James Fisher Coach at Doctores Swindon –From (wannabe) Fighter to Coach Q&A
How did your fight career start?
I started learning martial arts in 2008, it was a mixture of JKD, Combat Submission Wrestling, Kickboxing and Muay Thai.
I had only been training a while and my eagerness and ego found me competing in white collar boxing matches, semi pro mma and then eventually going from Muay Thai interclubs and novice fights all with mixed results.
6 White Collar Boxing Matches, 3 W, 1 L,1 D. 2 Novice Muay Thai Fights, 1 W, 1 L, 0 D
Semi Pro MMA – 0 W,2 L, 0 D. I won, I lost, I learnt.
Where did you see yourself going ?
When I first started training my only interest was smashing pads and possibly fighting. I didn’t like holding pads or helping new people; I was just out for me.
I started at 30yrs old, the age most Thais retire from the sports, but it had given me a new lease of life and I wanted to at least compete at C – B Class level.
What happened to make you not be able to fight?
In 2013 I found I had been suffering a severe spinal cord injury due to an road traffic accident (RTA) in 2011, miss-diagnosed for 2 years (it’s just Muscle damage Mr Fisher) the spinal cord compression and crushed discs should of and could still leave me Paraplegic. If I fall wrong or get hit hard to the head neck area, this meant stopping training, no more fighting, no extreme sports, I was crushed (like the 2 discs in my neck).
What has changed since the accident ?
Everything changed, I can no longer compete in Muay Thai or any Extreme sports, I have permanent nerve damage affecting my spine my back, constant pins and needled in the smallest 3 fingers on both hands and the small toes both feet.
I had a choice to make, roll over and quit let life beat me, sit at home crying that life’s unfair, or take a plunge and start my own Muay Thai Classes as I couldn’t be involved the way I wanted at my old club. This was the best choice as its kept me involved in a sport that had already saved my life twice. Now a third time.
I Started martial arts to combat stress and depression, the training and conditioning is the only reason I walked (limped) away from the RTA, mental toughness from training, the love of my family friends and my passion for Muay Thai have kept me focused.
Teaching people is something I have found I am good at, I enjoy helping people develop themselves.
How has Muay Thai saved you three times?
1st Time It helped me beat depression when I separated from my partner and was having issues getting access to my son, and wasn’t in the right place emotionally Muay Thai gave me an outlet for my stress depression and anger.
2nd Time 22 May 2011 it literally saved my life, I really think that the training had made me stronger and clinch work had strengthened my neck. Had I not trained as hard as I did my spinal cord injury would of left me wheelchair bound or even paraplegic.
3rd Time although I can no longer compete in Muay Thai or even run like I used too, running my own Muay Thai Club has been a large part of my recovery process, it has given me something to focus and concentrate on, the physical work has helped me stay strong.
Where do you see yourself in 5years ?
I am still in the early stages of building up the gym, It’s the best thing I have done and I will be coaching for as long as I can. I recently started teaching children’s classes so building up the Mini Marvels, Destiny’s Contenders and Future Heroes.
My ambition is to have the best Muay Thai school in the southwest, catering for everyone from toddlers to teens, to mums, dads and grandparents, people with disabilities, focusing on fitness fun and the art of fighting. I will coach some future champions, see them fight from local domestic level to massive UK shows like YOKKAO and even get abroad to compete in Europe, America and obviously Thailand.
Can everyone be a coach?
In short no, I never had the intention of coaching it’s something I thought I couldn’t do or wouldn’t be good at. Not all fighters make good coaches not all coaches were good fighters, whether coaching for fitness or for fighting you have to be passionate, and have a purpose beyond yourself.
You will be the 1st person blamed when things go wrong, and the sometimes last person thanked when things go well. It’s not just turning up barking orders then leaving, so much more involved than I thought it would be, lesson planning and structure, individual development, catering for 1st timers to experienced fighters and more..
What does it take to be a coach?
As I look back at my progress as a student learning more and getting a deeper passion for Muay Thai, being asked to help out with classes assisting in teaching ladies kickboxing and even helping plan fighter training, Several things happened while I was doing this. I found I had good way with talking to people and helping them.
One of my friends who had been training much longer than me had just came back from touring with his band, he was in one of the classes I was taking, just as I was telling the guys and girls what to do, he turned to me and said “you are not my instructor, I have been doing this longer than you”.
At first I was very put out by the comment, but it gave me the drive to be better, as the months progressed, the passion I had for Muay Thai and my enthusiasm when planning classes was evident, he praised me for my efforts in coaching the Muay Thai students and the support and help I provided when he was training to compete.
This was during the time of Spartacus blood and sand and is where the gym name Doctores was born. In answer to your question, a coach needs to be good with people, show empathy and compassion knowing when to push them, and when to give them space, it’s an important role with various aspects.
The coach should be as dedicated as he/she wants the students to be, prepared to sacrifice a lot of time with a minimal reward, still eager to develop and improve and aware that no matter how much they know there will always be more to learn.
The relationship between a coach and fighter is that of mentor to student, gaining the trust of the fighter, who needs to have absolute faith in the authenticity of the coaches observations and instructions.
Before, during and after a fight, no one is closer to the fighter than the coach. Coaches observations are often more objective and informative than those of the fighters themselves. Above all coaches are professional observers; no one can better analyse a fighter’s skills or strengths and weaknesses.
A coach performs a variety of roles including Father figure, babysitter, motivator and, above all, strategic advisor.
One of the world’s greatest trainers/corner-men Angelo Dundee, who worked with Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, provided the following job description:
“To be a good fight trainer, you must adhere to a mixed bag, You’ve got to combine certain qualities belonging to a doctor, engineer, psychologist, and sometimes even an actor in addition to knowing your specific art well”
There is a world of opportunity, but some people are locking the door and changing the key. Don’t be denied because others have lied, in that situation kick the door off the hinges. James Fisher Coach at Doctores, Swindon – 2017
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