MMA / Grappling Interview - Nathan Leverton - Leicester Shootfighters Team

I recently had the pleasure of chatting to Mr Nathan Leverton of the Leicester Shootfighters fame. Nathan is a warrior and a gentleman and in this multipart interview you will gain some insight into his philosophy, training ethos and tips for part time grapplers.


- Hello. Why don’t we start by you telling us a little about yourself?

Hi, thanks for having me.

My name is Nathan Leverton, I'm head coach of the Leicester Shootfighters team and founder of Leverage Submission Grappling which is the system we teach at our academy.

I started my martial arts journey in Karate around 1985 but now teach the elements of MMA, with a focus on the grappling aspect.

- Are you currently working? Is that Full time / Part time?

I'm very fortunate to say that martial arts is my job. I teach classes, privates and seminars for a living.

- You also set aside time to practice a sport. Which sport(s)?

Only sport I'm involved in is MMA and it's component arts and that is primarily coaching. When I'm able to I train the no-gi grappling arts for myself.

- How long have you done that?

I first got interested in grappling when I saw UFC 1 in 1995. Being from a striking background I didn't really understand what was going on when they rolled around on the floor but closely followed the rise of what was then called NHB (No Holds Barred) or "Vale Tudo" but is now widely known as MMA.

In the late 90s I met and became friends with Geoff Thompson, one of the UK's most influential martial artists whose students competed in this countries earliest MMA events, which is where I got my first hands on experience of grappling. At the same time I became involved with the start of Submission Fighting UK (SFUK), the UKs first Mixed Martial Arts website, so have been around grappling and MMA for about 15 years now.

- Have you competed much?

No. I did a couple of grappling tournaments about 10 years a go. I was never really interested in competition and have had chronic health problems since my teens so have never been athletic or able to train as much as I'd like. Last year I was in Paris with some of our competitors for the NAGA Europeans so did throw my hat in to the ring so to speak, seeing as I was there anyway.

- Do you feel that you have to compete to get a black belt in combat sports / martial arts?

Different arts, schools and instructors have sometimes contrasting reasons for giving a black belt in their respective arts. How much competition plays in to that entirely depends on who is giving the grade and why. Some may be simply for fighting prowess but others may value different achievements higher. Each can have their own opinion but who are they really to say what others should do. For example, is a blackbelt given for tapping people out in a strictly defined competition arena more worthy as one given to someone who could not do the same but has made the maximum technical growth possible within their physical capabilities against great obstacles and helped others to do the same?

As long as people aren't being deceived or deluded when it comes to their ability to defend themselves and those close to them, each to their own.

- Do you follow any special diet? Do you use any dietary supplements?

I try to stick to a paleo/primal style of eating as much as possible. Basically, I eat plants and animals but avoid dairy, grains, cereals, refined sugar and foods that are highly processed or laced with chemicals.

As for supplements, I've tried quite a lot but now only consistently take fish oils and vitamin D. Occasional ones I use as needed include multi-vitamins, protein powder, l-glutamine and ZMA.

In the past I've found N-Acetyl L-Carnitine and Alpha Lipoic Acid cleared the mental fog which has led me to become interested in nootropics (or "smart drugs"). Been researching it for a while and looking in to trying some different products this year.

I also try to fast, I do a 24 hour food fast once a month.

- How do you manage to fit your training around work, study and family time?

Well, with martial arts being my job I try to squeeze bits of training in here and there while at work and of course I'm always learning when teaching.

Family and social life is a little more difficult as I'm free when they are at work and vice versa, haven't quite got that one figured out yet.

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

I've gotten so much out of martial arts I don't know where to start. It's brought me close friends, taught me about myself, given me the opportunity to help others and taken me to parts of the world I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise.

I spent several years working with a small group of pro fighters from my classes and the surrounding area, collectively known as Team Rough House. I coached them for around 50 fights which led to some pretty amazing experiences such as cornering at UFCs in front of 20,000 people and traveling to many countries including America, Germany, Abu Dhabi and Poland.

However, the greatest thrill is the journey martial arts has taken me on, excited to see where it takes me next.

Part two coming soon :)

ps. All pics except the Rough House one are courtesy of my wife Gen Leverton at



Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

Proudly sponsored by Predator Fightwear: Built for the kill and Brutal TShirt: Made By Grapplers For Fighters

1 comment:

David Tice said...

Nathan Leverton has made some excellent grappling training instructionals that I have. Have learned a lot from them. I live in California and train with some of the best grapplers in the world yet have learned from Nathan's instructionals. I highly recommend them.