Pratik Patil is an average college going student with an extra-ordinary knack for combat sports.This Powaiite has represented India internationally in Karate and is now gearing up for his debut professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fight. He has recently been signed under an international banner ‘Envisage Sport MMA’ from Great Britain in United Kingdom.
Pratik represented India at the Shito Ryu Asia Cup Asian Championship in 2016 where he bagged the Silver Medal. He also won the gold medal at the Shorinji Ryu Renshinkan National Karate Do Championship in 2016, and the bronze medal at the TS Shotokan Karate Do National Championship in 2017. Pratik claimed the Gold Medal at the TS Shotokan Karate State Level Championship as well as the State Level Goju Ryu Karate Championship.
Though his MMA career is very nascent, he still managed to knock the socks off of many when he won the Silver Medal at Maharashtra State Mayors Cup Amateur MMA Championship 2019 along with a first place at the Mithibai Amateur MMA in the same year. He spoke to us and shared his story, this is what he had to say…
What’s Your Fight Story?
So coming into martial arts was never my plan but like most Indian kids my decisions were also made by my parents. And that’s how I started Karate at the tender age of 6. My parents put me into the class because I was a hyperactive trouble-maker with a lot of energy to expend. Martial arts bring with it not just physical strength but also mental strength and discipline into life and my parents had that foresight. As a kid, I was going to class with a heavy heart. I was treating it like a chore and not something that I liked or was passionate about.
After a few years, when I started understanding things I realised that I’d actually started appreciating this sport. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday Evening, I was happier than usual, because I got to spend my time learning, growing and enjoying with my Karate classes. “Aaj Sandyakali Karate class aahe Majjya yenar”, I’d say to my mother (roughly translated to “There’s the karate class in the evening, it’s going to be fun). As the days went by my interest in the Sport started to peak. Eventually, I started playing Karate professionally. I moved the ladder quickly, going from the District level, to the State, National and then I was bestowed with the honour of representing India at at the Shito Ryu Asia Cup Asian Championship in 2016.
Martial Arts has given me a lot of things. Karate has given me life-long discipline and sportsmanship spirit. It also led me to this new journey, and this new sport of MMA, where I’ve had the pleasure of being signed by Team Envisage MMA which sponsors and manages my Training, Apparel and Fights. Another big honour that my Martial Arts Journey has brought for me is that I was invited to be the Chief Guest this year at SM Shetty High School’s sports day.
And it was an even bigger achievement for me because this is my alma mater. I spent 12 years of my formative life in this institution, and for them to call me as a Chief Guest was very heart-warming for me. It made this journey filled with trials and tribulations feel fulfilling.
Why MMA and Karate?
Like I said earlier, I was pushed into Karate by my parents. MMA happened because of Sumeet Khade sir. We met at my Karate class. We were in the same class but he’s got nine more years on me. So after he turned 18, he joined kickboxing and MMA. About 2 years after his MMA stint began, I saw him fighting in the cage professionally, and I was blow away. Instantly, I was attracted to MMA and I wanted to get in the octagon. I reached out to him and let him know about my MMA desires.
I was just 12 at the time, so he suggested me to take time, polish my techniques, practice and reach out to him once I turn 18. This stayed with me. As soon as I was of age, I reached out to him again. Little did I know that in this span he had become one of the top 3 MMA Fighters in India. And the best part, he remembered and he kept his word. He called me for joining his team #TeamSumeet. And that’s how I came into this MMA world.
Any words of advice for those who wants to build career in MMA?
Mixed Martial Arts is obviously a good career but make sure you have the courage to bear painful blows from your opponents. If you too want to become a successful MMA fighter, make sure you are training your mind along with working on your physical strength. Also, I train at Fitness Wynk Studio in Chandivali, Powai. You can come and try your hand at the sport there if you’d like to.
What do you think about the risks involved with such an intense contact sport? Are you not concerned about the risk of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
No, I am not afraid and that’s why I am fighting. Science says MMA is the Most Dangerous Sport. In a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada, it was concluded that MMA fighters suffer a traumatic brain injury in almost a third of professional bouts - a far higher rate than in hockey, football, and even boxing. If you are afraid of getting hit, then this sport is not for you. Remember, the only rule of fight club is, ‘No Fear’. In fact, the only reason I fight is because it is my passion and love for the sport. I love to fight but only inside the cage, outside I’m as docile as can be.
Who’s your inspiration?
I don’t have to look far away to find inspiration, my mentors Sumeet Khade and Sameer Patil are my idols. Also, my training partners Sachin Prasad and Abdus Baig. They always motivate and inspire me to become the best. They push me to achieve greatness both in training and in life.
What are the challenges you’ve had to face throughout your fighting journey?
If you do something with all your heart and give it all that you’ve got, then the first roadblock to your victory is that you face loss. You tend to lose friends, people you care about. I’ve lost a handful and fairly so. Managing my education along with MMA is also something that has been a huge challenge for me. Going to college coupled with arduous training takes a toll on you. As fighters, we face challenges during training, in learning combinations. Finding the right nutrition is another challenge for many fighters. We go through muscle soreness, injuries, which render us incapable of giving our 100% in training.
Do you think combat sports are a sustainable career choice?
Yes! Yes, it is indeed. There is a lot of risk involved, sure. But which profession doesn’t involve risk in it. Also, the higher the risk the higher the reward. As long as you are doing something with all your heart and is something that you are truly passionate about, it can be your career. I believe in it. And I document this as well.
You can follow Pratik's MMA journey on Instagram @pratikypatil.