As most of you know I started out in Muay Thai first so the majority of references here are from that era. I’ve listed five things I do differently now but wouldn’t change if I went back as I believe they were all important in helping me develop into the fighter and person I am today. Just prepare for the phrase ‘these days’ to crop up a lot! Check it out:
I hardly run these days let alone at 6am. Since moving over to MMA I do hill or treadmill sprints but I do zero road/long distance running. Back then I did it because I had to, my coach was a big advocate of running before a lot of training sessions and we'd have to do one of two routes:
Route One was 'The Roundabout' for those familiar with Darlington it involved running from the cross roads of Woodlands Rd/Portland Place to the roundabout that meets Cockerton/Carmel Rd then back again.
Route Two was 'Abbey Road', we’d run to the said roundabout but continue left onto Carmel Rd, left onto Abbey Rd, past the college, through town and back to the gym.
I hated both, well I hated ALL running for two reasons: it hurt and I was always last. Nothing built up that lactic acid in my legs and the burn in my lungs like running and eventually it really started to knack my joints too, I started getting issues with my hips but looking back that could have been an accumulation of all of the training. Some days I’d set my alarm to be out running the streets for 6am purely because I didn’t want to do it, I don’t actually think it had any other benefit (I didn’t need to lose weight and I was fairly fit) but it was the mental game it built for me.
So like I said, I don't run now however if I were starting out I'd still do it or something equally as disgusting...I hated it so much I wished a car would run me over so I didn't have to do it anymore (how ridiculous) but doing something you don't want to do, being that uncomfortable and battling with your mind over stopping the entire time is something I believe we all need to go through.
When I trained in Thai Boxing I would train every evening Mon-Fri then Sat morning, sometimes twice a day if I was off college/work. My mum spent a lot of time in Thailand so throughout the week it was up to me to make sure my dad had his evening meal on the table for when he returned home from work (thankfully I didn't actually have to cook these, my mum would prep a bunch of Thai meals for him before she left, I just had to reheat then make him a cuppa ha!). After this I'd sprint to the bus stop, get the bus, then sprint to the gym from town...that was usually my warm up! Then we sparred every Saturday morning. This routine, the discipline and consistency was important early on because it just became my new life...that I loved! These days I have two days a week off from training and have found that now works better for me but starting out...just get those sessions in, they don't have to be hours long (I was literally doing one class per night) but I showed up every single time and gave it 110% every single time.
Again I'm referring to my Thai Boxing days as that's where I started but I was super competitive with my training partners. I don't mean during sparring as much but during circuits, bag work and running (even though I would never win I kept trying). We did a lot of circuits so I would put my game face on, get that shit done as best I could and aim to finish first. With bag work I would be making sure I hit the bag harder and faster than anyone else around me (it wasn't even possible as there was some hard hitting dudes in the gym but that didn't matter to me I still tried to put a hole in the bag every time I hit it). However now...I have no desire to be quicker than someone doing burpees haha! But that competitiveness builds the desire to be the best, entering a ring/cage, you've gotta go in there wanting to be the best. I can still be competitive during training however it's probably a littler more light hearted and as cliche as it sounds I compete more with myself, making sure I’m having little improvements from session to session.
I was 50-52kg up until about 4 years ago now I sit between 54-56kg. I would train and spar with EVERYONE. Regardless of size/ability, I remember Thai Boxing sparring one Saturday morning and a dude about 85kg dropped me with a body kick, he didn't intentionally hit me hard it’s just he was that much heavier and timed it nicely.
When I first started BJJ, I rolled with everyone, got absolutely squished by heavy guys and never turned a round down. It was disgusting and demoralising but I think it's important to train with as many body types and styles as possible as it's all information gathering.
It's learning and problem solving...some more painful than others! Now though, I'm more particular about who I train with, especially if I have a fight coming up. I will still roll with big dudes...if they aren't super clumsy as I just don't want to pick up any more injuries on top of the niggles I already have. Striking though...It's a no, no for heavier people.
I've racked up a tonne of strikes to my head over the years, I know I can take a dig and I'm done proving that I'm tough, I'm trying to save my brain from any unnecessary damage these days!
This kinda falls into the training 6 days a week category but after a fight I would be back in the gym on the Monday training hard again. On one hand this is great because sometimes the longer you have off, the harder it can be to get back into the swing of things.
However I'd say have a couple days off but still return just at a lower intensity, learn new skills, play around with techniques you're not as familiar with, try out things you wouldn't usually, help out anyone who helped you prepare and just stay in the routine of showing up.
I still do this nowadays, I'll be back in the gym helping the others guys, putting the Gi on and playing around with techniques BUT sometimes I do have a week off and it's like a little reset for me.
After spending so many years training, I'm finally OK with stepping away for a short while knowing that the world won't end and I won't have lost ALL my skills after a few days!
So there you have it, some advice from older/more mature Lanch to any of you guys getting started on your Martial Arts journey especially if you're looking to compete.
There were days and sometimes still are where I HATED training and hated my coaches too, but I had/have great coaches and trust them 100%. I know every honest truth bomb they dropped on me, every frickin mile they made me run, every criticism I took was/is all to make me the person and fighter I am today.
Thank you Paul Hamilton for all of my Thai Boxing days, Wil for MMA and every coach I have met along the road who had an input on my journey. If I gave you the death stare, tears and muttered insults under my breath...I'm not even sorry haha it was intentional at the time however I am grateful and thankful for everything.
Last piece of advice...find a coach who wants what is best for you.
Got any questions guys just comment below or drop me a message I'll try to help if I can! Here are some pics of my early days:
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