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Category Archives: Mixed Martial Arts

Be Inspired My Friend! Bruce Lee Remix

I’ve been in a lot of fights.  I’m not talking professional career here.  I’m talking elementary school.

There were multiple reasons but mainly it was because I really stood out.  I was a white kid living in black neighborhoods.  I changed schools quite a bit too so I was constantly the “new kid”.  Not to mention I was a skinny, geeky looking dude who was a physical threat to no one.  That might not seem like a bad thing but the places where I spent my early childhood were pretty violent, even my school teachers would hit you.  Not being tough looking sucked.

One of the things that I learned early on was that if someone said something, even a little bit derogatory about you, you basically had to punch them in the head.  Even if you thought that maybe they could kick your ass.  If you didn’t get physical, it never stopped.  Fighting kind of did solve everything for me.

If I had to fight then I had to become a better fighter.  There weren’t any gyms or martial arts schools for me to go to and there wasn’t any youtube.com either.  The school library was my only option.  The school libraries where I lived sucked.  I would always go to the sports section and look for karate books.  If there were any available they were usually crappy looking, hand drawn, black and white illustrations.

Then one day, I came across a book on the making of Enter the Dragon, a film by martial arts legend Bruce Lee.  Not only were there pictures of Bruce Lee actually kicking and punching but they were in full color.  I could actually learn something from this book, I said to myself.

The more I flipped through the book, the more I wanted to be Bruce Lee.  A skinny dude like Bruce Lee could kick a lot of ass and I was inspired.  There were many times where I imagined I was him, practicing his footwork and style in my bedroom.

I looked at that book over and over until I wore it out.  I practiced constantly and even awarded myself an imaginary green belt!  The way I figured it was that I was better than a white belt but not as good as a black belt.  Green belt was the middle belt from what I could tell in my karate books.

Gettin My Bruce Lee On!
Photo taken by Zack Lynch from mmaphotography.com during one of my fights.

But all of that practice paid off and I was getting pretty good.  Except the day I threw my first kick in a fight after school.  It was a disaster.  Not only did I fall down when I kicked the kid but kicking was considered “sissy shit” where I lived.  I was picked on about that kick until I actually knocked the wind out of a kid in a fight with it.  That story may make it to my blog someday.

Anyway, my family eventually moved to an area where they actually had a school that taught Bruce Lee’s martial art, Jun Fan Gung Fu – Jeet Kune Do.  It was legit too.  Sifu Kevin Seaman ran it.  He was certified to teach Lee’s art by Guro Dan Inosanto.  Guro Inosanto was not only a good friend and training partner of Bruce Lee but he was also one of Lee’s martial arts Instructors as well.  It was a dream come true.

Now there were 8 of us living in a house at that point and you didn’t get things like martial arts lessons.  It just wasn’t financially feasible for my Mom.  It didn’t really matter to me that she couldn’t afford it, I was already hustling night crawlers on the corner, gum and candy at school, newspapers in my neighborhood, and anything else I could get my hands on for a profit.  I paid the tuition myself at 12 years old.

I eventually became a certified Instructor with direct martial arts lineage to Bruce Lee.  Bruce Lee certified Dan Inosanto who certified Kevin Seaman who certified me.  I’m currently one of Sifu Kevin’s highest ranked Instructors and oversee 4 martial arts schools across New York State ( CNY MMA ).

Finding that book all those years ago was the tiny spark of inspiration that I needed to discover that I could do anything that I put my mind, body, and soul into.  I was inspired to improve and keep moving forward despite my environment or my situation.  It’s a very valuable lesson for me.  Maybe it will be for you too.

This video below is a mix of Bruce Lee’s cinema fighting and his philosophy put to music.  It’s so good.  Check into it.

Coaching Butterflies

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Monarch butterflies

Get those butterflies in formation!

I’ll admit it … I get butterflies in my stomach whenever my students compete.  I know what the people that I train are capable of.  I know they can do well.  I know they can win.  They show it in practice and they go out and prove it every weekend.

I still get anxious though.  It’s not because my reputation as a trainer is on the line.  It’s not because having successful competitors is good for business.  It’s because I want them to do well.  I want them to prove all the doubters wrong.  They way I know they can.  I want them to erase all the failures in their life with this one victory.  Even if it’s only erased for one night.

So what do I do about these butterflies?  Nervousness doesn’t go away.  You can’t try to block it out or forget about it.  It’s still there.  What I do, and coach my competitors to do as well, is focus that nervous energy, channel it towards a positive outcome.   That energy can be controlled and directed.

I have to perform as a coach.  I have to be aware and focused.  I have to “read” what’s going on with my competitor and make sure they are focused on the task at hand.  There’s an old saying that goes something like, “It’s ok to have butterflies in your stomach however to be effective you have to get them to fly in formation.”

My butterflies are in formation.  Time to roll!

Unlikely Hero: Randy “The Wolf” Smith To Make Bellator Debut

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This Saturday will mark another milestone in the career of CNY MMA student and coach, Randy “The Wolf” Smith.  He’ll be making his big league MMA debut against Azunna Anyanwu at Bellator 44.

The Wolf landing a big right hand. Image via sherdog.com

It’s not easy getting on the big shows and for many, that’s impressive by itself.  What’s more impressive is that just a few short years ago Smith could barely get through one round, let alone have any kind of opportunity to compete as an athlete on this level.

The Wolf is one of those students I love to talk about.  He’s an unlikely hero. The guy no “experts” think can win but does all the time.  He didn’t come to CNY MMA with any kind of crazy athletic talent.  He didn’t roll in here with any kind of wrestling or boxing or kickboxing pedigree.  On the contrary, he was weighing in at 360+ pounds and had trouble controlling his own body weight.  His reasons for success are simple … he worked hard and he stuck with it.

His obstacles have been great (drugs, alcohol, jail, obesity, and more) but what he’s developed into in overcoming those obstacles has been greater.  He’s the guy you can’t help but root for.  He’s the hard working, blue collar type that comes to CNY MMA and does the best they can do.

The training camp for The Wolf’s upcoming fight has been rigorous.  He’s in shape, well prepared, focused, and ready to win. This Saturday at Bellator 44, you’re going to see the best Wolf you’ve ever seen.  I’m proud to be his trainer and his fan.  Saturday is our day!

Keep The Change

I was running home from school one day, yes running. I would pretty much run home from school every day because I had a newspaper delivery route that I had to get done.  In selling some of my newspaper deliveries I promised some customers their newspaper would be delivered by a certain time.  I wasn’t going to disappoint so I would run home … rain, sleet, and snow.

Occasionally, I would ride my bike to and from school, when I had a bike.  There was a problem of thievery in the neighborhood that I lived in at this particular time.  It took me like five or six weeks to save up for a bike so after having three bikes stolen, I pretty much gave up on buying anymore.  I was sick of supplying the neighborhood punks with new bikes. I was stuck making the 1.4 mile trek home from school every day on foot.

Well one day in my mad dash to get home I happened to be the first person to go down this particular trail where this small gang of bullies would hang out. Apparently, what these punks were doing was waiting for the first person to go down the trail and then they would beat them up every day. This day was my day to get beat up.

I was embarrassed. I was angry. I was hurt. And I immediately thought to myself,” I need to learn some of that Bruce Lee crap so I can beat up three guys at the same time!”

I didn’t like feeling embarrassed and helpless. I wanted to make a change. If I was ever in that situation again I wanted to be able to defend myself.  I came to martial arts.

The majority of people who come to martial arts do not come for the sole purpose of becoming a better fighter, as I did.   However, we all came to martial arts for the sole purpose of becoming better.  Better physically.  Better mentally.  Better emotionally.

In our quest to become better we need to change.  Improving yourself and changing yourself go hand in hand.  They are not separable.  To excel at whatever it is we put our time, energy, and effort into we must be able to handle change effectively.

Street art from one of my favorite artists, Banksy

I’ve experienced many personal and professional changes throughout my life.  Since we are in the business of change here at CNY MMA I figured I would share some tips I have used to help me successfully deal with changes in my life.  Maybe these 5 tips will help you as well.

1)   View change as an opportunity to learn.  Welcome change into your life.  Resisting change leads to maintenance of the status quo.  The status quo is the archenemy of improvement.

2)    Have a long term vision and goal.  Change can cause temporary short term pain.  Focusing on the pain or discomfort that change brings only prolongs the discomfort.  Focusing on your goals makes pain and discomfort just a small part of the process.

3)   Stretch your ability to change in little ways everyday.  Trade an hour of watching TV for an hour of reading everyday.  Go somewhere without using a GPS.  Use a traffic jam to meditate.

4)   Ask yourself how this change will allow you to grow.  What is the improvement coming from your changes?  What benefits are there to handling this change effectively?

5)   Trust yourself.  Sometimes in life we screw things up so bad that we may lose trust in our own ability to change and improve.  Learn from your mistakes in the past and they won’t be your mistakes in the future.  You are capable of amazing things but you have to stick with it and trust yourself.

The more screwed up and out of control your life is, your body is, or your mental state is, means that change is going to be all the more difficult and challenging.  Be prepared to show strength and determination.  You can handle and learn from everything that comes your way in life.  I learned this from martial arts.

Me featured on Knockout Sportsworld!

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Excuse You for the Ignoramity: Sanctioning MMA in NY is NOT About the Money

I had the “pleasure” of reading yet another article/post about why MMA shouldn’t be sanctioned as a sport in New York State. This particular one can be found on pressconnects.com here: http://bit.ly/adIaqk

Different view points are a good thing. They give you perspective and insight that you may not have with out them. However, before you comment or quote or even form that view point, you should do your homework and be somewhat educated about the issue at hand.

NY Government: Blowing our money for over 200 years and counting.

Sanctioning MMA in New York is not about the money. It will not make or break NY. It won’t balance the budget or even do much to dig us out of the financial hole that our “leaders” have managed to get us into.

I own/oversee three very successful MMA training facilities in NY (CNY MMA). We employ nine people with full time income, all of whom earn at least double the median income for our areas of operation. We provide training and inspiration to almost 1,000 students better than any place or program they have ever experienced. Don’t just take my word for it, hear it directly from students. And we pay NYS taxes, insurance, and various other expenses to NYS to operate our business. I don’t need NY to sanction MMA. We are succeeding, financially and otherwise, in spite of MMA not being sanctioned here.

What it is about is the people of New York State having the choice to participate and support an activity that they love within their own state. It’s also about giving those same people the choice not to support it. You don’t have that choice now.

Visit cnymma.com to find out what MMA is at CNY MMA.

Get a clue. Many of you so called critics of MMA don’t even know what MMA is.

“MMA appears to be a combination of boxing, kick-boxing and street brawling,” says Mr. Rossie in his article. That’s like saying “football appears to be a combination of running, throwing, and body slamming.”

He goes on to make the argument that if MMA were to take place anywhere except in the states that sanction it, it would be a crime.

My girlfriend’s family is immersed in a sport that is sanctioned/legal in New York State, auto racing. Both of her brothers and her father are race car drivers. Her father, Barefoot Bob McCreadie, is one of the greatest race car drivers of all time.

All time great, Barefoot Bob McCreadie winning another one.

Since his first win almost 30 years ago, McCreadie has won 12 or more races in a season 19 times and has never experienced a winless year. He’s won 22 or more races in a season seven times, 31 or more three times, and had a 47-win campaign in 1994, while running 91 events. In nine seasons, from ’89 to ’97, McCreadie won 226 races, an average of 25 victories per year.

He’s supported his family and provided entertainment and inspiration to thousands and thousands of fans in a sport that if it were to take place anywhere else except the race track would be and should be illegal. Just like MMA.

Every sport has risks. MMA, football, baseball, basketball, soccer, racing, etc. We do not celebrate sport for those risks. We celebrate for the players and participants that succeed within the rules of their chosen sport. And we celebrate for ourselves because loving our sport is like loving music or another person … it’s about feeling and connection.

Sanctioning MMA in NY is about the people of this state that love MMA as a sport and want to participate, enjoy, and share it with their fellow New Yorkers.

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