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Looks like this photo has been shortlisted by http://www.schmap.com/ to go in their next online guide to Leeds:
11102009176.jpg

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.

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mhoulden

February 2011

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