Starting MMA and finding the right team
Shaj Haque is one of Europe's top flyweight fighters, with success in Cage Warriors and made 4 The Cage. As a FightstorePro.com ambassador, we have Shaj on board sharing his wisdom on mixed martial arts. Find him on Twitter: @SupermanShaj As MMA is a fairly new sport, it does not have a governing body and therefore coaches do not need qualifications to teach. Originally when I was starting MMA, there were not many clubs around so choices of clubs were very limited. Luckily for me the first coach I met was experienced in the sport, a great youth worker, trustable, not motivated by money, and always looked out for my best interest. His name is Feruz Hussain and is still my main coach 10 years on. Unfortunately not all coaches are like this, and I have met many people, some with great potential, who have had their experience in the sport hampered or ruined simply by trusting the wrong coaches. In my time training I have also trained with many different coaches, some great and some terrible. With the rising popularity of the sport, there are more and more gyms popping up, and choosing the right club is important especially if your aim is to be a successful fighter. Do your research If you are new to the sport it is always worth doing a little research about the coach/team before joining. Although note a successful fighter does not mean a great coach and vice versa, but it is a good starting point if there is no other information out there. Find out whom the coaches are, their backgrounds, and also the success of the students they have taught, the latter is more important for a coach. Finally, if you are satisfied then try them out. Try it out and see if you find yourself at home When starting there are a few things to look out for to ensure you are in a good training environment. First be aware MMA is a business for many, and like many businesses some will go for quantity over quality. Someone may be a great coach but if they do not give you any time or care about your development, it will not benefit you. A coach that wants you to improve will be enthusiastic, organised, and happy to answer questions. Make sure you feel comfortable and are happy with the atmosphere. MMA is often stereotyped as violent and barbaric, but all good teams are quite the opposite. The atmosphere should be welcoming, friendly and sociable. Don't be afraid to try other options If you are unsure, or just not enjoying it, don’t quit immediately. It may just be the team you are training with is just not for you. If you have the option, don't be afraid to try a few clubs out before committing to one, if you feel the need to and the coaches are spiteful about it, it’s probably a sign of doubt in their coaching skills. But understand MMA is a competitive sport and clubs compete against one another, so once you commit to a team it can get awkward to train at opposing clubs simultaneously. One of the best pieces of advice I heard was by Wanderlei Silva himself at a seminar. He said do not keep moving to gyms that have all the fancy equipment, find the gym with the coach and team that actually care about you and stick with them. I was able to relate to this as until recent years my club had very limited facilities and training times, nevertheless I loved the team and was enjoying the sport and I stuck by even though many belittled the club. We trained hard with the little we had and grew and now the club is in the top 20 UK rankings and I am a top 5 UK flyweight and Bantamweight with world titles in sight. Enjoy it Finally there are many variables in choosing a club, but like any hobby in the world, the most important thing is making sure you are enjoying it, and then even if you do not achieve your goals, at least you had fun in the process. Visit the FightstorePro.com store for equipment to suit all budgets and abilities, in MMA, Muay Thai, Boxing and BJJ.
- Jay Furness