Nate Delong: Muay Thai Champion and full-time Producer (for real?!)
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.
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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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