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Alistair Fleming and Kristian Garlick

Alistair Fleming and Kristian Garlick

There are many reasons why people choose to train martial arts; for some it is the discipline and the satisfaction of acquiring new skills, for others it is for self-defence or simply a fun way to keep fit, but for amateur mixed martial artists Kristian Garlick and Alistair Fleming it’s a way of life.

 “I’ve been doing martial arts nearly since I could walk — a long time,” said 22-year-old Kristian.

“Mum got me into Taekwondo years ago and ever since then I’ve been doing martial arts. I’ve done Karate, Jiu jitsu, MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, boxing, name a martial art and I've had a crack at it!”

Kristian, who now has 13 fights on his record will be stepping into the cage again at a mixed martial arts event in Canberra next month.

“It was a bit short notice, but I'm helping out a mate who’s going through some dramas with work and family stuff, so I thought I'd step in and cover for him and keep the card going in Canberra,” said Kristian, whose fight preparation schedule requires some serious dedication.

“At the moment I’m up at 3 o’clock in the morning to go for a six-kilometre jog then here at the gym in the morning. Then I’m off to work and I try and get two-and-a-half hours in of an afternoon and then Saturday and Sundays are either at the gym or I go down to an oval and have a jog and do some pad work — so it's pretty flat out!”

It’s a lot of long hours and hard work, but Kristian wouldn’t trade it for anything.

“Probably only one in ten martial artists might want to jump in the cage, most want to do it as a sport or for fitness — it just takes a different breed to want to get in there,” said Kristian.

“For me, it's the adrenaline. I've jumped out of planes, helicopters, skied, dove with sharks, swam with crocodiles but the adrenaline from cage fighting is just different — it really is… When you get in there, you are locked away, two fighters and one is coming out a winner. I don't know that I'm good enough to make it to the top, but I'm going to give everyone a good run for their money.”

Twenty-six-year-old Alistair Fleming only discovered martial arts five years ago, but he too has been bitten by the fighting bug.

He now has a 3-3 fight record with two more fights coming up in the next few weeks.

“I find it adds some colour, if you're having a grey day if you are just being bored you can come out here train and something interesting will always happen,” he said.

“Even if you are having a bad day with technique and everything isn't working out well for you… It is just enjoyable and there is a significant camaraderie here at the gym, everyone is very open and always willing to talk – it’s great.’

But more than just fighting, Kristian said the gym environment and their teammates help bring out the best in each other.

“I love the atmosphere of fights; everyone is humble and it is just great a great atmosphere to be around. And at the gym too; we run a men's health program most Fridays, we have been trying to help with the men's mental health and just being a buddy system really,” he said.

“We'll just sit down and have a chat about everyday life and the issues you go through, from young teenagers to late adults. Whether that is what you go through being a father, being a partner, being a supporter for the family and all the rest that goes with life.

“We lost someone in MMA who was really close to us and he had some beautiful kids and that rocked everyone in the community, so we are just trying to look after each other the best that we can, just by being there for each other.”

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