Klaus Burton


The journey of an MMA noob, day one

This post is the first in a series I’ll be writing called The Journey of an MMA noob.
I thought it could be fun to write about some of the experiences I’ve had while training MMA while these memories are so fresh in my mind.
I’m writing this as a stream-of-consciousness; I want the reader to have an idea of my thoughts and feelings instead of just the events.
It’s my hope that people who have an interest in training can read this and get an idea of what to expect, and of course it will be nostalgic for people who have trained and currently train since these experiences are common to most people.

First Steps

I show up to my first class a little nervous, not knowing what to expect.
I walk into the gym and see it’s full of mats with a row of benches along one side.
I see Gareth Lewis, the head trainer. He asks me if I’ve done anything before and I think to myself be honest but not cocky.

In reality he probably wouldn’t have cared what I said either way.

I just say something like “I’ve been doing a bit of boxing this year but I’m not very good.”.
For this journey – and in my life in general – I’m trying to have as little ego as possible, which isn’t always easy for me. I also want confidence, so it’s a fine line between the two, but I think it can work if I keep working on it.


So we start on warmups. At this gym we only do a small warmup, lasting only a few minutes, which is great because my cardio is far from good enough, and the nerves reduce it even further.
We do long hops from one end to the other and do some forwards, sideways and backwards running.
Despite the shortness of the warmup I’m still breathing hard after it and trying not to show it, but probably failing miserably.
We’re told to put on shin and instep guards for practicing kicks and conditioning, and we partner up. I didn’t have shin-guards but was lucky enough to borrow one from someone which was very nice of them since it left him with only one instead of two.


At this gym, the first hour is for instruction and drills while the second hour is for sparring.
I partner up with a really nice guy called Paul, we chatted while gently kicking eachother’s ribs and he didn’t seem to mind that I was out of breath the entire time and had to pause here and there.
Paul threw a slow kick, not much behind it and I stupidly rotated my arm and it caught my left middle finger and I knew something happened. It’s an old habit from a previous martial art, a habit I’m now determined to break. After the initial pain, I put it in the back of my mind and kept going. I thought it would be pretty embarrassing and not a good first impression to make a big deal out of a sore finger that was moving fine.
We did some punching drills and then the first hour was up, at which point Paul left because of the train timetable.


Onto the second hour of the night.
I go up against a guy, put on a poor performance and go to the bathroom to throw up – which is something that often happens if I’ve pushed my cardio very hard – but it doesn’t happen and after a few minutes of getting my breath back I go out again and start sparring.

I go up against a few people and learn some names which I of course forgot almost instantly as it’s all just a blur of faces on your first day.
Everyone was pretty nice, I wasn’t having any success but everyone remembers being a noob at some stage so they weren’t dicks about it.
Towards the end of the second hour I go up against an old schoolmate of mine, Chris Pointer, and chat a little bit while we spar. Turns out he’s been going for years. He gets a solid punch to my face, we keep going and move on to other partners.


Training ends and I leave very sore, winded and drenched in sweat but I feel alive for the first time in a long time.
I really pushed myself over and over again within those two hours and only a few minutes after leaving I noticed my eyes were wider, breathing deeper, back straighter, mind clearer, mood lighter and all the benefits of pushing your body physically.

I had gone in without knowing what to expect, wondering if I was going to like it or feel like an outsider, but straight away I felt welcomed and included. I didn’t particularly notice any huge egos looking to rip down others, I saw people willing to be good partners for mutual benefit.

I was already looking forward to the next session!