At Eight I started Kyokushin Karate and in Judo.
At Eleven I began boxing, which is my martial art of choice.
During my teens I dabbled in Muay Thai and kickboxing as a supplement to my boxing.
At 19/20 I began Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and some wrestling.
I had couple of Vale Tudo style fights at around this age.
At 20 I turned professional in boxing.
Boxing had always been my priority, but at this point it eliminated training in the others.
The only sport I maintained somewhat was BJJ, which I find therapeutic and great for flexibility. Also, my former house mate and close friend is a black belt, who allowed me a lot of help and assistance.
All in all I have enjoyed 16 years of training and competition.
As regards frequency. It is very unusual that I will go a day without some sort of training.
I think the cumulative total is 125 wins 8 losses 2 draws.
Wins are not significant. I have eight losses on my record. Those are significant. Those are the memories that I reflect upon daily.
I find this very difficult to answer, my tastes change regularly.
Experience has taught me to be more critical of my heroes, more discerning of prospects.
There is no perfect fighter, but their imperfections are what really endear them to us.
History has made him a legend and time will make him a myth; a myth that could very well keep the sport alive. Its not about his ability or achievements, its about his psychology, his soul; his Tao as Ive heard it described.
Georges St. Pierre
Ive followed him from quite early in his career. Hes a nice guy and whatever, but thats not really the draw. I actually draw many parallels with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Athletes that arrive in terrific condition and maintain a healthy lifestyle in interim periods. Not the most powerful or the most physical competitors they succeed by the execution of a carefully formulated and perfectly executed game plan. Sometimes even at the risk of negating the action of a fight. I respect that. Where he differs from FMJ is in maintaining an air of respect, tranquility and concentration. The martial artist, always ready to learn.
The thirst for success, the unusually high standards to set for ones self, the relentlessness. The relentlessness.
This is what I aspire to be. Karelin could be an equal or greater, but he is not as accessible.
On any given day you can ask me this question and almost always it will be different. But I think this illustrates what I find inspirational. At least, I hope it does.
Movement, Defense, Countering, Clinching and Feinting.
Self-preservation is the most important skill for any fighter.
Stay conscious, stay in the fight. Make him miss and capitalise on his mistakes.
Self defense has nothing to do with combat for me. As highlighted in Idahos two excellent threads*, the priority is maintaining safety and the safety of those you are responsible for. Fighting techniques are a last resort, its more about strategy and situation control.
I've been unfortunate enough to have had to defend my life on two occasions.
The first time I punched back. The second time I used hand immobilisation.
That was fine, I thought I was a superhero laying some guys out, but should it ever happen again, I will run.
Martial Arts are a lifestyle. This is not a sport, this is a way of life. This is not about supplements, its about sacrifices.
I feel very uncomfortable offering life advice. Im not a bad guy, but Ive made more bad decisions than good ones. I have survived on luck and luck alone. But if I were to offer advice the best I can do is;
Find your passion. In school, in work, in relationships, in sports. If you force yourself to do something that you do not enjoy, you will never achieve success. If you fill your life with pursuits you are passionate about, that's a life worth living. And you will always find the grit to be successful.
I really don't like bullying or discrimination. It fills me with sadness.
I see it happen a lot in gyms; both as a boxer and as a coach. Im not the most compassionate person in the world; In fact I am sadistic when I am in the gym. But real life is hard enough without actively trying to make someone elses harder.
That kid getting bullied is somebody's little boy or little girl.
That little person is the center of some Mom or Dad's universe and nobody can ever understand what their life is really like.
Have some consideration, never taunt someone for being different.
When I was very young a coach told me; these are lessons, I teach you to box. Its your own responsibility to get in condition, on your own, outside of here. I teach boxing. That has always stuck with me.
I compartmentalise my training.
Strength sessions are for getting strong.
Conditioning sessions are for improving work quality and capacity.
My boxing sessions are for boxing only. I get in and its all technique and sparring.
I waste no time on anything other than priority number one; my improvement as a boxer.
With that being said, Eddie Futch, when being quizzed on cross training has been quoted as having said, Boxing is good training for boxing. Of any parable or philosophy, I have encountered, this is the most true. Nothing can prepare you for competition the way sparring can.
Other than that, I guess my log shows that Im fairly pedantic (or obsessive compulsive) about the way I structure training sessions.
My short answer - to practice all aspects of combat, sparring is irreplaceable.
It is the only way you can work on and live-test all of the qualities you mentioned.
However, for drills, I like to break them up into; Movement, Defense, Attack and Countering.
I will use a drill working on my weakness in each of these areas.
I will continue to do so until it becomes my strength.
When I began boxing, movement was my only strength. 16 years later it has fallen behind my attack, defense and countering. I will now start working on my movement more.
Sparring is irreplaceable.
But my views on sparring are somewhat hypocritical.
When coaching I like the idea of sparring once or twice a week. This prevents the accumulation of damage, development of bad habits and the development of inhibitions and fearful reactions.
Myself, I like to get some sparring every session.
This means control of intensity is hugely important. You cannot spar at an RPE** above 8 every day without implications on your health and performance.
Sparring is sparring. I cant underline that enough.
Sparring is sparring; not fighting.
It is a dress rehearsal for the actual act and as such should be used as the location for tweaking your technique, working on your weaknesses and actualising your trainers advice and recommendations.
Modern sports science already instructs us to begin training robustly and taper to meet your sports requirements;
Increase your strength, increase your aerobic capacity.
Develop power and increasing your work-rate.
Express your power over a sustained duration.
This translates into every element of your program. You first develop strength and an aerobic base. You then develop power and anaerobic fitness. Finally, you combine the two and improve your ability to move quickly and forcefully at a sustained rate over a specified period of time.
All while developing your technique, addressing your deficiencies and translating this into your own combat strategy.
**RPE: Rating of perceived exertion; your personal evaluation of a sessions difficulty