To compete or not to compete

It’s already been covered here lately, so it’s likely you will know the coaches at the MMA Academy recently travelled to Rome to compete in the European No-Gi Championships.

First and foremost, I just wanna say how good it is to see your coaches competing at such a top level.
To even be out there in the mix itself speaks volumes, but to come home with medals (as they did) makes me smile from ear-to-ear. It’s VERY reassuring!

I mean…it’s not the be-all and end-all to have such experienced coaches…but to me personally it carries a lot of weight. During my boxing career I always found it hard to take on board the opinion of a coach who’d never stepped in the ring before.
Is that wrong? Maybe it is.
Does it make me a bad person? No…you can’t help the way you feel.
I fully understand that some of the best coaches in certain sports have never participated in the very game they advise others in. Yes – maybe someone with a good analytical mind can offer great advice “from the outside looking in”, but my personal opinion is that they’ve never dealt with the emotions inside the ring/cage/mat/pitch/whatever when the going gets tough.

You could even take another positive from this trip in that not only have we got experienced coaches down the MMA Academy…but we’ve also got ACTIVE coaches. Again, that is not to be sniffed at!
There’s a great mix of this down at the gym. Not just in BJJ either. For instance, take the Muay Thai program that the gym runs. One of the coaches (Matty Crozier) is an upcoming fighter who looks a star of the future. Obviously, the coach who has the most of my respect is Peter Davies – a man who reached the pinnacle and is a wealth of knowledge. But while it’s great to walk through the gym doors and see framed pictures on the wall of head coach Davies’ British title wins (mostly black and white newspaper cuttings from just after the first world war) it’s also a good balance to have your other coach still going through fight camps and such.

Head Coaches Peter Davies & Jason Tan

Head Coaches Peter Davies & Jason Tan

Anyway…around the time of this Rome trip, one of the trio (James Owen – a quality Jiu Jitsu brown belt) posted on social media a pic of him about to step onto the mat and compete.
He tagged it with some profound words:-
“About to step on the mat at the nogi Euros, some will never experience this feeling of competing and testing yourself due to fear of losing or letting others down, but if you step on the mat you already won.”

It struck a chord with me.
A lot of my boxing fights I actually felt under pressure not to let others down. It’s only when you take a step back you realise “I’m doing this for me” and enjoy it, it’s what you train for, it’s the end result of all that hard work.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t admire people who don’t compete.
In fact in a weird way I admire them more.
Fighting’s not for everyone. Us fighters have definitely got a screw loose somewhere.
What’s good about the Academy is that it’s a mixture of all levels, all with different goals.
And what’s good about organisations like the Academy is that it combines getting fit with learning self-defence. The result is an increase in confidence that I think is hard to match with any other outlet. Get down and see for yourself!

To be honest I originally started writing this blog today with the title “Winning and Losing” and was going to cover how fine the margins are between the two, but once I mentioned James Owen’s post it got me thinking of the bigger picture and I re-wrote the article. I’ll save the blog about winning and losing for another day, but to go back to Mr Owen’s wise words – we’re all winners really.

James Owen - A winner every time he steps on the mat.

James Owen – A winner every time he steps on the mat.