Clan Wars 17

Any excuse to get the tops off

Any excuse to get the tops off

We are just a few weeks away from Clan Wars 17. The event is in the Ramada Hotel on the 24th of November and a few of the ZKJ boys will be there representing the club.

Anyone who has ever been to the Dojo knows Carl “King Carlos” McNally and Aaron Kennedy. Carl is hard to miss because I think he actually lives in the Dojo and as for Aaron.. Well, he is the Dojo poster child. Like, literally.. He is on the posters and flyers. Those ones that the ladies from the girls class keep stealing.

Clan Wars 17 is a big night for both Aaron and Carl. I mean, I don’t think any night when you step into an octagon and go toe to toe with someone can ever be considered a normal night, but this one is even more out of the ordinary.

These fights are the Ulster championships and will crown the Ulster champion in each weight category. The local champions will then go on to the all-Ireland championships and from this the Irish team will be chosen for the World championships that will happen next July at the UFC fan expo in Las Vegas….

So.. Y’know.. No pressure lads.

Both Carl and Aaron have a 4 – 1 record in MMA and both they and everyone in the club wants to see those records become 5 – 1 on the 24th.  Carl is fighting Ross Corriston at Bantamweight (61kg) and Aaron is fighting Glen Irvine at welterweight (77kg). Both opponents are from NGNI in Ballymena.

For those of you that don’t know, our coach is the director of the Mixed Martial Arts Federation of Ireland (MMAFI) . You can read a bit more about what Danny has been doing for the MMAFI here. We all know how hard Danny works coaching the club and making sure these fighters are ready to step into the octagon in the first place, but it’s important to recognise the work he is doing in the background to ensure that these opportunities happen for the fighters in the first place.

These fights are clearly a great opportunity for Aaron and for Carl and for the club as a whole. There was a great representation from the club at Clan Wars 16 and it was a great evening. I will be there again for this one . I am looking forward to it and I hope to see you there.


To gi or not to gi…

Yeah.. I’m gonna get hit for that title aren’t I? Ah well, couldn’t resist.

So as of this month, Thursday night has changed from being the hard-core circuits class to being a gi class.

For people of my generation, when you hear the word Karate, you probably, somewhere deep in your subconscious, have this image.

Danny and Carl

Danny and Carl


In my head, the gi and martial arts are intrinsically linked. That’s just what you associate with karate, if you’re as old as me. The funny thing is, when I look around the dojo, I realise that when we vector in the fact that this year is the 20th anniversary of the UFC, a significant number of the people there are young enough to have never known that martials arts existed in any format other than cage based fighting between two almost naked sweaty muscular men, which is clearly not homo-erotic in any way whatsoever…

Its a mans game

Its a mans game


I personally have never really done any martial arts before joining the Dojo, rather late in life, so last night was the first time I had ever worn a gi. Obviously I hadn’t got a clue what I was doing, but it was a lot of fun. The gi basically gives you a lot more to grab on to and it certainly works your grip strength. I’m pretty sure everyone who was there last night will have sore forearms today.


It changes grappling a lot too. If you know what you’re doing I’m sure it’s a dramatic difference, but even for a total novice like me, it was fascinating to see the differences. I actually found that in some ways it allowed me to use the fact that I am pretty big and heavy to my advantage. Of course when paired with someone of the same height and weight and an infinitely higher skill level, i.e. Pete, this resulted in me being pinned against a wall and choked out with the gi itself. I then had something done to me that I remember very clearly from playing street fighter 2 in the arcade in the Belfast Superbowl. That thing that Ken (or maybe it was Ryu) did where he rolled backwards and did a throw with his foot in his opponents stomach really works.


I also learned last night that Rowan has some strange physical or mental instability that makes it physically impossible for him to tap out. Even when Danny had him pinned down with a belt around his neck and no apparent way of escape, he still doesn’t tap. Actually the very notion that you can take your belt off and use it as a weapon with which to choke your opponent is something I find vaguely hilarious. Perhaps I’m the one with the mental instability.


Anyway.. For anyone who fancies trying it out, there are a few spare gi tops down in the Dojo. I had to borrow one last night but I can firmly say that I will be buying one before the next class.

Oh.. and for anyone missing the circuits.. You can get your fix at 8:30am on Saturdays… See you there.

Everyone have a good summer?

Well it’s nearly September. The kids are back to school next week and life down at The Dojo will be back to the full normal routine.

From next week, the full schedule of classes will be running and this features a few changes, a few new classes and all the old favourites in there too.  

For the adults, there is literally something there for you every day of the week now so monthly membership makes all the more sense. The full class list is here on the website, or on the Facebook page, but I’ve also pulled together a downloadable / printable timetable which you can download by clicking here.  

For the kids, classes are as normal, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6:30 to 7:30 for the younger ones (P1 to P4) and 7:30 to 8:30 for the older ones (P5 +).   There is also a Saturday morning class at 10am. This class will now be a permanent feature so bring the kids down. The Saturday class is also a great time for you parents to take advantage of the free childcare opportunity and get your own gear on for a Saturday morning workout. If you haven’t been down to the Dojo lately, there is a new rowing machine, treadmill, exercise bikes and lots more weights so shake off the Saturday morning cobwebs with a wee session yourself.  

Or, of course, you could do as some members have (not naming any names) and use this time to nip off to the sunbed for a bit. Y’know, if you’re that way inclined.  

OK, so onto the adults and out of chivalry we shall put the ladies first. The ever popular girls Tuesday night class, after a few time changes, is now running in the 8pm to 9pm time. In addition to the Tuesday night class there is now a new class on Monday morning for the ladies and this will be from 9:30 to 10:30am. What better way to start off the week?

Finally, the main classes. First up, we want to point out that while there are the dedicated women only classes, the rest of the classes are for men and women. Everyone is welcome and while the main classes have traditionally been quite male dominated, the girls are very welcome. Ladies, if you don’t want to come along for the sparring or wrestling classes to begin with, at least take advantage of the more fitness based classes to break yourself in “gently”.

Morning classes are now on 4 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) so for the early risers, get down to the dojo for 6am (or 8:30am on Saturday)  and make the rest of your day seem easy by comparison. These are all fitness, circuits and conditioning classes.  

Evening classes are as before from 8:30 to 10pm on Mondays, Wednesday and Thursdays and from 6:30 – 8:00pm on Tuesday. There are a few minor changes to the evening classes…  

Monday night: Pads and stand-up technique classes.
No change here and the best way to start a new week.  

Tuesday night:  Karate Jutsu for MMA sparring technique
This is a “new” class which is sparring technique and will run before the ladies class from 6:30 to 8:00. There had previously been a Tuesday night sparring classes that was more for the fighters, but this class is now open to all and will teach you a little more about sparring and how to do it right. For those adults who have been attending the fitness classes or the technique classes but nervous about sparring, well this is a great way to get started and come along and learn how to do it.  

Wednesday night: Grappling
For the last few weeks, Danny has been specifically focused on teaching more techniques and drilling them. The grappling classes can seem tough and daunting, especially for the beginners, but now is a better time than ever to get your ass down on a Wednesday night and start learning what to do when you end up on the ground.  

Thursday night: Gi Night!
For a while Danny has been talking about bringing back the gi and for Thursday nights this will now be happening. We will do a full post about the gi and the gi classes soon, but for now, just come down and try it out. Danny has a few spares in the Dojo for those who want to try it out or you can pick them up in decathlon or Sports Direct for around £20. Don’t buy then £100 ones, there is no need, and you will be all the more gutted if it gets ripped while someone is choking you with it.  

Finally, the main Sunday sparring session which has traditionally run from 4pm to 6pm will be moving to a new morning time of 10am. It will still be the usual two hours of full sparring but means that the older folks can spend more quality time with the family on a Sunday evening and the younger ones will just have to spar with a few Saturday night cobwebs.  

So, new season, new classes, new times. There is something there literally every day and twice a day more often than not. There’s never been a better time to get back into the Dojo and bring along some friends. See you there.