What was your first involvement with mixed martial arts?
My first exposure was reading about UFC 1 not long after it happened and hunting out a tape of it, which is what got me interested in the sport that was then known as NHB. Not long after that I met and trained with Geoff Thompson from Coventry who at the time was mixing different styles together and training some of the first UK NHB fighters for events run by Lee Hasdell. Following my interest online I met other s with the same passion for this burgeoning sport and become a part of Submission Fighting UK (SFUK) when it launched, Europe’s first major MMA website and resource which was a driving force behind the UK scene for many years.
Briefly explain the history of the gym.
The gym was originally founded by students at De Montfort University (Matt Whetton and Giuseppe Iannucci with Jimmy Cairney and Dom Bufton) who broke away from a more traditional martial arts club to set up their own sessions. Following a chance meeting with one of them I dropped by to watch some classes but ended up sharing some of what I’d picked up from training in Coventry and my involvement with SFUK. I gradually took over more of the sessions and when the founder members moved away from Leicester or became busy with other things I took over the club. I continued to train small groups over numerous locations for many years until we finally settled in to our own academy at the end of 2009. We have trained over 100 competitors in Submission Grappling and MMA, from amateur up to UFC level.
|Nathan Leverton prepares for classes|
What range of classes does the gym offer?
We currently have classes 6 days a week. There are MMA and MMA Striking sessions to introduce students to the fundamentals of the sport and an MMA Advanced class which essentially serves as squad training right now for people to spar and drill in preparation for competition. We have a similar format for Submission Wrestling, with classes for those wishing to learn the art or refine their technique as well as advanced classes for sparring and competition preparation. We also have the MMA Fitness class once a week to whip everyone in to shape and Sundays are reserved for special events like the women only sessions, seminars and club competitions.
As more and more MMA gyms open up over the coming months what do you feel is unique about the gym?
Our relaxed and friendly gym atmosphere and our commitment to developing no-gi grappling and its application to MMA; I also would say our history of success in open competition and our goal of providing the best training possible for recreational students alongside competitive athletes.
Also, our series of seminars at the gym this year has been amazing. We’ve had Andre Winner, Ross Pearson, Paul Daley, James Wilks, Pablo Popovitch, Marcelo Brigadeiro, Rosi Sexton, Wanderlei Silva to name a few.
What is the most gruelling training session that the gym currently runs?
The MMA Fitness class is pretty tough; strength and conditioning circuits, bag circuits, ab routines, neck work, partner stretching and more.
How would you sum the gym up in a sentence?
If you train MMA or grappling in Leicestershire and it’s not with us then you are at the wrong gym.
What are the plans for the gym for the future?
We’ve just expanded the women’s program and that’s going great. We’ve done some trial kids classes and hope to bring those in next year too. We are planning our strength and conditioning area for the new year and will also be rolling out our grading system for no-gi grappling; more seminars, events, classes and people enjoying MMA and Submission Wrestling and a few more medals as well.
Is there anyone that you'd like to thank or give a shout out to?
Where to start! Everyone who gave up time to help get the new facility ready, Caged Steel for providing us with training gear for the gym, the coaches, the team, all the people in the scene who’ve been a friend and supported us and my girlfriend Gen!
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about the gym.