Right, so, had a fight just over a month ago. I keep meaning to write about it, after all even though I don’t blog anywhere as much as I used to, it’s still quite a major thing to do.
Had a meeting with my boss on the 22nd of July and when I got back home I checked my usual forums and social networking sites. There was a request for someone to take a fight at 86 kg on a Thai boxing show in Leeds on the 31st of July. I asked my instructor if I could do it, albeit at 88 kg because of the short notice. On the Thursday morning I got it confirmed and had just over a week to prepare. A few sessions of tough training later and it was time. I’d actually fought my opponent before at an interclub so I remembered he was at least 6’6″ and as tough to fight as most Polish people I know are. My fight was the last of the day which meant I was waiting around for ages and already there was little chance of having a beer afterwards and certainly no chance of having one before. It was C class Thai boxing rules with shinpads, so full contact over 3 x 2 minute rounds. Being proper Thai rules meant I got to wear the traditional robe, mongkol and flower garland:
We could also do the traditional fighter’s dance called the Ram Muay but because I hadn’t done one before it was best not to try to do one badly but just do a simplified version where you bow in each corner in a procedure called sealing the ring:
There was a bit of a height difference between me and my opponent. The camera wasn’t tilted for this shot:
As far as the fight went, I decided to start by coming out aggressively with a punch and kick, only to fall over. A few seconds in I got kicked in the face which raised a lump on my cheek. I said “ow” and could see it but thought it was just a bit of vaseline that had slipped. The ref asked if I was OK, which I was more or less and carried on fighting. I managed to get some good techniques in and threw him to the ground a couple of times. I also managed to use the BJJ/MMA technique known as underhooks when we were clinching which shut down the distance between us and meant I was in control. After 2 minutes the bell went and I went back to my corner for the usual rest and advice. The ref had a look at me and called the ringside nurse over to have a look at my face injury because he wasn’t happy with it:
She decided I couldn’t continue and told me to go to hospital because it might be fractured, so I lost by medical stoppage. I was still smiling afterwards though:
In the back room I got changed and had to tell people to stop prodding my facing and speculating what it might be. Downright irritating and for obvious reasons I wanted to get it checked out properly.
I got a lift down to the Leeds General Infirmary, got there about 17.15 and spent most of the time waiting around for things to happen. At various points I saw a nurse who did the initial assessment, a nurse practitioner, a doctor, went for an x-ray, and then finally the nurse practitioner told me that it was just a bruise and I could go home, put ice on it and return to training when I felt happy. The next morning the lump had gone completely and was just a black eye:
I was back training on the Wednesday but I took it easy for a few days. I found out later that my opponent broke his toes during the fight and had to miss training for a few weeks. Full contact Thai boxing is definitely a tough sport and I’d say tougher than Western style boxing. I know a few people found it difficult to cope with me doing it, not just because I ended up in hospital but I think also because I could have put someone there. In this kind of thing both fighters are usually reasonably evenly matched and I can understand why people might be uneasy with the idea of me as a fighter at this kind of level.
Would I do it again? Yes. However what I’ve got in mind for my next fight is something completely different and going for the BJJ no gi British Opens at the end of September. After I got my blue belt at the end of April I decided that I may as well do something with it. This will be submission grappling, so I’ll be throwing people around, bending their limbs the wrong way and trying to strangle them. No punching or kicking though. I’d like to do it for the experience even if I get submitted within the first few seconds.
I think this says it all:
Someone dropped out of a fight on this show last Wednesday so I asked if I could take it over. My instructor and the show promoter agreed and last Thursday I got it confirmed that I would be fighting with just over a week’s notice. A week’s intense training later and I fight in two day’s time. This will be tougher than the fight I had in Leigh last year: it’s over 3 x 2 minute rounds, full C class Thai rules (punches, kicks, knees and full clinching allowed, but no elbows or knees to the head), and the only protection I’ll have will be shin pads (as well as obviously a box and gum shield). No head protection and no chest pad. For comparison, an amateur or white collar boxing match is either 3 x 3 or 4 x 2 minute rounds and with head protection. All I know about my opponent is which gym he’s from, that he’s 85 kg and has one fight with one win. I’m a bit heavier because of the short notice but they do give you a bit of leeway at this level. I’m not going to go into all the preparations I’ve been doing, but I do think there’s a serious chance I could win on Saturday. Some people only train when they know they’ve got a fight coming up, but because I train pretty much all the time it meant I was in a position to be put forward at short notice. I didn’t put my name down for this show at first because I thought I might be busy that weekend, but that’s now been postponed to September.
Finished my last training session last night and now I’ve got 2 days to rest and complete the final preparations before Saturday. This will be a home town fight so there’ll be lots of people I know there to watch, both from my own gym and from other local ones. I’m also taking tomorrow off work so I don’t have to think about that. Because of the nature of my day job I’ve decided my fight nickname will be The Administrator. I daresay you don’t get many Thai boxers with 9 years professional software development experience and I wanted something suitably techy but also dominating. With my last fight over a year ago this one has been a long time coming and I’m looking forward to it.
Last Sunday was my first time in the ring since my fight in May last year. It was a long time coming after fights in October and March, and another interclub in May this year fell through, so it was good to be back. The show started at 11.30 and my fight was at 3 so it was a very long time to wait. They changed it from 5 rounds to 3 but it was still quite long enough. We both do MMA and grappling (he had 4 MMA fights) so there was a lot of clinching and kicking involved. With the adrenaline involved as well it was absolutely exhausting. There’s various things I picked up from it that I need to work on, but that’s part of the point. I’d say he probably had the edge over me this time. As far as terminology goes, someone complained when I described an earlier interclub as a fight, but this time the organizer described them as fights so that’s good enough for me.
At this one they had a professional photographer so I got loads of photos, which are on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mhoulden/sets/72157624271646904/. Some of my favourites behind the cut (on LJ). What surprised me is just how aggressive I look in them. Obviously this is full contact martial arts and I’ve seen other people pulling similar faces, but it’s very different when it’s you.
Continue reading Interclub #5
I’m back, I survived and I’m absolutely shattered. More photos to come later, but that’s all for now.
Or at least Interclub!
Looks like I’ve been matched, so I should be doing a Thai interclub on Sunday. It’s the first time in over a year I’ve been in the ring, the last time being my fight on the 30th of May last year. There’s no decision with interclubs so there’s no win or lose, but there’s still the pressure of being in a boxing ring with someone you don’t know and a referee, and loads of people watching. My last interclub was on my mum’s birthday and I presented her with a nice box of chocolates and a black eye.
This one’s 5 x 1 minute rounds with controlled contact, but punches, kicks, knees and clinching (but no elbows) will be allowed. I will be wearing shin pads and 16 oz gloves but I’m not sure if I’ll also have to wear a chest pad and head guard. Given a choice, I’d prefer not to. All I’ve done in the past has been over three rounds of a minute and a half so allowing for a short break between each one it’s almost twice as long as what I’ve done before. The same place organizing this interclub has a show on the 24th of July and I’m hoping that if I put a good show on on Sunday then they’ll find a place for me on it. I’m about 89 – 90 kg for this interclub but I’d be fighting properly at 86 kg.
After training with a few kick boxers I’ve got to say I’m very definitely a Thai boxer. One of the biggest differences (apart from the addition of clinching and knees) is that kick boxers step in, do something and then step out again whereas Thai boxers keep moving forwards and don’t tend to duck and weave the way boxers do.
Just for old time’s sake, here’s the opening bit of my first ever interclub in Feb 2007. At this one I weighed in at 127 kg. How long ago that feels now.
I will of course be taking a camera and be putting the best shots up here. Wish me luck.
Busy weekend (as the fact that I’m posting this on Thursday shows). On Sunday morning I went to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu seminar. 3.5 hours of wearing pyjamas and trying to strangle people and bend their limbs the wrong way. At the end people were awarded stripes and belts by Victor Estima, our head instructor. I was one of them:
The BJJ grading structure goes white -> blue -> purple -> brown -> black -> red with 4 stripes in between and I got my blue belt. There’s no set criteria for getting a belt in BJJ: they look at things like progress, technique and how you get on with people. I was trying hard to do what I could and I think the main stand out bits were taking the time to show a beginner the correct way to tie his belt at the start of the seminar, and later during sparring tapping out (beating) a purple belt via a particularly technical submission called a clock choke. You don’t expect belts and at the end a few people got blues and purples but not me. I was thinking “Fair enough. Maybe I need to work on a few things”. Then we stood up and someone said “Actually, there is someone else who’s worked hard. Marcus, step forwards.” Just over 2 years since I started in this game with virtually no experience and the incredibly tedious affliction of Dyspraxia which affects balance, coordination and spacial awareness.
After the seminar there’s a belt whipping ceremony where everyone who’s been promoted gets whipped on the back:
It stings a bit but it’s not too bad. I’ve done it to other people but now it was my turn. Afterwards my back looked like this (behind the cut):
Continue reading Belt Up
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.