My dad made me a set of nunchakus when I was 9 yrs old. I became obsessed with these things as I practiced everyday. My elbows were always black and blue due to hitting myself in the elbow with nunchakus time after time.
This became such a problem I began wearing elbow pads to help. After a year of practice I became pretty good with the nunchaku. Once I felt comfortable using one I began to practice with two at the same time.
This resulted in a bunch of bruised fingers and beat up hands. As time went on I became pretty good with two nunchakus.
Next, I became interested in the sword. About the time I received my sword I also begin training in Seishin Kai (Japanese martial art). I never really got very good at using the sword.
In the mean time I did well in Seishin Kai as I became a USA Kata and Kumite champion at a young age. I practiced Seishin Kai for a couple of years and decided it was time to move on as I became more interested in baseball. I still use my sword and nunchakus from time to time. These tools are great for enhancing wrist strength, range of motion, and shoulder integrity.
I had a problem with getting into a bunch of fights as a young kid. After all, my heroes were warriors (ninjas, samurais). Something I noticed in all of my fights was that the techniques I had learned in Seishin Kai rarely were effective in fights. Usually the fights would be an exchange of punching or would end up on the ground. Nothing fancy just practical tactics.
When I was in my junior year of high school I became interested in boxing. I watched every boxing match I could and bought every magazine I could find. I was especially captivated by Tyson. At that time he was a killer. My friends and I would all get together to watch the Tyson fights. This inspired us to begin backyard boxing. We used a fenced in yard or trampoline as the ring.
None of us were very skillful, but all of my friends were pretty tough. We didn't understand boxing we just thought it was about being in good shape and throwing punches. I was in excellent condition when we started boxing. I noticed this didn't help much with sore heads and bloody noses.
In fact, once I got my nose broken in our backyard boxing matches I decided it was time to retire. My other friends agreed as we were always sore from our punch out sessions. This really made it rough to do other physical things like play basketball, swim or even pick up chicks.
Soon after my backyard boxing escapades I entered college. The first year of college I basically performed no physical activity as I partied down with my buddies. It was the start of my second year of college when I knew it was time to get fit again. I felt bad and looked awful.
In an attempt to enhance my fitness levels I began playing basketball, tennis, and baseball. I also began training other people mostly friends. I started watching boxing a great deal and decided I would like to try real boxing. I lost weight very fast when I began boxing.
My work capacity soared as my GPP levels climbed weekly. I became the Founder and President of Eastern Kentucky University's Boxing Club. I did alright as an amateur boxer. I actually did very well in exhibitions and in the gym, but in front of crowds I never did that well. I was a great first round fighter, but the bouts were scheduled for three rounds.
I was in great condition, but I never learned to relax therefore I fatigued relatively fast. I can box better today than I could when I competed. I have learned to relax more and have enhanced my physical qualities to an all time high. I would not trade those years of my competitive boxing career. I learned some valuable lessons. I also met numerous interesting people.
Mixed Martial Arts
Towards the end of my boxing career I discovered Mixed Martial Arts. My first introduction was seeing a video of the UFC. I could not believe something like this really existed.
Within a few months of watching the event I met a guy in a gym where I was training a client. He told me there was a local guy that was training people in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Thai boxing, Wing-Chun and Western Boxing.
I contacted the instructor and begin taking his classes. We trained 2x days per week. The classes were held inside a dance studio. We had a limited amount of mats so sometimes we grappled on hardwood floors. We also did a great deal of standup where I did well. I trained at the dance studio for a few months before relocating to another school across town. I also taught a kickboxercise class, and conducted personal training sessions in a gym below the new martial arts training facility.
In home-training was another service I offered through my personal training business. After training at the new school for a couple of months I became the schools strength and conditioning consultant. We had a small weight room in the school. Two years after I began training in MMA I opened up my own facility (Total Body Fitness).
In September of 2002 I became Honorary Member and Advisor to Karate International Council of Kickboxing. In April of 2003 I became a member of The World Martial Arts Hall Of Fame in recognition of my writings and strength and conditioning work with martial artists. I would like to thank my friend Alireza Fadaie Khoi (www.kickmiddleeast.com) in nominating me for the Hall of Fame.
I have dealt with a large number of combat athletes over the years. Some good experiences and some bad experiences. I have come across all different types of personalities. In regards to my experiences with athletes, coaches and intense studies I have found golden methods for conditioning MMA athletes.
As I mentioned earlier some of the concepts I will introduce in the next few weeks will be foreign. Read this series of articles with an open mind and challenge yourself to think.
Keep in mind, what works well for one athlete made not work exactly the same for another. All programs are subject to change. In my next article we will begin discussing specific training and nutritional protocols for MMA athletes.
About Coach Hale
Coach Hale is the owner of Total Body Fitness, Winchester Golden Gloves Boxing and MaxCondition Sports Conditioning. He designs comprehensive training programs for coaches and athletes worldwide. He is the author of Optimum Physique and contributor to numerous exercise and sports publications. Coach Hale is an official member of The World Martial Arts Hall of Fame in recognition of his strength and conditioning work with martial artists. He also serves as vice-chairman for the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame. To learn more about coach Hale visit his website at www.maxcondition.com.