Team GB captain Chris Aston is a British, European and World Champion in Kickboxing. He's been training since the turn of the millennium and has achieved some mighty success.
We talk about his background, his recent injury, the growing popularity Points Fighting, and it's potential future inclusion in the Olympic Games.
"I am currently injured and it has made me realise my love for the sport so much more. I cannot imagine my life without it." - Chris Aston
MAO - Would you mind giving our readers an insight into your martial arts background?
CA - I started training in a local small hall when I was only 9 years old. A lot has changed in the 18 years since I first joined with my sister. I never dreamt that this sport would play such a huge part in our lives.
It’s been great to have such good support from my family, I get to travel regularly with my sister as she now covers Europe's points fighting events as a photographer.
Lee Matthews was my first coach, he had a very successful during fighting career, fighting for Top Ten UK when I was just a kid. It was great to be able to watch him alongside such a great team at the time, they were one of the strongest teams in the UK that I recall as a kid.
When I left school aged 16, I started teaching in Lee's academy, and ever since then I've been teaching martial arts. I joined the WAKO GB team in 2006 and have been on the team ever since. When you tell students you fight for your national team they are always so shocked. Now it seems natural to me, I love fighting at such a high level but it’s something I will never take for granted.
I am currently injured and it has made me realise my love for the sport so much more. I cannot imagine my life without it.
MAO - That's an impressive career so far. Do you want to tell us more about your own Kickboxing Academy?
CA - I opened my own school ‘Astons Kickboxing Academy’ in Shrewsbury in 2010 as I wanted something that was my own. Having your own academy can be a lot of pressure.
Working with kids from 4 years old is really fun, it has been my only job so I know no different, but what I do know is I wouldn’t want to change it. Having my own school gives me chance to train whenever I want to.
Before my injury I trained with my good friend Eljiah Everill most days, we grew up together and he is now one of the very best in the UK, so I am lucky to have someone so strong to train with.
MAO - We were very sorry to hear about your recent injury at the Kickboxing World Series event in Austria. Is it the worst you have sustained whilst competing in points fighting?
CA - When I was younger, I broke a bone in my arm in just before the World Champions in Dublin. Though I did manage to fight my way into the semi finals losing out to my coach ‘Krisztián Jároszkievicz’ from Hungary.
I have been lucky to have had a predominantly injury free career, but breaking my jaw was awful and truly heart breaking. Particularly as I feel this has been my best year in points fighting so far. I will be back by the end of the year/ start of 2019 but until then I will focus on building up my academy.
MAO - Do you think 'points fighting' as a style is growing in popularity? What would you say makes it such a great sport?
CA - Since I started competing as a kid points fighting has changed massively. I remember my first WAKO Europeans in Croatia the standard was so high, but I think it has actually got even better.
I love points fighting because it's so energetic, a fight can change in seconds, a single punch or kick can change the dynamic of the entire bout. Not only do you have to be a great fighter but also you have to be smart.
Points Fighting is popular but it also has some problems, mainly the cost. The sport is expensive, fighters and parents pay out lots of money to take part and compete, which is very sad. I believe that if it was cheaper, there would be a lot more kids at tournaments around the country. This isn’t an organisers fault because I understand how much it costs to run a tournament.
MAO - How do you think points fighting compares to other high profile martial arts such as Judo or Taekwondo?
CA - I’ve only ever done points fighting so I can’t compare! My love for points fighting shows and that's what matters to me, its not just a sport but my life.
A few points fighters have moved to ‘Taekwondo’ but its not for me, anyone who knows me knows I am not a kicker, but that doesn't necessarily mean you cannot be success as I think I have proved.
MAO - WAKO (World Association of Kickboxing Organisations) seem to making progress in taking the sport to the Olympics, what are your thoughts on this?
CA - WAKO are making good progress as many people know, I don’t know an athlete in any sport that wouldn’t want to be at the Olympics.
I have grown up watching the Olympics as a kid and would love to be there but I fear I will be too old. It is definitely something I want to happen.
I hope one day soon kickboxing will become an Olympic sport, but until then its great to see our sport becoming more professional. Last year, in Budapest the world championships was the best I've ever been to, I felt like a professional athlete and I thrived off the atmosphere! Everything from weigh in to the final night show was amazing and I cannot wait to see the levels of professionalism go higher and higher.
MAO - What are your long term goals in Kickboxing, you have already won titles around the globe including World Championships, what next?
CA - I am getting older but my goal is not to stop! I want to maintain my titles that I have won previously, and I have a few exciting opportunities up my sleeve.
Going to compete in America is something I would love to do. I took part in the US Open in 2009 and loved every minute. The WAKO world series is something that means a lot to me, I want to be top of the league for my weight division.
Eventually, I would like to build up a fight team from my little dragons (4 year olds) at my school. From a young age I have been lucky enough to travel and compete, I would love to be able to offer children from Shrewsbury the same experiences that I have had.
MAO - Some well known points fighters (such as Michael Page & Marcus Lewis) have moved to MMA or Boxing with success. Is this something you have thought about doing?
CA - No, I have never thought of moving, but I wish them every success having done so. I remember watching Michael when I was younger and it's great to see him being so successful. He's showcasing the discipline of points fighting at the very top level.
MAO - How do you think the sport of Kickboxing can be improved to bring more success in terms of exposure and sponsorship?
CA - I’ve always found it hard to get sponsorship but I think if you want something bad enough you will always find a way. WAKO videographer ‘Brannmanndan’ has given points fighting a whole new level of exposure. It’s changed our sport, now we can watch fighters before a event, I always study fighters before coming up against them.
We are also very lucky to have the sports data system, it gives fighters chance to see who’s in their section before the event, small things like this have made big changes in our sport.
MAO - Thanks Chris for talking to us at martialarts-online, and good luck with your recovery and return to competition.
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