Nick The Headhunter Chapman
It is 5.35am on a rather pleasant Wednesday morning in Surrey, a time when I would usually be sleeping soundly. But today I am up and getting myself ready for my day out with Nick ‘HeadHunter’ Chapman. A day that had been planned a few weeks before and that I was really looking forward to. I wanted to get an insight into a day in his life and find out a little more about him.
I actually feel dizzy being awake so early but I manage to grab some breakfast and leave the house at the ungodly hour of 7am. I didn’t want to be late as anyone who knows Nick, will know he has a routine and schedule that he sticks to and doesn’t like to be late for anything.
Luckily I was being driven to Nicks house in the lovely town of Guildford so with traffic unusually light, I sat back and enjoyed the journey along the misty Hogs Back. As is usual with me, I find myself half an hour early and after a quick confirmation by text to ascertain that it was indeed okay to knock on Nick’s door at such a time, I headed in to his house.
Nick lives with his wife Karen who I had the pleasure of meeting, albeit at such a silly hour of the day. She works in the city so after a few words she was off for her own busy day. I did manage to ask Karen if Nick was at his grumpy stage yet. For those that don’t know and haven’t read my previous article, Nick finds not being able to eat what he wants coming up to a fight a little difficult and can often be a grumpy so and so. But luckily for Karen he isn’t so bad this time round.
Thankfully I had time for a cup of tea made by Nick before we had to head off for a busy morning. Nick was in good spirits and we talked a little, whilst I sipped my tea, about Karen who is also a very athletic lady and competes as a triathlete. I commented that it must make life a lot easier knowing the person you live with is also very fit and health conscious and Nick said that for him it is important to be with someone who understands him and what he does. He could never see himself being with someone who was unhealthy and unfit. Although I hasten to add that Nick has a huge amount of respect for Karen and tells me he loved her as soon as he met her. So although some people may think he looks big and scary, inside he is actually a gentle giant.
Now there is one thing that I have to share with Nick’s fans. Perhaps his male fans will want to slap him on the back and high five him but his female fans will be tutting under their breath! But if I explain the story maybe you will all come around to his way of thinking, like I did.
We were ready to go but couldn’t leave as we were waiting for Nick’s Mum to come round with his washing. Yes you heard correctly! I had to ask why a grown, married man was having his washing done by his Mum, as being the mother of two boys myself, it was a little worrying to think that, that would be me in twenty years!
Nick tells me that he isn’t a domesticated male and although he is at home more often than his wife, he just doesn’t have an inclination towards such chores. He also, has no idea how to work the washing machine so to be honest, I am glad he didn’t decide to put a wash on or else I imagine we would have been paddling out of the house!
Karen works very long hours and Nick’s Mum loves to help out and as Nick pays her to do it, the situation works well for everyone involved. I still smile when I think of my reaction to seeing Mrs Chapman at the back door with a huge gym bag full of clean washing but I admit everyone is happy and if someone offered to do your washing, there aren’t many who would turn it down.
So now the washing was delivered it was time to head off to Farnborough to Andy Roberts BJJ Academy. I really love Surrey and Hampshire for its beautiful countryside so our drive there was a pleasant one. I can talk and talk so I think poor Nick probably wished he’d never agreed to this interview!
We chatted about Nick’s childhood and how he used to do Judo and got as far as a green belt and how he is also a Black Belt in Tai Kwando. We also talked a little about his troubled youth and how having dyslexia at school made studying such a challenge. As I said in my other article, Nick had the capacity to learn as he is very intelligent but he needed to do it his way, which was not accepted by the school.
Nick said he was suspended and realised that his bad behaviour at school was being rewarded by him being allowed to stay home from school for a week. When he cottoned on even further, he ended up being expelled and we both said the punishments that schools give out, such as suspension, to children aren’t really punishments at all.
Although Nick did spend some of his youth getting into many scraps, he believes this was because he had nowhere to channel his aggression. Nowadays there are many more things children can do such as MMA and Nick is constantly trying to give back to kids. He tells me that he does give back now he has turned his life around and will continue to do so for the rest of his life.
Nick also has a belief in God. When I asked him what religion he follows, he simply tells me that he doesn’t. He believes in a God rather than a God he is told to believe in. His faith is his personal belief and he does not attend church regularly but with all the troubled years, he now feels that something is shining down on him and telling him this is his time to succeed.
By this time we are at Andy Roberts BJJ Academy and waiting outside in the glorious sunshine. First to arrive is Barney who is Nick’s wrestling coach. I knew we were there for an hour of wrestling and then an hour of BJJ but I have to admit my brain was unable to work out the difference between the two. I can now say how dumb I am because as soon as it was explained to me, I realised. But my theory is, if you don’t know something you are better off asking than messing it up completely.
Barney is from Hungary and I noticed a lot smaller than Nick. I now realise this doesn’t actually make a huge difference when you are actually wrestling. Once Andy arrived and opened up, we went inside the academy and I found myself a seat by the door.
The first thing that happened made me jealous! Nick is laid out on the mats and Barney is stretching him and then massaging his muscles. Now if that is what happens when you go wrestling, someone sign me up!
I wasn’t sure what to expect in this lesson as although I have seen wrestling in MMA fights, where all disciplines are combined, you tend as a newbie not to notice particular things. After the massage and warm up, Nick and Barney got down to practising moves. I wrote lots of notes on what moves they were doing and I honestly could make sense of what they were doing and learned a lot. But I am not going to report what they were actually doing as the moves could be used in Nick’s fight on October 22nd against Jimmy Manuwa and although I am sure it wouldn’t make a difference even if Jimmy were watching himself, I am not going to write specifics.
I was quite surprised at just how hard wrestling is. Obviously it is physical and uses lots of muscles but the sweat was pouring and the mat being pounded. Nick did tell me that he always knows when he has mastered a move because Barney doesn’t say ‘again’ but just giggles! One thing I did learn is that although wrestling is about taking down your opponent it is also about where you land once you have your opponent on the ground. You need to land in the best position so you can finish the fight so it is all about where to place your feet and which parts of your body to use and which of your opponents to grab. Sadly I cannot share anymore but I will be testing these out on my partner, although on the trampoline so I don’t hurt myself!
As Nick was wrestling with Barney, his sparring partner for BJJ arrived so I spent some time chatting with Lee Doyle who is a fireman but also a fantastic BJJ partner for Nick who works with him every week. Lee and I discussed nutrition and diet and again I learned a little about what I should be eating and what I should be avoiding. Nick joined in our conversation once wrestling was over and I have to say I am pretty embarrassed at my own view of food.
Lee reiterated a point that I have heard in the past but never take any notice of. Everyone should eat breakfast. Now he has explained to me how my body feels not having breakfast, I am going to start to force myself to eat it. I admit, I didn’t today but I am going to. And this is purely because he told me how when I go from say 11pm the night before and not eat again until 12pm the next day, my body is storing everything I ate because it knows it may not get fed again for a long period. This is obviously storing nasty things, whereas if I eat little and often, it will know that I am going to feed it again soon and will work to rid itself of the things I have eaten. Lesson learned and onwards for me.
Nick never eats bad food, he is very conscious of what he eats and only eats the things he knows are going to benefit his body. You will never find him in McDonalds or Burger King. And the following analogy is a brilliant one.
He asked me what car I would have if I could choose any in the world. Without hesitation I said a Lotus. He did ask me which type but as I am not that hot on cars, I had no clue. We worked out the perfect interior and bodywork with all the extras. I had the perfect vision of it. He then asked me if, once it had arrived and it was time to fill it up, would I pee in the petrol tank. Obviously, I said I wouldn’t and he asked me why. I answered with ‘well it would ruin it and it wouldn’t run properly.’ As I said it I could see where it was going. So Nick is right when he says that I look after my car better than I look after my body because the way I eat is literally ruining my body! Lesson learned and I now have a fridge of salad, avocado, prawns and for snacks gone is the chocolate and crisps replaced with Snack A Jacks!
After my lesson Nick was ready to start his BJJ hour. Once again I sat and watched and marvelled at just how much fitness is required for it. Now I know the difference between wrestling and BJJ it will not be news to everyone else when I say that Nick was practising from his back on the mats with Lee on top. The purpose was learning how to escape and I learned that it is very important where the arms and feet are placed to do this.
Andy Roberts, as I said is the coach and he exudes a calm confidence in his teaching. I listened to what he was telling Nick whilst I was watching and found that it all made sense. He is firm with Nick, making him work hard but the firmness pays off as Nick mastered a few different moves. With twenty minutes of hard drill with Lee to finish the session, the sweat was pouring and I for one was ready for a nap just watching. But at the same time, I found I loved the movement of BJJ and really fancied a go to which Andy told me I could jump in but I figured I’d leave it for another day! I haven’t given up though; I am seriously considering finding a local class to find out more. Obviously, I will first be going to Andy for my free lesson and would recommend his classes to anyone.
After we said our goodbyes, Nick and I headed back to his house so he could freshen up before we headed into Woking for lunch. Nick goes to the same restaurant regularly because they make exactly what he requires. I opted for something healthy myself for a change and have to say the food in L’AROMA was fantastic and I would recommend it.
We chatted over lunch about how hard Nick trains and how he wants to be the best of the best. I have to admire how much hard work and dedication Nick puts into his training and although he has upped the intensity as we are now just over two weeks out from his Title Challenge against Jimmy Manuwa, even when he doesn’t have a fight, he still trains every day.
Our afternoon started with a visit to his Mums house for a cup of coffee. I remembered that she used instant coffee rather than fresh and I for one much prefer the instant stuff, so I settled down for a cuppa and a natter whilst Nick spent ten minutes logged into his brothers Facebook leaving status updates that were from Nick rather than his brother. There is nothing like sibling wind-ups! Nicks Mum and I talked about what she does for a living and how proud she is of all Nick has achieved.
She told me she will be proud of him no matter what he does and you can see the admiration in her eyes. We talked about Nick and Karen having children and Nick definitely wants a baby in the future but wants to achieve his goals first so that he will feel complete and not like he has had to stop before he reaches the top. He wants to be number one for the foreseeable future but this is not in an arrogant way and personally I think it makes sense to have children when the time is right, as that way you are never going to think ‘what if’ I had waited. Nick tells me he isn’t keen on the whole nappy changing scenario to which I made the mistake of saying ‘you have to change your own child’s nappy’. He just looked at me and said ‘have to’ and I realised he has never been one to be told what he has to do! I guess a lot of us are like that and we figured cajoling is going to work better for Nick when nappy changing comes along!
But one day there will be a mini HeadHunter running around and it doesn’t matter which sex the baby is, Nick is adamant it will be World Champion one day.
We headed off from Nicks Mums and I asked her if I would see her on fight night. Both Nick and his Mum laughed. His Mum gets too nervous and stays at home, pacing around waiting for the phone to ring; her nerves wouldn’t stand it at The Troxy! Karen also told me that she would see me on the night but that she would be a nervous wreck. It must be harder for the people watching, especially loved ones because for Nick he has control and he can change his fate from one move to the next but for Karen, she has no control and can only watch from cage side. I do feel for her and even though I am not close to Nick, he is the only person in the MMA world that I have spent time with so I will be feeling it more than I ever have watching other fighters in the past.
At 2pm we head over to Guildford Lido where Nick’s team of fitness instructors work for Fight Science until his own gym opens in the very near future in Aldershot. Nick is very excited about having his very own gym and says it is his ultimate dream
Instructors work with clients of all calibres. People looking to lose weight and get fit, to up and coming fighters who are given a gruelling sessions of five, five minute rounds of different fitness activities with just a minute between each round. Nick likes to meet his clients as often as he can but knows they are in safe hands with the people he employs.
I noticed that everyone knows their stuff, not just what to do but why to do it and what the next step will be to further increase fitness and stamina. It really is scientific and not just about getting someone running or skipping, they tailor make the programmes for the individuals and focus their attention on each person 100% when they come to the sessions.
We were meeting Jay ‘The Prodigy’ Dods who is an up and coming young fighter who is undefeated in his Semi Professional career with a record of 3-0. Jay fights in the light weight division at 70kg and watching him doing his five minute rounds again had me feeling respect. Jay is in his last year at college and hopes to go to University after to study Strength and Conditioning. Nick thinks he is fantastic and has the potential.
The same goes for Andy Reynolds who had his session after Jay. Andy is a 90kg fighter who fights at catchweight. He will be making his professional debut on October 15th having won his first Semi Professional fight.
Nick has a lot of time and respect for both Andy and Jay and is looking for sponsorship for them. So if anyone is interested they should get in touch with Nick because these guys are going to go far and you will be proud to have your name associated with either one.
My day was coming to an end mid-afternoon as Nick was heading off for something to eat and to catch up with his emails, Facebook and twitter messages. He always makes time for his fans and supporters. I was invited to go back with Nick and to watch his evening sparring session but I had to head back to Essex so I was unable to.
We talked a little more about what a typical week is like for Nick and he tells me his usual routine.
Monday he does Kickboxing on the pads in the morning, followed by lunch at L’Aroma in Woking mid-morning. He then goes to Fight Science to meet clients.
Tuesday mornings are BJJ sessions and Strength and Conditioning in the afternoon.
Wednesday he does Wrestling and BJJ in the mornings followed by grappling and sparring in the evenings.
Thursday is his killer day as he goes to Harley Street for Strength and Conditioning with the Professor of Pain Greg White.
Friday he goes to the TKO Boxing Gym in London for sparring.
Saturday he does Shark Tanking which is five rounds of full contact MMA sparring with a one minute break between rounds and a fresh opponent every minute.
Sunday is his day off where he spends quality time with Karen and rests up before starting the whole week all over again.
I have to say my day with Nick was both educational and fun. I learned about nutrition and fitness but also about Nick behind the fighter. I think to fully understand his dedication and commitment would mean spending a week following him around but for now I am happy with all that I have taken away from this day.
All that is left for me to do is see Nick in his ‘HeadHunter’ persona on October 22nd at The Troxy in London when he challenges Jimmy Manuwa for the belt. I have a feeling I won’t recognise him as the person I spent the day with but I am quietly confident that the HeadHunter will be the one owning the cage that night and ultimately coming away with the belt. I do wish him luck but I don’t think he needs it; he has it covered mark my words.
For more information on Nick or to get in touch follow him on twitter by searching NickHeadHunter you can also find him on Facebook under Nick HeadHunter Chapman – he loves to hear from you so don’t hesitate in saying hello.
To purchase tickets for the next Cage Rage please visit the website at http://www.cagerageuk.com