Kickboxing in paradise

As promised, I want to get back to the photography part of my ramblings, and as luck would have it, I had a golden opportunity last night to stretch both my camera and my brain.

We went kickboxing.

Well, I say we went kickboxing – what I mean is we went to watch kickboxing.  Sian has made some great friends at a training school she goes to when work allows, and every year there is a meeting at the Barbados Community College, where friends and rivals of different schools, ages, skill levels and countries, commune en masse in order to kick the crap out of each other.

I must confess, I am not a huge fan of the sport myself…I find it a tad too hardcore at times.  As such, I am always more than happy to take the role of photographer to keep my mind on other things – like shutter speeds and apertures and ISOs…rather than the two grown adults knocking seven bells out of each other.


This year, we started with something a little different:

We started with the juniors and wow, they were JUNIOR!  This was the second match between a couple of teeny tots.  It was suprisingly well natured, and the kids did demonstrate some serious technique.  In all it was a fair fight, despite the massive size difference between the two, and the crowd were really supportive of both corners.

I absolutely love the next shot.  We couldn’t hear what the trainer was saying – but the look in the little guys’ eyes is priceless.  Despite the baying crowd, the bright lights, and the fact he has been beating someone up half his size for two minutes, the youngster is totally focused on what his trainer is telling him.  It is, I am told, what this sport is all about: focus.

After the junior round, we moved onto the first adult bout.  I am terribly sorry to say I don’t know anyone outside of our own camp.  There was no card on the evening, so you either knew who the fighters were or you didn’t.  Luckily Sian was on hand to let me know who was who…

Krystal from ‘The Kore’ was up first.  That’s her in the blue corner – and that’s the guy that runs/owns Sian’s training school on the right. His name is Ian and he is a wonderful bloke.  Hard as nails, but still not too tough to sport a pink towel.  Most of our guys fought from the blue corner last night.

From a complete novice’s perspective, I thought Krystal won technically on the first round.  She had a more solid guard, and her kicks and punches seemed to be a lot more precise and calculated.  But by the end of the second round, she was exhausted.

I am never going to say “I’m tired” again.

If you saw Krystal at the end of the third round, you would understand what I mean.  She had given it everything.

Now please – do not take this as a criticism.  These guys are FIT, and they gave their all in the ring.  I cannot imagine how hard it must be to pace yourself in a fight like this.  When someone clocks you one in the nose, it is only natural to go hell for leather and try and hit them back.  This is (obviously) where the discipline comes in, and the fact that the guys even went three rounds, I think, is amazing.

Even this guy struggled the three rounds.  And when you’re as fit as Brook, what chance have us mere mortals got?

Brook actually fractured the other guys’ nose.  So Chris had his bout delayed 15 minutes whilst the ambulance took the poor injured guy to the hospital, and we awaited its return.  He came out and sat in the ring, only to be told to leave again.  That would surely affect your concentration.  But he put in a great bout, but ultimately also fell to fatigue.

The strangest bout of the evening though, was between Nick and James.  This bout was bizarre because, although in a competition and for their official records, both of the guys train together and are firm friends.

Now that’s got to be a spin out.  I couldn’t smash my mate in the face – gloves or not…but these guys went at it with each other, and put on a really good fight.

As you can (hopefully!) see, I really tried to mix up my shots as much as possible on the evening.  One of the hardest things about shooting something like this, is getting good exposure and sharp photos.  Mercifully, the gym was pretty well lit, so I was able to shoot with quite fast shutter speeds (160th/125th) which just about freezes the action.  I had my ISO cranked to 3200 on both my D700 and D800, so noise (the horrid speckles and dots) has started to creep into some of the photos – fine when small, like this, but when you zoom in and blow the pictures up, you will really notice it.

Were it not a lot of the guy’s first fights, and had I planned it properly, I would have definitely mounted two flashes in the overhang above the ring.   I think I have achieved everything I can with the ambient light, and am keen to try mounting some strobes in the ceiling….maybe I could convince the guys to allow that next year.

The other really annoying thing is those bloody ropes.  I cannot tell you how many times they tripped my focus, or cut off a face as the fighters move around so quickly on their feet.  Next time, I will take a small step ladder so I can be almost eye level with the combatants…but of course, I will need to get permission from the organisers, and more importantly this guy:

Because if he wasn’t too happy about what I was getting up to, I am pretty sure I would end up on the end of this:

Which not even my mighty Nikon could survive.

Thanks to Ian and all the Kore team, the fighters for the great show, and the fans and supporters who kept the whole thing exciting, civil, and fun.

And as always, thanks to you for reading guys – I hope you all have a great week 🙂 x

7 replies
  1. Daniel Gilkes
    Daniel Gilkes says:

    Hi, 1st time I am seeing this very nice photos. would you still have these shots and others i could look through from the night and purchase if need be from you? I would be interested in the bout with Krystal & Joyan and the bout with Chis & Akil, thanks in advance.

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