Marco Canha: Fight Zone London

4 min read
Interview with one of London’s top black belts, Marco Canha, on what it takes to be a good coach, build a strong team, and much more.

Marco Canha: Fight Zone London

Interview with one of London’s top black belts, Marco Canha, on what it takes to be a good coach, build a strong team, and much more.

Location: London, UK

Interviewee: Marco Canha

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Photos by: Scramble

It’s no secret that the Jiu-Jitsu scene in the UK has grown significantly over recent years. During that time, London has become a hotbed for stand-out gyms. For those that reside in the nation’s capital, you’re spoilt for choice.

Marco Canha and his GYM

London plays host to some very recognizable names, such as Roger Gracie and 10th Planet, as well as numerous other gyms where tough rolls are commonplace. In and amongst all these sits a well-known gym named Fight Zone, where head coach and three stripe black belt, Marco Canha oversees proceedings. Affiliated under Checkmat, the gym has gotten a reputation for high-level competitors, a family atmosphere, and above all, attention to detail.

Recognizing the wealth of options available to London residents, Marca recognizes that the wealth of people walking through the door wanting to fight is advantageous. He states his intentions openly in wanting to create the strongest competition team possible.

Marco Canha in line up for class

Better as a coach

But as a teacher, he has a different view of things, acknowledging that every single student can help, not just the competitive ones. Marco advocates for teaching anyone and everyone, even the kids’ classes, stating everyone can help you to get better as a coach.

“Teaching a person who wants to compete is easy…they are dedicated. The hardest part is to teach someone who doesn’t have coordination, who has never done any martial arts before, they come to a mixed martial arts gym a bit frightened, and get these people to change their mentality and cross that barrier.”

The desire to teach, Marco Canha and self-defense

As an active competitor himself, it’s often a chicken-and-egg situation of what came first, the competitive spirit or the will to teach. For Marco, it was clear from the off which he wanted to do.

“Teaching came first because I respected all my coaches, I saw them as role models. I also knew that if you’ve never trained Jiu-Jitsu and you start learning, you can learn so many moves that can actually save your life, and you want to share that.”

With a wide variety of defense situations being quickly nullified through grappling techniques, for those that train, it’s not hard to understand where the ‘gentle art’ can play a role.

As a coach should you compete?

But even though teaching was the first pull for Marco, that didn’t put him off competing. Still, to this day Marco often steps out on the competition mats to fly the flag for his team and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. When asked what motivates him to keep going, he had the following succinct advice.

“A lot of coaches don’t like to compete. I think don’t compete for medals but to get better for your students.”

Marco Canha training/teaching

What makes a good student?

And students remain the focus throughout. Fight Zone keeps their coaches busy, running a fully packed schedule for all abilities and constantly pushing for an atmosphere that brings in new students. Something that Marco feels is important not just for the club, but for the coaches. And what makes a good student?

“What makes a good student is a dedicated student that listens, tries, and asks questions. I love it when they ask questions. Some people, even when they don’t have a lot of experience, they ask very smart and technical questions. They’re not questioning the technique; they’re asking for help.

And patience. I always say, ‘don’t compare yourself; if you’re having fun, keep training,’ and just try to get better a little bit every day.”

Sound advice from a good coach. But then that leads to the obvious question, what makes a good coach?

What makes a good coach?

“A good coach needs a good coach behind. Like a parent who educates you. Having a good coach is very important.”

As someone with three stripes on the black belt, Marco has been in the game a while. Seeing most likely everything along the way and learning a lesson or two, he had a few pieces of advice on those that choose to take up Jiu-Jitsu.

“You should be humble because you could be doing great, and someone will come along and teach you a lesson.”

Marco Canha and team in after class photo

Fight for what you want

And for those that are struggling,

“It’s like situations in life. You have many times where you’re frustrated, or where things aren’t going your way, so fight for what you want. This is one of the lessons Jiu-Jitsu taught me.”

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