I’d like to start this off by thanking you for taking the time to speak to me today. How has training been going in the build-up to your scheduled Grappling match for SGI8?
“Training has been great, been back training since the gyms have reopened. Started a lot of training at home during the lockdown, which I’ve continued, on top of attending the classes 4-5 times a week. I’ve managed to drop some weight, meaning I can leave that Ultra Heavyweight Division, which at times was a nightmare, seeing myself giving guys 45kg advantages. Got some great guys at the gym, we are always pushing each other. Starting to build a team of guys now, who are keen to compete on a regular basis.”
The BJJ scene is one of many that has been hit the hardest throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, how does it feel to, not only be able to get back out doing what you love, but to also compete in one of the biggest invitationals in the world?
“Great being back, I love training, but it’s the competition aspect that gives me the buzz and keeps me motivated. Before lockdown, I was having a great run in the competitions throughout the UK. Sadly that came to an abrupt end last year. But, since the lockdown was lifted, I’ve been lucky to compete at the Fitness Expo in Liverpool, actually had matches against two of the guys on the card for this upcoming SGI. Also, we took a team down to the BJJ24.7 Brighton open at the end of last month and then the Scottish Open. Just love to stay active and hope to hit at least a few more competitions before the close of the year.”
October 9th you have been matched up against Ashley Wiles SGB Aberdeen at Scottish Grappling Invitational 8. In your years’ experience, you must have had a chance to watch Wiles in action. What do you make of your opponent?
“I only started my BJJ journey about August 2018, so I’m still relatively new to the scene. But I’ve actually had a match against Ashley in my first blue belt competition, which was the Scottish Cup back in 2019. Remember it is a close match, which he won on points. So I know I’m in for a tough match at SGI. Comes from a great team, always seeing them guys at the competitions doing well. Slightly different format with it being sub only rules and longer matches. Obviously, I’ll be looking to avenge that loss. That being said, I’m going in there and just looking to play my best game and hopefully get the win. As long as we put on a good match, I’ll be happy whatever the outcome.”
At 38, you are still very active on the BJJ scene, to quote a colleague in the BJJ world you are “mustangs” of the sport. What steps do you focus on at Rio Grappling Club to keep yourself in such great condition?
“Mustangs” of the sport, aka the going grey brigade lol. I started BJJ late and in my heart, I know I’m not going to have that many years left in me being competitive, so I just want to get out there as much as I can before my body gives up. I’m lucky in that I’ve never had any underlying issues, so I’ve been able to stay consistent. I’m sensible with my training and keep things basic. A lot of bodyweight exercises and light kettlebell work on top of training.”
“At JAX MMA (Rio grappling club), Dale Middleton has a great set-up with the classes. We spread out our hard rounds throughout the week, that way we are getting time to recover and minimise the risks of injury. Obviously, when needed, he will step up training leading up to competitions and the format works great for me.”
Last but not least do you have a message for the fans that will be in attendance at the Community Central in Glasgow and anybody you’d like to give a shout out to?
“I just hope I can put on a good match for everyone to watch.”
“Big shout out to my Head Coach, Dale Middleton @JaxMMA, who has been with the club since I started. Always there for all the guys competing. Keeps us all motivated and pushes us to be the best we can be. All my training partners who help prepare me when coming up to competitions, jumping in for extra rounds/shark tanks at the end of classes, trying to kill me lol. Finally, The Mrs, who puts up with me disappearing most nights training and watches the kids while I disappear at weekends for competitions. Just looking forward to 9th October, catch you guys there…”
It is going to be one of the best events Scottish Grappling has brought to the fans in Glasgow. If you’re in the area, it’s definitely not one to be missed. For tickets please follow the link below.