Favorite Things: Blake Tharp and his MMA training gear


Blake Tharp works in the fast-paced world of supply chain management. When he finally gets to take a break from crunching numbers, he likes to dabble in Mixed Martial Arts training as a unique form of exercise. 

When I was younger, my family and I got a pair of boxing gloves for Christmas. Whenever we attended family gatherings, we’d sneak over the boxing gloves and beat each other up in the backyard. We also had annual Halloween parties at my cousins’ house. We kept it like a tradition when we were young, just having harmless fun every year. It became the staple of the party, it became less about Halloween and more about, “Did you bring the gloves? Who is fighting?” It was just something we did as kids. 

My interest in MMA started at a young age. Over the years, the UFC got more and more popular, and I was always watching that. I didn’t know anybody else that also wanted to do it until I met my roommate that I lived with when I briefly moved to California in 2015. 

In California, I started training in my garage, borrowing my roommate’s gear. Eventually, I bought my own and I’ve kept with it. It all started with a regular pair of 12-ounce gloves. For a year or two, I had different sized gloves, mouth guards, hand wraps — the whole shebang. I bought all this stuff from different sporting goods stores like Dick’s and Dunham’s. 

My roommate was going to classes every day, and I had a lot of time on my hands. We had our garage set up with a punching bag, ropes — all the necessary equipment. In my free time I was staying busy learning a new skill. For just a workout, this wasn’t any form of super real training, I would run two miles then jump rope, do bag drills and weight training with dumbbells and barbells. That’s what it consisted of. 

We’d spar and it didn’t go over well for me, because he was in the Army and had been practicing for much, much longer than me. I didn’t stand a chance. He was a stocky guy; he had been eating his Wheaties. 

Some people have a natural talent or an affinity to it. What attracted me to it when I was young was the adrenaline and the competition, wanting to be better or the best. That drives a lot of people. You’ll see that in every sport, there’s always somebody that always wants to be the better person. 

For me, weight training just gets boring. It’s very repetitive and it’s not stimulating or exciting. With MMA, you’re being active and you’re learning a new skill that can be very useful. There’s always more to learn, you’re never done. Even the best people in the world are still learning every single time.  

Interview edited and condensed by Skyler Ashley. If you have a suggestion for Favorite Things, please email Skyler@Lansingcitypulse.com

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