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Martial Arts, Writing

Rocky Sondhi – It’s all in the feet!


Rocky Sondhi and Tommy Thompson are two long-running members of the Combat and Fighters correspondent team. They are also well-known authors of the book ‘TVP Comprehensive Boxing Concepts’. Following on from this success they have just produced a DVD with Summersdale. I could tell Rocky was champing at the bit to tell me about the DVD but I felt that it would be best to learn more about his background and how they first met.

“I was doing boxing training in JKD, and one of my fellow students actually boxed with Tommy. This was around 1999. My colleague suggested that I meet his boxing coach and Tommy and I hit it off as we both liked the way the other worked and we created a partnership from then.”

Hearing that he had been practicing JKD, I wondered why he had made the shift to boxing, “At the time we actually spent once a week doing JKD-type stuff and another sparring doing boxing sparring. When we trained with Tommy we realised that there was a lot more to boxing than we thought, and so Tommy and I worked together putting session plans. We work off each other very well and it’s got to the stage that we couldn’t actually do without each other now! We’re different but similar.”

It’s all well and good finding a good coach and deciding to train with them but it’s a completely different story if you drop the art you were studying previously, especially as the new ‘art’ in this case was boxing. Moving into boxing is a big step when you’re young, as the training methods are often much harder and physically demanding, Rocky started boxing quite late into the game and I couldn’t help asking why, “I enjoyed Karate and JKD, but as I got older I started to question the functionality and with the boxing there was a certain degree of realism in the sparring. We were dealing with a combat sport. Ultimately a lot of people go into the martial arts for self-defence. I certainly did. As you get more and more experienced you question how many times you might actually be in a street fight or conflict situation and need more motivation. To train and improve as an athlete is very opportunistic and very encouraging and gave me the additional motivation I needed to keep training. You give yourself targets for improvement just as athletes do and you constantly get to see these improvements and therefore be even more motivated.”

It’s clear that targets, goals and objectives play an important role in Rocky’s life and this is reflected in his and Tommy’s approach to boxing coaching.

“What we’ve tried to do with the boxing is to use it in a way to seek improvement so you have targets and improvements. I think in martial arts the test is in fighting other people. If everyone is at a comparable level the improvement is very hard to spot. With boxing the fighters are trained as athletes with individual goals, assessments and tangible measurements. This is lacking in the martial arts.”

This approach has certainly paid dividends with the response to the book being enthusiastic from boxing and martial arts coaches alike, “The people who have bought it have given a very positive response. We did an assistant instructors course and had an attendee who has his own full-time dojo and has taught for over twenty years. After the first twenty minutes he said that if he left then he would have had good value for his money.

The book was never aimed at beginners but was a concept for experience coaches. It’s a coaching manual not a student’s reference.”

The book is indeed hard to grasp and apply in some instances and it appears that Rocky and Tommy have recognised and addressed this on the DVD.

Rocky was more than happy to explain why they approached Summersdale to produce their DVD, “They’re the biggest producer of combat sports and martial arts DVDs. They have an innovative way of portraying the content and Nick is very creative, as is the rest of the team.

It was Paul Clifton who suggested that there might be a good opportunity with regard producing DVDs.” Rock explained, “We actually went along to the Seni stall and spoke to Nick there. We got talking and he said that he was interested, especially due to the [poor] quality of the coaching DVDs out there.”

Many viewers of DVDs don’t appreciate the amount of work and effort that can go into producing a good quality DVD. Technical matters aside, the physical and mental effort required can be considerable. Rocky agrees, “It was the hardest day’s work I’ve ever done. I do quite a lot of seminars and consulting work on a global scale and that one day talking to a camera was one of the most difficult things I’ve done. When you’re talking to people you get a response but not with a camera. Maintaining a stream of conversation without response is very hard.”

They’re not just releasing one DVD however and are already planning the Intermediate and Advanced Boxing DVDs. The beginner’s DVD was very much looking at technique and they’ve based it around the concepts of TVP. The Intermediate Boxing DVD will be looking at building variety and the Advanced Boxing DVD will be about creating a unpredictable fighter. For those not in the know the DVDs are following the ‘Technique, Variety, Predictability’ (TVP) concepts from the book of the same title.

Whilst they’re not looking at books to compliment the DVDs, they are considering work-out guides that actually build on what they’ve covered on the DVD. “What we think is that we’ve tried to make the book very much the concept” Rock explains, “What we see in the terms of the DVDs and the workout guide is a practical rather than theoretical product that people can use.”

They’re not content with putting their message across in DVDs and books and are expanding their columns in the magazines, “This is something that we’re going to build into the Champions Log Book. We’re also doing Workout guides, that will help the readers get fit get fast. We’re putting together a series of sixty minute workouts that will burn 500 caloriess each time. We have ten programmes that we’ve put together and we’re now working through them.”

Obviously there’s a lot of testing that needs to be done to ensure the guides do what they’re designed to and Rocky has the perfect Guinea Pig, “We’ve found that they might actually be too hard for a complete novice! I’m taking my wife (who’s reasonably) fit through them so that we can see that the work out does and how she copes with it.”

As part of the Champions Log part two we’re also looking at weight training. We’re looking at putting together a weight training programme that trains the boxing as you do it. If you look at tempo training you can apply this to bench pressing for example. There’s an article that we’ve just done on this and have sent to Paul. We certainly work on the principle that you have one body and that if you make it functional it doesn’t matter what are you do.”

As if this isn’t enough they have plans to create a TVP-based academy, “We’re looking at building a full-time centre and I’m going to visit a premises today which we’re ho[ping will make a good complex. It will be a TVP school for both coaches and students. As part of my consulting programme I’m looking at creating a leadership programme around boxing. We have one developing personal aspect of leadership in football and want to do one in boxing. It’s about getting rid of the arrogance in people and cultivating the team aspects of leadership. The boxing will be about developing the personal attributes of leadership. I’m renowned as a Leadership and Management Strategy Consultant.”

Beginners Boxing will be released on 3rd March and can be purchased from http://www.summersdale.co.uk.

Those Interested in seminars can find details at www.martialboxing.com or contact them using the details below;

Tel: Rocky – 0115 9555109
Mobile: 07771 928245
Email: rakeshsondhi@martialboxing.com

Tommy Thompson can be reached vial email using tommythompson@martialboxing.com.

About mattsylvester

Father of two beautiful daughters and married to the beautiful Karen, Matthew has been reading and writing fantasy and science fiction since he first read the Hobbit at the age of 7. Matthew was Features Editor, Technical Consultant and regular columnist for magazines such as ‘Fighters’, ‘Combat’, ‘TKD & Korean Martial Arts’ and ‘Traditional Karate’. These are the four leading martial arts magazines in the United Kingdom. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed 'Practical Taekwondo: Back to the Roots', which has been sold around the world. With regard to his martial arts background he has been studying martial arts since 1991. In 1995 he hosted Professor Rick Clark of the ADK and since then has been studying pressure points and their uses in the martial arts and on the street (initially as a Special Constable and as a Door Supervisor). All of this practical hands-on experience means that he is uniquely placed to write fight scenes that are not only plausible but some of which are based on personal or anecdotal experience. Matthew has had a number of short stories published by Fringe Works, KnightWatch Press, Anderfam Press and Emby Press.

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