Instructor Gary Thorne runs classes in Oxford covering kickboxing, fitness and MMA.
What got you started in martial arts?
GT: Seeing Kung-Fu films in particular Jackie Chan films like Police Story and Drunken Master i decided I had to learn martial arts.
What motivated you to stick with it and get to Black Belt?
GT: I never thought that far ahead, I enjoyed training with the other guys in class and learning new techniques and before I knew it was looking at taking my black belt.
What motivates you to carry on instructing?
GT: It’s amazing seeing different people take different things away from martial arts; the physical aspects are more obvious fitness, coordination martial arts techniques etc. but it’s great seeing students build discipline, respect and self-confidence.
What martial art are you most interested in learning more about?
GT: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I keep finding new techniques and that astounded me.
What traits inspire you the most in a sportsman?
GT: When someone hits a low point –they suffer a loss or an injury but bounce back and train harder that’s always great to see and inspiring.
What inspires you in your fellow instructors?
GT: All my fellow instructors were / are my instructors, sometimes I sit next to those guys and think to myself how did I get here? But I realise they have taught me so much and they have taught me to strive to do my best, that’s why I’m there and that’s why I keep pushing things forward with them.
What inspiration do you draw from your students?
GT: I get so much respect for students that push that bit extra, when they struggle to train but find a way or when they really push themselves and up their training before a grading or a fight.
What aspect of martial arts training do you enjoy the most?
GT: learning new techniques, understanding there potential applications and seeing how different people use them adapt them or choose not to use them.
What would you say is your greatest personal strength?
GT: Tolerance and respect.
How would you hope your students would describe you?
GT: Fun, a good technical teacher, and doesn’t take himself too seriously.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not training?
GT: Time with my family is really important to me.
If you could impart one lesson to your students what would it be?
GT: Always try – Don’t look back and regret not giving it a go.
How do you construct and sequence training sessions throughout the year?
GT: Rather than trying to cover a little of everything in every class I tailor each class with a specific aim: Cardio, Kickboxing syllabus, MMA, Self Defence, and Sparring. These class themes cycle round except in a build-up to an event like a grading where I will focus on that event.
What advice would you give a student training for a higher grade?
GT: push yourself, remember each grade gets bigger and tougher and you will need to do more than just the training you do in class. Also speak to your instructor they will always give you help and advice on improving and pushing your training.
What advice would you give a student who had just achieved a black belt and was wondering where to go next?
GT: Set yourself a goal to keep focused, it can be your 2nd Dan/ competing/ expanding into other martial arts or looking at teaching and helping other students try not to get complacent and stay hungry to move forward.
What advice would you give a student struggling to push themselves and commit to training?
GT: Change things up in some way, everybody needs a change or a refresh every now and then, speak to your instructor to see what they can suggest or see what other training opportunities are available.
What kind of fitness training have you personally found to be the most effective?
GT: Its having that goal, if you set yourself an event – a fight, a competition, a belt grading having that deadline to make yourself improve by pushes you to go a little bit harder than your normal level of training and makes a huge difference.
What fitness training do you think the majority of your students would benefit from?
GT: It’s hard to say, different students are at different levels and push themselves in different ways, I don’t think there is one answer but students shouldn’t be afraid to talk to their instructor they will always advise where they think they should individually improve.
What aspect of fitness are you interested in learning more about?
GT: I really like the MMA and Caveman circuits – really dynamic circuit stations