Monday, 25 October 2010

Ben the Pen - Stories and Recollections

Big weekends don't come much bigger than the one that I had. 21 hours of study, 500 miles of driving, 22 fights, 13 cups of tea and it's only now it's all over and I'm sitting writing on the sofa that it all hits me.

This Wednesday, Ultimate Challenge: Unbelievable will be on Sky Sports 4. I was asked to commentate a few weeks ago and, to those who know me, I apologise if I've seen a bit distant. It'll be my televised commentating debut, it's epic to say the least.

I got to commentate on the biggest and best mma event in the UK and working along side Rob "Gran Torino" Nutley and Tom "Kong" Watson was amazing and an honour that it'll take me forever to fully understand and appreciate.

This blog, if you read it from the start, is a template for anyone who wants to achieve something that they have a passion for. I'm the first to admit and it's not just a gimmicky thing to say, I promise you I'm nothing special. I just love writing about this great sport and expressing how I feel about it through commentary. It's incredible to think that I started this crazy journey just 15 months ago and without the help and support of those people who've been instrumental, you know who you are, it would have been impossible.

What am I saying? Just don't stop doing what you like if you believe in what it is. If you feel you've got something to say and accomplish then never stop trying. It's all reachable, you've just got to believe.

I've got a lot of writing to do today so I'll speak to you very soon, but in the mean time listen to this.
It'll make sense I promise you.
Ben "The Pen" Cartlidge

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Nerves: The Importance of Listening

I 've got a huge weekend and I can't even begin to describe why in some respects. It'll become clear real soon but I think that, when Sunday night comes, I'll have earned a rest. I started this journey so long ago but it's only recently I've been made aware of just how far I've come and how much further there is still to travel.

When I get caught up in things I try and read something by someone who inspires me and then everything makes a bit more sense. If you get the time please watch the videos I've linked, it'll all make more sense afterwards I promise you. I'll be a little less mysterious next week but I only hope that I make you good people proud and repay the time and trust that you've invested in me thus far.

Take Care

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Brian Stann - Heart for the Fight

Imagine my suprise this morning when I saw the postman trying to wedge a parcel through the letter box. I wasn't waiting for anything from overseas, or so I thought, so I unwrapped it somewhat frantically.

I'd forgotten that, a while ago, I'd been approached by Quayside Publishing, to review this book but with work being hectic and all I'd forgotten about it.

I sat down and noticed a few things straight away, the first being that this was a signed copy, much thanks to Brian and the team for this.

The second was the fact that it had just started raining and I'd not long boiled the kettle. I made a cup of tea and sat in the conservatory to give it a quick taster. I can't honestly tell you what happened next, I just remember getting more tea and then being a little sad when I'd got to the end.

The sadness was simply because I'd read it all and I was quite taken aback by the whole experience ending. More to the point, even if you don't like mma I'd take the time to read this. That's the magic of it in many respects.

Thanks again to John at Quayside Publishing and all I can say is I can't recommend this book enough.

Take Care

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Memories of a Simpler Time

The machine you see there probably means different things to every single one of you. To some it'll be the last great console that you bought, to some it'll be the cause of many a playground argument and some of you may have never even seen, let alone played one.

To me that machine represents one simple principle that I refer to on a daily basis. The Super Nintendo reminds me of a simple time, when all I worried about was playing videogames and riding on my mountain bike.

What's the deal with putting this on an mma blog? It's simply because it relates to me and writing and that's what it's all about. Writing, for me, is one of the few releases I have that completely empties my mind of everything but the pictures that I try to scribe down. I don't worry about anything when I write, it's hard to put it into words but I get a serene feeling that reminds me of those Utopian days that, at the time, I never fully appreciated.

I watched UFC 120 last night but it wasn't the same as it usually is, simply because every time the camera panned round I saw the media tables and the sea of writers sitting behind laptops. It was the same picture I'd seen at UFC 100 but this time the whole experience seemed so much more reachable. My exposure to the sport and to fighters has made this entire adventure seem within touching distance.

It was the UFC that got me interested in mixed martial arts, the UFC that made me want to write and the UFC that continues to set the standard in terms of consistent delivery of quality events. I'll make it to a UFC event one day with my laptop, my diary and the wide eyed look I had when I first realised I'd mastered the Hadoken. Writing's the dream, but it's getting more real every single day.

Take Care

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Hands up, Guns down

I know quite a few of you good people personally, who read this blog, and you'll know that I spent a lot of my time teaching in various institutes for disadvantaged kids.

I'm not writing this to make out like I'm some kind of saint, far from it, but I'm always both impressed and pleased to see when athletes use their profile to give something back to the community. Fighters are athletes just like any other sportsmen or women and with that power comes a great responsibility.

I've had a chance, of late, to chat with so many awesome mma fighters and thanks to everyone who's made that happen.

Yesterday I got a chance to talk to Jamaine Facey as he  prepares to face Dean Amasinger at Ultimate Challenge: Unbelievable on 23rd October. It's going to be a war and no mistake but the interview impressed me for a number of other reasons; the biggest one being Jamaine's attitude towards the community and giving the kids an opportunity to identify positive role models and educate them on their opportunities in the future.

It's all here to read so please take the time to get involved and comment and I'll see you all at the fights, really really soon.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Gym of the Month - Falcons Martial Arts

It's all go here on Super North Star MMA at the minute, I've been judging, writing or commentating every Saturday for the past four Saturdays and I hope that this is just the start. 

I've had chance to work at Shoot N Sprawl, Night of the Gladiators, Cage Control and even Ultimate Challenge and I thank everyone who has helped with all of these opportunities; back to the matter in hand, it's the start of the month and that means gym of the month.

Whilst I was judging at Cage Control I saw a familiar face step into the cage as Ritchie Jones took on Jay Reynolds. I was impressed by what Ritchie showed in that fight as he used some first class grappling skills to get the win. I caught up with him after the show for a bit of a chat about Falcons Martial Arts Academy and their plans for the future.

What was your first involvement with mixed martial arts?

I personally got into martial arts due to being bullied in school at a young age, my father made me take traditional Wado Ryu karate lessons and I never looked back from there, I achieved my black belt by age 14 and 2nd Dan at 16, I continued to teach but wanted to test myself more in a real fight situation, being a fan of mixed martial arts it was the next logical step for me to take up MMA. Once I gained my driving licence the world was my oyster and I discovered Falcons martial arts and haven't looked back. Since training with Heath, the team and I have competed in grappling, jujutsu, kickboxing and MMA competitions; there is something at the club for everyone.

Briefly explain the history of the gym.

The Falcons martial arts gym has been running since 1990, teaching all aspects of martial arts. It is funded by sensei Heath Gait who himself was taught by sensei Ross Iannoccaro, the club was among the first to put on mixed martial arts shows in South Wales dating back nearly 10 years ago now with "Grapple and Strike.” On those shows some of the most famous names in UK mixed martial arts fought, names such as Marc Goddard, Ronnie Mann, Alex Owen, Tim Newman and Joseph Duffy.

The gym now concentrates its efforts on the Welsh Grapple and Strike Amateur League bringing in fighters from all over the UK to fight for the end of year Grapple and Strike amateur title. We have a stable of fighters at the gym ranging from those who train to keep fit and have fun all the way up to those in the professional ranks.

 What is your vision for the gym?

To continue moving forward and teaching in a friendly motivated environment where like minded individuals can come together to achieve their goals whatever they may be. Things can only get better and if continue to progress as we have done the last 20 years who knows where we will be in another 20!

Who are the coaches and what are their backgrounds?

Sensei Heath Gait
Head coach is sensei Heath Gait, he has over 30 years experience in martial arts. He is a 5th Dan black belt in kickboxing, a 5th degree black belt in taekwondo and a 2nd Dan black belt in tai jutsu kai jujutsu.

He has fought for Wales 27 times, held various titles in jujutsu, grappling and kickboxing and won the combat sports MMA national championship.

Our assistant coach is professional mma fighter Joseph Duffy, aged only 22 yet with a gleaming mixed martial arts record of 6-0-0 with plenty of experience in the amateur and semi pro levels, many will have seen Joe on the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter filmed in the USA and he recently came back from the world martial arts games in Las Vegas with 4 gold medals in jujutsu and Kumite.

He is the European freestyle kickboxing champion, Grapple and Strike Welsh and National Champion along with all other grappling and stand up credentials.

What range of classes does the gym offer?

The classes have something for everyone, we have stand up and grappling classes which make part of the MMA training along with sport jujutsu and conditioning classes, plus professional fight training is available during the day for those who compete.

There are also separate classes during the evening breaking down individual aspects of the fight game. We also run children’s programs teaching kickboxing and self defence; alongside all this Heath regularly gives time up to help local schools with anti bullying schemes and keep fit programs.

As more and more MMA gyms open up over the coming months what do you feel is unique about the gym?

I don't see Falcons Martial Arts as a gym I see it as a family, there is a real bond between the members and everyone is made to feel welcome. Our extensive track record sets us apart from other gyms, the quality of fighters being produced and fighting at different levels is a credit to the club.

TUF12 Fighter Joe Duffy
 What is the most gruelling training session that the gym currently runs?

Saturday sessions are a killer, it’s hard to see what’s fun about pushing a car around the industrial estate along with sprints, rope climbs, weights, rope whips all finished off with some pressure sparring. That said, we come back every time so it’s got to be good for you! (No one has to do that in case I just scared you from coming on a Saturday!)

How would you sum the gym up in a sentence?

My second family, focused, motivated and loyal.

What are the plans for the gym for the future?

To continue as we are and I’d keep your eyes out for our strong amateur team coming through the ranks along with several semi pro fighters looking to make waves in the next 12 months. Remember the name Joseph Duffy as he will be on a tear next year!

Is there anyone that you'd like to thank or give a shout out to?

Heath Gait and Joseph Duffy for their guidance and everyone training at Falcons Martial Arts, especially guys who make it to every session and make the gym what it is. You all know who you are.