Bang to the beat of a drum….

What do you feel like when the theme tune to Rocky is played….I can see you throwing punches out into the air and skipping on your toes, everyone’s mood changes when you hear rocky!  I sometimes sense when the kickboxing class is dropping and feeling tired I will put the rocky theme on and hey presto the class lights up and finishes the session on a high with no signs of stopping; that’s the power of music.

Ever since I started training I have used music to help me along; in my solo training as a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s I used whatever songs that inspired me. I used to tape things off the TV or radio (top 40, Sunday nights, trying to cut it off before anyone spoke) and if I could find a soundtrack in Woolworths or HMV I would pick songs and so a tape to tape copy (I was a posh kid that had a double cassette, one that would play and the other play and record). My mega mix would then be taken outside and plugged into an extension cable from my shed so that I could put my cassette recorder outside and work-out to the music.

My work out tapes were a thing of legend; I had top gun tracks like Highway to the danger zone followed by You’ve lost that loving feeling and Great balls of fire; then onto my Rocky IVmix and training montage (that went on forever!) I leapt onto the Last Dragon, a cult martial arts film starring Bruce Leeroy, lol, fighting against the Shogun of Harlem, and finishing off with Footloose tracks to see me to the end of my 60 minute workout. The reason these songs are so clear in my head to this day (because I am so old) was that each song had a set of techniques that I would do until the song faded out… boy did they drag some of those songs out! The training montage in Rocky IV was about 6 min’s 40 sec’s long and I would roundhouse kick the bag left than right for the whole song and tried to keep the beat correct without slowing down or stopping!

Any music can be used to help your training. One time we were doing a demo were I would do a very slow sword drawing kata with Japanese flute music in the background only to replace it with operation blade from the Vampire Hunter film Blade. One of my black belts Rob said he can’t listen to that tune without thinking of my sword demo! A lasting memory inspired by a song.
I watched my eldest daughter ballet dance on stage to Ellie Gould’s version of the Elton John classic Your Song, our wedding song. Every time I hear the song my eyes fill up because all I can see is Molly dancing like an Angel! (Wipe key board!)

When I was younger (ooh yes I was) I won a prize at school and bought a book called ‘Uniforms of the Elite forces’ as I have always been interested in guns and military. In the book you see a US Marine drill sergeant putting grunts through an assault course which they used as footage to enlist new marines; the bit that stuck in my head was the music was somewhat ironic as it was, “I never promised you a rose garden, “which I thought was the funniest thing I had heard of at the tender age of 10!

You will still find me putting on the country CD and make people do conditioning to Dolly Parton’s  9-5and Kenny Rodgers Coward of the County;  they say they hate it but they do sing along, lol. I have lost a few CD’s over the years – I am sure someone stole them because they were so good!
Lots of Martial Arts use music to help keep the rhythm of the fighting or when training Capoeira. In Thai boxing they use music to keep the training correct and in time so why can’t anyone that trains use music to make them train better, harder and keep the rhythm of the training?
Everyone today has much better ways to listen to music than back in the dark ages when I started training, so use music to motivate you to work-out and keep you going; sometimes you will get a much better workout with music than without. Sometimes my Saturday afternoon MMA Conditioning sessions feel like a wedding reception without the buffet, with a mix of 60’s and 70’s music right the way to the end of the night hardcore tunes – I must remember to but in a real slow one just for the warm down like the last dance where all the couples that have not talked to each other all night drag unwilling partners to the dance floor for a slow shuffle on the tiles before they argue about missing time at the bar because they were dancing…..
I just recently had my little ones class (4-8 years old) warm up to Gangnam style and blocked to Rocky. If it is good enough for them it’s good enough for me!
Don’t stop punching when Rocky’s on!
See you next time
John Atkin

To find out more about The Advanced Fighting Centre visit: or e-mail John Atkin at

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