Kickboxing ace Chris Aston sets the example to follow
Chris Aston is hoping to inspire students at his Shrewsbury-based kickboxing academy to follow in his footsteps and become world champions.
Aston, aged 26, from High Ercall, recently won gold at the World Association of Kickboxing Organisations (WAKO) World Championships in Budapest.
He did not make it to the top overnight, though.
And, while carrying on competing, he is passing on his experience to those at Astons Kickboxing Academy in High Ercall – to potentially create future stars in the sport.
“I started kickboxing when I was eight. I was a chubby kid who went along because my sister, Emily, was interested in starting. We both progressed really well through the belt system,” said Aston.
“We were selected to start attending competitions, which we were a bit nervous about but excited at the same time.
“Personally, I competed for a number of years – losing each fight.
“Yes, I was disappointed and upset but from this I took the positives and learnt lots, I loved every minute of it and never gave up.
“When I reached the age of 15, it was time to choose which sport I was going to take up seriously. Was it football, which I enjoyed? Athletics, where I was county hammer champion? Or kickboxing, which I loved? Kickboxing won.
“Now I had to make sure that I was at the best level I could possibly be. I trained hard, I had the commitment and the dedication to the sport and soon the results began speaking for themselves, medals and trophies started to fill the shelves.”
To get to an elite level, Aston insists you have to make a lot of sacrifices. He stressed that you also need a strong support system.
“I became British champion, I was selected to represent WAKO Great Britain and I started to travel to Europe to compete,” said Aston. “My ambition was to be WAKO European and world champion .
“I became European champion and last year, 2017, I finally achieved my ambition and became world champion.
“I’ve watched so many talented people come and go for various reasons from the academy, sometimes because of school or university commitments, some people just cannot cope with not winning.
“At this moment, I have about four or five people that have the potential to be champions, if they keep up the training and commitment to become the best they can possibly be.
“I was very lucky in that my mum and dad were dedicated. They supported me through the not so good years and celebrate with me when times are good.
“They transported me and funded training, equipment, competitions and travel. Without the support of my family, it would have been so much harder.
“You also need the strength and heart of a lion –you learn to lose gratefully. You get upset, and possibly injured, but you can learn and keep moving forward.”
Aston runs classes for ‘Dragons’ – three to seven-year-olds – on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 5.45pm
A kids class – 8-13 years – is on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursday at 6.15pm.
An adults class, for ages 13 onwards, takes place on Mondays and Thursdays at 7.45pm
And a fitness circuit for ages 13 onwards is on Tuesdays at 6.15pm.
“At my academy I currently have 74 members, from four to 65,” said Aston.
“Each class has three lessons a week, ideally members need to attend two lessons per week to build up their stamina, muscle memory of techniques and learn new techniques.
“Of course, some members do not wish to compete, they want to learn martial arts, learn the techniques, skills, keep fit and work their way through the the belt system.
“Lots of the skills I teach are skills for life.”
The main piece of advice from Aston to anyone looking to become a competitive kickboxer is that you cannot cut corners.
“I did 10 weeks of sessions in the build-up to the world champs – four or five a week, running early in the morning and things like that,” he said.
“Then there’s the dropping weight and the mood swings you have to contend with as well. You really have to chuck yourself into it, you can’t cut any corners.”
Aston was part-sponsored by Severn Social for the world championships, giving him £300 towards the total cost of the trip.
He aims to secure more sponsorship as he aims to travel even more.
Croatia, Ireland, Turkey, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia, Belgium are all on his to-do list as he aims to keep being recognised as one of the very best the combat sport has to offer.
“I’ll be travelling everywhere again this year, hopefully a little bit more,” added Aston.
“It’s the European Championships towards the end of this year as well, so I’m looking towards that.
“I’m really looking forward to it.”
If you would like to train with Aston at his centre, visit Astons Kickboxing Academy via Facebook or call 07854857937.