Glenn broke through for his first title after seven years of competition. He talks to Blitz about his dedication to the martial arts. Also explains some of the internal aspects of martial arts, and reveal some of his success secrets behind competition training.
State and national results since brown belt:
- 2001 Winner National Title National All Styles Champion of Champion (kumite).
- 2001 Winner National Title National All Styles Open (kumite).
- 2001 Winner National Title National All Styles Heavyweight (kumite).
- 2001 Winner World Title Go Kan Ryu Open Teams (kumite).
- 1995-2000 Winner National Title Go Kan Ryu Open Teams (kumite).
- 2000 Winner State Title National All Styles (kumite).
- 2000 Winner State Title Go Kan Ryu (kumite).
- 1997 Winner National Title Go Kan Ryu Men's Brown Belt (kata).
- 1997 Winner National Title National All Styles Men's Brown Belt (kumite).
How did you become involved in training and competition?
GH: I started karate with GKR Karate in 1993. I was training with a few people who were on the NSW State Team. As they were competing in the NAS, I went along to have a look. From that point on I was hooked. The following year I attended the State Team try-outs and joined our tournament team.
When I started competing, I was a 7th Kyu. I had a lot of success in both kata and kumite in that division. The competition was very strong, and as each tournament came around, my enthusiasm to compete grew immensely. It became very clear to me that this is what I wanted. I would always stay on after my division and watch the Men's Black Belts. Watching them inspired me to train harder. It inspired me to want to win as a black belt!
The NAS circuit is a lot tougher than a lot of people realise. How do you prepare yourself for the kumite?
GH: The NAS competition can get very tough. With all the different styles competing, and the range of techniques used, the risk of injury is obviously there. I started off this season with a win in NSW. Unbeknown to myself, my thumb was broken during the semi-finals. This stopped me from competing in the World All Styles Organisation (WASO) World Championships later in the year.
During these championships, my best friend had his jaw broken! So as you can see, there are definitely serious risks involved in any form of competition.
Preparation is the key to anything, especially competition. I will train with my team every Sunday, and at least three other times during the week. Generally about six weeks out from a tournament, I will approach it from a full contact point of view. I also do a lot of conditioning work, which includes skipping for my cardio, and a lot of hard kumite. This tapers off as the tournament approaches, at which time I concentrate only on my point fighting. When you are prepared to be hit, it takes away the surprise, or shock when you are.
What did you do differently in QLD?
GH: I did a lot of things differently. I took three weeks off training before the tournament. It gave me the chance to clear my head and focus on the up coming tournament. I spent a lot of time talking to Alex Pereda to reinforce the mental attitude I would be taking to this tournament. One of the last things he said was, "make sure you do it right," I guess I did it right this time. I was so relaxed when I got to QLD that I never felt I would lose.
The other thing, which made a big difference, was I had a different fight strategy. I fought people differently each time depending on what their style of fighting was like. If my opponent was a defensive, or counter-attacking fighter, I would be the same, forcing them to attack, and hence moving them out of their comfort zone. If they were an attacking fighter, I'd do the same, making them have to defend.
Where is a fight won and lost?
GH: I believe that a lot of fights are won and lost on the starting line. You can tell whether a fighter is feeling confident (or unconfident) by their body language as they bow in. A lot of the nerves come out as they walk to the line, and this is where you can gain an advantage over your opponent straight away.
Most go into a fighting stance straight away. I believe this is where most waste a lot of energy, almost like they are trying to get their head ready to compete at this point. To me it's too late at this point, and most have already lost. I like to stay in Heiko Datchi and stay relaxed.
Who has been your hardest opponent?
GH: Alex Pereda. He is my best friend, and training partner for the past seven years. He and I have had some great fights in competition. It took me four years from when I started competing to actually be able to beat him, and even now it is touch and go as to who will win. Neither of us likes to lose to each other, so we don't give an inch. He is a great competitor.
Who has influenced you in the martial arts?
GH: I have had a lot of people influence me in training, but the four people that stand out in my mind are Shihan Karetsian, Alex Pereda, David North, and Paul Lucas. They have all had their own input, and I would not be where I am today without one of these people.
What is the best thing about martial arts?
GH: The people. I have met some of the best people. Some have become lifelong friends, and others I have just sat down and talked to for hours about martial arts. To me that's what it's all about, not who is better, or what style is better than the rest, but the people who love martial arts, and pass on their knowledge regards of style, rank or background.
What is your strongest point in competition?
GH: My strongest point is definitely patience. It is something I have taken quite a while to develop. This has helped in conserving energy, and also keeping my head clear so I can keep out thinking about my opponent. I believe patience is one of the most important commodities to have in any form of competition. I've seen so many good martial artists lose a competition, not because their opponent beat them, but because they beat themselves.
How do you develop that kind of mental discipline?
GH: This is probably the hardest thing to develop out of all the areas within the martial arts. It takes a lot of training, experience and self-discipline. The first thing that you need to develop is what they call 'triggers'. These are things which when you hear, say or do, that switch the mind on. They could be anything, as long as it works in clearing your mind, and enables you to focus straight away.
I use a lot of 'triggers' in competition. The first is when they call my name out for the next bout. This is the trigger that stops me from hearing any other voice, and tells my mind I'm about to compete, the other is as my hands cross in Heiko Datchi (ready stance). This switches my body on, and then I am totally ready to commence competition.
How has your training background prepared you for competition?
GH: Tournament team training has played a massive part in becoming the Champion of Champions. I train with about six guys who all went to QLD with the same goal as myself. Then I have the rest of the team behind me, supporting me in everyway. It is this type of atmosphere, and competition within training that has assisted in my preparation. There is always a time where you feel flat when your training, but with these guys around me all the time, they would always pick each other up, never letting anyone fall behind. We all get the same amount of joy from seeing each other succeed, and are quite willing to get in there and help the next one achieve their karate goals. This gives you a feeling that you're never alone, and played a big part for me in QLD when I was in the ring. It felt like they were all in there with me. That was a huge boast for my confidence.
How do you deal with your inner critic?
GH: This has been the toughest obstacle for myself. I have always put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well, be it training, or tournaments. This is where I've had to put faith in others, and believe them when they tell me I've done well or my training is going well. It helps in not beating yourself up over the small things. I believe your inner critic is a necessary evil. It's truly the one thing that can keep you on track in your training. When people lose their inner critic, or are ruled by it, they can get out of control.
What about your kickboxing training? Can you tell us a little about that experience, who coached you and how it has helped you?
GH: It was something that I really wanted to do, and still want to pursue, maybe full contact, or ring karate. Shihan Stacey Karetsian, who has been a mentor to me over the years, trained me. We trained three nights a week together, just one on one, and I'd train the other two nights alone. It was a very valuable period of my training. The training was very tough, very physical. We'd train for hours together, seeking the advice from some boxing coaches, and developing my upper body strength.
Shihan Stacey is one of those people that can really motivate you. He has the ability to work out what makes you tick, and he puts it togood use during training. Just a few words from him, and I'd be ready for the next round, fresh as ever. The training helped me a lot with timing. Full contact takes a lot out of you, as many know, so you don't want to waste your punches or kicks. The other side of the coin was, after sparring with people who are trying to knock you down, being hit in any style of tournament doesn't bother me, it just makes me smile.
What obstacles have you overcome in order to succeed? What drives you?
GH: One of the biggest obstacles in my life is that I am blind in my left eye. I say it's an obstacle only to the point that it is there. I have never considered it a disability, and most will be learning about this for the first time as they read. The doctors always told me I couldn't do any form of contact sport. As a child I was always told I couldn't play this or do that. My parents were great because they never discouraged me, or made me feel like it was a problem, but at the same time, they were protective of me injuring my other eye. It is something I lived with all my life. I guess this has motivated me in more ways than I acknowledge. I have never let it be my excuse for anything, never played on it, and became more determine to succeed because of it. When people are always saying you can't do something, I like to prove them wrong. The thing that really drives me now, is the birth of my son. I wanted to have something that he could look back at and say, "wow". I'm really looking forward to my son getting older, and hopefully training in the arts. That is a dream I have at this point in my life, to learn, share and train with my son as he grows old.
How do the lessons of Karate apply to day-to-day life?
GH: I think karate has taught me a lot about life. The lessons that you learn in class can be applied to everyday tasks involving family, friends, and work. Respect is one of the biggest lessons. Learning to respect yourself, and the people around you allows you to get along with others when without these teachings you may have dismissed them. I find karate keeps me calm, and helps me use patience with my two-year-old son. Karate also teaches you to respect authority, hence making life at work easier as well. I think overall, karate, and its teachings, make one's life easier to live. Some of my greatest problems and challenges have been solved while at training. Entering the dojo allows you to leave everything outside behind. It is when your mind is clear that the answers you were searching for often appear.