This past weekend the Canadian Amateur Sport Kickboxing better known as CASK held its national tournament in Burlington Ontario. This event is held but once a year and showcases this country’s finest in Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts. Lanna MMA was proud to have 4 of its very own students and instructors compete in the prestigious tournament. We had everyone from a ten year old to an instructor in his early thirties compete. I was lucky enough to be able to attend this competition and see some of the athletes competing, and it was a sight to see. Everywhere you looked you saw people in peak physical shape preparing for their bouts. The room was filled with the spirit of competition and it was clear that nobody came here with any intention of losing.

On the Friday night Lance who is 10 years old competed. He is a long time student of Lanna MMA and has been working very hard to prepare for this tournament. This was Lance’s second competition outside of the school and he was looking to make it his second win in a row. Lances opponent was slightly taller and larger then Lance but this did not make Lance nervous in any way. Lance had nothing but pure determination on his face and when that bell rang he got to work. The pace was a fast and furious one and Lance was up for the challenge. He fought brilliantly but alas his excitement got the better of him and it affected his breathing enough to cause the referee to make a stoppage to let him catch his breath. Lance continued the fight and it was a close decision but in the end he lost. I would have to say I was quite proud of the young lad as he walked out of the ring with his head held high. He knew that this victory was just out of his grasp but the next competition will be right around the corner and an opportunity for him to improve on his results. My comment to myself was “I can’t believe that a little excitement would cause him to struggle with his breathing so much”.  Technically Lance is ahead of most children his age. He moves around the ring as if he is dancing  and puts together combinations which are a beauty to see so why did he come out on the short end of the stick? I believe when fighters focus on one aspect of their training, the other aspects unintentionally become less of a focus. Lance understood how to be technical and understood the art of Muay Thai but his cardiovascular training is what let him down. There needs to be balance in a training camp as to not let one aspect fall behind the others. Would he have won if his cardio was better? Maybe. Would he have had a better showing? Well that I can say for certain is, yes. The beauty of competition is the next one is right around the corner and with his focus and the help of his coaches I’m confident that Lance will have a different outcome the next time around.

The Saturday morning one of our instructors Kevon Singh took to the ring. For those of you who don’t know Kevon he is known around Lanna MMA as the cardio machine. Kevon spends countless hours working on his cardio. In this particular fight, Kevon came across an opponent that looks to spend time in the clinch and although Kevon is well versed in the clinch method, he had a tough time defending himself in the first round. The second round Kevon managed to hit his opponent with a flurry of punches and even caused an 8 second referee stoppage after landing 5 uncontested strikes. He was in control of the fight at that point. However, in the third round, his opponent got his second wind and resorted back to the clinch. Kevon ended up losing by decision. So what caused someone like Kevon to lose when he clearly has the superior conditioning??? It seems that the focus of Kevon’s training camp was his cardiovascular training and the technique took a smaller role. Kevon was disappointed with the result but learned the valuable lesson of balance in his training. He now understands that running and cardiovascular conditioning can’t be his only focus. With the next competition so close in the fighting calendar, Kevon is eager to get back to training and focusing on his technique. I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Kevon.

On Sunday, 2 of Lanna MMA’s senior instructors, Eric Osborne and Favio Monico Galo were up. Favio won his first bout of the day via unanimous decision and advanced to the finals in his division. At the beginning of the second fight Favio immediately suffered a leg injury that would have caused most people to throw in the towel, but not Favio. He showed an immense amount of heart and courage and fought all three rounds on one leg. The result was a loss via decision. But in these spectators eyes, Favio won just based on sheer determination. I have never seen such a display of strength and perseverance then what I saw in Favio that day. He showed the true heart of a fighter. I, the Lanna MMA staff and students are proud of Favio. So what can I say that went wrong in Favio’s training camp? He clearly was prepared and his conditioning is never in question. Aside from the injury suffered in the fight Favio’s only drawback would be that he wasn’t 100% going into this tournament. This raises the question of health and training. Most fighters train hard and injuries happen but from what I have noticed, fighters have a high threshold for pain so what you and I may feel as pain and a sign of injury, they sometimes miss because all they feel is slight discomfort. My only advice is that fighters may need to pay extra attention listening to their bodies. Our bodies have a way of telling us that something is wrong, it’s our responsibility to listen. The one thing I can say is, I know one day, Favio will be a world champion on one stage or multiple. This young man has the talent and work ethic that all coaches dream about.

Eric Osborne also competed on Sunday. Eric is an interesting fighter to say the least. He is now a man in his early thirty’s who is working and living the young professional lifestyle. When not at his day job Eric is at Lanna teaching or training. He manages to fit in his training into an already jam packed schedule. Eric won his first fight that Sunday via unanimous decision. He dominated in the clinch as that is Eric’s specialty. The second fight went the same way as the first and Eric Osborne was declared the 165 lbs. CASK National Champion. It’s hard enough to win this tournament and it’s even harder when you have as limited a time to train as Eric does. He managed to win a tournament of this caliber without putting in the hours you would assume a fighter would put in. Eric’s hard work and determination prevailed and he showed that no matter how busy you are you can always make time for the things you love.

This tournament was filled with great fights and lots of emotion. Emotions from the fighters and from their friends and family who were there to watch. At times it felt like you were in the ring with those that you were there to support, feeling every punch, kick and knee as they did. You felt the joy of their victories and the pain in their defeat. What I should also mention is the dedication that you see from the coaches who spent countless hours preparing the Lanna MMA fighters. They too have the heart of champions and the dedication of true lovers of the art of Muay Thai. So I would like to end by saying a special thank you to David Mirabelli, Ryan Nery and Kru Mel for preparing these fighters and giving your time and energy to them. To the fighters, I say thank you, thank you for showing us all what determination and the Muay Thai spirit is all about. I look forward to seeing you all compete in the future. You have truly made a fan of Muay Thai out of me.

Your Biggest Fan,

Hanif Sheikh

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