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Training Diary: April 8

This week, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to say that I have entered a bold new world in my training. A world that is both terrifying and exhilarating. A world of pain and reward. A world where my wrong moves have very clear and immediate consequences.

Because today, for the first time, I started sparring.

Now, let me just say that this was very light sparring – minimal contact, no clinching, no elbows or knees. All of which was fine by me. But man, what a great experience this was. Not necessarily for the reasons you may think though.

First lesson learned – I suck. Really, I’m not very good. And while this may sound disheartening, it’s not. I’m very new to this game, and looked at this sparring as a chance to find my weaknesses – see where I am struggling so that I can focus on those spots for next time. We sparred in a round robin format, and the guys involved were at various levels. Having a chance to spar with someone who is both above you, and a very generous teacher, is extremely helpful. He caught me, a lot, but every time was able to give me a quick pointer on how to correct my problems. This is a huge help.

Second lesson learned – DEFENSE. I’m not surprised to discover that this is my weakest area. Always has been for me; whether I’m competing in an actual sport, playing chess, or playing a Nintendo game, I’m much more offensive than defensive minded. And of course that leads me to some troubles in sparring. My main defensive difficulty is checking kicks. In the heat of the moment, to my still training body, the natural instinct when a kick comes in is to deflect it with the hand. Which of course is a great way to get yourself punched right in the face. But the idea of quickly getting my leg up for the check is tough – partly because it’s still a motion I have to think about a bit instead of doing naturally, and partly because I’m still too heavy on my feet, so checking requires some weight re-distribution before I can check. That’s too long, and by then, the kick has landed. So then the next time my mind says to me “you’ll never get that leg up in time, just swat the kick away with your hand.” And I do. And I get punched in the face. Have to work on silencing that instinct.

Over the course of this session I did manage to develop the motion of keeping my lead leg very light on the ground and frequently bringing it up in a check motion. And, for now at least, it worked! Not only did this help me check kicks, it also made it easier to throw a teep off the lead leg, or a quick stepping right kick. I definitely didn’t master this, or suddenly start blocking everything and landing every kick – but I improved. And a day later, as I feel some minor aches and pains, I’m pleased to know that little improvement happened.  And I absolutely can't wait to get back in there and try it again.

Up next – that tough boxer guy who keeps up the pressure with charging punches. How to keep him off me?

Training Diary is a weekly series documenting my journey starting Muay Thai training. For more on this series, read the first entry here. I train at Conviction Fitness & Martial Arts, 4430 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL www.convictionfitness.com.

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It's Showtime Web Shop March Sale

If you think back, to promote It's Showtime's new web shop and first big event of the year, It's Showtime teamed up with LiverKick.com to give away a whole slew of awesome merchandise. Well, we are happy to tell you that It's Showtime's web shop has been doing well, and to celebrate both doing well and It's Showtime's awesome March, including two big shows, they have a few special offers for the rest of the month.

First, if you live in the Netherlands, you get free shipping for the month of March. If you don't live in the Netherlands, you get an automatic 4.95 Euro discount on shipping, or just about $7 U.S. For the sometimes lofty shipping prices to the United States, this is an incredibly welcome discount. If you live outside of the Netherlands and have been teetering on purchasing from It's Showtime but haven't due to shipping prices, the time is now to take advantage of this.

On top of that, the nice folks who run the It's Showtime web shop have decided to give us a special code for you to enter to toss in a free keychain, wallet or lanyard for free. So place an order with It's Showtime, and enter the following code and not only will you see a shipping discount but get a free gift as well.

The code: KSF3103

So go for broke, discounted or free shipping if you are in the Netherlands and a free gift from LiverKick.com and It's Showtime.

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Fletch Blog: A Few Exclusives and Whatnot

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So, I've been sat spinning tales around the campfire for a while now, and I've got a couple of recent ones from the interviews that I've been fortunate enough to conduct in the past week or two. From the Slamma at BAMMA to chatting to Mike Passenier and Paul Daley, to James McSweeney and last night down at Bad Company gym in Leeds, me and my trusty iPod emerged from our dingy basement and got out in the world to ask questions. So, here's a couple of the nuggets of info I retrieved:

 

*James McSweeney (the now 4-7 win/loss BAMMA Heavyweight) was offered a shot at the It's Showtime 95MAX (Cruiserweight, 95kg) world title.

The belt was vacated after Tyrone Spong failed to defend it within two years, and was contested for on Sunday by Wendell Roche and Danyo Ilunga. It makes me wonder what the deal is - McSweeney had a degree of success in Muay Thai, winning British and European titles and even a 'world' title, but surely there were more deserving candidates for a shot at what is - in the absence of Light-Heavy/Cruiserweight divisions in K-1 - perhaps the most prestigious and important 'world' title in kickboxing between 90-95kg? For the Americans, that is roughly 198-210lbs.

 

*Stefan "Blitz" Leko is retired ~ Mike Passenier.

What can I say? Ever the professional, I blurted out "no!" and audibly groaned when Mike let slip during our interview that my joint-favourite thai-boxer (with Manhoef) had finally called it a day. If so, I mourn the loss of a man who seemed destined to achieve K-1 greatness at the level of Aerts (who he beat twice), Bonjasky (who he beat), Hoost (who he took the distance) and teammate Semmy Schilt, only to seemingly miss his big window of opportunity when - as the-then #1 ranked K-1 heavyweight on a hot streak - he was axed from K-1 just prior to the 2003 World Grand Prix Final, which he was being widely tipped to win.

Still, the resume that includes being K-1 European Grand Prix champion, K-1 Dream tournament champion, two-time K-1 World Grand Prix USA winner, two-time World Heavyweight Thai-boxing champion and three-time World Super-Heavyweight kickboxing champion, is a C.V that 99% of all fighters would die to retire with, not to mention holding wins over Peter Aerts (x2), Alexey Ignashov (x2), Badr Hari, Remy Bonjasky and many more. Leko retires after a glorious career. Legend, yes or no? He is to me.

 

*Melvin Manhoef has not defended his It's Showtime 85MAX (Light-Heavyweight) world title, because there are no fighters at 85kg willing to face him for the belt.

It is likely he will end up being stripped, as Tyrone Spong was. Manhoef won the belt against relative unknown Denes Racz, on an It's Showtime card in August 2009 that took place in Hungary. Racz is Hungarian. A low key title win, and then no defences in nearly two years. Such a shame, as to me, Melvin in near unbeatable at his own weight class in stand-up fighting, and it is hard to envision anyone upwards of 77MAX and even up to the best at 95MAX being able to beat him. As my next point will highlight, Melvin wont be competing for the title at 95kg anytime soon, but even in that division he looks pretty strong, in the absence of Saki and Spong. So, in terms of 85kg... what could have been the most dominant, destructive, brutal kickboxing world championship reigns of all time will be cut short after two years of non-activity, due to lack of opposition. As a Manhoef fan, it's sad.

 

*Nenad Pagonis of Mike's Gym is in line to face Danyo Ilunga for the It's Showtime 95MAX title.

Mike Passenier told me a week prior to the vacant belt being fought for by Wendell Roche and Germany's Ilunga, that "Pagonis will fight the winner". He added that for this reason, Manhoef would not be competing for the 95MAX world title in the near future, as Pagonis and he are teammates.

 

*Liam Harrison of Leeds will get a rematch with Saenchai Sor Kingstar.

The p4p God of Thailand gave a recent interview in which he stated Harrison was "his favourite opponent. Everything I do to him, he imitates and does back to me. It is fun." Richard Smith of Bad Company says that Liam "is a different fighter now" to what he was when he faced Saenchai the first time around. That could spell trouble for the flashy Thai, as while he is a prodigious, mercurial talent, with 40losses on his record he is not infallible to losing to top competition. (I should point out that nearly all the losses occurred above his natural weight, as no one his size will fight him). The rematch is scheduled for April 9th.

 

*Jordan Watson, also of Bad Company gym in Leeds, was offered a shot at p4p kickboxing king Giorgio Petrosyan, according to Richard Smith, who is head and founder of the camp.

Watson, 22 from Leeds, rose to world prominence last year when he faced off with 2x K-1 World MAX champion Buakaw Por.Pramuk, whom he took to a close decision over 5rds, and then Watson topped off a great year by winning the ISKA World title at welterweight (70kg). While Smith said he witheld the youngster from the Petrosyan fight for now, the name 'Watson' certainly appears destined to rank alongside those of the other power names at 70kg, such as Petrosyan, Buakaw (who he already almost beat) Souwer, Kraus, Zambidis and Kyshenko.

 

Check LiverKick in the coming days for my video interviews of Richard Smith, Liam Harrison and hopefully Jordan Watson too.

Fletch

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Weekly Poll Results

Results from last week's poll: Who will defeat Giorgio Petrosyan?

42% - Buakaw Por. Pramuk

22% - No one for awhile

8% - Mike Zambidis

8% - Yoshihiro Sato

6% - Andy Souwer

5% - Cosmo Alexandre

4% - Other

2% - Albert Kraus

2% - Pajonsuk

1% - Gago Drago

This week: UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva showed some amazing striking this weekend with his front kick KO of Vitor Belfort.  There's no doubt he is one of the greatest strikers in MMA history, but how would those skills translate to K-1?

How do you think Anderson Silva would do if he started competing in K-1?

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