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:
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There was a bit of a height difference between me and my opponent. The camera wasn't tilted for this shot:
DSC_1963

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:
DSC_1987
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: (Default)
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.
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And of course the "after" ones:
IMG_2562
That was right after they'd called time. I was also trying to deal with a temperamental gum shield so I knew I had my trophy the wrong way round but I didn't care. I had just had a fight after all.

P1000367
Pretty much immediately after this was taken I did the only sensible thing and went to the bar to get a pint.

Afterwards

Jun. 13th, 2010 08:48 pm
mhoulden: (Default)

Afterwards
Originally uploaded by mhoulden
I'm back, I survived and I'm absolutely shattered. More photos to come later, but that's all for now.

Fight!

Jun. 12th, 2010 12:53 am
mhoulden: (fight1)
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.
Bad Company Interclub

I will of course be taking a camera and be putting the best shots up here. Wish me luck.

Belt Up

Apr. 22nd, 2010 11:00 pm
mhoulden: (Default)
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:
P1000132

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:
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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):
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Not a bad weekend's work.

On the hitting and kicking side of things my next fight will be a Thai boxing interclub on the 8th of May. I said I was hoping to fight in some form or another in May. Bit short notice (I found out yesterday) but if you train as if you might have a fight in the next week or so anyway it makes it easier when you do.

5 years on

Mar. 17th, 2010 12:15 am
mhoulden: (Default)

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.
Thanks.
mh. 

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:
Me in April 2005

However plans were already in place to do something about it.

Read more... )

From looking like the Michelin man's less well toned brother I've become this after 5 years:
New gi

Final weight at the end of the year was 84 kg, a total loss of 49 kg. I also got my waist down from 48" to 33". My chest went down from 48" to 40" but now it's more like 42" now I'm doing weights and muscling up.

From here I'm planning on continuing as long as I can. My strategy is making hay while the sun shines: at some point I won't be able to train at this level and I may have to stop but that isn't any time soon. Since the October fight fell through I've been wanting to fight again and I'd really like to get something organized, Thai boxing or MMA.

I've got various thoughts on the atrocious pseudoscience that infests areas such as sport and nutrition but I've written about them elsewhere. I've also got various thoughts the banal platitudes that some people use as motivational "systems". I think the problem is that people will try anything that might give them an edge regardless of how ludicrous it is which opens the door to snake oil merchants. Let's just say that the proper scientific method works for nutrition and I've never been particularly keen on proprietary techniques such as NLP. The real test of a motivational technique is not when you're sitting in a comfortable room while a charismatic person whispers warm sounding platitudes at you, but when you're lying badly injured in a hospital bed or if you've suffered some other misfortune. I knew losing weight and getting up to fighting standard would be a long hard slog but I think it should be obvious from all this that I don't give up easily and I'm pretty resilient.

Enough rambling. After 5 years in this game I had to write something just to mark the passing of time.

mhoulden: (Default)
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 [livejournal.com profile] k425 and [livejournal.com profile] oldbloke are interested I can report back and let them know.
mhoulden: (Default)
Looks like this photo has been shortlisted by http://www.schmap.com/ to go in their next online guide to Leeds:
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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.
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.
mhoulden: (Default)
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.

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.

Next!

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)

Trophy
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 [livejournal.com 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.
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AKA_Leigh2009_1
Originally uploaded by mhoulden
Now on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mhoulden/sets/72157619059933310/
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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.

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mhoulden

February 2011

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