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Mittmaster Matt – Martial Arts, Fear, Philosophy, Self-Defence And The Coaching Business (#41)

The lessons of a lifelong martial arts student

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Mittmaster Matt - Martial Arts, Fear, Philosophy, Self-Defence And The Coaching Business | The Black Country Buddhas Podcast | My Home Vitality

Introduction to guest:

Mittmaster Matt is a martial arts student of 35 years and an instructor, author and creator of the Mittmaster Pad Training system, a complete pad training system with over 500 drills.

He first started pad training more than 25 years ago in Jeet Kune Do (JKD), Kickboxing, & Muay Thai, under Anton St’James.

He later studied under Bob Breen at the infamous Breen Legacy Academy (Hoxton Academy) where he met Erik Paulson, the first person he witnessed that could strike and grapple with equal skill.

Matt travelled to LA several times over the following years where he would train with Paulson, often three times a day. This is where he started his professional MMA career, retiring three years later, undefeated.

He then travelled to Thailand to train at Tiger Muay Thai when it had little more than two rings.

Returning to the UK, Matt started looking for new ways to train stand up striking and met Phil Norman just as he was creating his elusive “Ghost” striking style.

Matt trained to become one of the first UK Ghost Instructors and has practiced it ever since.

In this podcast we delve into the lessons Matt has learned on his long journey in martial arts, technical training strategies, supplemental training advice, mindset and preparation.

Contacting Matt:


Facebook: @mittmastermatt

Instagram: @mittmastermatt

YouTube: Mitt Master Matt

Key quotes and takeaways from the show:

Record your training sessions.

Don’t worry about looking stupid – put your ego aside.

For improvement and facing your fears, take small incremental steps.

“You can’t go 100% all the time during training. Something will break!”

Care! – Everything else is secondary.

Your training needs to include an element of speed, timing and resistance to test its functionality.

90% of self-defence is awareness.

“I reread my entire library every year!”

Question of the day:

What advice do you give to people who are in a performance plateau?

Links to podcast sites:

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
Listen on Stitcher
Listen on Overcast

The full podcast:

Related episode:

Geoff Thompson was mentioned several times during this podcast – a formed bouncer and self-defence expert, Geoff talks to us about his personal transformation and the most valuable martial arts systems for self-defence.

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Show notes:

In order of first mention:

  • 1:03 – Matt’s life story.
  • 03:04 – An introduction to the Mittmaster system.
  • 04:04 – Matt’s opinion on the most functional martial art styles.
  • 05:30 – Martial arts that suit Matt best.
  • 06:02 – The most practical form of self defence and situational awareness.
  • 07:55 – The big lessons Matt learned from mentors during his life journey.
  • 12:11 – Can you train yourself to endure pain?
  • 14:33 – Dealing with the ego of high level martial artists.
  • 17:57 – Advice for people who are in a performance plateau.
  • 20:58 – A beginners mindset and what to expect in martial arts/combative situations.
  • 25:09 – Matt’s perspective on confidence and fear.
  • 36:45 – How Matt prepared for fights.
  • 39:25 – Matt’s experience of training with Erik Paulson.
  • 40:27 – How to sustain training into old age.
  • 46:04 – Matt’s reflections on his fighting days.
  • 47:15 – Stoic philosophy and Taoism.
  • 48:53 – Fighting as an art.
  • 49:42 – Flow state.
  • 51:01 – Matt’s exposure to meditation and breathwork.
  • 53:00 – Gaz’s fun fact about Wanderlei Silva.
  • 54:26 – Training a fighter is hard work!
  • 55.36 – What makes a good coach?
  • 56:58 – The Ghost Elusive Combat System.
  • 01:01:36 – Brain damage in combat sports and the risk of wearing gloves.
  • 01:06:40 – The dynamics of a powerful punch.
  • 01:10:45 – The importance of “aliveness” in testing the functionality of a martial art.
  • 01:15:00 – Group attack scenarios, awareness, avoidance and the use of martial arts.
  • 01:20:23 – Business advice for martial arts instructors.
  • 01:28:04 – Books Matt revisits the most.
  • 01:32:31 – Matt’s final words and where to find him.
  • 01:33:53 – The odds of us being alive are unimaginable – There is no excuse not to be passionate!
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