My Mate

Oct. 21st, 2010 01:05 am
mhoulden: (bnp)
Crossposted and originally mentioned by [ profile] gothick_matt on Twitter, the BNP rather unwisely tried to do a parody of a Marmite advert as a party political broadcast. Unfortunately for them Unilever have rather better lawyers and they've just agreed to pay somewhere between £70K - £170K for copyright infringement. Because of the BNP's parlous finances it means the party is likely to go bust. Oopsie.

Don't spend a lot of time blogging on LJ because of the time it takes to sit down and write stuff, but I entered my first grappling tournament a few weeks ago where these kind of things happened:
I was just behind on points until I got submitted like this:
(I'm in the white shorts and black rash guard)
I'm doing another one on Sunday. Because I've been doing BJJ and grappling for a while I entered the first at intermediate level and I'll be doing the next one at advanced level. Now I've got a bit of experience I find I like the competitive nature of trying to get your opponent to submit before you do.

Also coming up is the Leeds Hacks & Hackers day. For preparation I've been playing about with some location data from the Ordnance Survey including coordinates for streets and postcodes. These have to be in separate tables as the main source for having them combined is the Postcode Access File available from the Post Office and which costs money. What I do have now is something that uses geolocation (usually a mobile phone GPS but Wifi with Google Gears works as well) to display a small Google map with your location along with the top 5 nearest streets and postcodes and links to find the nearest bus stop on the Metro next bus service. I've got postcodes for the BD, HD, HX, LS, M, OL, S, and WF areas, and SYPTE and Metro use the same service so it should be pretty easy to do one for them. GMPTE uses a different system that needs further investigation. I do have other postcodes as well but they need a bit of processing before they're usable. I've done this in C#, ASP.Net and SQL Server but it should be pretty straightforward to do it in PHP and MySQL for something that works on most Linux hosting services.

Some of the other people signed up to the hack day should be familiar about these parts, including [ profile] myfirstkitchen, John Eland from Exposure Leeds and Neil Owen from Test Space. Apart from the web content manager from Leeds City Council it looks like I'm the most "corporate" person there but I daresay I'm probably not the most conventional person around. Should be a good day for networking and doing things with people that doesn't involve punching or strangling them, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if we decamp off to the pub afterwards.

The fight

Aug. 30th, 2010 11:02 pm
mhoulden: (Default)
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:
Between rounds
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:
The morning after

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.
mhoulden: (punch)
I think this says it all:
Pegasus Show Poster

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.
mhoulden: (punch)
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.

mhoulden: (dilbert)
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.
mhoulden: (punch)
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.

Fight #2?

Aug. 5th, 2009 09:53 pm
mhoulden: (punch)
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.


Jul. 11th, 2009 02:20 pm
mhoulden: (Default)
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.

My Fight

Jul. 9th, 2009 07:37 pm
mhoulden: (Default)
Now on Youtube. I'm in the red pads. Comments welcome.

mhoulden: (Default)
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?
mhoulden: (Default)

Originally uploaded by mhoulden
A week on from my fight, and since then I've been partly chilling out (I took 2 days off work afterwards) and partly doing my blue arsed fly impression (started a new project when I came back). I made it to BJJ on Monday and Thai boxing on Wednesday and Friday but I was taking it fairly slowly. The nose is still a bit fragile and I had the fun of bleeding on someone's nice white gi on Monday. It was his own fault for pulling my head into his chest. After a couple of weeks of careful eating to make weight I've also been indulging a bit this week. Not enough alcohol (total for May and June so far is 2 pints of beer and 2 small glasses of wine) but I have had a few pizzas, cakes and other things. From next week though it's back with the programme. I want to get down to about 85 - 86 kg at the beginning of the session at the gym which means losing about 2 - 3 kg from my fighting weight and means I'll be at Thai cruiserweight. I'm slightly shorter than [ profile] oldbloke at 5'8" but I'm heavier built than he is (I found an interesting discussion about weight loss on the Hendon Mob website). Not sure what my weight will be on Wednesday but I'd be very surprised if it hasn't gone up and with a bit of work it'll only be a temporary increase. There must be something more interesting to eat than pasta and chicken though.

As far as the fight itself went, in rounds 1 and 3 I was only behind by 4 points and with an extra block and kick in each one they could have gone the other way. That first punch in the face in round 1 really makes you realise that it's real and that it isn't training or sparring. Round one was probably mostly adrenaline. In round 2 I got a bit distracted by the electronic scoreboard, and in round 3 I think I began to get into it and think about what I was doing. I'll probably remember more about it when I get the DVD through in a couple of weeks time, but the main bits that stand out are:
  • Getting my opponent in the balls with a slightly too low body kick
  • Losing my gum shield at one point (I really need a better fitting one) and falling over at another
  • The opposite corner shouting out instructions on how to beat me up (!)
  • Getting bopped on the nose and blasting out the blood so I could breathe. I knew something was coming out but I had other things to worry about at the time
Fighting is very different from training, and I think the biggest difference is being able to cope with the pressure of attacking and defending when someone's trying to do the same to you. You can't call for time out and you've just got to keep going. I'd say one of the most important bits is being able to keep your nerve. Not everyone can, but the aftermath of my bike accident was probably a lot harder. It's interesting to think about how many people say they think they could deal with it but go to pieces or wouldn't even try it in the first place. Usenet trolls for a start.

The main thing people have asked me about the fight is if I enjoyed it. I think so, but I think I really need to do another one to decide. I'll probably go for amateur Thai rules next time (more what I'm used to). I'll give it a couple of months and it obviously depends on when the next one is, but I'd like to do one around late August/early September. The trophy I got from this fight is pictured with this post.
mhoulden: (Default)

Originally uploaded by mhoulden
Now on Flickr at
mhoulden: (Default)
First of the photos from today. I'll have more but I'm a bit too tired to do anything with them.

April 200530th May 2009

Now that's weight loss.
mhoulden: (Default)
Lost on points: 76-98 (you get 2 points for a kick or knee and 1 for a punch). However I went the distance and kept going even when I got hit hard on the nose and got a nose bleed. Given that this was my first fight, I was fighting under unfamiliar rules and wasn't used to wearing all the pads I'm very pleased with how I did. At the end of round 1 we were both on about the same points, and although I dropped behind in round 2 I didn't let him increase the difference in round 3. After my own fight I watched a couple of others and they were stopped when the points difference was more than 40, so not getting outclassed was pretty good going. Photos and other stuff to come later. I've only just got back home.

I think it's safe to say that it is possible to overcome dyspraxia, grotesque obesity and a serious shoulder injury with a bit of perseverance and self discipline. This was my first fight and I'm going to chill for a bit now, but it certainly won't be my last. As Winston Churchill said, and as I hinted at in the title for my previous post, this is not the end and nor is it the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning.
mhoulden: (Default)
With 2 days to go until my fight I finally got confirmation that I've been matched and that it's going ahead. Over the last few weeks I've been working hard to make weight for it through the traditional way of eating carefully and getting plenty of exercise, and I think I've had enough pasta and lean chicken to keep me going a very long time. Over the last 3 weeks I've lost 3 kg or half a stone, which isn't bad progress when the dietician told me I haven't got much more to lose. My session at the gym yesterday was my last before the fight: I've been told not to train tomorrow but I might go out for a gentle run instead.

As far as the weight goes, I'm fighting at 88 kg which is what I've been trying to get down to for a while. On Wednesday I got there: 88.8 kg at the beginning of the night. The weight class I'm fighting at (cruiserweight) tops out at 88.6 kg so I'll be at the top end of it but as long as I don't have that second cup of coffee for breakfast I should have no problems with the weigh in. The weight I've been using over the last 2.5 years for these updates is my dehydrated weight at the end of the session, and yesterday this was 86.4 kg. From my peak of 133 kg that's a total loss of 47 kg. In old money I've dropped from 21 stone to 13 stone 7 and lost a massive 7 and a half stone or 105 lbs. I think there's scope to lose a bit more weight, but I think my original target of 80 kg for milestone 7 might be a bit too much. I've always had a stocky build but with 5 years cycling, 4 years Thai boxing and 1 years Brazilian Jiu Jitsu my calf and thigh muscles in particular are getting ridiculously big.

I got into Thai boxing 4 years ago partly out of curiosity and partly because I wanted to try something different to get fit. I had a bike back then but I only rode it once every couple of weeks and most of the time it was just a couple of circuits of the local park. I'd also tried swimming and a weights and exercise bike type gym but I found them pretty boring. I did have some fitness but I knew my health was in a mess and I had to buy the biggest clothes in the shop in the hope that they might fit. 4 years on I'm fighting at competition level and I'm finding clothes labelled "medium" are sometimes a bit too big.

In the scheme of things I know this fight isn't particularly big: it's a controlled contact novice fight over 3 rounds of a minute and a half and both fighters will be wearing body, head and shin pads. However from a personal point of view it's a massive step forward. It's no longer just training for exercise but working towards competing in a sport where I'm the only person who can win or lose. I'm always careful with the words I use because I don't like to describe myself as something I'm not, but I think I can now legitimately say I'm a fighter and an amateur Thai boxer. This really came home to me during our warm up on Wednesday when I was thinking "my fitness is pretty good. No problems keeping up with the fighters. Er, hang on, I'm one of them now". I've got ideas on how to keep things moving and it'll be interesting to see what people say at my next training session after the fight, but that can come later. From where I started to having my first fight has taken a lot of time and hard work. My approach has been to make hay while the sun shines. There may be a time where circumstances prevent me from training as hard as I do now, but I'm going to keep going until that time comes. Meanwhile I'm looking forward to a fight, a pint and a nice pie (Leigh is close to Wigan after all) on Saturday. Of course I'm planning on fighting to win, but I'm just pleased to be fighting at all.
mhoulden: (thai boxing full)
This time next Saturday I'll be the other side of the weigh in and just waiting for my fight to begin. After 4 years training I've finally got to competition level. It might be the lowest possible level but it's a start. I've got an idea of where I'd like to take things but first I want to see how this goes. Since my interclub in February I've been training hard, doing private sessions with a Thai instructor, going out running and cycling several times a week and of course spending hours at the gym. I've also been working on my weight. Normally when I post updates it's of my weight at the end of a session at the gym when I'm dehydrated and it's a bit lower, but next week I'll be weighed when I'm not dehydrated so it'll have to be lower still. I'm down to fight this one at 88 kg and it's taken a lot of work to get my "normal" weight to anything below 90 kg, but I'm nearly there now. At the beginning of last night's session I was 89.1 kg and at the end I was 87.7 kg. Going by the lower of the two, that's a total weight loss of 46 kg, 102 lbs or 7 stone 4 lbs and a reduction of 35% of my original weight. I know some people who weigh less than that. Compared to the albino Shrek of a few years ago I also look like a fighter now: not just thinner (although I've lost 15" off my waist) but a lot more muscly and better toned and with a lot more life in my eyes. Got to behave myself a bit longer to make sure I lose the last bit, but I should be OK as long as I put in plenty of training over the next few days and stay away from the pies.
mhoulden: (thai boxing1)
Entry form filled in and left with my trainer to send off, so now the fight's definitely on. Still to decide what exactly the rules will be but the only difference will be a possible extra 30 seconds per round and a couple of extra allowed techniques. It'll be over 3 rounds of either 1.5 minutes or 2, and wearing shinpads, a head guard and a body pad. There's a £30 entrance fee but I do get a DVD out of it which will probably be appearing on Youtube in due course. Certainly come a long way from my first ever interclub in 2007 (pictured in the user icon for this post).

Meanwhile I'm hoping my MP3 player starts working again once it's dried out after I got caught in a massive thunderstorm tonight.


May. 2nd, 2009 09:52 pm
mhoulden: (punch)
I've been told to prepare for my first ever Thai boxing match on the 23rd of May. Haven't had it confirmed yet but I should hear soon (it is only 3 weeks away after all). Unlike the previous interclubs I've done this will be a proper fight with a decision. Assuming I've got the details right it'll be at Lowton Civic Hall (Leigh, near Wigan) and over 5 x 2 minute rounds. It'll be filmed and I'm planning on putting it up on Youtube.

More details as I get them.


mhoulden: (Default)

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