Fitness is key at any age, but for 38-year-old champion Lincoln kickboxer Andy Desa (pictured), fresh from the ISKA championships in Alicante, it’s vital.
Desa returned triumphant from the tournament bearing a silver medal. This granted him the nickname the silver centurion. The centurion part comes from his own brand of martial arts centurion freestyle.
Desa says: “I studied different martial arts like karate and kung fu, but I couldn’t find the ultimate fighting style. So I decided to write my own. I combined it with a little bit of each martial art I was a black belt in.”
His victory is considered impressive due to his age. To keep fit, Desa says he tries to mix it up: “I try not to do martial arts and I try to cross train and do some fitness.”
To keep fit for the ISKA championships he went through a strict weekly routine:
“On a Monday I’d run, Tuesdays it would be fitness and sparring, Wednesday I’d do some coaching with a personal trainers, Thursday I’d be sparring again, Friday I would do some circuit running, Saturday I’d run again and Sunday I’d rest.”
The road to Desa’s most recent tournament wasn’t an easy one. Two months prior, he had to deal with a serious injury to his knee.
“Eight weeks before I was going to compete I hurt my knee and the doctors said it was shot and I wouldn’t be able to compete.
“Someone then told me about an anti-inflammatory called Golden Emu Oil. It was like a miracle; without it I wouldn’t have been able to compete.”
When Desa gets into the ring, he has several strategies: “It tends to vary since you usually don’t know who you’re fighting and usually fight whoever turns up.
“But with tournaments with world-class fighters you’ve usually fought before, you just have to work the fight out.” He also has a reason for taking up martial arts:
“I was a frail kid and I was bullied at school. So my parents took me to a karate class. I hated it at first but after a few months I loved it. It gave me loads of confidence.”
Desa also put his skills to use with the RAF when going out to Iraq in 2003, as he taught the unarmed combat display.
“I was a reserve solider in the RAF. I was on the services fighting team and I was going to leave and I was asked to stay on for coaching.
“That way of way of life never leaves you.”