Friday, 3 December 2010

Gym of the Month - Team Colosseum

With the temperature dropping faster than Thales Leites against Anderson Silva I thought the best way to beat the frost would be with some gym of the month.

After I judged at Ross Pointon's Night of the Gladiators it was clear that the fighters from Team Colosseum had come well prepared and showed some of the more dominant wrestling I've seen from a UK team. They'd impressed me back at XFC but the fighters they bought to GPUK seemed intensely focused and were ready for war.

I had a chat to one of the cornerstones of Team Colosseum, not to mention MC and thrash metal aficionado, Aaron Chatfield about the gym and a very successful 2010.

What was your first involvement with mixed martial arts?

I guess the first time I was exposed to MMA was back in 1993 when some friends and I cam across UFC 1 in HMV. It wasn’t called MMA back then; people forget that the sport was going before the term. Back then it was Vale Tudo. I was training in Muay Thai at the time and the idea of a no rules competition was very interesting. A remember a large group of us watching it at a mates house on VHS, all stunned at the concept. I watched the next 3-4 and then they stopped turning up in HMV so I forgot about it…. Until 5-6 years later.

I’d been Thai boxing for 8 years or so, fought, coached, judged, reffed and everything else I could in the sport and I was bored. I started to wonder if this Ultimate Fighting thing was still going or not. I started to search on the internet and found the SFUK forum. Happy to find MMA was till going… and growing, I found a local club, quit Muay Thai on a Monday and was training MMA on Tuesday at Defence Unlimited (This was under Phil Wright, but the Defence Unlimited gyms were Karl Tanswell’s brand before SBG)

Briefly explain the history of the gym.

Good question. To pick up from the question above, I trained at Defence Unlimited for 6 months and then the club closed, I was gutted. The coach did a good thing, which was advice people on the clubs to try out and he suggested I would like Colosseum. So I contacted Steven “Widge” Milward and arranged my first visit. That night I got my ass handed to me on a silver platter and I new I had found the right place. That was back in 1999 and I have been there ever since.

But looking back further the club was started back in 1994. One of the very first MMA clubs in the UK. It was started by Danny Rushton and Danny Wallace, who has been involved in Karate and Kickboxing for a number of years, had seen the UFC and were evolving their styles to an MMA style. Remember there were no MMA clubs back then, so the two Danny’s were learning from videos and books, taking new steps, developing the MMA style by hard work and trial and error. Danny Rushton evolved into on of the UK’s most respected fighters. He is a natural welterweight these days, but back then there wasn’t many fighters, so he had to fight much heavier guys, once guys, Dave Van Der Veen was a dutch powerlifting champion, 120k of solid muscle, Danny was less than 90k.

Danny achieved European Title Success and even faced Lee Murray. That fight was a no contest, but Danny should have had the DQ win… that’s another story though.

So the club was doing well when I joined 4-5 fighters, regular competitions on shows like Night of the Samurai, etc. That was a good 9-10 years ago and since then the team has evolved and got serious. We are now based at Powerbeck Gym in Leigh and running 3-4 classes a week, we have a coaching staff including Danny Rushon, Widge Milward, Steve Hazeldine, Danny Wallace and myself and a team of 11 fighters, with more guys coming though. We aren’t as well known as some other gyms, but 2010 saw us have 38 bouts and run at an 80% win rate, we have held 4 title belts this year. As far as I am concerned that’s a good record!

What is your vision for the gym?

Well, it’s not MY gym per se. Danny Rushton and Danny Wallace are the top dogs, but I play a big part in the coaching and the management of the fighters. I think Danny Rushton and I share the same vision though. We are a no bullshit gym. We don’t get carried away with the Hollywood of fighting; we train the guys hard and work on developing effective styles. It’s a tough gym, alongside the hard training, the mickey tacking can be rough. If people ask what they need to train at Team Colosseum, shorts, t-shirt, gum shield, groin guard, hard work ethic and a very thick skin!

We are on the cusp of the next evolution of Team Colosseum, the time has come that we need to become a full time gym. Don’t forget, we have got to the level we are as a part time gym, training 3-4 a week. Imagine what will happen when we are full time!!!

Who are the coaches and what are their backgrounds?

Well the coaches are Danny Rushton, Danny Wallace, Steve Hazeldine, Widge Milward and myself. We all bring something different, but with a shared vision and common goal

My background is the same old story. From 13 or so I trained for 6 months in many styles, Karate, Kung Fu, Judo, boxing, etc, never finding anything I liked. Wasn’t until I was 21 that I found Muay Thai. I stuck with that for a good 8 years, eventually becoming an instructor.

Danny Rushton and Danny Wallace have similar background, both coming from traditional Karate backgrounds. As mentioned, when they got into MMA… there was no MMA, they had to teach themselves

Like me Ste Hazeldine comes from a Muay Thai background, he takes control of our beginners sessions and has a wide knowledge and a great teaching style

Widge is a phenom! Seriously.. I know he doesn’t look it, but the guy was competing in Judo at an age when the rest of us where playing with our action men! Alongside Olympic wrestling, Widge’s background is grappling. He has a brother who was a national level Judoka, but I hate the guy, so I won’t even mention his name.

What range of classes does the gym offer?

Easy this one. We are an MMA gym, we teach MMA. Not BJJ, wrestling, boxing, Muay Thai mixed together, but MMA! Everything we do is centred around MMA as a style, using what works for MMA, that’s it. We currently run regular sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. We need more, so plans are afoot to become a full time gym and then we will see 2-3 classes a day, everyday

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

History. MMA is popular at present, everyman and his dog is starting MMA and thinking they know it all, but experience counts. There are clubs out there that have 12 months history under there belt and are telling everyone how good they are, but given a choice if you were on a plane to Brazil, would you prefer a pilot with 12 months experience… or 14 years?

The other thing that’s important is the real team ethic, it’s huge at Team Colosseum…we are a team and everyone has a role. It’s like a well written play, some people are the star actors, some supports and others are stage hands, but all put on the show and in the future, those roles change and the stage hand becomes the star

What else is important is the ethic of slowing fighters down. Most gyms appear to produce so called ‘pro fighters’ after only a couple of months training, its stupid and damaging to the sport. Brings the whole professional level down. For us, we want fighters to spend 10-20 fights in the amateur/semi pro ranks, learning their trade, so when they go pro, they ARE pro!

What is the most gruelling training session that the gym currently runs?

If you mean fitness wise, then Sunday mornings. That session starts with something special every time, sometimes is field sprints, others is step sprints and others it’s the famous dinosaur pushes. But it’s hard and I push guys hard to perform. As for the other sessions, it isn’t the fitness that’s hard, it’s the standard. There are no easy spars, everyone is challenging in their own way. It can be tough for a new guy to come to the gym, they have to be prepared to get tapped and dominated. Some egos can’t take it and we have lost a few guys over the years who had a desire to be a big fish in a small pond. At Team Colosseum, they were shark food.

How would you sum the gym up in a sentence?

Originators, no replicators!

What are the plans for the gym for the future?

As mentioned, we’ve got to where we are whilst being limited to a part time club. 80% win rate, 4 title belts in 12 months… on being part time! So the plan for the future is to become a full time club. We are looking into viable venues to open the Team Colosseum training facility with a plan to get something set up in Q1 2011. This will enable us to have a gym open all day, give the guys a place to train at all times and run lots more sessions. This will be the platform for the gym to grow and take our success to another level.

Anything Else?

I’d like to thank all of Team Colosseum, but especially the coaches, Danny Rushton, Danny Wallace, Widge Milward, Ste Hazeldine.

Also the fighters:

Saul Rogers - u70k - 9-0-1 Cage Conflict LW SP Champion, Burnley Brawl LW SP Champion, AMMA LW Champion

Sam Ferguson - u77k - 5-4-1

John Wells - u66k - 1-1-0 (1 NC)

Chris Mullany - u70k - 1-1-0

Danny Hardman - u61k - 2-0-0

Steve Hazeldine - u77k - 5-3-0

Anthony Davis - u77k - 1-1-0

Ste Lane - u70k - 2-0-0

Greg Grimshaw - u70k - 1-0-0

Mark Wheeler - u77k Debut

Chris Thompson - u70k - 4-5-0

And finally a few special people, Matt Thorpe (thanks for the great times in MMA!), Marc Goddard, Sledge, Ian Bultin, Dave Bultin, Andy Butlin, all our sponsors, especially Cage Steel, who keep us stocked up on gear for the fight team, cheers Jamie

I’ll stop now, cause I talk way to much!!

Oh… and thanks to Ben C for asking me to do this.

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