This Saturday night, MMA fighter Ben Locken will be stepping back in to the cage in hopes of earning a win and improving his professional record. He will be fighting at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, MN for Driller Promotions.
Locken, a 2-3 pro from Champlin, MN is coming off of a loss against Frankie Johnson, a fight that ended via triangle. Training at Spartan Martial Arts under Tom Schmitz, Locken feels he is ready for whatever comes next.
In a society where the term “fighter” has little distinction between “brawling” and sport, Ben sees a clear distinction for himself. “In my opinion, I am not a fighter. A fighter is the guy out at bars, or acting like the tough guy, who puffs out that chest and wants people to know that he or she is in the room,” said Locken. “I strive to act as a mixed martial artist, respecting each art and following its traditions to the best of my knowledge.
“I aim to stay humble,” he said. “This means being thankful for the gifts I have been given and for the people around me. Without them I would not be where I am today, because I have learned from and grown from them. I am thankful for all who have participated in each art, and have had a hand in making it grow. I respect that.”
Locken is able to acknowledge, that while humble, he still feels he has a way of standing out from other fighters in his class. He believes that viewing himself as a martial artist, instead of a “fighter,” represents the difference.
“I’d like to become a coach in the future. I intend on making martial arts my life goal and lifestyle, not just what I train and do,” said Locken. “I want it to be who I am. Also, I tend to care more for others than myself most of the time. This is good, but when it’s my time to fight I need to focus on me a tad more. This is something I am working on and applying to my training.”
During training Locken learns and grows by going over past bouts with his coaches and by himself. “We just analyze (past bouts) to the best of our knowledge,” he said. “Then we work on it in the learning phase, when I am not in a “fight camp.”
“I have changed gyms and changed my approach to this fight. I am working on the mentality part of a fight and the approach that must be taken in to the ring. With a new environment, new training partners and new coach, along with a new approach to fighting, I’m noticing a difference in how I’m feeling. I am always growing and learning from the past and sometime you must change your environment in order to do so.”
On the day of a fight, Locken does a bit more of what he does every day. “I just spend an extra amount of time reading a chapter out of my Bible during breakfast. I spend some quiet time reflecting on the gifts, abilities and people that I have in my life. I try not to worry about the fight, because worrying and overthinking an uncontrollable event does no good, so why worry? However, that’s easier said than done.”
When Locken is in training, he finds that the hard part is achieving balance. He believes it is important to have a balance between “going hard” in training versus working on drills and “playing.”
“Drills and playing, so to speak, are where I grow the most,” he said. “This is where one isn’t afraid to try new things. Going hard is needed as long as it’s a mutual understanding with myself and the person I’m going hard with. Spartan Gym Coach Tom Schmitz does a very good job of balancing this out. I have noticed a huge growth in my game since training under him, and I’m much appreciative of that.”
As Locken moves forward with making himself a well-rounded fighter, he does favor a few moves. “I love the leg kick,” he said. “Watching guys like Pat Barry land a leg kick and get someone to quit the fight because of them is such a cool strike. My favorite submission, I suppose, would be a kimura. I’ve got short little T-rex arms and it seems to fit me well.”
Leg kick or kimura, Locken believes that a person’s strength comes more from within. “True strength is the ability to put your heart on the line no matter the result,” he said. “It’s being able to look in the mirror and be completely happy with what you see in your heart.
“If you are taking the time to help another person out, impact them and change their approach to life, even if you never know it did, this takes true strength in my eyes,” he said.
Locken would like to be remembered as a fighter who put his heart on the line no matter the result or the outcome. “I want to be known as someone who is truly happy with what is in his heart,” he said. “I set a standard on putting on exciting fights that people want to see. I live my martial art life as I do my personal life — with humbleness and thankfulness. My strength comes from Christ, and versus talking and overindulging that strength, I keep it subtle and unique.
“Finally, to know that I am not perfect and I will fail. But in failure, my heart still leads me.”