If you’ve ever been involved in kickboxing at an amateur level with ISKA (they sanction Bellator etc) or other groups, you’ll know that the UK does extremely well on the world stage at amateur level. You’ll also know that Scotland is fighting out of their weight-class. One of the teams leading Scottish kickboxing is Skyaxe, a kickboxing and boxing gym based in Dundee. They recently won an award placing them as the best team in Britain for kickboxing ring sports at amateur level.
One of the Skyaxe kickboxers leading the charge is Sean McKiddie. Aged 23 Sean has been a multiple champion across two different weight classes at Scottish, Celtic, British, 5 Nations, European, Commonwealth and World level. McKiddie has been out of action since October 2015 after injuring himself ahead of a much touted MMA debut, however he is aiming for a comeback in September at the Skyaxe Fight Night in Dundee.
We caught up with him and asked a few questions about kickboxing, his views on the progression of Martial Arts in the UK and some tips on how to pick up a martial art for yourself.
MMAUK: STV recently ran an article on the lack of funding the sport gets – is that a challenge for you? Do you feel it is brings a disadvantage to Scots on the world stage?
McKiddie: Yes the lack of funding to the sport definitely is a challenge. I’m the ISKA champion of the world. ISKA is huge in other parts of the word such as the USA and Japan. They hold major events and tournaments which world champions should be competing on. Unfortunately I have to fund these trips myself in order to go and I just can’t afford to do so. Saving up for the world championships each year is hard enough. We have to raise funds and look for sponsorship or we simply couldn’t do it.
Team Scotland has proven each year that we are one of the strongest countries that compete at the worlds winning multiple gold medals. The youth of today competing for Scotland are absolutely outstanding and are the future of combat sports; they deserve the opportunity to be the best. Unfortunately some cannot prove their skills on the world stage because we do not receive funding unlike other Countries, which ultimately is unfair.
MMAUK: What do you think funding for the sport could help provide?
McKiddie: Funding for the sport would give kickboxers the opportunity to travel to compete at the world championships and other major events each year. It would provide top level athletes the stepping stones they need to become recognised throughout the world and become the future stars of combat sports.
There are plenty of athletes that come from this style of martial arts such as Stephen Thomson who just recently fought for the UFC welterweight title, Michael ‘Venom’ Page, Raymond Daniels and many more. They are considered some of the best fighters in the world.
No one can deny the skills that come with this kind of sport are very difficult for other fighters to deal with. It is a dominant stand up sport. You see freestyle kickboxers transition into K-1, Thai and MMA and fighters simply cannot deal with the skills and movement faced.
MMAUK: In terms of your comeback, are you prepared – do you see there being any challenges and niggles?
McKiddie: I will be more than prepared come fight night. I am training 2/3 times a day 5 days a week and that’s me just starting back. I’m training during the day with Dundee’s top professional boxers Paul Kean, Jamie Wilson and a top level amateur in Ryan Gall under the instruction of Craig Lusby. The training is excellent and very specific to a wide variety of skills and techniques required to excel in boxing and kickboxing. I’m getting pushed to my limits each time. For the first time ever I am taking part in a strength and conditioning programme under the instruction of Paul Kean Jr working on my explosive strength. I run frequently throughout the week and focus a lot on interval training. And I train at Skyaxe at night. I don’t see there being any challenges as I’m motivated, my nutrition is on point and I’m feeling fit and strong again.
MMAUK: You coach at Skyaxe – some would regard it as the best kickboxing gym for amateurs in the UK – how much has the coaching at the gym prepared you for this?
McKiddie: Skyaxe has been producing champion after champion for over 30 years now – amateur and professional. It truly is one of the greatest gyms in the UK. Being able to coach at Skyaxe has helped me grow as a kickboxer significantly. Due to the fact I constantly teach the fundamentals of the sport I never forget them myself. Such as being able to defend myself, slip and avoid punches and kicks, being able to counter your opponent, executing proper technique. I cover it all in the kids and adults classes therefore it’s always fresh in my mind. It keeps me sharp, allows me to constantly progress and never plateau.
MMAUK: If you win this comeback fight, where next? Are you going to progress to professional fighting in any form?
McKiddie: I believe the doors are open for me to go down whatever road I want. I definitely see me turning professional soon. Before my injury I was in training for making my MMA debut. I believe my style and footwork would work great in MMA having developed all of the other disciplines. If I keep the fight on the feet I’ll do the business every time. I would be a crowd pleasing fighter.
MMAUK: What tips would you give people considering taking up kickboxing as a hobby or getting into it as a sport?
McKiddie: I would 100% recommend kickboxing to anyone of all ages, fitness levels and backgrounds. If your child doesn’t have a hobby, try them out at kickboxing. It’s not all about fighting. Only a small percentage of members at Skyaxe compete.
It is a martial art and with that comes a great deal of teachings about having respect for other people, discipline, anti-bullying, self-defence and more.
It is a great way for kids and adults to develop confidence, increase their self-esteem, meet new people and make new friends. Science has proven that exercise helps people feel better. I could tell you from my experience, I always walk out of training feeling 10 times better than I did going in. The great thing about Skyaxe is that it truly is a family club. Everyone feels at home at Skyaxe and everyone is really friendly and all part of a big team. So yeah give kickboxing a try, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!me