Lessons From The Ring – Kickboxing Training

By Mike Brooks

First Kickboxing Fight Experience

Hello readers! Hopefully you have read and enjoyed my previous article on kickboxing fight preparation. In it I discussed the sort of schedule I use in training for my Full Contact Kickboxing. It should be noted that you will not always have the time to use such a precise scale for your training.

For example, I was recently invited to the WAKO (World Association of Kickboxing Organizations) Full Contact British Squad trials. I had a month to prepare and thus was forced to mix an element of all the stages of fitness into my training for that month. Unfortunately I was forced to decline the offer as I have been caught up with an ugly chest infection! But it goes to show, training always needs flexibility.

So, that brings you all up to date with my training exploits over the Christmas season. I have my own New Year’s resolutions, and I’m sure you do too. For some of you, that means new fitness goals, new challenges, and new adventures. For many of you, 2010 may be the first year that you step into the ring. That in itself is one of the greatest things you will achieve all year. It takes a great deal of bravery and dedication. There are several factors you will need to overcome, and I will attempt to discuss these in this article.


We have all been there at some point in our lives before. Whether it was on stage in a school play, some form of aggressive encounter in a club, a job interview – the list goes on, but 9 times out of 10 these nerve-wracking encounters bring out the same reactions in people. Excess sweating, shortness of breath, feeling slow, heavy, sluggish or weak, tunnel vision, increased heart rate, adrenaline rushes – the list goes on,

Now, as ever I must state that I am NOT an expert. Going from experience, from books I have read, and even a seminar or two, I have one crucial thing to tell you – YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR BODY’S REACTION TO STRESS.

The reactions listed above are all symptoms of our body preparing us for a stressful encounter. Your body floods itself with adrenaline in order to prepare you for fight or flight. Problem is, when preparing for a fight, we encounter stress long before we need the adrenaline.

On an evening show you might fight at about 7pm. That is when you need the adrenaline. And yet, some of you will be getting that burst of adrenaline as you think about the fight the night before, leading to a lack of sleep…next morning at breakfast, leading to a loss of appetite…during the weigh in, when you expect to see your opponent for the first time…the list goes on.

Do NOT be discouraged. Now that you know what to expect (if you didn’t already), you can start to prepare for it.

Can’t sleep the night before? Use something like warm milk or a long stretching session to relax yourself (remember, your coach might not want you having any nookie the night before, so restrain yourselves if only for one night!). Make a relaxing play list on your mp3 player. Do not do/take anything you have not done before, for example sleeping remedies or a massage, as you do not know how these will affect you on your big day.

Losing your appetite? Trust me, there will come a time when you will wish you had eaten, so do it. Without going into too much detail (for fear of turning this into a nutrition article) you need to keep your blood sugar levels steady to ensure a solid performance. Once again, now is not the time to be experimenting with new things. Hydration is also important.

The shortness of breath, the butterflies, the sweating and shaking – for me, these can be the biggest obstacles. But so far as I know, these are all by-products of adrenaline release. The release of adrenaline is partly affected by your heart rate, which in turn is partly affected by your breathing rate. You may see where I’m going with this…. deep, slow breaths! In my experience, nothing calms me down more than trying to go to sleep – eyes closed, breathing deep, slow breaths. This may help delay the release of energy (shaking and adrenaline) and vital fluids (sweating), which will give you more in the tank when you get into round 3!

You may now be wondering why I have not touched on confidence at all. And that is because I believe you build your own confidence. You can have all the positive results of training, practice, and the like, but if part of you is feeling useless and inferior, and you believe that part of your mind…. well, no one else can do anything for you.

Approach your negative mind set logically – our coaches do not build their reputations by giving us fights they think we will lose. You have not lost all the skills and abilities that you have been developing over the years and months. If your training has gone smoothly then you are fit, capable, and injury-free. You want victory enough that you have come this far, through the miles, rounds, and reps – and you still want that victory, or you would not have turned up. Speaking of which…


I will not hesitate for a second to tell you that my first fight was the hardest physical challenge I have ever faced – and it will probably be the same for you too. Unless at some point in your life you have fought, whether in martial arts, war, or your local bar, the stress put on your body will be second to none.

This is partly due to the stress I have mentioned previously, but not all of it. Sticking with the context of this being your first fight, then it is safe to say you have never really been in a situation where you are hitting such an unpredictable object (someone else!) as hard as you physically can, whilst moving as quick as you can in order to avoid getting hit yourself.

My shortest fight was 3 minutes worth of action (2 minutes for the first round, and a stoppage halfway through the second) and my longest was 10 minutes (my 5 round title fight last September). This makes my point clearly – all those hours of training, for less than fifteen minutes work? It just goes to show, combat sports present a bigger challenge than anything we face in training.

Beyond Well-structured Training

And how, you ask, do you deal with this? How do you train for an event if you have just accepted that you cannot prepare for it, strictly speaking? Of course, I would recommend following a training structure the likes of which I mentioned in my previous article, but you need to go further than just well-structured training.

You need to go to the level you would normally stop at, and then go beyond it. Only by working and working and working will you emerge on top. In my opinion, this is why so many fighters go on long, monotonous runs, why we get made to do press ups and sit ups numbering in the hundreds. This is not the most scientific, beneficial training we could do, but it breaks us down and makes us push. And trust me; being broken down, and being made to push, is exactly what fighting is about.

The best way to access this level of training is through Personal Trainers, your coaches (who probably have more experience in the industry than the average Personal Trainer) and, importantly, good friends and training partners. If you are motivated enough, you can take yourself to that level, but I would still recommend getting outside help.

I hope this article has helped in discussing any of your doubts, concerns, or questions. Feedback and further questions are always appreciated. I will cover one last question, and like any good writer I have tried to save the best until last.

What if I lose?

That is the big worry for a lot of people. But why? Win or lose, your first fight is about breaking the important boundaries mentally, physically, and spiritually. It is an indisputable fact that 50% of fighters lose their first fight. Do all those fighters amount to nothing? Only if they give up.

To all of you, unless I see you in my opposite corner one day, I wish you the best luck, health and experience.

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