I’ve just arrived home from Fight Camp organised by Neil Walton of PDKM and James Hobson KMDA. 3 nights in a great location and 2 and a half days of (fairly) intense training. The training was led by Neil Walton. I’m aching a little now and I’ve seized up a bit but I feel I have taken some lessons away and sharpened up my skills.

As always, I left things a little last minute. I only arranged a lift with Craig on the morning we were meant to set off. We had talked of sharing a ride earlier in the week but I hadn’t got back to him and I’d had a really busy night the night before. I woke up at about 8am and sent him a text. I said I’ll go with him if that was cool and asked what time he planned on setting off. I was a little surprised by his answer, he was setting off earlier than I had anticipated. I rushed to get ready. As a result, I didn’t check the information provided and guessed what I needed. I packed my kit bag, all my clean training gear, a set of running shoes a hoodie and a jacket. Luckily that was all I needed.

On the way down there was torrential rain. I was a bit worried because I’d only packed 1 hoodie. I hadn’t read the information pack so I didn’t realise it was outdoor training. Luckily, as we got closer, the sun came out. We drove through some beautiful scenery that reminded me of my time in New Zealand. We eventually arrived at our destination.

The Glaramara is situated in a picturesque area near Keswick. It’s surrounded on all sides by beautiful mountains. It is breathtaking. The building itself is pretty and modern. It’s divided between modern refurbished rooms that are like a Premier Inn and smaller single rooms that resemble a youth hostel. I was in the latter. The room was very small with a single bed, a sink, a small desk and a wardrobe. It was simple, but that’s all that I needed. I wasn’t there for the room and it had everything I needed. The bathroom and showers were shared but I never had to queue for anything and, in fact, I rarely saw anyone else in there.

When we arrived we met in a small conference room, there was fresh fruit, sandwiches and cereal bars laid out. I should point out that I was two weeks out from a fight so I can’t give a full evaluation of the food. I had made the mistake of telling Craig what weight I was at and I was under scrutiny with everything I ate. We were starving when we arrived so I ate plenty of fresh fruit. I ate a lot of fruit throughout my stay and it was very good quality. Over that weekend was probably the most fruit I’ve ever eaten. We all sat in the conference room while we received the information for the weekend. We got a copy of the itinerary and a ‘Fight Camp’ t-shirt. We were then given our room allocations and given some time to unpack and ready ourselves for an evening of training.

The training began with a short run, I’d approximate the distance at about a mile. It was a nice little track but the terrain was tough. It was uphill through a stream and up a steep incline then down a rough track and onto the road. It was a circuit but on the first night we just did it once. We arrived back in the Glaramara which had a large field to use as a training area. The first evening was a striking session. I train under Neil Walton at PDKM so I know how picky he is with striking. He even criticises me sometimes. And I’m excellent. We drilled the real basics, he was making everyone focus on generating power from the hips. I was a little tired but I’ll take what he said to me as a compliment. He said, “I don’t know what it is with you Matt, you sometimes have moments of brilliance, and other times you’re just lazy, do you realise you’re being lazy?”. But all I heard was, ‘moments of brilliance’.

After a couple of hours we finished for the night. We had about an hour to chill, chat, get showered then it was time for dinner. It was a set three course menu for dinner. You had three choices for each course. On the first night I had a tuna steak I would have gone with the beef but I was being careful because of the weight cut. The food was amazing. Mine was delicious but I was still jealous of the beef that was just perfect. I watched enviously as everyone else ate theirs. It was good, clean food. There was plenty, I never heard any complaints. Neil came over to me as we were finishing the main course and asked me what I had ordered for desert. I told him the fruit salad. He said, “Really? Aw, if you’d have said the cobbler I was going to take it off you”. I had not realised it was prison rules. I had fruit for starters and desert every night. It was good, fresh and always a little different. A cheese board was a desert option too and it was a generous selection of cheeses, great portion sizes. I had to engage all my self control not to steal the left overs. I spent a lot of time thinking about food over the weekend just because of the great quality of it.

After dinner we sat outside talking and laughing. It was a great bunch of people. I had an early night but everyone went to bed pretty early. We knew it would be a heavy one the next day. Unfortunately, the only complaint we had about the hotel happened that night. It was somebody’s anniversary so there was a bunch of old folks singing until nearly midnight. I know that Craig wasn’t far off going and telling them off but I thought, it’s Saturday night, let them have some fun.

I had a great nights sleep and woke up at 7:30 ready to train. I got a shower and met with the others for breakfast. There was fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt and cooked breakfasts available. We needed a pretty big breakfast because we’d need the energy but I mainly had fruit and yogurt. We started the day with the same run. Only this time we had to do it three times. Neil told the group that they had to try and beat me round the track. I immediately sprinted off but Craig set off with me, then got ahead, and I lost him on the first lap. I still came in second but I felt sick and had a banging headache. The track was tough to do three times. Neil stood on the hardest part, a steep hill, and took photos of us all struggling. He also shouted some encouragement.

When everyone had arrived back we got into another striking session. I already noticed a difference with everyone. We took the drills slowly and Neil carefully checked everyone’s technique. Me and Craig sometimes advanced the techniques slightly but the drills were useful for all levels of striking. The difference in the striking was already noticeable. I was impressed with the improvement. The focus of this session was generating power, moving on the triangle and defensive maneuvers. It was a good, fast paced session that ended with some tough drills. By the end we were happy to go for lunch. Lunch consisted of a buffet. Soup, sandwiches and fruit. I stuck with the fruit, I even stole some for later. The weekend turned me into a bit of a fruit thief and I often took a couple of pieces for throughout the day.

After lunch we went back for a ground fighting session. It reminded me of when you’re at school after lunch where you’re a bit groggy and tired. We plugged through, the focus of this session was a flow drill which we would build on the next day too. We went through entry for a take down with a simple take down and some basic ground positions. Some of the others hadn’t done much ground work so we went through it slowly and got the technique right. Me and Craig did some of our own stuff too but everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy the session.

We stopped for a brief brake before the sparring session. I ate a load of my stolen fruit to stop me from flagging too much. It was getting late in the day and everyone was starting to get a little tired. The sparring session consisted of some sparring drills, attacking high and low, changing the angles, piecing combinations together and reacting to attacks. Some of the people training were very new to sparring and I know it can be intimidating to some. Me and Craig were hoping to really exchange with some of the others but it was done in a more controlled and technical manner. I went through drills with some of the others and you could see it was taking a bit of getting used to.

We finished for the evening, showered, ate, chatted and chilled for the evening. I had another early night. The next day was more of the same. We had breakfast, did the same run. Neil was considering letting us off but some of the guys were keen to do it again (I wasn’t one of them). So another three laps, I paced myself a little better so I wasn’t feeling as ill after, but this time I came in about 4th (I hate running). On the plus side: The weather was glorious. Me and Craig broke my rules of taking your shirt off in public etiquette and topped up our tan throughout the day.

I more than made up for my poor effort on the run in the striking session. My technique was looking sharp. I also looked around the group and saw vast improvements. Neil is excellent at teaching proper technique for striking and it was evident from that session. I was impressed with everyone’s progression. The pace was really good too and we picked it up a little towards the end, it really got everyone working hard and you could see the movements were becoming part of their muscle memory.

We broke for lunch and, again, I stole a load of fruit. We came back to a grappling session which developed from the day before. The flow drill actually got a little complex and there were some really cool techniques in there. Everyone had built on their base from the day before and there was some really impressive techniques getting done very well. The other thing I noticed is how much everyone was enjoying it. The atmosphere was really good. Good technique and good fun. It was a great session.

After another break we had another sparring session. Again, we started with drills. I looked about and, again, I saw a huge improvement. We had a few light sparring rounds and I was really impressed with how the others were piecing together their combinations. I can be awkward to fight but they were doing excellent. I was astonished at the improvement. Credit has to go to them for picking it up so quickly and to Neil for drilling it into them.

That night we stayed up a little later, everyone had a few beers (except me). After Craig had a few he bought me a Mars bar. I didn’t dare eat it in front of Neil. At about 11 I excused myself, went to my room and ate that Mars bar without shame. It was good.

All in all the weekend was great. I’d definitely do it again and I’d definitely recommend it to others. It’s basically a few days away in a beautiful, remote area. Where you can concentrate on your training with like-minded people. The improvements were clearly evident. Also, the food was amazing. I’d probably go back just for the food. But the training was awesome too!