Put Up Your Dukes

Soon after moving to the USA 15 or so years ago, I started Boxing, then got into Muay Thai, and then MMA. Full contact fight training can be hard on a body. I’ve broken bones in my right foot, two ribs on my left side on two different occasions, my orbital bone, I fractured my left shin and had a hole in my leg from that break that took 5 months to grow closed. I earned all of those injuries training for fights.

After the leg break, which developed into a very bad infection and for a time there was some concern I may loose part of my leg, I re-evaluated my involvement in competitive fight sports. I was close to 50 years old and at the time had no health insurance. I realized I was playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded gun and it was time to step away from fight sports and find something else that would make me happy.

Nothing ever filled that void.

Fight sports are unlike most other sports. Many people are infatuated by fight sports and the perception of being a fighter then loose their appetite for it when their mind and body are put to the test. Getting beaten by another man better than you is far more than just physically painful, it can shake your self-confidence and can be so uncomfortable emotionally that it becomes demoralizing. But if you are a guy that can find solace in fighting well, being beaten, and use that experience to motivated you to be better, fight sports may well be your thing.

You either love it or you don’t. While my time has passed to make an impact as a competitive fighter, I still love the training and the sport. So this week I will gather my mouthpiece, shin guards, gloves, wraps, headgear, and most importantly my cup, and I will walk into a fight gym again.

The best part is that no one there will notice or care.

Fight gyms are like that. No one cares how your body looks, how big you are, how lean you are, or anything else about you that can be gained at first glance. You must earn your respect in a fight gym as a fighter. You do that by working hard, refusing to quit, paying respect and attention to coaches, and over time you will earn your spot among those that you will call your fight family.

Pay respect to others yet bow-down to no one, and you will earn that same respect by what you do.

The most important thing in fight training, from an athletic perspective, is physical conditioning. All of the running I have been doing the past couple weeks along with the kind of training I have been doing for the past month or so has drastically improved my overall conditioning. My cardio is vastly improved and my muscular flexibility and endurance is also dramatically better than it was 2 months ago. Preparing to fight train is a good idea as you will find out in a hurry how long 3 minutes can truly be.

My skills are rusty but I am physically and mentally up to the challenge.

Joining a fight gym, or just walking into one, can be intimidating. That is your first fight and can be your easiest win. Just square your shoulders and walk through the door. Fight training is a skills based endeavor. It takes time and repetition to develop and perfect fighting skills. If you go to a quality fight gym the coaches there will not put you into a situation you are not properly prepared for. A common belief is that you must earn the right to spar before you are given that privilege.

If you are curious or even mildly interested, just make the decision and go to a Fight Gym this week. You can talk to the owner, watch the others training there, and if the place feels right for you then try it for a week. After your first training session you will either be hooked or you will never come back, but either way you will know if it’s for you.

In my opinion, few things are more gratifying, exhilarating, and just plain fun to do than training for fight sports. After a short time you will find yourself in the best shape of your life, looking and feeling great, and after finding a practical use for all that muscle and training, you will feel a self-confidence you may well not have known before.


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