“It was so rare at the time that you almost had to be self-taught.”
Thomas defines the difference between training and learning because the two are not one and the same.
When it comes to training, he compares it to preparing for battle, and needing to stay in pique physical condition.
Learning, on the other hand, is a scholastic process wherein one learns the correct way of doing things. Instead, he needed to learn what was correct or not based on trial and error.
After about five years in the game, there were finally instructors available to fighters. Thomas’ game was already different but this allowed him to understand the reason behind why particular techniques or strikes worked and why they didn’t.
The first time he stepped into the ring was “surreal” and Thomas describes the experience as if it wasn’t himself. Because he had spent his teen years watching the fights, he envisioned himself in the body of the men he watched battle each other.
Because it didn’t feel as though it were him, he wasn’t nervous or afraid, it was more like being in a dream.
“It wasn’t until I lost my first fight that it became real for me,” says Thomas as the realizations struck. “Wait, this is actually me and I’m vulnerable and if I’m not careful then I’m going to lose this fight.”