You have your own gym?
Yes, we are based in Pontefract in West Yorkshire but we also have other gyms affiliated to us for Jiu Jitsu although that wasn't always the case.
When we first started the gym it was purely through necessity, we needed somewhere to train and people to train with so we had to form our own team and take it from there. I had no intention of becoming a coach again but that's how it worked out.
There was only me and my wife so someone had to be the coach, I lost the rock, paper, scissors so I became coach.
The building itself is pretty basic and not what you would imagine of a gym, certainly nothing like the purpose built martial arts gyms that are available now. I call it a gym rather than an academy, school, dojo or something else more martial arts related because it's where people train hard in an athletic activity. I have been to martial arts schools where there has been no energy, no sweat flying, no anything yet they still call it training. That's not my idea of training.
Even though it is a very modest little place we have still produced some excellent competitors, with people training at the gym for everything from local tournaments right up to European and World Championships as well as the guys that we have fighting Mixed Martial Arts too.
Which role do you prefer competitor or coach?
I was kind of forced into the role of coach that I grew into so that is the role I prefer, I guess it's what you get used to.
The feeling that you get from seeing someone who came in to train with no prior athletic training, was overweight, no confidence or anything become a competitive athlete, to see them improve their lives, improve their confidence and grow.
This has happened so many times but the feeling is always awesome. Helping people goes way beyond the feeling I get from personal achievement. Seeing my wife get her black belt and knowing that I had helped her and coached her all the way was more satisfying than getting my own.
One of my favourite students was Gloria. She turned up training one day, a woman with no confidence, no self worth and the victim of domestic violence when her bouncer boyfriend had too much to drink. I worked some stuff exclusively to prepare her for the day in which she would stand her ground. That day came after around 6 months of regular training. He came home after a few beers, one thing led to another and he went to pin her against the wall, she deflected his force, kneed him in the balls then dropped him to his knees by a right hook to his jaw. As he looked up in disbelief she smashed him in the head with a vase and knocked him out. When he came around, she drove him to A&E to get stitches, after which he treated her with much more respect.
Isn't attitude adjustment awesome?
Saying this I looked into doing the Europeans in Portugal this year but was going to be too damn expensive. Was going to cost around the same money for me and Helen to go for a couple of days as it would to fly to LA for a week and stay at our coach's house, train every day, go to the beach every day and get some sun. Not much of a choice for me.
How do you view training as a 'senior' athlete?
For me personally the keys are quality training, rest and recovery, this has been at any point in my martial arts career but especially as a senior.
I started working full time again at the beginning of this year and so far had not had much of an injury, a few strains but not real injury and feel that I have improved, I guess by getting the recent promotion, this is validated. Last year when I was training everyday, I seemed to always be carrying an injury so I was getting more training time but less quality.
What I will do now is get quality, intense training time with our team. Gone are the days of training all day, now it's 2 hours short, sharp, shock. Get the work done then get the hell out of there. I have a great bunch of guys to train with no matter what we are doing - gi, no gi, Judo, MMA, whatever it is they are pushing me all the time.
Immediately after training I get my Aminoload advanced drink to get my recovery started immediately. After the drink I stretch a little to try to dispel the lactic acid build up. Whenever I get chance I will use the foam roller (self myofacial massage) to iron the muscles out again but more often than not I will pester my wife for a massage. She is a qualified masseuse currently studying sports massage so I am her guinea pig anyway but if you are an athlete and you don't get massaged then you are really missing out.
If I am hurting I will use heat/cold treatment if I have to but really dislike this, it's just necessary sometimes.
Correct nutritional is crucial pre and post workout to achieve your maximum potential.
I try to get in the occasional session of weight training, just a little strength training to help support my joints. I had a lot of trouble with my knee last year, I had a MCL partial tear with some bursitis and some tissue damage so after missing 4 weeks of training, have been doing some superslow leg extensions and leg curls to take care of that for the future
I have an exceptional personal trainer named Gaz Vause, anything I need to know he is the man to ask. I try and get some sessions in with Gaz whenever I can, I am trying to persuade him to write for our website to share his talent with the world so keep an eye out www.combatsport.co.uk
If you want to be a competitive athlete as a senior then Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is perfect for you, they have divisions for age and weight. Between 35 and 40 years old you are considered Senior 1, 40 to 45 years Senior 2, 45 to 50 years Senior 3 and so on. You can just keep competing forever.
We have some great senior competitors in the UK, guys who have won gold medals at the International Master and Seniors tournament held in Brazil each year, guys like Dave Coles and Nick Brooks to name but a few who have won world titles despite being over the dreaded 40.
My own coach, Chris Haueter, just won his division at the Pan Ams in the USA and he is a little older than I am. My good friend Leo Kirby won his weight group and the open weight too at the Pan Ams and he is a little older than Chris.
In conclusion, train smart and you can continue while ever you have your health.