ENTER THE CAGE
Every month, the Leeds Cage will be writing a column in the Urban Echo highlighting the growing trend of mixed martial arts. Whether you are a fan of MMA, UFC or even WWE, Leeds Cage will be giving training tips and fighting techniques for all aspiring mixed martial artists. Keep the fighting in the cage!
Leeds Cage is the culmination of many years training and there are many gyms in different locations around West Yorkshire under many different names. At Leeds Cage we have been at our present location for over six years and we have every intention of staying here with two large matted areas, a cage, a ring, weights and conditioning equipment. When someone first enters the gym, they instantly feel the atmosphere, the feeling of being in an old school fighter’s gym. The people that train are friendly and devoid of ego as they wish to work hard and learn and develop their skills. We are relaxed and the joking and casual banter knows no bounds. One can say anything and if it’s with good humour and no malice, it’s all cool at the cage, just like it should be.
My name is John C. Higo and l am the chief instructor, but personally l prefer the term ‘coach’. My coaching responsibilities are shared with my good friends Faisal Nathani, Neil Longthorne and Michael Rodgerson and together we make a good solid team. My own martial arts journey started many years ago when I had my first fight in the ring in 1968 at the tender age of twelve. I started as a boxer and trained until 1972. From there l went into karate and Atemi-Jitsu until 1976 and later kickboxing, or as we then called it, full contact karate. The kickboxing style was similar to boxing but with the inclusion of kicks above the waist. This became my passion and was deemed at the time to be the combat sport of the future. Over the years l competed on many occasions and enjoyed every minute of it. We didn’t get paid and on some days we actually had to pay to take part whilst working full time to feed the family. We were not looking at turning professional as we did it because we liked to fight and train martial arts. l suppose it was guys like me that laid the bedrock of what the sport could be and l do not regret that money wasn’t made available then as my aim was to be a good martial artist / fighter and nothing more.
I constantly hear that the Leeds Cage is a cage fighting gym! Nobody in our sport refers to this art form as ‘Cage fighting’. We train Mixed Martial Arts and our aim is to become proficient at all ranges of unarmed combat. Mixed martial arts is not just for people who wish to compete as I see it as a fitness regime for anyone and everyone. It is interesting, technical and self-challenging and something you can continue training most of your life. I do often say that martial arts is a mirror that helps you see the real you! Through hard physical challenging training, you really do get to see what you are made of. Your flaws and your positive points are identified in the process and once you realise the pros and cons, only then can you address them to become a better you!
Next month we will go more into depth about mixed martial arts with fitness tips and the basics of entering the cage with physical and mental training.
John C. Higo
Chief Instructor, Leeds Cage