Our Guest Today: Nate Delong
Please welcome Nate Delong to the feisworld podcast! Nate competed at the 2014 World Muay Thai Federation Championship on Team USA and took Gold Metal for the Pro AM (Pro/Amateur) Heavy Weight Division.
According to Wikipedia: “Muay Thai is a combat sport of Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. It is characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees, shins, being associated with a good physical preparation that makes a full-contact fighter very efficient.”
Like many of us, Nate has a full-time job. He is a producer at SapientNitro, an advertising agency based in Boston, MA. In this podcast, you will learn about how Nate was able to balance work and his passion to compete on the international stage.
Nate was introduced to me by Matt Lindley. Matt is my hero and a wonderful guest who appeared on a previous episode of the feisworld podcast.
If you have listened to some of my previous episodes, it is no secret that I’m a dedicated martial arts practitioner as well. The desire to interview someone like Nate is obvious. But why should you care, or how does this interview benefit you in any way?
Ironically enough, much of the learning as a martial artist can apply to a regular office job. Not the fighting (of course) but strategies that help you improve your interpersonal skills, reading and understanding your clients, managers, peers, even at interviews – what/how can you learn about the person you are speaking to in a split second and respond effectively?
As a fellow martial arts practitioner, I compiled a list of questions I wanted to ask Nate. Whether you are seriously pursuing a career in martial arts or not, I hope you find these questions somewhat intriguing:
- How did Nate prepare himself for the World Championship in Thailand?
- In just 3 months, how did he peak his performance and condition himself to be in the best competition shape?
- What type of fighter is Nate, and what is his competition philosophy?
- How does Nate study his opponents prior and during the competitions?
- How did he overcome fear, pressure, other mental and physical challenges during practice and then on stage?
- What are the counterintuitive learnings that significantly improved Nate’s ability to win?
- How did Nate cut down 14 lbs 24 hours before his the first tournament weigh-in? (Not recommended for individuals without consulting healthcare professionals.)
- What are some of the interesting discoveries on the international stage?
- What is Nate like in everyday life? Where did he grow up?
- What’s Nate’s advice for people who want to compete in martial arts?
- What’s next for Nate?
Check out the promotional video of Nate’s documentary: “Under the Lights in Thailand” By Jesse Maddox, who followed Team USA in the 2014 World Muay Thai Championships in Thailand.
“There’s a certain ‘mileage’ you have to meet as an athlete and you have to hold yourself accountable. When I get tired, I push myself even harder.” – Nate Delong
In order to push his own limits, Nate motivates himself by “paying the price now in order to avoid the pain and injuries later.”
The international stage is very different than competing in your own country. “You see many political rivalries among athletes and referees. But a fighter is fighter.”
A very interesting factor in competing internationally is that people’s cultures and nationalities really do show up in their styles of fighting. For example, most Thai fighters start slow for the first 2 mins to study their opponents. When they attack, they pay close attention to how their opponents strike back.
Speaking of disappointment, there is no Thai fighter at the Heavy Weight Division (95 kilograms / 201 lbs). Nate’s opponents were mostly from Russia, and some from Brazil. Don’t be fooled, these countries raised some of the toughest, most talented and dedicated athletes anyone has ever seen.
Nate is what I’d like to call an “openminded” martial artist. Instead of seeking instructions from a single style, Nate also learned Kung Fu, Jujitsu and Karate. Having a primary style to focus on and supplement his knowledge with secondary learnings improved Nate’s game and sharpened his eyes to observe the micro movements from different fighters.
At 31, Nate still has a few years left before the cutoff for Muay Thai competition at 35. What is he up to next?
“As I get older, I focus less on agility and more on strategy. I feel the responsibility for defending my title when I can. If I stop training even for a short while, I get agitated. This is what I will say: I will keep doing this as long as I still love the art.” – Nate Delong
Beside competition, Nate loves teaching other people at his gym Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts. He gives little hints to other practitioners so that they can use and get better at their games.
Special thanks to Mark Nardone from SitSuphanSouth Muay Thai Academy who spotted Nate to compete on the US Team.
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Welcome to the FES world podcast, engaging conversations that crossed the boundaries between business, art and the digital world.
Fei Wu 0:18
Hello, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Welcome back to the face world podcast and I am your host Faye Woo. Please welcome Nate the lawn to the face world podcast. Nate competed at the 2014 world Moy Thai Federation championship on Team USA, and took gold medal for the pro m, which is pro amateur heavyweight division. Wikipedia states that Moy tie is a combat sport of Thailand that uses stand up striking along with various clinching techniques. It is characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees, shins, being associated with a good physical preparation that makes a full contact fighter very efficient. Like many of us, Nate has a full time job. He’s a producer, SAP and nitrile, and advertising agency based in Boston, Massachusetts. In this episode, you will learn about how he was able to balance work and his lifelong goal to compete on the international stage. I would like to thank Matt Lindley very much for introducing Nate to this podcast. Matt is my hero, and a wonderful guest who appeared on a previous episode of the face world podcast. If you have listened to some of my previous episodes, it is no secret that I’m a dedicated martial arts practitioner as well. So the desire to interview someone like Nate is obvious, but why should you care? And how does interviewer benefit you in any way? Ironically, much of the learning as a martial artist can apply to regular office jobs, not the fight, of course, but the strategies that help you improve your interpersonal skills, reading and understanding your clients, managers peers, even at interviews, what and how can you learn about the person you’re speaking to quickly and respond effectively? So here are some examples of the questions I asked Nate, how did they prepare himself for the world championship in Thailand? In just three months? How did he pique his performance and condition himself to be in the best competition shape? Ever? What type of fighter is Nate? And what is competition philosophy? How does the study’s opponent prior and during the competitions? How did they overcome fear, pressure and other mental challenges during practice, and then on stage? Last but not least, what are the counterintuitive learnings of significantly improved knees ability to win? Without further ado, I would like to welcome Nate to the phase world podcast. You don’t have to take notes furiously. Remember that the show notes, the stories all the tools and resources are on my website at phase world.com F EISWORL. D. If you enjoy this episode, I welcome that you check out the other episodes on the FES world podcast as well. And I would mega appreciate that you would consider writing a review for my podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. Please welcome Nate Dovan. Don’t waste yourself. What’s your style? So welcome to the face world podcast, Nate. Thanks for having me. I’m really excited because I feel like I don’t really know all that much about you just yet. So I’m actually learning about you as we go along cool during this podcast. So if I may recall, we met during last years, the event friends for Boston homeless. And it was sponsored by Matt Linley along with a number of other board directors there. And he pointed you to me I remember we’re on the second floor and I was stuffing my face with I don’t know, respiratory ice cream. And he said that guy for you got to talk to that guy, and he competed in Muay Thai and represented the country and there you go. So, um, I would love to hear that story from you. So what was this recent competition and win that you just had?
Nate Delong 4:45
Well, I guess it’s not that recent. Like it was. Last March. I got invited to fight for team USA in the world more Thai Federation championships in Thailand, which was like a crazy experience, crazy opportunity. And I went over there with the expectation that I might do okay. I just really wanted to kind of see what, see where I stood as a fighter. And I ended up winning the Pro Am tournament for 91 kilograms this the heavyweight division? And it was it was crazy. I don’t know, I wasn’t expecting it to happen to happen. I don’t know, it’s just been a wild ride. Colin, did
Fei Wu 5:34
you train for that competition?
Nate Delong 5:37
Well, I was training kind of just my regular practice routine. And I made the decision to go. I got the invite, maybe in November, last November. And then I officially accepted it. January 1, so I was training every day or twice a day from January 1 Until we left March 12 or March 8, to go to Thailand. So just about three months.
Fei Wu 6:09
What was that training twice a day? Like? I mean, just give us a sense, you have a full time job, which we’re going to review pretty quickly. Yeah.
Nate Delong 6:17
The training, I mean, there’s so many different ways of doing it to a two day session might be start at 6am. And do you know a couple mile run five runs jump rope five runs on the bag, five runs, hitting pads, five run, clinching five runs barring, go to work, finish work, go back to the gym and do the same thing. ran a lot of stairs, Harvard stadium steps and Summit Avenue Hill. So it was cold.
Fei Wu 6:49
No doubt about that were in
Nate Delong 6:51
Boston. And the craziest thing about it was I got myself in, in what I thought was World Class competition shape. And then I got to Bangkok. Everyone was equal. And so once I was in Thailand, I had to step it up again another level which was very physically challenging, but very rewarding at the same time.
Fei Wu 7:13
So I want to go back even before the what do you call that will be the US team training before January? What was your regular training like compared to your your competition training?
Nate Delong 7:26
Well, I I trained for fun, I live like a mile from the Y crew gym in Austin. I’ve been fighting for them for I guess, almost seven years, six years. So I’ve had different roles there. I’ve worked there, fought there, I’ve trained there. So regular training, you know anything from once a week just for fun to four times a week to kind of stay in better shape. So it just kind of like would show up and just kind of get loose, learn some new techniques or work on sparring and stuff and I don’t know. So it was kind of just like a regular like, you might just call it like how other people just go to the gym to lift weights or just go to the gym to spar just for fun. But then once it stepped up, it was a lifestyle change.
Fei Wu 8:15
Yeah. Speaking of stepping up, what was that defining moment? What was that knob that you turn to say that hey, maybe I should step up? Did you make that judgment on your own? Or did someone your coach approach you?
Nate Delong 8:30
So the coach of Team USA is crew Mark Nardone is one of the highest ranked Muay Thai authorities in the United States. And he had spoken to me and said that he expected that I would do well in the amateur in the Pro Am tournament and maybe the pro tournament if I chose. And that was a vote of confidence. And then as I started training in, I won an American title a couple years ago, and I knew what that required. And I knew that I wanted to be in at least as good shape as that. And so as I started to undergo the training, I would you kind of get to these points mentally where you say, alright, I’m now equal to what I did before. I know this is good enough to win a title. And then you kind of hear this other voice that’s kind of like Yeah, well, you’re going to the World Championships, maybe you should keep pushing. So keep pushing, keep pushing. Did a lot of a lot of my training by myself, like running stairs at night. And so it’s really just you against the voice in your head. And I just kept saying like you’re going to representing the country you need to be the best possible fighter that you can be and I don’t know I just felt so much pressure that I was pushing. But I guess it turned out to be good mood motivation
Fei Wu 9:59
isn’t true. One thing that you brought up personal training and in this case training on your own, I remember I’m able to quickly invoke the fact that one of the reasons I’m so interesting interview us, I myself had been training in taekwondo with as a Korean form of martial art for the past 1213 years. And growing up, I did Kung Fu and a bunch of different styles and never competed at your level. And a couple of weeks ago, I interviewed my own instructor, Mr. Mike O’Malley, who is a Lifetime Achievement Award. And also in the taekwondo Hall of Fame. We talked about training a lot, and you martial art as a topic is, is the theme in my life, it’s come up every day, multiple times a day, and I’m so glad that we could, we could probably talk all day long, all day, all day. And I’m so curious about training on your own, and to strike for that balance. And it’s so tough, because when I speak with professional athletes, and they say, when you train yourself, you go to two extremes. You either train way too hard or not hard enough. So how do you go about that individualized program for yourself?
Nate Delong 11:11
Well, a lot, a lot of the stuff I do by myself is purely cardiovascular training. So when doing technique and doing that, you know, working with a partner, that that’s much less of a mental exercise because you’re with your teammates, and they’re pushing you. But then there’s a certain level of roadwork, you know, you have to run long distances a few times a week, you have to do short bursts cardio on stairs and hills. And that’s where you really have to hold yourself accountable. There’s some, some people talk about an 80% theory, which is, instead of going as hard as you can, every day, go 80% Every day, and it will, you won’t burn yourself out. I never had the problem of going too extreme, I’d kind of, I just I don’t know, I don’t know where the balance is, I just know that if I don’t do it, I’m gonna get punched in the face or take a knee to the face. So anytime I get tired, just I say, Well, I’m not really tired, you can always go more. So it’s just sort of like the accountability. I’m not afraid that I’m gonna lose, I’m afraid that I’m gonna get hurt. So it’s much easier motivation, you know,
Fei Wu 12:33
when you hit the wall, like, runners at the wall, I think in our training, you know, even at work, we all hit the wall. So how do you motivate yourself to keep going and I find that to be so fascinating, because as much as this is a physical sport, it’s really, really much more of a mental game. Yeah, you have to play during training and more in the competition. Yeah.
Nate Delong 12:59
hitting the wall. I never really, I get physically fatigued. Because running stairs is like hard on the legs and stuff. And you know, you get banged up and sparring and everything, but mentally, if the fights on the calendar I never get, I never hit a mental wall. Because I know that if I do, I’m going to pay for it. So it’s more like when I get to the physical point, a letting yourself take a day off when you need it and to recover is really important. That’s probably a lesson that it’s harder to learn for me is I would always say, Well, I don’t want to take a day off because I don’t want to fall behind. But eventually your body says you need to rest so just listen to yourself, I guess.
Fei Wu 13:48
Yeah, I think that word is trained mindfully like yeah, your body Exactly. Because you have to pay for injuries to that happens, especially closer to the competition that you don’t have time to recovery from recover from. So I was wondering I actually watched some of the YouTube videos that you had. And you know it’s really fascinating because in my eyes trying to analyze your movements as a martial artist clearly I think you’re a heavyweight even though heavyweight isn’t all that heavy in the martial art world. What are some of your signature moves or kicks? Again, not to give it away? No, you’re still competing. I don’t want to give away your trade secrets.
Nate Delong 14:29
Well, no, I don’t. I don’t have a big secret. I have kind of a few things. I’ve built my game around. I love just this Moatize simple round kick right leg. That’s been my bread and butter. I’ve been able to I guess kick powerfully for my weight class. So that coming I said that right? Yeah, that’s so that’s what I’m known for. I guess. My boxing has caught up lately so I have simple Hey, ads that I use to set up the legs, and then I like a few defensive faints, like most people faint and fake on offense. And I like to set up the fake from defense so that if you hit me and I hit you back, and you hit me and I hit you back the same way, when you hit me, I fake like, I’m gonna hit you back a different way and change it. Try to score a point that way. I love the chess game of Muay Thai, but I am not that fancy. I’m pretty simple. I’ve been told I fight economically. So don’t waste a lot of energy, don’t waste a lot of movement and try to set up for the one move that’s going to yield the maximum results, which for me is usually a kick to the leg, body or head. Try to end it.
Fei Wu 15:46
Yeah, I think a defense is just as good if it’s not a better of an offense. And even in taekwondo, I see young kids practice it’s always attack attack, but then after attack, and there’s the counter attack from the opponent, something that gets you that gets you the point. So, you know, I was wondering, a couple of questions that I wrote down here is, I feel like there is that music, there’s a tempo and a little dance in what we do as martial artists. So do you think I mean, what do you do at home like waiting for the food to come out of microwave? Do you listen to shadowboxing
Nate Delong 16:21
constantly. Always shadowboxing a shadow box in the elevator shadow box. I try to do it subtly. When I’m in the subway, I practice footwork a lot. A lot of Moy ties is how your foot touches the ground and how you can move so I turn light switches on and off with my feet. And there’s definitely a rhythm and a pace. Especially in America, a lot of Americans strikers push, push, push, and they’re dancing around especially American kickboxers, bouncing, jumping. But Muay Thai is very, take it slow and rhythmic and relax and stalk your opponent, which I really like. I just want to go back to your point about defense. I like that. And I, I found that yeah, a lot of people attack attack attack. But in a way, defense can be almost more demoralizing to your opponent. If someone’s attacking you as hard as they can, and you’re calmly absorbing the shots. It was wild. I saw this fight in Thailand, it was the Russian Super Heavyweight versus the Thai super heavyweight for the world championship. And the Russian fighter was built more powerfully and much more aggressive than the Thai fighter. And he was pushing and attacking and attacking, attacking by the third round. The guy was so tired that when the Thai fighter finally went on offense you wanted easily. And I don’t know sometimes when they said the best offense is a good defense, something like that.
Fei Wu 18:00
Yeah, something like that. And that’s a strategy right there. And I think when you compete, shoot strategy isn’t. I don’t want to say it’s everything, but it’s such a core component. So how long is the competition? How many rounds you have to so I get a sense.
Nate Delong 18:17
So it’s the amateur competition is three rounds, two minutes each. Pro pro m is three rounds, three minutes each. And a pro fight is five rounds, three minutes each.
Fei Wu 18:32
And you are the pro in Pro Am champion yet
Nate Delong 18:34
I entered the amateur tournament. And I lost in the semifinals against Russia. I have come to accept the loss. Now. I’ve watched the video and I’m not sure I lost the fight. But, you know, Alexander leavin tough the Russian fighter who beat me very strong, very good clinch. It was sort of turned into a clinch versus striking match. And it was really close. I lost by I think a point.
Fei Wu 19:04
So it’s a political game. You know,
Nate Delong 19:07
it definitely was, you know, on the international stage, I gotta say, there was something like 40 countries represented. And you see political rivalries. I mean, Russia thought Ukraine. You know, you see fighters from Europe fighting fighters from the Arab world and the crowd pick sides, you know, and depending on what country that referees from the junk, there’s, there’s all kinds of political stuff. So I definitely tried to not think about that. I mean, the fighter is a fighter is a fighter. And I think in the ring, there’s there’s not biases going on, but there’s definitely political undertones to international competition for sure.
Fei Wu 19:51
Absolutely. I think some of my audience might not be as aware of that situation as we are. I’m fully aware and I think it’s It’s really crazy, because at that stage, right, people are so close in skills in skill sets and training. And it’s a times he has argued, difficult to judge, but in martial art is not so black and white. I like running competition. You know, you have a camera, you can see you even that, you know, even some competition is black and white is running, you still get into these political debate very easily. And I like your mentality of thinking, being a fighter going out there, do your best and have a good time. Do you think you’re like that all the time?
Nate Delong 20:37
I don’t know. I try not to get too emotionally swayed. You know, when I first started fighting, actually even up into going to Thailand, every fight, I would kind of like, take it so seriously, which isn’t necessarily bad. But I would, it was almost like, tensing up. And you know, oh, my God, it’s a killer be killed situate you even though it’s not, but just take it so seriously, because I had an undefeated record for a long time. And I’d never wanted to tarnish it. And when I went to Thailand, in the amateur tournament, the other American fighters had already been eliminated. And I was the last fighter. And I put so much pressure on myself that I don’t want to say didn’t have fun, because I always have fun. But against Russia, I was thinking in terms of the tournament and thinking, there came a point in the fight where I knew I was winning by points. And I decided to, like strategically try to contain my opponent. And I ended up losing because I didn’t try to go for the win. And then later on in the tournament, I when I made it to the finals, I just decided, hey, how many times do you make it to the world finals, I should just relax and have fun. And I approach the fight totally differently. And I said, I’m just going to relax and do my thing. And I ended up having a much better fight. Because I hadn’t put the pressure on myself. So definitely, it was a lesson learned.
Fei Wu 22:18
It’s so funny in comparison, even when I go from my color to bill to drinks and my school, I could just get very tense with people watching. I mean, that is would be five 1% of the pressure you’re facing. I like you know, you’re you’re clearly a very intelligent guy. Oh, shucks. So I wonder if you study your opponent, and opponents in this case, and challenges of people you never fought with before, right? At the International Station never met. But do you study? Do you go to their Wikipedia page?
Nate Delong 22:54
Yeah, well, the the interesting thing. Internationally, this was kind of I sort of knew this, but I realized that firsthand is that like, a country’s culture and personality comes out in the fighter style. And not in a way to be like, stereotypical. But if you look at a Russian fighter, or a Brazilian fighter, they’re going to fight in a way that sort of reflects their national style. You know, you you take where international tournament, one of the things that’s interesting is all the fighters are basically living together and training near each other. And there, it’s two weeks long of fights all day, every day, from the smallest women to the heaviest men just going in order all day. So you can go to the stadium and see other teams fight and see other countries, but you might not necessarily know who you’re fighting. So in both cases, I didn’t see my opponent until a couple minutes before the fight. So most of what I was doing was trying to study the fighters on the team, see if there was a theme that they had. And if in the States, you know, definitely stalk someone as hard as I can. Yeah, YouTube videos. But yeah, definitely studying opponents trying to find strengths and weaknesses. But against Russia, for example, I didn’t see him until a couple of minutes before the fight. I happen to look out of the window from where I was training and I saw him warming up. And that’s when I made the mental decision to say okay, this guy is just another guy like he’s, he’s the same as me. He’s not like a superhuman or anything and I knew that. All right, we’re probably physically matched. How am I going to beat him and I started to put the game plan together.
Fei Wu 24:57
Can you study your opponent during The competition. And you know, you have three rounds. Can you study for a couple of minutes and see the behavior and readjust your strategy?
Nate Delong 25:08
Yeah, definitely. I think that traditionally, when Thai fighters fight, they go slowly. And the first couple rounds are trying to find the measure of your opponent and a lot of a lot of fighters from don’t have that approach. And they try to come out as aggressively as possible. So I try to control the pace of the fight early. So I can see what the opponent is going to be doing. Is he you know, can he strike from range or his hands better than his legs? Are the elbows a threat or the knees a threat? And then I try to look for a pattern and say, Alright, if I hit him, how does he hit me back? If I hit him a different way? What does he do? Or what is his offense look like? And then I started to look for when I can predict his movements in the pattern, then I can counter effectively. But yeah, definitely study in the States, I always tried to study my opponent. And Thailand was definitely a challenge, because you have to learn it when you’re fighting for the first time.
Fei Wu 26:16
When you were in Thailand. I mean, I don’t know how many Thai guys are your size, and
Nate Delong 26:23
not very many. There were actually no ties in my division. It’s so that my size 91 kilograms, which is 201 pounds, that the game is much different than would be for like my friend and teammate Julian win, fights 154 pounds, his division was the biggest one in the tournament. So the game is a little different at the higher at the smaller size, speed is a big thing. You see a lot of mobility, and agility. And in the heavyweight division, you see a lot more calculation to deliver more power. But yeah, I didn’t, I didn’t get to fight any 200 pound ties. I was looking forward to it. But I looking forward to
Fei Wu 27:15
it. Maybe after the competition. Yeah. You know, I was thinking that when you mentioned Russia, or Brazil, especially to Russia, in my opinion, after watching the TV show when my favorites called the Americans about Russian spies, seeing that guy’s probably 150 pounds that actor, and he kicks so much, but and I’ve seen Russian fighters in boxing and you know, kickboxing, they’re scary. So, I want to make it very clear that, you know, they’re they’re really good fighters all around the world. Even in countries I potentially, you know, people haven’t even heard of so. That’s fascinating. I have another competition related question is whether in training, I guess, separately training and the competition? What are some of the counterintuitive things you learn about yourself about training, you know, because for example, I’ll give you some time to think like, sometimes, I remember when I was going from being a red belt to a black belt in Taekwondo, I hit a little bit of a wall, like, I don’t know, you know, men, it comes to basics, I feel like I nail that. But then when I became a black belt, I realized I had to relearn a lot of the very basics. And certain things I did, um, predicted, Billy, that made me better, like significantly better, there is a exponential growth. What was that for you?
Nate Delong 28:42
That’s a good question. I find it’s more Thai. The system of movements is very simple. It’s very, very, there, there are advanced motions, but for the most part, it’s very simple. So a lot of times, I’ll have one mechanic the same way for years. And then someone who maybe I haven’t trained with that’s looking at me freshly, we’ll just make a small adjustment, and it will change, you know, turn your hips this way or pivot your foot this way. And all of a sudden, it’s changed everything. I think counter intuitively, one of the things that that helped me go from a sort of plateau was that when I was a couple years in, I had won a bunch of fights and ahead ahead, one by TKO, which is like you injure your opponent, and that was, I was fighting with a lot of power. But in my power, I was fighting, not very efficiently because every time I went to try to deliver a powerful kick, I would sort of clench on my muscles and hold my breath a little bit and get really tense and deliver it a big hit as hard as I could and then it would you Use a lot of energy and some crew, Mark Clem. From bonvoy Thai actually came back from Thailand and saw me hitting the pads. And I was trying to impress him by hitting it as hard as I could. And he was like Nate, you look like a crazy person. Like just relax, relax, relax, and I’ve relaxed all my muscles. And it turned out that to deliver more power actually takes less strength, you just have to relax and use better technique, which sounds like it makes sense. But at the time, it didn’t occur to me that trying as hard as I could didn’t make the hit as hard as I could. So
Fei Wu 30:40
makes no sense. Yeah, makes sense to me, because I remember one of the things my instructor, Mr. O’Malley teaches me is Don’t clench up at the beginning. You have to really tense your body everything at the very end. The impact Yeah, exactly. When you hit the opponent, and I watch kids when they tense up the beginning and their final execution is actually much weaker than they could have delivered. Interesting. Wow. I want to talk about your upbringing for a second. Because people people probably so far I’ve heard this tough guy, probably from a tough neighborhood but I know that you’re not from a tough neighborhood.
Nate Delong 31:16
Yeah, I was born in Cambridge Central Square. I grew up in New in mostly went to New North Go Tigers, and then high school and moved to Framingham. When my parents got divorced, went to school in Pittsburgh, so bounced around a little bit. I would say, you know, I got into my fair share of scraps when I was little. got picked on? Yeah, I was a lot skinnier. Right. Yeah. Okay, those
Fei Wu 31:46
people listening to podcasts run now.
Nate Delong 31:50
No, it’s all good enough. No grudges, but it definitely got pushed around a little bit. But I would I always loved fighting. I always loved the science of it. So even if I was getting my ass kicked, I would sort of notice like, Alright, I’m getting punched in the eye. But like, if I move my hand this way, it sets me up to punch back and I started to kind of put it together myself. And then once I started to learn, I studied a little bit of Kung Fu, Wei chi, ru karate for a while where I learned like sparring. And then I learned small circle jujitsu, which is like one of the most brutal street fighting styles. So once and I worked as a bouncer for a long time. Down in Fenway, actually. So applying different techniques in street fight, sort of helped me understand range, aggression. You know, power versus speed and multiple opponents at a time. So then once I transitioned to Muay Thai and like really fighting as a competitive art and then as a professional fighter, just the love of the science and the art is what I gravitate towards
Fei Wu 33:05
Nice. What do you think some of the influences from other martial arts such as kung fu jujitsu, have, you know, sort of changed your game a little bit for one time we’re having, you know,
Nate Delong 33:17
I would say range is definitely something you know, sparring, learning, maybe eight when I was eight or 10 or 12 or 14 years old. Just simple karate sparring, even though the power is not there just seeing what does it look like when someone’s coming at you? What is it? How does it feel free to take a punch to the face or just looking for movements you know, when someone’s attacking you pick up the movement quicker when you see the muscle in their shoulder twitch or the muscle in the hip twitch? So that kind of helped me not freak out, you know you you can recognize things. And then in terms of like, as a as a true fighter as an all around fighter and not specifically Muay Thai, like in a street fight. I’d use a combination of Muay Thai and small circle jujitsu, because the combination of those two is the most powerful and most brutal. But as a Muay Thai fighter, I would say that just being calm and economical is really what the background gave me.
Fei Wu 34:22
Yeah, I’m learning a ton here. And so what are your advice? I guess? What are what are some of the things that you’ve learned? You would like to advice to other youngsters? Whether they’re teenagers where they’re working adults, professionals want to consider competing in martial art in general?
Nate Delong 34:42
Well, I mean, it gives a lot of balance to me. I find it’s a great outlet and I actually went to interviewed for the job here at sapient. They met literally interviewed me and he skipped my whole resume and went right to the bottom and holy shit Muay Thai. champ, and that’s what we talked about the job kind of really got me the job. But, you know, it’s, it’s been great for me, it keeps me in shape. It keeps me accountable. And, you know, before I started fighting, I’m still kind of a lazy athlete in a lot of ways, like my friends, when I trained at the gym, they know that I like to get by with the minimum amount of work, and that, but it has made me realize that I can’t do that. So I always have to hold myself accountable. And that kind of crosses over to the rest of the world. You know, just even when you try to lie to yourself and say, I’m done, I’m tired, I don’t have anything left. You always have something left. When I was in Thailand, I had to cut 14 pounds in 24 hours to make the first tournament weigh in. And I had the sweat suit on and had eaten. And I was just basically running and jumping rope in the tropical sun. And I had been doing it for hours, and I was like, two pounds away. And it was I think six o’clock in the morning the day of the weigh ins. And I said to my teammate, Julian. I said, Dude, I don’t know, I don’t think I have anything left. And he was like, Dude, you have everything left, just keep going. And you can always keep going. That was definitely you can apply that to anything. So martial arts, if you’re trying to get into it, it’s amazing, you find gotta find the right one for you. But definitely teaches you about what you’re capable of.
Fei Wu 36:39
So push the human limits. Yeah, speaking about weight loss just now. Yeah. Why wouldn’t you want to lose the way like two weeks before the competition, but like the day off?
Nate Delong 36:51
Well, there’s several different strategies. And in a way, it’s sort of a dice roll. So ideally, you want to how to explain this. So the way in is the day before or the day the Tournament starts, you have to be at weight, and the day of the fight, you have to be at weight. So ideally, you want to be a little bit above the weight, lose it with water, and then rehydrate yourself. So when you step in the ring, you’re actually a little bit heavier than the number. So there’s pluses and minuses, some people think if you’re fighting at 91 kilograms, you should train to exactly 91 kilograms. And you’ll be strong and relaxed and like well nourished the day of the fight. Some people like me think you should be just a little bit above sacrifice to get down. And if you can recover quickly, you’ll actually be bigger. The downside to that is if you don’t play it, right, and if you don’t time it right, then you’ll be weaker. If you can’t, I’m used to doing it, because I’ve done it for fights in the States. So I can recover and I know what my body takes to do it. But if you time it wrong, and you end up losing too much weight, or you don’t dehydrate correctly, then when you get in the rink to fight, you’ll be dehydrated and stiff and probably lose, I got lucky because the tournament bracket was drawn randomly. And I was gambling that as a heavyweight, I was going to be towards the end of the schedule of fights. So I’d have time to lose the weight for the first way and then train down while still getting higher cardio, and then cut again. And it just happened that I was perfectly timed to be recovered for the times of the fight. So it paid off for me but it was definitely 14 pounds and 24 hours is not easy. That was that was a serious challenge. I was running on the beach at like 4am in a sauna, a sauna suit. But it got to the point where I knew exactly what point I’d have to run to lose exactly how much weight so on the final weigh cut, I knew if I ran five miles away to the beach and back, then I would be exactly on point so physically challenging for sure.
Fei Wu 39:31
Definitely. What is the life span of Muay Thai and I guess that’s another way to to ask you the questions. How long do you want to be in this competition? How long do you see yourself?
Nate Delong 39:43
You know, I just turned I’m about to turn 31. And I’ve been asking myself that question. I don’t feel old. I feel I feel powerful.
Fei Wu 39:57
You’re not old. Let me just clarify. Thanks. You’re on the same day.
Nate Delong 40:01
I don’t, I don’t feel beat up or anything. I feel like my style has changed as I’ve gotten older, and I’ve relied less on agility and more on strategy. But I still feel powerful that the international cutoff for tournament competition is 35. And, you know, I’ve thought about stopping, but the thing is, when I don’t train, I don’t know, I’m, like agitated and need the outlet. And people, when you’re a fighter, and you want a couple titles, people are aware of you, and they know that you’re out there. So they gun for you kind of so if I go to a fight. People know, not necessarily who I am, but they know I have a title. And I feel a certain responsibility that if I have the title, I should be ready to defend it. And I don’t plan on losing it. So as long as they have it, I’m going to try to be ready for it to at least certain extent, you know, and then once there’s a fight on the schedule, I go crazy. But I just I never want to be at the point where I sort of stopped because we put it this way, I’m gonna keep doing it, as long as I love the art, and I still love the art. So
Fei Wu 41:24
when that point comes for all of us in whether, you know, just changes happen in life, and you could have other pursuits as well. Do you think you’d be interested in training other people as a coach, or
Nate Delong 41:38
definitely I have, I have been sort of working for my membership for the team. Part of that means that you help out as a teacher, you hold pads. And I’ve been training some fighters. So I love doing it. The only thing the only downside to it is it takes time away from my own training. So I love teaching people and I love to give like, little little hints that they can then using and I watch them get better, but then it’s sort of like when you’re teaching someone else, you can’t get better yourself. So I like it. I need to find the balance. Exactly.
Fei Wu 42:19
So we’re running just a little bit out of time. It’s almost like noon exactly. I want people to really learn about you. And I want people whether they work in agency consulting, finance, law firms who know that you could have other pursuits outside of work, you know, for me, is podcasting for you Muy Thai. And I want what are some of the channels outlets that people can learn more about? You follow? You
Nate Delong 42:47
actually does kind of cool. When I was there on the way out of the building. Matt literally said, you know, we should really put a GoPro on your head or something while you’re going there. And lastly, you know, a friend of mine lives in Bangkok, and he’s a film producer. You know, what’s it going to cost to, to get a camera for a couple of days. And, you know, the Thai rate is much lower. So, we ended up having a film crew in bed with the team for the whole tournament. We produce a documentary that’s coming out. I think in January, it’s called under the lights in Thailand. I’ll send you the link for the trailer. But definitely check that out. It’s got some sick Muay Thai footage in there. Some awesome fights, some great knockouts in and you get to see kind of what we did for the international tournament. is I have a couple fights on YouTube, you can check out
Fei Wu 43:46
and I will make those YouTube videos and the trailer if I can share on the blog post. Yeah, sure. And what about Facebook? Twitter, I know you’re pretty active there. Ah,
Nate Delong 43:56
yeah. You know, at DJ detonate on Twitter, do the DJ thing run cutting class records? Yeah, just need to log on Facebook hit me up. Yeah, you have a fan page. Not actually, I don’t have a fighter fan page. I don’t know fighting sort of the K it’s like just it’s a thing that I do that I love. But it’s not like my public face. kind of you know what I mean? Yeah.
Fei Wu 44:21
So you want to be you? Yeah. Awesome. This was super fun. Thank you so much. Thanks for having
Nate Delong 44:25
me. This was awesome.
Fei Wu 44:31
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