In most gyms around the world, one of the first things a trainer or coach will tell you when you are participating in an MMA/kickboxing/boxing class is: “keep your hands up”. There is a very good reason for this! At my gym we have an open sparring night once a week. I spend 5 minutes hitting a heavy bag and 5 mins stretching to warm up. Halfway through one of my recent classes, I was paired up with a skilled professional fighter who outweighed me by 20lbs. The sparring picked up in intensity and I was landing more strikes, but my opponent was landing the heavier blows. I lost focus for a split second, had my hands down and looked away only to meet my sparring partners shin with my face. Wow did that hurt! I ended up leaving the gym with a broken nose that day. Not the most enjoyable experience.
Martial Arts and MMA have evolved into a worldwide sport that anyone can become a part of. There are many martial arts schools teaching many different disciplines. I have been trained in Muay Thai kickboxing ( a form of kickboxing with knee and elbow strikes ) boxing, wrestling and jiu-jitsu. Practicing good form and proper technique in each discipline is very important. Over time you will sharpen your defense, reaction time, hand-eye coordination as well as build your body up to take impact. Finding a good gym to train at is very important. Don’t rush when choosing a location to train. Most gyms have a free trial class or free week. I recommend trying at least 1-2 trial classes at 3-4 different gyms so you can compare your experiences and use that information to choose the gym best suited for you. Once you find a gym you like, perform a search on the coaches/instructors and look into their credentials as a fighter or trainer.
Once you have chosen a location to train at and acquired all the safety gear you will need, start off slowly. Get to know everyone around the gym and build friendly relationships with other fighters or gym members. This will help ease you into the higher intensity sparring classes without the fear of being beaten down by someone with a higher skill level. It is a fear that most people have to deal with when they first start training.
Injuries will most likely occur in most martial arts. If you happen to get injured in class, sparring, or a live ring fight, get some type of professional care and advice. A lot of the types of injuries you will sustain are small nagging injuries that linger and get worse over time if they are not dealt with promptly. Using muscle rubs and having hot baths, combined with a good diet will help minimize the damage that training and fighting can do to your body.
Remember everyone: Hands up, Chin down!
-Tylor “NINJA” Nicholson
Canadian Sport Sanshou/WKL 140lb Intercontinental Muay Thai Champion
WKL BC 130lb Junior Lightweight Muay Thai Champion
Comb Sport 140lb Super Lightweight Boxing Chamion