When I was younger, I acquired an interest in the martial arts that led to a spin-off interest in fitness. Over the years I have ummed and ahhed about it all.
The first martial art I practised was wado-ryu karate, when I was about ten, but I went off the idea. I switched to praying mantis kung fu, but then I had to pack that in because I was no longer able to physically get to the classes.
A few years later I tried my hand at Tang Sou Dao, which was quite similar to the karate I had studied before, albeit with more in the way of kicks and various kung fu techniques being introduced at advanced levels, and I went through a few gradings over a good couple of years.
Up until this point, I had followed the conventional view espoused by “traditional” martial artists – that sport martial arts trained you to fight under a certain set of rules that would obviously not apply on “the street”, meaning that their value for real-world self defence was limited.
However, the counter-argument, as I discovered, was that all martial arts training imposed restrictions on realism as a matter of necessity because of safety concerns, sport or not, so the only issue was how best to make that compromise. Further, getting used to dealing with uncooperative opponents in a full-contact setting was arguably far more important than theoretical knowledge of low-percentage techniques.
I tried a judo lesson and my mind was instantly made up. I was effortlessly tossed around like a rag doll by a guy quite literally half my size to the point where the instructors had to ask him to go easy on me. There was none of the pomp or pretentiousness of TSD, and people openly cross-trained – in fact, one student even ran a submission wrestling club and openly invited me to join it during the lesson.
In the years that followed I have had to change styles multiple times for one reason or another. Some of it has been because of changes in study/work patterns and/or moving house, but if I am completely honest, laziness has played a role.
It occurred to me, a couple of years ago, that had I stuck at one thing at the time I had made my decision to move towards full-contact sport martial arts, I would probably have been pretty lethal by now. I therefore decided to take up weightlifting as an alternative.
Even with the weightlifting, I haven’t been quite as disciplined as I might have been. However, there has been a noticeable (albeit slow) change as a result of that training. Although I have had occasional hiatuses for one reason or another, it doesn’t take too long for me to train back up to my previous level or even surpass it. I also find it a bit easier to find time for the gym as I can just go when I can squeeze it in, rather than having to turn up to class at a preset time only to get lumbered with a last-minute court hearing to prepare for.
So I think weightlifting is here to stay. Whether or not I have the time or money to take it REALLY seriously is another question, but a couple of sessions a week plus some cardio and reasonably healthy eating isn’t beyond me.
That being said, I have found a great deal for a nearby Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club. It costs £30 a month for one lesson per week, and the Saturday morning session is two hours long, which is pretty ideal for me and insanely cheap by BJJ standards. Plus, my gym membership itself is only £25, so it wouldn’t be a horrendous outlay on top of what I am already paying. It would also be nice to have a bit of a social outlet.
I am due a couple of pay rises soon, and I expect to be able to afford this training by April at the latest (as I will be on £30k per year by that point). The only hesitation I have relates to whether I will be sticking around in Romford at all, but maybe if I move closer to central London (as per my plan) I will be able to get a good deal for something similar.