what you ingest but to your surroundings too, so I always make sure I have the best people around me who I know will push me.

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Sparring partners that push you and respect you-  We’ve all had the occasional sparring session where things have gotten a little heavy handed and it’s the unwritten rule in Muay Thai (and I guess all combat sports) that sparring is not about destroying the person in front of you but learning from them. How else do you find out what your strengths and weaknesses are and what you can and can’t do?

Like with everything else Thai it’s about continual improvement at what you do, and that’s why I’ve found it’s always important to train with others I know will push me when I need it the most, but know how to keep it on a level. For me that’s crucial especially when I’ve got a fight coming up.

I’m  not adverse to turning it up a little from time to time but only if the person I’m training with is happy with that too. After all, it’s not all about me. Personally, I’m a big fan of how Thais spar with each other but that’s a subject for a different blog.

Focus- Focus and mental toughness are closely related, but without focus under pressure even the best fighter is going to fold. There’s being able to handle a tough fight and there’s also  knowing what to do in order to win the day.

For me focus is an ongoing ‘work in progress’ and there’s lots of ways I like to try and improve mine be it through meditation and mindfulness practice or ‘staying present’  it’s something that’s developing as I do as a boxer.

When it comes to fight day I know that I need to have my ‘head in the game’ so always appreciate time alone to get ready  and make sure I’m coming out at my absolute best. After all I’m not just there to fight, I’m there to win.

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A good corner –  For me and I’m sure it’s the same for you if you compete it’s essential to have a good corner when your fighting. Even though ‘the ring is a lonely place’ as Damien Trainor says, the guys or girls  in your corner will see things you don’t about your opponent and hone in on what’s working.

I’ve also found when I’ve had the toughest of fights my corner have told me not to give up no matter what. When your at round five knowing that your team is watching your back and believe in you can help you find that something you didn’t think you had. Thanks Craig and Jon.

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So for me, that’s really it in a nutshell. I’m fighting again in a couple of weeks so next week is my final week of all or nothing. I’ll let you know how I get on. Have a great week, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

Stamina

As always it’s been another good week of training. I’ve got a few good runs in this week too on top of everything else and today I really began to notice the benefit. With me and I think it’s safe to assume it’s the same with you, I find that fight  training and the endless running attached go hand in hand and compliment each other quite well.

It’s a given for me with Muay Thai (and I guess it’s the same with any type of combat sport or otherwise) that if I want to succeed when it counts the most (in this respect in the ring) I need to make sure that I can go the distance. That I’ve got the stamina.

So this week I’ve spent a lot of time working on that push, finishing yesterday with a good bit of bag work in the morning and a 6k run in the afternoon. Training officially finished for the week with another 6.5k run this afternoon. Granted, I know that technique, drills and everything else attached are equally as important, but for me it’s just as important to know that I can finish in a stronger position than when I started. To know that no matter how tough it gets that there’s still something left in the tank.

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There’s been a few fights when I’ve been glad my fitness has been there for me when I needed it the most, and one of the things I’ve learnt about myself as a fighter is that I’m resilient and tough as old boots. And to be fair to myself, I give as good as I get. (most of the time.)  But that’s just me I guess. No matter what I get hit with I’ve got the will to keep going. I’m a firm believer that you need to be strong inside mentally just as much as you need to be physically when it comes to fighting. Developing that toughness for me is an ongoing process.

I’ve found that if you train hard enough you will always have enough ‘fuel in the tank’ to see you through a fight. I’m also of the viewpoint that if you ‘gas’ out in a fight it’s the mind that gives up first, the body will usually follow soon after.

You see the thing is, despite me having the occasional ‘tired’ day (lazy day)   I was taught from a very early stage in training that it’s absolutely essential that you don’t give up. I think back then I began to learn how to push through the barriers we all hit and that’s not to say it gets any easier.  I’ve learnt that fight training and fighting in general makes a strong will become a way, and I think that’s how winning is done.

So  this week, sparring I kept the pressure on. The walking forward, unrelenting kind of pressure that I know I can use to win fights (I’m still into my catches too and I need more sweeps in my life. )  and although these days I do my best to think a little smarter and I’m a little faster and stronger than I used to be, it’s good to know that I can still dig deep when I need to. And there was a couple of occasions this week where all I wanted to do was push myself and treat the last round of sparring like the last round of a fight. (minus the power.)

So if this week has been all about the stamina then next week I guess really is about  getting back to the simple things in life and working on what I know I can use and what works when the pressure’s on. I’m sure along the way I’ll learn a lot more too, but  I want to make sure I’ve got my tools in good working order before the end of the month.  One of my trainers said to us earlier in the week ‘make sure you know what you want from each session ‘ so I’ve set my goals accordingly.

I thought I’d leave you this week with a video of one of my favourite fighters, you guessed it Pornsanae Sitmonchai. Relentless, determined and he never ever gives up. Have a good week and I’ll see you on that road.

“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them. A desire, a dream a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill!”  – Muhammad Ali 

Training still is..

Well it’s been another good week of training. I’ve been cruising through the week in second gear so next week I’ve got every intention of putting my foot down on the gas a little and making sure as always I’m putting in the work. The end of November is looking promising so I want to make sure I’m at my best, as of course I want to finish off the year on a good note.

It’s good to be able to train all week and living in the land of self employment (when I’m not punching people in the head I’m a freelance IT consultant) I can make sure as always that I put in the time I need to keep at my best or make sure at the very least I’m working towards it.

I’ve made sure I’ve put in some time for running this week as I want to get my fitness back up to where it should be and I find it always helps with a weight cut too. I share the same mentality as most  that if you don’t run then you don’t fight so it’s been good to start working on some cardio and endurance outside of the gym.

I think I’ve ended up running nearly every day this week which is great, and also gives me the peace of mind that my shin has healed up well. In fact it’s been through some pretty grueling sparring sessions of late so it’s good to know that it can still take a battering.

Yesterday’s pad work at Team Tieu had a nice format to it and was very similar to the way I was used to training out in Thailand earlier this year and last year. Although combinations are important, you can still develop a flow through powerful single shots, and I’m pleased with how it went although I need to start working on fast response.

I hit and kick hard but my reactions need to improve. I know this will get a lot better over the coming weeks and I’m putting it down at present to not putting my fighting head on. I’m pleased to say I feel a little more focused at the end of this week so I’m sure I’ll hit the ground running next week onwards. Like with everything Thai drilling is really the key.  My left roundhouse is still my favourite thing, and my hot shoe shuffle right switch (if you’ve seen me do it you’ll know what I mean) needs a lot of improvement although my right kick has got a little better overall.

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I’ve decided that I’m going to adopt a similar format to training as out in Thailand and make sure that before every session I’m running to give myself a good warm up and of course to push myself a little more than usual. It’s something I used to do religiously along with the other fighters from my gym when I trained in Bournemouth (if we had fights coming up it was a given that was what we were expected to do before the session started).

Speaking of Thailand, I’m heading back out for the third  time next February and of course I’ll be training at Sitsongpeenong Phuket again. I’m already wishing the remainder of the year away, and I’m sure it’s as always going to be time well spent. I guess when you’ve got the opportunity to train with the best you need to make the most it. I also intend to head across to Bangkok one weekend to play catch up with a couple of friends of mine, so all in all good times lie ahead.

I’m still doing my best to work on developing myself with fighting and I feel that I’m making some headway. As with all things in life it equates to putting in a lot of hard work to best at my best but I think I’m going to end up getting there. So when I look at myself and training at present it’s still a lot of fun and fighting is still a big part of the overall picture.

There’s no reason to stop doing something when you can see yourself getting better at it and your putting in the work to make it happen. In the meantime, next week it’s back to some good old fashioned graft. Some old friends of mine in Portsmouth once said to me ‘you’ve changed so much since you started training!’ I thought then and I think now that really they ain’t seen nothing yet. Have a good week, train hard and just like the last time, I’ll see you on that road.

Mind killer

I’ve been training for a while now and I’m still finding that I’m learning more and more about myself as a boxer, and more often than not as a person the longer I do this for. The further I head down the road the longer I realize it is and that really it’s an ongoing journey.

Martial arts for me are an ongoing process of self improvement, and with Thai in particular I’ve found the person has grown as well as my understanding and ability with the techniques I’m being taught week in and week out.There’s been points in my life  where I’ve felt that I’ve had to made changes.To not do so would of held nothing but negative consequences. There’s been points in my Thai boxing journey I’ve stepped into challenges.

In both respects what I’ve wanted has been right in front of me. Right there. So real that I could almost touch it,that I could see its tangibility long before I stepped into what I knew would only ever be everything that I wanted. That’s not to say both journeys haven’t been without their fair share of fear. You know the stuff. It’s false evidence and it’s never really real.

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No.. the fear isn’t real but sometimes the doubts can be. The limiting beliefs that follow can be the toughest to push through but like with everything Muay Thai and just like with everything else in my life, once committed and sure of my destination I just keep walking forward. Just like with my fighting too. Really I’ve learnt that conviction and self belief plays a big part in anything you want to achieve in training, in the ring and in life in general. And when it comes to training and fighting I know  that if I don’t believe in myself as well my own ability then why should anyone else?

You can probably tell that me and self doubt are old friends, but through competing I’ve found the best way to deal with doubt and limitations (usually self imposed) is to rise up to the challenge anyway. The self confidence I’ve gained through competing and training I’ve applied to other areas of my life and I’m pleased to say I’ve learnt to walk a lot taller than before. In fact, I never thought I would ever walk this tall.

That’s not to say before a fight or any new challenge that appears I don’t feel fear, it’s just that experience has taught me to deal with the emotion a lot better and when it comes to competing I’ve begun to understand that fear can be turned into decisive action when you need it the most. ‘Turn fear into fire’ as someone once said to me. Besides, he who hesitates is lost. They don’t call it the mind killer for nothing.

I’m finding that working on presence and staying in the moment helps deal with a lot of doubts and reservations I have about not just competing but other areas of life too. Observation is the key, and rather than engaging with a feeling I guess the key is being able to stand away almost from the outside looking in. Remaining centred and focused the world quickly becomes yours, and I can see it being a very useful tool when it comes to fighting.

I’m a long way away from being a fluid well oiled fighting machine ( more in need of a can of WD40 at points being totally honest ) who simply responds to his opponent under pressure, but every little helps and using tools that help me improve my mental fight game as well as my physical elements is a learning experience and a work in progress as always.

Drilling techniques results in sharper responses and I’m already thinking about what new tools I can put in the proverbial kit bag. There’s a few things happening when I’m sparring now I’m very happy with and I’m getting faster too. If I can switch off but stay sharp things should get interesting. Being honest, it’s not going to badly at present (no pun intended) and I’m enjoying the process and I’m always learning.

So next week onwards as always I’m going to make sure the week is all about graft. The one thing it won’t be about is comfort zones because as we all know there’s no growth to be found there. It’s good to have renewed enthusiasm for training but I guess that’s what focus and goals do. They give you something to aim for. Usually it’s worth going for broke. Have a fantastic week, and just like the last time. I’ll see you on that road.

“Growth and comfort do not co-exist.” 

Better late than never

Well, I know there’s been a little pause since last time we spoke but having had to juggle a multitude of plates and wear a couple of different hats over the past week or so I’m pleased I’ve managed to find the time to sit down and write. When it comes to procrastination I can scream in at first place when I put my mind to it. Or maybe when I don’t.

Training over the past week or so has as always been good, and I’m beginning to think about the end of November which is now hopefully going to be the next date I’m fighting. A couple of pull outs meant the 24th wasn’t going to happen but on the plus side of things I guess there’s more time to get myself ready. It’s good to have a goal to work towards and I think  it’s important to set your sights on what you want to achieve and commit yourself to it from an early stage.

Before I started competing I used to set myself goals with training as I’ve always found it helps you stay focused. There’s nothing worse than finding yourself going through the motions simply because the motions are you all know. And with Muay Thai there is always something you can work on.

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Really that’s what training is about. A constant cycle of self improvement and with the physical training I’ve found a mental toughness begins to develop after a time too. I noticed it yesterday and really felt that I had to just grit my teeth and get on with things. It’s always hard on a ‘no energy’ day. It’s good to understand why your doing what your doing but its easy to get lost in over analysis too. Some days I find its better just to get your head down and get on with it. Hard work as always, is good work.

That’s not to say I’m approaching training with a ‘work the combination and hope for the best’ attitude, but the way we improve at anything is by constant practice and repetition. And I’ve found in Muay Thai  and I guess it’s the same with any martial art or discipline you train in, that you get a lot of that.

I’ve spent the past couple of months focusing wanting to improve everything but maybe sometimes I need to be a little more focused in my approach. I’ve noticed at the moment my clinching needs a lot of work so I need to spend more time focusing on that when I can. The grappling is ok but the knees are far and few between so that needs to improve. There’s a goal right there.

Again that’s only going to get better by practice and more practice and I’m hoping with a potential goal to aim at for November I’m going to be more motivated than usual to get them up to speed. Missing out on an opportunity to fight sucks big time but I’ll be ready for next month. Fighting may not be the be all and end all, but it’s a lot of fun and something I want to do for a while yet.

You hit your thirties and sometimes people expect you to slow down a little. You don’t need to do that in my opinion. Your thirties is still young. If your strong enough, fit enough and mostly importantly train hard enough then why stop? Especially if you love what you do. Besides I didn’t start competing till I was 31 and I’ve been stepping up for five years now and training for nearly nine years. I must be doing something right. I’ll be training when I’m 60. ,

So with my temporary  mid life crisis out the way, I’m looking forward to training hard rest of the week. I’m going to make a point of picking things up with running again and despite Christmas rapidly looming I’m going to do my best to ignore all the nice stuff (by nice stuff I mean chocolate) I see out in the shops at present. (Well most of the time anyway.) I guess really the next five weeks or so of training is going to be all about graft, and I’m hoping that next we speak I’ve got some positive news about my fight next month. Better late than never I guess.  In the meantime have a good week, train hard and just like before… I’ll see you on that road.

What’s your style?

This week has been a little lighter on the ground than usual training wise for varying reasons, but next week should see things back on track as usual. I’m still not 150% sure if I’m going to be fighting on the 24th of October but it’s something I am working towards and next month is going to see a few changes training wise anyway, so I am hoping if the remainder of the year stays fairly quiet then I can hit the ground running in the new year if needs be. Of course, I want to fight this month so will be pleased if it comes together.

I’m quite pleased with how training has been going of late and feel that I’ve made some improvements. I’m thinking a lot about what I can add to what I already know as I have said before, and it’s nice to have a couple of gyms to train out of  as each camp has it’s own individual style. It never hurts to have more than one pair of eyes looking at what your doing, and as long as the feedback is constructive then I find there’s always something I can take away and work on. And luckily, that’s always the case.

I’ve found over time you learn very quickly what works and what doesn’t work when your under pressure and as I’ve mentioned before the simple things in life are often the most effective and more often than not can keep you out of trouble. So just recently I’ve worked on countering more and have even tried to add some fakes into what I already know.

If you compete already or have watched a lot of Thai boxing on YouTube or have been to many shows, like myself you will of noticed that the fights can be a series of attack and counters with each fighter trying to outsmart their opponent. It’s more evident the higher you go up the proverbial food chain with fighters but the premise no matter what level you fight at always remains the same.

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I’m doing my best to step my game up and to start to think a little smarter when it comes to fighting as I’ve mentioned, but I’m also making sure I keep the pressure turned up as best I can. That’s an element of me that will never change and I had drilled into me from an early stage the one we need to be doing when fighting is walking forward. I’m usually quite aggressive, what some people call a pressure fighter or ‘forward’ fighter  so I think more countering more and faking will help me become a little less predictable.

Although the gyms I train out of at present have their own take on things I’ve found that it’s important to make everything I’m being taught my own. It’s fair to say not everything I’m shown always works for me but especially with drills I find that there is usually a short combination or technique or counter that I see and decide to try and start using. Just recently parrying a jab and coming back with a cross, a uppercut  and a low kick seems to make sense as well as practising parrying a punch and countering with a knee. (the picture above is one variation) In the same respect one of my favourite combinations and one we drill a lot is a cross, hook and left roundhouse to the body. I’ve added to this myself by finishing with a left cross after the body kick (for me that’s the knock out shot after the damage is done) or a different variation.

The great thing about Muay Thai is that there are so many different ways to attack and counter your never stuck for an answer, it really comes down to working out what approach suits yourself the best. For me, the simple things in life are always the most effective but even then you can be spoilt for choice. I guess developing how you do things is all part of the journey and like with everything else it’s a work in progress. I thought I’d leave you this week with a video on Muay Thai sweeps and counters. As always, the best things happen in the clinch. Train hard, have a great week and just like the last time..I’ll see you on that road.