MMA Interview: Takedown MMA organizer Mr Stuart Tomlinson

As some of you may know, Takedown MMA is a fantastic MMA promotion here in the Northwest of England. Their MMA shows are always well run, smooth monsters where they place the needs & safety of the fighters above all else, still succeeding in producing very exciting and enticing spectacles.

Next Sunday will see the Takedown MMA Grand Prix (click here for tickets), where several athletes from Fighting Fit Manchester, home of the Labs, will take part.

To highlight the event, I conducted an interview with Mr Stuart Tomlinson, organizer of Takedown MMA shows. I knew he must be busy but I also knew he must make time for his own martial arts training. So here is the Part Time Grappler interview with Mr Stuart Tomlinson:

Hello. Why don’t we start by you telling us a little about yourself?
Hi Liam, my name is Stuart Tomlinson, I am 32 years old and I am from Manchester

Are you currently training / teaching Martial Arts? Is that Full time / Part time?

I am currently training and teaching Martial Arts. I train in a mixture of martial arts styles but try to balance between Striking (such as Thai, Kick or boxing), Wrestling and BJJ (Gi and No Gi). I teach Thai boxing, Kickboxing, Freestyle Karate and MMA. It is my full time job.

Which arts do you study / teach and under whom?

As above. I have trained under David Breed since I was a young teenager in Freestyle Karate and kickboxing. His Freestyle system was an early example of an MMA programme with balance leant to developing skills in every range, which is why I have always enjoyed every aspect of martial arts training. I lived in Europe for nearly three years and had the pleasure of training in some top gyms in Holland, Portugal and France. I have trained and graded in Muay Thai under Master Kevin Lloyd as part of Master Woody’s group. I spent a number of years training in Capoeira with Contra Maestre Parente as part of the Cordao De Oura group. My understanding of wrestling and BJJ has been greatly advanced through training with the likes of Anthony Griffiths, Matt Olson, Lloyd Cooper, Matt Inman and Rosi Sexton. There have been many other instructors and martial artists who have helped me both with my training and my own personal journey in martial arts. I truly appreciate each and every one of them for their guidance, teachings and inspiration. There is much to be said about the phrase “standing on the shoulders of giants”.

How do you manage to fit your own training around work and family time?

As I now own a full time martial arts centre and gym that is open seven days a week from 9am, it is not without its challenges. Couple this with the facts that I also run the Takedown MMA Event series (click here for tickets) and have two young children and it becomes even more difficult. My life is made easier by my excellent team of instructors who I can rely on to run the centre or teach whenever I am not there. I dedicate certain days/times each week to my own training and very rarely miss them. I don’t train as often as I did when I was competing but I am pursing a different challenge within both martial arts and my life at this point. However, training is my first love and the reason I do what I do so I am always tempted to try and fit more in. I think I have the balance as best as I can at the moment with time split mainly between my family and work but with training coming in a close third.

Do you compete in your sport(s)? Have you won any competitions?

When I was younger, I used to love sparring and competing as often as possible. I really used to just stick to any event that tested my stand up skills and have competed in different rules/events such as semi contact/light continuous/full contact etc. From circuits such as the WKA and WAKO to Kickboxing and Thai boxing Fight nights around the country and abroad. I won more than I lost and had quite a decent collection of medals and trophies from them at one point. I have since given them all away, some of them to members of my family and the rest to the gym that I started out at. I never really took it further than the Amateur scene in fairness (albeit being very productive and busy for a fair amount of time) as that was really the extent of my competitive ambitions in the main. I eventually got to the point where I got more satisfaction from teaching, hence why I left competition behind earlier than I needed to physically.

What is the greatest thrill you have gotten out of practicing your sport?

I think gaining my first Black Belt was a personal highlight although I have always found competition at any level to be a real buzz

Give us your top 5 tips for time-management (to fit exercise around life)

1. Plan your day in advance to keep organized and make the most of the time you have to fit in the sport/exercise you enjoy at some point in the day (I used to go to the gym before work at 6am most mornings)

2. Be self disciplined. Make sure you have a goal that motivates you to train/exercise even when it would be easier not to

3. Think Quality over Quantity. Intensity over 45mins is worth more than a casual 2 hours

4. Don’t be afraid to pay more for your training or your equipment if circumstances warrant it. An investment in yourself always brings good returns

5. Prioritize your training to what is most suited to achieve your desired outcome ie you want to get better at running, you run, you don’t swim.

Now let’s balance that with what you consider the top 5 time-thieves.

1. Being disorganized. This is what leads to things taking more time than first thought and thus pushing any time for exercise/sport out the window. I am often guilty of this

2. Idle conversations. I see this all the time in all walks of life (even sometimes in the gym or exercise itself). People don’t mean any harm but they suck you into pointless conversations, phone calls or e-mails. The worst thing is, we allow it to go on because we are being polite, feel obliged to or just don’t even realize it is happening.

3. Being all or nothing. Some people hit the gym or train in a martial art like their life depended on it for six months. Then something happens, they miss a week or suddenly can’t do as many sessions any more, and boom they stop doing it. There will be times in all our lives when we can train like monsters and then other times when we struggle to get in one. Consistency is the key over the long term

4. Training with no goal or plan often leads to inconsistent results. This in turn leads to de motivation and then before you know it, you quit

5. Not planning your diary in advance can often leave you with too much work piling up, which in turn leaves you without the time needed to train or exercise

Do you have any regrets?

I try not to have any regrets. In all honesty I don’t have any that come to mind

Why do you train and teach? What drives you?

I have been doing it consistently for most of my life now and can’t imagine it being any other way. It is one of the ways that I define my life and who I am. It has allowed me a greater sense of personal success than pretty much anything else ever in my life. I enjoy training and I enjoy teaching. I am a fairly driven person in that I am a perfectionist and strive to get better in everything I do. I think though, that is the sign of a black belt mentality.

You also arrange one of the UKs largest Mixed Martial Arts competitions: Takedown MMA . When and how did that all start?

Takedown MMA came about because I saw a big problem with the UK MMA scene at that point. Although a fair number of shows were operating around the country, they were all pretty much focused on Pro level fighters. As a gym owner and instructor, I was constantly looking for a fight promotion that I could feed my first time/inexperienced fighters onto without feeling that they would be mismatched. I found this to be really difficult so I started thinking about how difficult it would be to run something dedicated for Amateurs to get their foot on the ladder and build their experience up in a structured way. That was the birth of the first Takedown MMA event which was held mid July 2010. 12 months later, we have held 7 different events and are building up to the biggest amateur MMA event ever held in Europe.

What has been the highlight of this competition?

Every event we have held, the standard of fighters has been amazing and is constantly growing. For those who think amateur MMA is somehow the poor cousin of pro MMA, they could not be more wrong. The talent coming through on the Takedown MMA events is exceptional and truly is going to be the start of some great careers from what I have seen. I believe that for the standard of UK MMA to grow, the amateur scene needs a solid and consistent structure. That is where I see Takedown MMA events coming in.

If someone is in two minds about competing at Takedown, what would you advise them?

If a first time or inexperienced fighter was concerned, I would recommend they come and watch one to see how they are ran differently from any other event. We strive to put the needs of the fighter first, hence why everything is dedicated to the development of the individual and not to how it looks to the spectator. It is because all the fighters and gyms enjoy the event, that we have attracted at least 80 fighters to have taken part in each one. That is also why it is a great event to watch (click here for tickets).

Where can we find out more about the event?

All information on all our events is available online at our website For regular updates, people can follow us on twitter (@takedownuk) or on facebook (Takedown MMA Tournament)

Finally, why do you arrange these events? What drives you?

Some kind of masochistic tendencies I think, as at times they require a lot of effort to run well ha ha. Seriously though, I am happy to be a small part in helping develop MMA in the UK. As I said before, “we all stand on the shoulders of giants”. I am simply trying to take what others of done brilliantly and keep pushing to try and take it that little bit further. Hopefully, people will view what I am doing in a positive light and see that my aims are to push the sport forward nationally for the benefit of all

Many thanks for your time Stuart and for the candid answers

Thanks for the interview Liam, I hope it reads well and is what you were looking for.

Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

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