Tag Archives: MMA

Laura Howarth – fighting mentality

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Preparation is an integral part of any fighter’s routine.

There is no killer blow or perfectly executed punch combo that can create the desired effect without weeks of fine tuning.

In this video, professional MMA fighter Laura Howarth talks about the process she goes through and the state of mind she needs in preparing for a bout.

Based is Portsmouth, she fights for Invicta FC and has two wins and one loss under her belt so far.


Q&A with Damian Wyszomierski

Elephant Sports spoke to Damian Wyszomierski, an aspiring MMA fighter and personal trainer from Poland about his life in Britain and using sport, fitness and diet to help him find his path in life.

At what age did you start to play sports?
I played football since I was 10 years old, that lasted for six years. After that I decided to swap the ball for weights and the gym, as well as getting into mixed martial arts.

You’re a person that has experience in the fight game and strength training. What is the main difference between these two and can you implement them together?
Stand-up practices in sports such as kickboxing, Muay Thai and karate are about polishing your technique, speed and agility. Let’s not forget about the aspect of strength that also plays a major role. The name ‘strength training’ says it all. Fortunately, you can link martial arts and strength training together and that’s how it works out for me.

What is the difference between sports such as football and full contact sports?
In such sports, a team is responsible for everything that occurs on the field. On the other hand, in contact sports you’re the person that has control over everything. It’s only you and the opponent in front of you.

Tell me more about your adventure with the craft of martial arts and gym training? When did you actually become serious about it?
I was 16 years old. There was simply a moment when I came to the conclusion I need something else than football. Honestly, it didn’t give me as much happiness anymore. I decided to try a different sport and that’s how I found myself in the place I am today. The seriousness towards giving it a 100% in martial arts and strength training made me quit football once for all.

What impact did your move to the UK have on you?
To be honest I never had a problem with communication and adaptation. I’m a person that acclimates and gets on with people, so I can’t say I had to worry about this.

Is it hard to overcome the language barrier?
When I first came to England I didn’t understand a single word. Literately nothing. Nevertheless, I still managed to train normally and participate like I did back home. So no, I don’t think it’s a problem. At least for me.

Have you ever had any trouble because of misunderstanding what the people are saying to you?
No, never. I tend to laugh if such a situation occurs.

Tell me about your role as a personal trainer
I’m here to help people that are having all kinds of problems. Whether it’s being overweight or wanting to gaining pure muscle, I’m here for them. Often I encounter people searching for a trainer that will help them with a training routine in order to become simply a fitter person. Others need the training to put them in a better frame of mind.

Diet or training? Which aspect is more important?
Both aspects are really important. Although when it comes to our physique the diet takes the podium, as 75% of what we look like comes from a well-balanced diet and the 25% is hard work done in practice. On the other hand, if you’re concentrating mainly on pure ability, speed or efficiency, then training takes over.

So a well-balanced diet is key?
I believe a well-balanced diet linked with the proper training programme, as well as sufficient cardio routines is the true key to success. Hard work and dedication.

Diets, training routines and personal consultations – are you a one-man band?
Ha ha, that’s my role! I’m using my knowledge to help people reach their desired physique or any other goals they have.

How long does your client have to wait for a plan?
I always tell the interested individual that it usually takes three days until I send the diet. Although, when I have time it takes no longer than 24 hours. It depends whether I have a lot to do at work or any other responsibilities. Trust me, it’s time-consuming.

Many people believe the effects of training should be immediate? What do you have to say to those people?
On the internet we can read a number of false statements such as “I lost 10kg in 30 days. You can do it too!” Ads like this are practically everywhere, however it’s simply a fraud. Let me repeat one more time: a balanced diet, along with disciplined training will give you the desired effect. The level of metabolism varies, that’s the reason for some people it takes longer to reach their goal. It might see a difference within a month, whereas you’re training partner will by the end of the week. Just train hard and be patient.

Hard day of workout along with crisps in the evening? How does it sound?
From time to time everyone should allow themselves to have something different to eat. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’re all humans and we’ll have a moment of weakness. When I’m working with a client I implement so called ‘cheat meals’. Instead of having a healthy meal an individual can eat whatever they want.

You’re a realist and I guess you know how hard it is turn what you do into a real success…
Sure, I know how hard it is. Hopefully all the hard work pays off one day and I’ll be able to say because of this I’m making the money I need in order to have a normal life. Although at the moment just like everyone else at the beginning of their road I have a full-time job and the money I earn from being a personal trainer is just a little bonus.

The popularity of training is huge at the moment, and summer is just around the corner. Would you say the buzz will slowly fade away?
Honestly, there are a lot of seasonal gym goers that train just because they’re going on vacation and want to show off on the beach. These are the people that often end up leaving before they even started. On the other hand, there are many people are passionate about strength training and other sports. In my opinion, there will always be people that treat the sport differently. At the end of the day it’s their decision in what category they fall into.

‘Peace starts at the dinner table’

Ella Simola has swum at the Finland Junior Championships, tried her hand at karate, Muay Thai and MMA and is about to begin boxing training. She is also a vegan.

The 21-year-old from Tampere made the switch to a fully plant-based diet at the age of 15.

“I had always been an animal lover – just like any other kid, I would have never wanted to hurt them,” she told me. “But it was hard to make that connection as our society sees animals as products. One day I accidentally saw a part of a documentary about slaughterhouses, and I was shocked.”

Horrified by the cruelty she had witnessed, she started doing research about changing her diet.

“I transitioned to vegetarianism at first, and when I was a bit more familiar with nutrition and such, I went fully vegan. It was the best decision of my life.”

Switching to a plant-based diet not only put the young adolescent’s conscience at rest, but it also boosted her swimming.


“It seemed like my body had been waiting for me to change to this diet all along. I noticed a change in my energy levels immediately,” Ella said.

“I didn’t feel a need to take a nap before training anymore, and my swimming felt easier. Also, my skin got clearer.”

“My love for martial arts comes from the same reason why veganism appeals to me as a lifestyle so strongly- the goal to live a peaceful life. And peace always starts at the dinner table”

Ella is an advocate for everyone at least trying veganism.

“There’s a lot of research suggesting that plant-based diet is the healthiest choice, but also a lot against it, although most of this is basically propaganda, as meat, dairy and egg industries are big gold mine after all.

“From my own experience I can say that I have never felt better. I sleep better, have energy to work out and have restored a healthy relationship with food.

“I have heard many people tell how they have cured from eating disorders with the help of a vegan diet. A lot of athletes, also bodybuilders, do great as vegans and are able to build muscle without any problems.

“I have also learnt to listen to my body’s needs now, and know how to nourish myself with the right foods.”


In 2010, Ella also took another radical turn in her life, this time deciding to give up swimming for the Koovee Club even though she had excelled in the pool.

“I quit because I just didn’t feel like I could stay dedicated to it any longer. I trained seven times a week and basically didn’t have any free time.

“It was a huge thing for me to quit, because swimming had been my whole life for eight years, and it had provided me with such amazing memories.

“I don’t regret my decision, though, because afterwards I had time to invest my energy to other things. I found out that I was talented in other sports and I started enjoying training again. ”

Martial arts became her focus , and she initially took up karate.


“When I quit competitive sports and left swimming behind me, I became fascinated with self-defence. I discovered David Meyer, who does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and speaks proudly about animal rights,” she said.

“Inspired by him I did karate, Thai boxing and MMA. The thing about these sports is not that you become more violent, but that you learn to avoid confrontations.

“My love for martial arts comes from the same reason why veganism appeals to me as a lifestyle so strongly – the goal to live a peaceful life. And peace always starts at the dinner table.”

Ella’s next sporting challenge is boxing: “I have totally fallen in love with boxing and I do want to compete in it. Considering my combat background, I hope it will happen soon.”


Ali wants to be an MMA role model

Faisal Ali is looking to follow in the footsteps of Amir Khan as he aims to become a British amateur champion in mixed martial arts in 2016.

The 25-year-old from Manchester believes he can play his part in encouraging more youngsters from the UK’s Pakistani community to take up MMA.

Bolton-born Khan’s exploits in the boxing ring have made him one of the nation’s highest-profile Muslim sportsmen.

Ali explained: “At the moment I think there’s not really a role model in terms of getting [young British Pakistanis] into MMA.

“In boxing, you have Amir Khan. With MMA, there’s one or two good fighters but nobody really knows them because no-one has taken it to that level.

“So in a way I kind of want to be a role model by encouraging the younger generation who are either troubled or don’t feel they have athletic abilities to try and get into mixed martial arts.

“This is one of my life goals, to get in there and put pressure on myself, because you don’t really get a lot of Asians doing this sport.”

‘Ultimate combat sport’

So why did Ali decide not to follow Khan’s path into boxing and opt for MMA instead?

“I think, in terms of self-defence, MMA is a lot better than boxing. With boxing you’re just stood with your hands up, but MMA includes a combination fighting techniques that allow you to bring people down and use your elbows, which makes it the ultimate combat sport.”

“Turning professional is not hard – what’s hard is becoming a better martial artist and understanding the sport”

The forensic computing graduate speaks with the enthusiasm of a fairly recent convert to MMA, having only taken it up two years ago.

Ali started off doing JKD, a form of martial arts pioneered by the legendary Bruce Lee in the late 1960s.

He then went on to do other forms, as well as wrestling, at Predators Gym in Manchester where his potential attracted the attention and support of established fighters.

However, Ali insisted: “My drive doesn’t really come from the desire to turn professional, because anyone can become a pro fighter.

“I could turn professional in my next fight, it’s not hard, but what is hard is becoming a better martial artist and understanding the sport.”


Now working in his chosen field, Ali admits it can be hard to find the right balance between his job and training.

“I’m in the gym for three hours on a Tuesday and Thursday, I come in on Wednesday for a personal plan. On Saturday I do my wrestling and then private lessons on Sunday, so it does take up a lot of my time.”

“I think if you put in the effort, struggle and hard work you can do well in the sport”

Ali won his first amateur fight in under a minute by taking his opponent down and controlling him on ground, but he admits self-belief is something he needs to work on.

“I think with me it’s mainly the confidence thing because I know I’ve got the ability. It’s just about believing in myself, and I think the more fights I have, the more self-confidence will come.”

Ali, also known as ‘Faz the Destroyer’, is confident of taking his MMA experience to the next level.

“I’m looking to compete on May 7th at the UK Amateur Championships in Preston,” he said.

“I know where I want to go with the sport. Hopefully next year I want to become British amateur champion, then possibly turn professional the year after that.

“I think if you put in the effort, struggle and hard work you can do well in the sport.”


‘We need more female MMA fighters’

Rumblr, the new mobile phone application set to make Fight Club a reality, would have been quite useful to Laura Howarth during the early days of her MMA career.

“It was still relatively new in the UK especially for women, so to find other women to fight was really difficult,” she says.

 “It’s so hard to match females and I want that to change”

“Training was tricky at times, mostly because I was the only girl in the class and training with a bunch of men wasn’t the easiest. But I feel it has made me a stronger person and definitely helped with my career.”

Howarth, who trains at Gym01 in Portsmouth, is relatively new to the professional circuit having fought just three bouts – two wins and a loss. She made her name with four straight wins, one including a rear-naked choke, at amateur level before making her professional debut a year later in December 2013.

Her love affair with combat sport began at an early age. “I started karate when I was eight years old. I fell in love with this sport and as I grew I fell in love with combat sports altogether.

“I moved on to kickboxing, Muay Thai and finally MMA where I feel I can excel to my full potential. I have a pure love for striking but I love the nitty gritty of MMA.”

Encouragement and support

With MMA being the brutal sport that it is, it’s not an easy career choice for any young fighter – male or female.

Despite the giant steps of social progression we have seen over time, many families have frowned upon or even restricted their daughters from taking part in certain sports, particularly combat-based ones, as a career path.

“I see so many females training hard and enjoying the sport, but they can never take it as far as they want”

Howarth says of her own family: “They saw my love of sport and combat sports at a young age and they encouraged and supported that.

“When I told them I wasn’t going to college and was going to focus on a career in fighting, they wanted to support me, but continually asked when was I going to get a proper job.

“It wasn’t until they came to watch me fight and I went to Las Vegas to take part in The Ultimate Fighter that they believed in me. My family continually support me, and my parents help me out as much as they can. I couldn’t ask for more support.”

With her feet firmly planted on the ground, Howarth aims to climb all the way to the top. She says: “I’ve recently been signed to Invicta FC and I am waiting to make my debut with them, hopefully early next year. I plan on making a big impression and moving forward in my career.”

And as for the future of women in MMA, she adds: “I would like see it grow. I see so many females training hard and enjoying the sport, but they can never take it as far as they want to as they can’t get fights. It’s so hard to match females and I want that to change.”

Laura Howarth is on Twitter @LauraHowarthMMA

Photograph courtesy of Sherdog.com