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.
And now my fight’s off again after my opponent pulled out. Oh well. I can eat again now anyway. Hopefully it’s been noticed that I’m prepared to drop everything at a minute’s notice if this type of thing does come up.
Just waiting to get the final confirmations through, but now it looks like I am fighting on Sunday after all. Amateur Thai rules with shin pads and probably over 5 rounds of 1.5 minutes. I’ll be a bit overweight for this because I only found about it this afternoon, but this is only my first full contact Thai boxing match so it’s not as critical as if it was at a higher level and my opponent might be a bit over as well. Wish me luck. I mentioned over on Twitter what I had planned for my entrance music and was pleasantly surprised to get a reply back from the band wishing me good luck.
On the subject of Twitter, I was quite amused about today’s shenanigans about Carter Ruck (sic) and Trafigura. My own contribution was a few hash tags: #Trafigura #CarterRuck #StreisandEffect #snigger. I’ve been reading about these injunctions in Private Eye and hopefully what happened today will mean people ask questions about them, and judges will think a bit more carefully about granting them. Never was there a better example of the Streisand Effect, apart from the original one where an obscure project into Californian coastal erosion suddenly had hundreds of thousands of visitors after Barbra tried to get them to stop it because they took a photo of her house.
Ages since the last really long update. I think I’ve just got out of the habit of sitting down and writing long posts. Conversely I do a lot of status updates on Facebook or even Twitter because it’s easier to write a single sentence or even just a fragment of one. Written English is not like spoken English and I refrain from using chavvy txtspk in the updates, even if there are limits on how long they can be. “Y” is the 25th letter of the alphabet, not an interrogative word. “Day” is a period of 24 hours, not the third person personal pronoun. Of course language changes and it’s possible to be too prescriptive about how it’s used. However, standard (written) English is a completely different dialect to the spoken sort and you don’t spell things in the way that you would like people to read them out. Similarly, txtspk was invented with the specific purpose of getting as much into the 160 character limitation of an SMS. Twitter is limited to 140 characters for sure, but you can always post another tweet or just use shorter words. I go for the principle of being strict about what you send and lenient about what you receive, so if someone else wants to use that type of language I don’t mind as long as I can understand it.
Anyway, life continues as normal. I’m still training 5 times a week, with the usual mixture of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Thai boxing and cycling. With it getting darker in the evenings I’m probably going to switch the midweek evening bike ride for a run. To get any kind of distance on the bike I need a reasonable proportion on of my route to be along the canal, but being unlit and somewhat isolated means I need to think about personal safety. Not everyone who goes along an urban canal towpath in the dark is there for entirely legit reasons, and also in the dark it can be harder to tell where the towpath isn’t. I got back into running last year as a way of keeping fit while bike and arm were out of action and gradually built up to doing a mile in about 9 – 10 minutes and 6 miles in less than an hour.
On the Thai boxing front, I should hear in the next day or so whether or not I’ll be fighting on the 18th of October. This will be in Harrogate and will be my first full contact fight, which means that I could win (or lose) by a knockout. It’s 3 weeks tomorrow so I do need to know so I’ve got enough time to prepare. I’ve been put forward to fight at 86 kg which is the top end of Thai boxing cruiserweight class so I also need to find out what my weight is and how much I’ll need to lose. Someone has nicked the scales from the gym so we’ll need to get them back.
These days I don’t have (or need) the relentless weight loss I had in the past. While I’m technically overweight, judging by the state of me in my profile pic there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. I have a 34″ waist, 42″ chest, 25″ thighs, and a resting blood pressure of 120/60 and resting pulse of 58. Not bad from where I was a few years ago. Friday will be my 31st birthday. Probably safe to say I’ve got a lot more ahead of me than I did 5 years ago.
I also seem to have got a new job at work. I was redeployed in May because of a short term budget shortage, got a project using Oracle and Linux to keep me occupied for a few months which is now coming to an end, and now I’ve got a new one which will involve C# and SQL Server development. This is a separate one from the one I mentioned on Facebook which is for a senior Windows developer working in a different bit of the company. It’s supposed to be based in Wolverhampton and is a higher grade than my current one. On that one I’ll just have to wait and see.
I’ve also been having a go at a bit of photography. Couple of shots here (On LJ) or the full set is on Flickr. I haven’t taken many so far but it’s a start.
Early days yet, but I may be fighting again fairly soon. My Thai boxing instructor emailed me to tell me he’s put me forward for a show that’s probably in Harrogate and probably in September. The person running this show (Pierre Mahon, for people reading this via the Facebook feed) has pretty close links to my gym and I’ve known him since a couple of months after I started training in 2005 when there was a lot more of me. More details as and when I get them, but this will be amateur Thai rules, a step up from my last fight, still with head guard and shin pads but judged on effect rather than points for kicks and punches.
It took 4 years training to get my first fight and now it looks like I might be having 3 in the space of 6 months. Result, I think is the appropriate phrase.
One fight out of the way and I suppose I should really make a start on thinking about the next one. Way back in 2005 when I started doing Thai boxing I always intended to fight but I knew it would take a long time to get to the level where I would be able to. When I watched my fight with my instructor on Wednesday he said it was a good effort for a first fight and that my next one should be amateur Thai rules with full contact, which means sweeps, leg catches and full clinching will be allowed. I’m quite a strong grappler so it’ll be good being able to do it properly. Amateur rules mean I’ll be wearing head and shin pads, but no chest pad. Full contact means there will be a chance of knock outs and cracked bones, but I knew what I was getting into.
I’ve put my name down to fight again and suggested probably September would be a good time for my next one when I’ll have a better idea of what’s going on at work. Training to fight is hard work and it was quite handy that I was a redeployee in May so I didn’t actually have much to do. I also want to do our end of year show in December. I originally wanted to do it at the end of 2007 but things didn’t quite work out. Last year’s bike accident put the kibosh on me fighting for a whole and overall set me back about 3 – 6 months but now I’m a lot fitter and stronger than I was even 6 months ago.
I’m planning on fighting at cruiserweight which for Thai boxing is in the range 80 – 86 kg and which my instructor agrees is the right weight class for me, so I’ll need to lose a couple more kilos, but the days of needing to lose weight for my health are long gone. Taking a look at people in their late 20s/early 30s who do the same kind of job as me suggests that now is the time to take action to avoid the worst excesses of middle-aged spread. I think it’s safe to say that the habits you have in your 30s and when your career is kind of settled tend to stay with you. After what I’ve done over the last few years I really don’t want to go back to how things were. Last weekend I bought a new suit and was debating whether to get the trousers in a 34″ or 36″. Had to get a 42″ jacket because a 40″ was too tight around the chest and shoulders. In the past it would have been 48″ for both trousers and jacket.
Now on Youtube. I’m in the red pads. Comments welcome.
Finally got the DVD of my fight through yesterday and it’ll be appearing on Youtube later on tonight. It was a pretty even match and it does look like a proper amateur fight (which is of course what it was). Who wants to see it?