My Fight Career
Throughout this time I never had an MMA coach. I trained mostly at a BJJ club and did additional training at wrestling classes and Muay Thai and boxing gyms. I paid gym membership or casual class rates at each place I trained because I realised that the coaches were passing knowledge onto me that they'd spent many years acquiring.
I booked all of my own fights which generally meant phoning or emailing promoters and offering to fight on their next show. I only received payment for probably 5 of my 16 pro fights.
Promoters would offer to pay for a train ticket for me and one of my training partners to come along to corner me. We'd set off on a long train journey from London to some remote location, weigh in, warm up, I'd fight then head back on the train so I could be at work on Monday morning.
Check out my Fight Highlight Reel here:
My Fight Highlight Reel
Having a Coach
Over the years I've come to realise how important having proper coaching is. I've seen lots of fighters who's results and fight records would be much different if they had different coaches.
Coaches can decide for the fighter which fights to accept and which to decline at each point in his career, the coach can organise the training of the fighter, telling him what to do and when to do it (but he can't do the training for him). Coaches can make tactical and strategic decisions about how to fight and what techniques should be used against an upcoming opponent.
I believe there's more to coaching than just showing techniques. Teaching techniques is important and unless an instructor can break down and explain the techniques properly the student won't be able to learn and perform them. The instructor must also be able to explain the 'whys' of each technique so the student has a clear understanding of when to apply it.
These days however there is so much access to techniques via instructional videos and online subscription sites that anyone can learn anything. So what is the point of having an instructor or teacher?
Guiding the Students
For me the most important element of coaching isn't the actual techniques. It comes down to guiding and managing the progress of the individual student. The Coach must understand what is best to teach (or not teach) the student at any given point in time. The Coach must know what advice to give the Student and what changes they need to make to maximise their learning and improvement.
This is not something which can be picked up from an online video. Showing someone how to do a new tricky way of setting up an armlock and then having them successfully do it in live sparring is relatively easy. Guiding a complete beginner from having no knowledge to winning fights and tournaments is much more difficult. Unfortunately I find that many people coming to the martial arts have this quick fix short term mentality and they will also find a coach out there to offer them the quick fix they think they need.
Over the years I've gained a lot of knowledge and experience about how to be successful in combat sports but I'm still learning more and more every week. I've been training for almost 25 years, have competed in many combat sports, gone on training trips all over the world, attended many seminars, private lessons and lots of research, planning and note taking.
I believe that one of the best skills that I have developed is knowing how to best guide and develop the training career of my students. I've trained all over the world and learned from many different instructors. I think I've learned just as much about how not to teach as I have learned about teaching.