Interview with Mick Shore, BJJ black belt and head coach

I had the pleasure of chatting with Mick Shore. He is a BJJ black belt and head coach at his gym in Doncaster. I sat down with Mick to hear about his journey so far, his new book, and his hopes for 2021.

Kieran – So as always, where did your journey start, what got you into combat sports?

Mick – As a kid I used to watch wrestling on t.v with my dad or go and watch it at venues in the town centre with my dad. Starting school I started getting bullied so my father took me to Doncaster Judo Club. Closest to wrestling I think he thought. I progressed at judo and threw a few bullies to defend myself. As well as getting bullied at school that I was a skinny half Anglo Indian, half Irish I had a horrible little urchin who lived down the road from me who used to box at a local club and he would force me to put the gloves on and box. One day after learning enough judo I threw him and that put a stop to that. I next got into Lau Gar at high school but it was semi-contact and a few guys had figured that my judo vs multiple attackers was not effective so I ended up getting gang attacked etc. The Lau Gar, unfortunately, due to being semi-contact, did not do me much good in these circumstances and I had given up judo.

Kieran – Until you started Judo, how difficult of a time was that for you, getting bullied, and what advice would you give to someone who might be in that situation today?

Mick – Terrible time, my advice is to learn a discipline like judo where there is resistance and for them to tell their parents, however bad it gets, to turn that hurt into positive actions. For youngsters, I like grappling arts as you have resisting opponents and you spar. Most people are put off as you throw them hard onto the ground. As Gene Le Bell once said ‘the hardest thing you can hit a person with is the planet.’

Kieran – That is some pretty solid advice. So, you mentioned taking up Lau Gar, I know that’s a form of Kung Fu, but is that still practised today?

Mick – I had a few fights and survived probably more due to the big balls that are bigger than me attitude, but started boxing and Filipino Kali Eskrima in my early twenty’s where the instructor also introduced me to JKD concepts and training in Muay Thai. I also trained a bit of Japanese jiu-jitsu alongside this at the time. I then started to study Malaysian Silat, the style did have a lot of throws and powerful striking similar to Muay Thai so I liked that and was not the usual fancy stuff you can see a lot of sometimes. I had always wanted to train with Larry Hartsell and he came over to the U.K. in the 90s and after that seminar, I started training with his representative Chris Brown up in Oldham where I learned Larry Hartsell’s Jeet Kune Do, catch wrestling, Shooto, Sambo, and Boxing. One problem I had was running out of sparring partners and a few guys had started very early Brazilian jiu-jitsu which was unheard of at that time and I started sparring with them around 2000 just for extra sparring, but before you know it, I was hooked and training in BJJ regularly also. Deep down I had always been a grappler as I found that it worked well for me in fights and I felt natural doing it. The grappling alongside good boxing hands was a good combo. Add some Muay Thai kicks, knees, headbutts and some weapons and awareness training and you have a pretty solid defence method. I believe in being a very good all-rounder, be good at clinch, takedowns, throws, striking and know not only how to defend against a weapon, but know how to use one too, if needed, and learn awareness skills. I’ll also add that with UFC at that time and the Gracies, that also had a big influence and since I was training mma guys as well as myself it made sense to train BJJ.

Kieran – So have you competed across all disciplines then or has it just been certain ones?

Mick – I competed at kickboxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and full contact stickfighting to test myself in striking, grappling and weapons. I also did a few no armour events with weapons privately where striking grappling was allowed.

Kieran – How was the transition into BJJ? I know you did Judo, which is a form of grappling, but what was it like going through the locks and chokes’ small movements?

Mick – From the catch and shooto, it was not too bad I just had to get used to the gi and know all very little leg locks at that time. At first, I kept getting choked all the time, it was very technical and taught in-depth but hard sparring sessions so I enjoyed that. The guys we had coming over straight from Brazil in the early 2000s were amazing. I never minded the ground as even as a kid I found a throw then ground was a strong point and even in other arts, I excelled in whatever grappling ground game they had. We also had help and guidance from top newaza judoka like Steve Gawthorpe to help us and quite a few top judokas would come down and learn BJJ alongside us and roll.

Kieran – Good stuff, I noticed on your Facebook page you mentioned something call wim hoff can you tell us what that is?

Mick – It’s a method of breathwork and ice water exposure created by a Dutch extreme athlete named Wim Hoff. I looked into it initially to boost athletic performance and then Covid started and I thought I better get practising it very quick as it improves your immune system and lungs but after a short while, I began to notice effects that I did not expect such as my knees and hips not hurting anymore (all the Thai boxing, Silat and wrestling then BJJ had wrecked my knees, hip and back over the years) and I found I could walk long distances again and incredibly, I could run again which I had not done in ten years due to injury. I’ve not had to visit a chiropractor and had only two migraines in the last year (something I suffered with for over ten years due to neck injuries) so I was amazed. I then enrolled on a ten-week fundamentals course and then after that, I did an advanced power of the mind course that took my body and mind to levels I never thought possible. It’s much bigger than martial arts and I feel a way to help you live stronger, healthier, and longer but it takes extreme commitment, as well as cold and breathing to get to the higher levels. If you have got the mindset and commitment from high level in BJJ, wrestling or high-level MMA etc I think you can go further than you ever dreamed possible with your mind and body.

Kieran – So is this practice of breathwork and ice water exposure from Wim Hoff pretty popular in Britain or is it still something to be somewhat discovered?

Mick – It’s getting pretty popular all around the world as more people try it and their body awakens up to ability’s that’s our ancestors all once had but have become dormant due to modern living and conveniences etc. We wrap ourselves up at the slightest sign of cold and our bodies were designed and able to cope with the shift from heat to cold. As a result, our vascular system which would constrict and open is no longer working to its full ability and neither is the heart so we have all these cardiovascular diseases today. There are BJJ groups now on Facebook for Wim Hoff followers so I’d say it’s definitely getting more popular.  A lot won’t like the cold but that’s a sign that your body has become weak and you can either fear the cold or embrace it and become stronger like our ancestors of old did. How far people take it is up to them but like BJJ a lot may try it but not everyone has the commitment and mindset to make it to blackbelt and Wim Hoff is similar. One thing that I attribute to getting to brown and black belt in BJJ is breathing and meditation breathwork and it’s something we use all the time, but don’t look at more closely but literally, the breath is life. The Wim Hoff is taking me further beyond my martial arts journey and I often see a lot of people who train martial arts when they get into their forty’s fifty’s etc train all these arts to protect themselves but little to their actual body’s inside with bad diet , too much stress, and no martial art will protect their family if they are dead before their time. People ask me “what’s the best way to improve your martial arts?” I simply say …live longer, stronger and healthier so you can keep training into your twilight years free from disease stress etc and Wim Hoff can help deal with that. I hope when Covid allows being able to go out to Holland to train under Wim himself and I move to Ireland at the end of 2021 and will still teach, but also do courses on a weekend in the countryside combining things like yoga, which my wife teaches, with Wim Hoff and Brazilian jiu-jitsu or other arts.

Kieran – Competing across several disciplines, can you tell me your 3 favourite moments in combat sports?

Mick – Getting my BJJ blackbelt and being awarded it, getting into the British eskrima team, receiving that letter that I was representing my country and going to fight in Spain. Getting my full instructorship in JKD grappling under Sifu Larry Hartsell and his methods.

Kieran – Nice all great achievements. You mentioned using weapons previously, do you offer self-defence classes at your gym?

Mick – I did offer self-defence but we had to shut due to Covid. Now moving to Ireland and relocating so for 2021 I’d like to get back to rolling with my fellow black belts, I’d like to gain more knowledge in the Thai sword art I’m studying, Krabi Krabong, and go back to Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia in the future. I’d like to teach some of my guys in small groups if possible before I leave for Ireland.

Kieran – I also noticed on your Facebook that you have a Japanese Centipede, some might say an unusual thing to have as a pet. How long have you had it and do you have any similar pets?

Mick – The centipedes and bugs, to be honest, I got introduced to them in my twenty’s as an instructor in Filipino martial arts gave me a tarantula as a present and over the years I’ve kept snakes, lizards and tarantulas, scorpions, and centipedes and millipedes. I’m a bit eccentric lol…I have usual pets like dogs but there are loads of people out there to love the usual furry animals but not enough to love the less beautiful ones shall we say. Years ago I had a phobia about cockroaches and woodlice so bought a few millipedes and giant Madagascan giant hissing cockroaches to confront that irrational fear. I meditate a lot and I think the Buddhist philosophy of seeing the true beauty in everything even the bugs resounds with me. If you look hard enough you can always see beauty in things. Fascinating creatures to watch as well and before you ask, no I’ve never been bitten or stung in 32 years, as I handle and treat them with respect.

Kieran – That’s incredible. Okay, talk to me about your book, Sticks and Stones and Other Shenanigans, what is it about and what made you decide to write it?

Mick – Initially, I wanted to write about my training with Sifu Larry Hartsell but then I thought maybe my martial arts journey in life but then thinking about who and what things made me who I am made me think it can’t just be another run of the mill martial arts book. There more I’ve been involved in my life and the people that started me off and influenced me to get started in the arts needed to be in the book also. I went right from my Irish upbringing and my Irish side of the family and seeing both my father and uncles fight. What my father went through when he first came over to England as a young man facing prejudice because he was Irish. Hotel Doors that said no blacks, no Irish, no dogs. Then through him and my mother, my interest in the arts. My bullying as a kid due to being half Irish, half Anglo Indian (my mother’s side were kids of British soldiers that were stationed over in India years ago, my mother’s side were Irish guards etc). To stop bullying I took up martial arts then over the years trained with the best masters in various disciplines around the world and then after losing my mother to cancer when I was 30, realised life is short and decided to give up my building job and teach full time and I had two full-time gyms in that time. I decided to write it after my father passed away in 2017 and it was a way to remember the life I’d had and the good times and I had to revisit all the ups and downs but it was a way to help me grieve his loss. The three main influential male figures in my life were my father, Larry Hartsell, and my uncle Will, and of course my mother. This book helped fill a gap and I wanted to honour them and other instructors who are not here anymore and I think I’ve done that, by telling my martial arts and life journey and if it inspires any bullied kids to fight back and to become strong then that’s great also.

Kieran – That’s amazing mate, I love how you have used many different factors for the book i.e people who have had an influence on you and not focused solely on your martial arts journey. I think it will do very well. Then the last question, what are your hopes and goals for 2021?

Mick – Thank you, yes there has been a lot of interest in it so far in the U.K. and stateside. I just said things like they are, this is my life etc and this is what I’ve done and been through. This has been my life’s journey so far. As far as goals for 2021, well seeing my daughter have a great 18th birthday and that I spend as much time with her before she goes off to university to study. I hope to teach a few courses to students before I move to Ireland and my goal is to be there for Nov/Dec 2021. I’m hoping to start my training to become a Wim Hoff instructor in August and also train towards my next rank in the Thai art of Krabi Krabong. I think hopefully we will be allowed to get back rolling so I can have a few good spars with my fellow blackbelt training partners as well and of course, a few good send-off parties before I go. I’m looking forward to the different life in Ireland and setting things up over there, my house and gym. A place where, in the future, we hope to hold classes and retreats etc.

Kieran – Sounds like it’s going to be a busy year for you mate. I hope everything works out as planned. I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me and sharing your journey and achievements. It’s been great talking about it.

Mick – no problem.

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