So, the 16th of March. Back in 2005 I’d fallen into bad habits. I was seriously overweight and spent most of my time watching TV, playing computer games and eating takeaways. Although I had a bike it only got used once or twice a month. However change was in the air. In January 2005 I bought a Sony PS2 and GTA San Andreas. As part of the game you can train at 3 martial arts gyms, one boxing, one kung fu and one kick boxing. I was kind of curious about the boxing so I bought some cheap shorts and gloves and decided to see if I could find somewhere to give it a go. After a bit of Googling I found a few boxing and kick boxing places that looked promising. Some had web sites while others just had email addresses. I left it for a few weeks but then in March 2005 I had to do some work in Cardiff so I called into a martial arts shop there and bought some Thai boxing shorts because the boxing shorts I had didn’t fit, with the proviso that if I was going to spend that kind of money I’d better use them. After watching a couple of old fights on the C5 show Now is the Time I finally got round to doing things and sent the following email to Richard Smith, the main instructor at Bad Company on the 8th of March:
I’m interested in joining the gym and coming to classes. Before I do, I was wondering if you had any requirements regarding health or level of fitness as it would be fair to say I’m somewhat unfit and overweight. In the past when I’ve spoken to my doctor he’s suggested that the best way for me to overcome this is to get more exercise, such as joining a gym. I’d also be interested to know if there is any particular equipment or clothing I should bring when I do come.
If you’d like to contact me over the phone, my number is xxx.
By the time I got a reply the next available open session was Wednesday the 16th. I was very nervous when I got there but I decided the best plan was to go with the flow and see what they could teach me. During the warmup Richard came over to me and told me to just do what I could, possibly the first and last time he’d not told me to try harder. Can’t remember much about that session but I do remember trying to do a push kick and falling backwards. I was pretty achy afterwards but I decided I was going to try doing six weeks and then decide whether to continue. Unfortunately after that I got mumps and had to miss the next couple of sessions. Certainly wouldn’t be the last time I was disappointed that illness or an injury meant I’d miss training.
In April was Linz & Dave’s wedding where I shocked a few people with the state I was in:
However plans were already in place to do something about it.
Continue reading 5 years on
So, 2010 then. Far too busy to go for a long description of what’s been happening in the new year, but I’d say the main points are these:
New years resolution: fight, with all that it entails including training and keeping an eye on the weight. I’m looking at getting back down to 84 – 86 kg and staying there, but losing fat and muscling up. I’d like to fight both Thai boxing and MMA but we’ll just have to see what happens.
Training: I had a proper break over xmas with no training at all. I’ve been getting back into it with returning to work as well, and it really makes you realize just how tough it was just before xmas. I’m doing extra sessions compared to last year with MMA and submission grappling at Leeds Cage. Good to be learning a different type of striking, and also having more time to work on grappling without the complication of wearing a gi which means I can practice more techniques without getting grabbed all the time. Rather than just locking someone down in the guard position (on my back with my legs wrapped round them) I’m trying to move around more. Sure I get submitted a lot more, but it’s all practice.
Snow: bored of it and hopefully there won’t be any more any time soon. Photos of it at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mhoulden/sets/72157623020457403/. I tried going out on the bike a couple of times but it just wasn’t safe. Sunday just gone I cycled over a patch of wet sheet ice on the towpath and the bike skidded out from under me. This time I landed on my backside and the only damage was a cable tie on the bike snapping. No need for ambulances or slings but I did feel a bit grumpy about the couple just in front of me who were oblivious to anything happening. They might be a bit less oblivious if I’d slid into them.
Work: yup, still there. I seem to have acquired a Blackberry and agreed to be on a callout rota. Muggins was on call on the 24th, 26th and 28th of December but thankfully I didn’t have any callouts. I did have one a week after I got back to work, but it was during working hours and it mostly consisted of phoning people up and getting them to agree that an emergency fix would cost money and only be an hour or so earlier than if they just updated things on their usual schedule.
Other stuff: the iPhone 3G is a waste of time. Pointless lockdown, crippled features and the one I had didn’t work properly. Classic style over substance. When I phoned Orange to return it they didn’t even ask what was wrong and knew roughly how much the postage would cost. They didn’t say they’d had a load of faulty ones but I think it was obvious.
2008 was a strange year with the last 6 months written off, training-wise at least. 2009 was my comeback. Hopefully this year I’ll be building on it. I’ve been round the houses too much to go for the banal fortune cookie platitudes that motivational coaches repeat to each other, but I think staying positive is a good way to approach things.
Off to my mum’s this weekend and to see what Tod Judo club is like. If k425 and oldbloke are interested I can report back and let them know.
Fast and furious for a debut fight. The fight itself begins about 5 minutes in. Incidentally, it’s looking very likely that my debut MMA fight will be on the 6th of March next year.
Looks like this photo has been shortlisted by http://www.schmap.com/ to go in their next online guide to Leeds:
I thought I’d try taking photos and creative commonsing them just for a bit of fun and see what would happen, and if it does get used this would be my first ever published photo. They’re attribution-non commercial creative commons licenses so they’re not going to make any money, but it’s not for anything serious. Certainly makes you look at things in a different way if you’re trying to find things that would make good photos.
Changing the subject completely, 3 weeks ago I decided I was going to rebound from not fighting by getting into MMA and investigating Leeds Cage. 3 weeks on, 6 sessions there and it’s safe to say I’m definitely getting into it. I’m already doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on Mondays and Thai boxing on Wednesdays and Fridays so this is something to do on the other nights. I’m not planning on training every weekday because full contact martial arts are pretty intense and I need time to recover. That said, I have been training pretty much every night over the last few weeks, first week because it was my first time there, second week because there was no Thai boxing on the Friday, and last week because I had a very boring day on Thursday and needed to get out of the house. When the high point of your day is a bit of banter with Dara O’Briain on Twitter you know you’ve got to do something.
Tuesdays are MMA and Thursdays are submission grappling. Both are an interesting mix of stuff I know quite well from Thai boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and stuff I haven’t done before. Sub grappling is essentially the same as BJJ without the gis and with a few submissions that aren’t allowed there. MMA combines the striking bits of Thai boxing with the grappling of BJJ, and it changes the game a lot if someone can sit on you and hit you, or throw you to the ground when you’re trying to hit them. At sub grappling we’ve been doing a mixture of technique and sparring, and it’s good to know that I’m not a complete beginner there. MMA so far has been mainly padwork and technique: we haven’t done any sparring yet. I’ve done Thai interclubs and I’d like to do an MMA one at some point. There did seem a certain irony in going to my first ever MMA session and finding out the MMA gloves I’ve got were worn out (from bag work).
There’s the training itself and there’s the social side of it as well. It’s very easy to live in a city and find it to be overwhelming and anonymous. Leeds is a pretty big place and it took me a bit of time to find my feet. When the only people you know are at work and don’t actually live anywhere near you it’s easy to get in the trap of living to work and doing nothing other than going to the office, watching TV and sleeping. However, since my first redeployment in 2004 I’ve been working in virtual teams which are nowhere near me and tend to get dissolved when I move from project to project so I’ve had to work out a social network that’s not work based. There’s the online stuff of course: there’s people on my flist that I’ve met through uk.misc and elsewhere that have since become good friends in real life. However I think if you’re going to live somewhere you do need to get out and get to know people locally as well. What I like about my training is the sheer mix of people you get to meet. Leeds is a big uni town so you get a fair few students, but I’ve also got friends who are physiotherapists, research chemists, sales reps and people who do various things for the council. The nature of combat sports means you also get security guards, bouncers and a few police doing them, and probably a few people who you don’t ask too many questions about what they do outside the gym. Of course there are other ways to get into the life of a city that are less painful and physically demanding, but this works for me.