Posts Tagged ‘Thailand MMA camps’

Leaving Ubon

Posted on: April 7th, 2009 by admin 1 Comment

I left Ubon Rachathani this morning for Khon Kaen. I caught the 12:30 pm bus. It took me 5 hours. Not too bad. Luckily the bus didn’t stop every 2 minutes (it stopped every 15) to pick some random dude off the side of the road, which is very common for non-luxury long distance buses here in Thailand. They’re sort of a mix between a long distance bus and a city bus. Its very convenient for people who want to catch any bus heading in their direction, you don’t need to be waiting at a bus stop. But it gets annoying if your the one who got on at the source of the bus and have to feel the bus made sudden breaks every time the bus driver THINKS that someone is waiting for the bus.

I have been to Khon Kaen a few times on brief stops, either on the way to Laos or visiting friends outside of the city in the Isaan country side. Pretty plain Thai city, nothing much to do here if your here for a few days. For some reason though I am seeing a lot more foreign tourists walking around. I have seen farang who retire here (old guys with their Thai wives) and have seen farang who are teaching English, you can pick them out from regular tourists by the way they carry themselves. I don’t know why the sudden interest in Khon Kaen for these backpackers, I suppose its just people wanting to get off the beaten path or possibly on the way to Laos. I think alot of people come to Thailand with the misconception that there going to be like, the 10th white person to ever stop foot in the country. They then realize that about 25% of the western world comes here on a regular basis. By the way I”m kidding, its not that high but sometimes it really seems that way. As I start seeing more and more hippies and backpackers, which I am bound to since I will be heading to Chiang Mai and Pai next, you’ll probably start hearing me complain about them more and more. I’ll forget them for now. Just know that I don’t think they’re all really annoying, but many of them, far too many, definitely are.

I start training tomorrow morning. I am alone in this crappy hotel room (170 baht per night) so I am hoping I will fall asleep early from sheer boredom, I had a Thai friend call the camp Sor King Star before i left Ubon so they are expecting me. You may be wondering how I even found this camp. Once again, sort of like Legacy i sort of stumbled upon it out of sheer luck. I was wanting to train in Isaan for a while and I decided to pick Khon kaen because i was familiar with the city and even though training in some camp in the boonies would be interesting (I have done it before in a place called Chumpae but only for one day) I assumed that the camps in the major cities of Isaan would be where the top guys from country side went to befor eheading to Bangkok if not staying there throughout their careers. So, I asked a tuk-tuk driver to take me to a camp and he did. When I got there the driver kept saying “Khai Muay Kang Raeng” meaning “Strong Muay Thai Camp.” I didn’t figure it all out until I did some research on my own. When i go train tomorrow I will get some more information.

So, hello Khon Kaen and Sor. King Star. Goodbye Ubon Rachathani and Legacy Gym. Legacy was a good gym and I am sure I will go back, if anything to visit my friend Niran who will now be living there for a while. Solid pad work, frequent sparring and serious students made it a great place. I attached some pictures from my last session with one of the young Thais training in the ring. That is another hallmark of a good “farang” camp. If the camp is training new fighters as well as foreigners they are serious about having a legitimate camp and are not only a money making machine. However there are plenty of exceptions to the rule, so, just because a camp has young Thai fighters doesn’t always make it good, but it generally does, nor does a lack of young Thais and only foreigners necessarily make it a “tourist camp” though it often does.

I will try and update you ASAP on how my first day at Sor King Star went.

Mixed Martial Arts Pakistan has a website!

Posted on: April 6th, 2009 by admin 2 Comments

We’re online! Go to pak-mma.com and check out our new website.

Tigers Gym Part III

Posted on: April 6th, 2009 by admin No Comments

This is the final entry giving a summary of my time at Tiger’s Gym. I may go write another post later on some time about a specific day. But for now this is it.

Also, I am leaving Ubon to go to Khon Kaen tomorrow. Another Isaan city about 300 kms northwest of here. There I will be training at the gym Sor. King Star. This is the gym where the famous Thai fighter Saenchai started out at. At least that is my assumption. I will confirm all that when I get there because there may be a similar named camp. I will miss Ubon. Legacy is a good gym and I am staying at a very comfortable house with wireless Internet. However, at the same time, it is a little too comfortable because although I had plans to train once a day for the first week my sleep schedule has gotten messed up having a real nice comfortable bed and staying up on the Internet all night. One week of this is OK but I definitely can’t make this a habit. So tomorrow after morning training I will head to the bus station, check into a cheap hotel and on Wednesday have my first training session at Sor. King Star. I will also be spending my Songkran (Thai New Year) here in Khon Kaen although I may get out of the city and into a smaller nearby town called Phu Wiang which is next to a national park.

Now onto Tigers Gym. I left at the point where Alan the Bull Fernandes picked me up to take me to training. Now, I had seen Alan on numerous HL videos from Tiger’s Gym so it was quite odd finally meeting him in person since we had never met or spoken to each other ever. However, despite the fact that he looks like a mean dude in his videos he is a really, really nice guy. You would never expect that this guy has been a fighter for several years and enjoyed giving and receiving punishment in the ring. So he picked me up outside of my dorm room and we headed over to the gym. The gym is about 10 km away from business of Nasik road and in a smaller village called Baghur. I was already used to the traffic in Pakistan so the 10 km ride on his motorcycle to the gym was no big deal really. I actually found the traffic, in Nasik at least, to be much tamer than that of Pakistan. We arrived at the training center, and although I had seen it before in videos from the inside and outside. It really is a very non descript place. There is no big sign proclaiming Tigers Gym, nothing like that, just a large 2 story building with very old walls. On the main gate in Hindi, I believe is written something like Balkawde Akhara which is the same of the wrestling camp which also functions there. In fact the building had been a wrestling camp for a quite a while before Tigers Gym was invited to start MMA training at the facility.

Inside the building is a labyrinth. There are so many different rooms and corridors. various staircases leading here and there, hallways into dark corridors, my first day the building was alive, wrestlers going here and there, wrestlers families coming in, random people, it was a beehive. There are multiple shower areas, a kitchen for the wrestlers meals to be prepared in, a weight room, a room that I did not see but heard chanting coming from (wrestling has kept strong ties to Hinduism), an office, A gigantic warm up area with wrestling mat, a kickboxing hall where the heavy bags are strung up, another wrestling room, a traditional wrestling pit and lots of other nooks and crannies I did not see. The place is massive.

We went down some stairs, a few twists and turns and into the warm up area which is connected to the kickboxing hall and also has a large yellow wrestling mat. When I got there I saw a large poster with CLASH OF CHAMPIONS on the wall at the top of the concrete bleachers that overlook the warm up area. Actually poster isn’t a good word, more like Billboard. It’s huge.

The other students were already there and were beginning to stare at me. I don’t know if I looked so different but this was a small town and so any newcomer is quite an event. Luckily Alan told us to get on the mat and start running. After a few minutes of running in circles with shadow boxing in between I got to thinking “This isn’t so bad.” Then he had us to tumbling and rolls. I haven’t done drills like these since I left the states and not only was I really tired, I was really dizzy and couldn’t walk in a straight line. I wanted it to stop. Luckily after that he told us to partner up and do ground and pound drills. I thought the hard part was over. We did about three 2 minute rounds of this drills and I was in bad shape. I was really really tired, the kind of tired that you equate with torture it was so painful. The dust and pollution that had accumulated in my lungs in Pakistan was trying to get out and I was coughing a nasty, raspy cough that made it feel like my lungs were gonna tear. Luckily after that drill things started to ease up. We did a few rounds on the pads with partners and then switched over to the heavy bags. Although I was still tired I could force myself through the rest of the workout.

The afternoon training was typically 1:30 to 2 hours in length. The class is conducted at a very fast pace. You go from one thing to another, and switch from striking, to grappling and clinching drills. Most of the class is drilling with a few days of sparring. I think it’s very smart because with limited time to train guys totally unfamiliar with MMA you get the basics drilled into them along with conditioning at the same time. Most of the classes were like that except for a few exceptions like when we would train outdoors. I’ll save some of that for another post.

I’ll leave my summary of Tigers Gym at this. I will write some other posts later about my time there. I was in India for about a month. Tomorrow before I leave I will try and write one more post about the training at Legacy. Til then.

Tigers Gym India

Posted on: April 3rd, 2009 by admin No Comments


As I wrote before sometimes I will be writing about things that have already happened. Not every blog entry will be a daily update.

So, today I am going to write a little bit about my coming to Tigers Gym in India. I won’t write so much about the training today but about how I arrived at Tiger’s Gym in the first place.

I think the first thing anyone should do even before reading any further or right after reading the entry is to go tigersgym.com. You can get all the info you need from the website along with pictures and videos.

However, I will give you some basic background info. Basically, Tigers gym is the brain child of Danial Isaac, who has been doing Martial Arts all of his life. His father was a very well known Martial Artist as well and was even invited to the first UFC but had issues with his visa. He started Tigers Gym nine years ago. That’s something everyone should really sink into their minds. Nine years ago MMA was still an underground sport and not like it is today or even 5 years ago. But in 2000 people were being invited to learn and train MMA in India. Since then, the gym has done really well and all the major players (promoters, gym managers etc) in the Asian circuit are linked with Tigers Gym. Tigers Gym has now been featured in Men’s health India, Star Sports and other media outlets. I have a feeling that they are about to make a big mark in the Indian sports scene soon.

So how did I end up this place? Well, it started during the planning phases of MMA Pakistan. This is when it was still just an idea being talked about between me an my cousin. During this time I was doing a lot of Internet research on Mixed Martial Arts and Martial Arts in general in Pakistan. Other then usual Tae Kwon Do federations I found and the odd traditional martial arts school there was nothing being taught in the way of MMA in the country. I searched forums to see if I could read any talk on MMA but even that came up slim. One day, very randomly I decided to see if maybe there was something in next door India. I expected to find MAYBE one MMA school, or at least one that THOUGHT it was an MMA school. Instead to my great surprise I came upon a large web page with fighter profiles and HL videos and pictures of a gigantic training center. I had literally had goosebumps, my blood ran cold. To be honest my first thought was “MMA is already in South Asia, there’s no point in me doing anything.” After the initial shock though, I really thought about it and realized it was a good thing, a very good thing. Having a large gym in India could only help me, in no way could it hinder me. A day after seeing the web page I knew that I had to go to India personally and visit this gym and see what it was about. I figured I was probably going to go visit when I finished up with school and left to go train in Thailand. I emailed Danial Isaac and told them I was interested in coming to visit and he was very happy to hear from me and told me i would be more then welcome. It was set then. I was going to go visit Tigers Gym.

I wanted to write a little bit more, but its getting late here so I am going to go to bed. I’ll finish up tomorrow.

First Day in Ubon

Posted on: March 26th, 2009 by admin No Comments

So, today was my first day in Ubon. It felt good to wake up in Thailand. It felt even better to eat breakfast. Som Tum, Koy Kung and Tom Plaa. That’s Papaya salad, baby shrimp salad and fish soup. A wonderful break from the ghee, red meat and naan (bread product) I had been eating on a daily basis. I love Pakistani food but it’s not always the best for training. Thai food is not only delicious but it doesn’t make your arteries scream as the morsel enters your mouth.

Like I may have mentioned I have come to Ubon to visit a friend of mine from long ago. His name is Niran and we used to go to school together in Malaysia (International School). I have not seen him in ten years. He lives in a forest monastery outside of the city. It is a very tranquil place and definitely resonates a very peaceful vibe. We met each other as if we had seen each other a week ago and conversation was not awkward at all. After talking to him for a bit he asked if I would like to stay at the monastery for a few days. Anyone who stays under three days is not obliged to shave their head :) . I agreed and so I will be a guest in the forest monastery after Saturday morning training.

Speaking of which, I did my camp search today and it turns out that a 15 minute walk from Niran’s family house is a very well known Muay Thai and MMA camp called Legacy Gym (www.legacygym.com). This is quite lucky for me as this is one of the foremost gyms in Thailand that caters to foreigners and also the only other major gym in Thailand that has a reputable MMA program. Oddly enough this fits in very nicely with my whole journey to Mixed Martial Arts Pakistan.

A crucial component to setting up MMA Pakistan is the success of MMA in India and my relationship with the pioneers of the sport there, Danial Isaac and his team at Tigers Gym. Tigers Gym sends it’s fighters quite often over here to Legacy so it’s nice how things worked themselves out on their own. By the way, I will also include an entry later on about my experience at Tigers Gyms India, which was amazing.

I did my first training session there today but I don’t want to give a full review because I haven’t trained in so long and I wouldn’t be able to give a fair assessment of the pad work considering I wanted to die after about a minute. However, I have been here before (meaning, fresh in Thailand) and my stamina will be decent in about a week and I can give a full review. I will give you my first impressions though.

First of all, it seems to me in the 3 hours I was there that this is a serious camp and most of the guys here, are not here for a Muay Thai holiday that involves drinking and partying with an hour of training a day. Guy’s are preparing for fights and there is not alot of lounging around at the water cooler talking about crap. The camp is smaller then i expected but has plenty of different bags and pieces of equipment to work with. They have a full size ring and also a full size cage.

I did some time on the pads and I was so out of gas that I can’t tell you how the pad work is as I said before. One, two kick was all I needed at this point. I also did some grappling in the cage. The main instructor was not there as I beleive he is cornering one of their fighters for the upcoming Art of War show in China (MMACHINA.COM) but the substitute instructor went over the basic armbar, triangle and a sweep and then we rolled. I don’t want to make too many comments until i spend some more time training there. I’ll include photos as well. I think it should be up in about a week or so.

In Thailand

Posted on: March 25th, 2009 by admin No Comments

I just arrived in Thailand today. I flew out from Lahore at midnight of the 25th and arrived 4 hours later in Bangkok. it was sort of like coming back home, I’ve been here so often. I immediately went to the bus station to get a bus to Ubon Ratchathani where a friend of mine is currently staying at a monastery as a monk. His family has a house nearby and his family is nice enough to let me stay here. the house is very big with a lot of rooms so I feel very lucky having a nice room to myself. It feels good to be back in Thailand. I love Pakistan, it is my home, it is my soil but there is a lot of tension there at the moment. Thai people are very carefree and gentle and it is much more suitable to my demeanor. This country very rightfully deserves the title “Land of Smiles.”

I will be in Ubon for the next 1-2 weeks. There are a few Muay Thai camps around and I will go check them out tomorrow as well as go visit my friend Niran at the temple. The next two weeks will be one of breaking myself in to the training regimen that is full time Muay Thai as well doing a little bit of reflection with the forest monks. A wonderful combination for a Martial Artist.

Before leaving Pakistan I had a talk with an aunt of mine who is a lawyer and she will be guiding me for the next year or so in establishing a governing body for Mixed Martial Arts in Pakistan. Since there really isnt a MMA scene right now I am not in a hurry to get it registered and would rather take my time and make sure the parameters I set are exactly what i want them to be. I will keep you all updated on that front.

Anyway, I am going to go to bed right now. I want to write more but I am tired and I will try to give you guys a more thorough reading i the next couple of days.

Saying Goodbye

Posted on: March 23rd, 2009 by admin No Comments

I leave for Thailand tomorrow. Another stage in this journey is to begin.

Yesterday I said goodbye to my main students. The ones who not only shined the most in terms of skills but the ones who truly were committed and believe in what I am doing. They have advised me on the best way to approach the establishment of Mixed Martial Arts in Pakistan. They were there to affirm that I was going to be successful. I never have had any doubts that I will be but it is nice to see young Pakistanis stand with me with the same resolve as I have. This core group I have are the ones are going to be part of the first generation of Pakistani MMA competitors. These are the guys who are going to pass on the knowledge and spread the word of this sport and way of life.

When I came to Pakistan last year I took a group picture before leaving. I keep that picture with me at all times. Before I fight I stare at that picture and burn into my mind one of the main reasons I am fighting. I’ll post that picture in the next few days.

I fight for many reasons, I’ll write about it later at some point. But one of the reasons I fight is for these guys. They have put their faith in me and I cannot let them down. My success in the ring and/or cage is linked to the success they will have as players in the MMA world.

In a little bit I will post some of these guys profiles so everyone can get a real grasp on the human element at work in all this. This is my last post that I will write from Pakistan for some time.

Next time you hear from me I will be in Ubon Rachathani, Thailand. See ya then.

Getting Ready to Leave

Posted on: March 21st, 2009 by admin No Comments

I have three more days until I fly out to Thailand. I am excited and sad at the same time. I am excited to leave because I am not getting the train I need over here. Other then the three weeks I spent at Tigers Gym in Nasik, India (Tigersgym.com) my workouts in Pakistan have been very limited. I am sure to get my ass kicked in Thailand for the first two weeks until I get back into the groove of things again. I will be traveling to 4-5 different places in Thailand to train and see some old friends. For those of you interested in possibly training in Thailand in the future I will give you some of my opinions regarding camps although there is a great website out there focusing exclusively on that topic called fightpassport.com.

I will continue to be in touch with all my guys and guiding them on what to train and how to train. I will also be in contact with my good friend, (brother would be a more appropriate word), Danial Isaac who runs Tigers Gym in India to give you the latest on the MMA scene in South Asia. I’ll also let you know whats going on in terms of the bureaucratic front regarding the making of the MMA Federation in Pakistan.

My last few days here I am just going to start packing and dwelling on what it is I need to do and focus on for the next 6 months. I am going to give my guys a sort of “farewell address” to keep them motivated and hungry to train. The hardest part about this whole thing is not teaching the kids. Its instilling in them the confidence that they can teach themselves and get better even if I am not there. That’s what I have been trying to drill into their heads since I got back from India a few weeks ago.

Anyway, to anyone reading this, PLEASE, PLEASE go to any forum you are a member of or join one and spread this blog PLEASE! As awareness grows, so will the results. Thanks Guys.

The next few months

Posted on: March 17th, 2009 by admin 7 Comments

This is a blog about MMA in Pakistan. It’s also going to be about a lot more. It’s not going to take place only in Pakistan. I am going to guess that for at least the next two years I will not be in settled in one country for more then 6 months at a time. Although my focus certainly will, what I am doing at the moment will not always have to do with MMA in Pakistan. By that I mean, I will not be training people in Pakistan every single day of this blog. I will be travelling and training myself. It is imperative that I get better if I am to be of any use to Pakistan. So some of these blogs are going to be about me in other places in the world training in some form of combat sport. Other times I may be writing about what I am doing in terms of setting my own brand of gear. I need to make money somehow so I can support myself while pursuing my dreams. Sometimes I may write about the nitty gritty paperwork or beaucratic headache I will go through in creating federations or establishing rules for competition between myself and other local martial arts schools. Other days might be something totally different but the focus is always going to be in the creation of Mixed Martial Arts Pakistan. I just don’t want anyone to think “I thought this was about this guy training kids in Pakistan, and he’s writing about how much his shins hurt from training in Thailand.” Trust me, my aching shins in Thailand, will be releveant to the story thats Mixed Martial Arts Pakistan. So anyway, here are general ideas of where I will be next.

A week from now (March 24th 2009) I will be in Thailand training in Muay Thai although I might do some MMA training at the camps that offer both. I will be in Thailand until early August where I will head back to the States for a bit. A few months after being back in the States I hope to leaving again for either Brazil or back to Pakistan and India.

There are some other plans I have going on but they are not confirmed. I only want to give you the information which is pretty much 100%.

Anyway, I have gotten into this blog and I feel my entries getting better. Let’s see how I feel a few months from now. I am having more fun writing this than I originally thought. As more people keep signing up its only going to give me more motivation.

Right now I am in Lahore. My Grandmother is not doing so well so I am coming up to see her. I will go back to my hometown for possibly the last time tomorrow and I will meet up with all the guys I have been training with and have a couple of final seesion along with a farewell party.

See you all later.

A slice of today

Posted on: March 12th, 2009 by admin No Comments

I arrived in my hometown last night from the city of Lahore where my grandmother is currently admitted into a hospital due to a stroke. She is better now and I came back to attend a wedding. A wedding in Pakistan typically entails about a week of dinner and functions for family and friends. Many people sleep at dawn eating and talking and wake up in the afternoon and begin getting ready for another evening. This goes on for at least 3 days, and for about a week if your a close member of the families getting married.

Anyway, this being a small town, two students that I am teaching found out I was back and knocked on the door this morning. They had taken off from school or had been given a holiday (a common thing in Pakistan, teacher will decide on a whim that he doesn’t want to teach that day) so they were free. I told them to come back in an hour to train since I was pretty sure I won’t be back in a regular teaching schedule due to weddings and my grandmothers illness. Might as well train when we can. they showed up an hour later and I took out a canvas tarp along with some insulation foam and set up my makeshift rolling mat in my grandparents front lawn. We then did some drills we had been working on on the ground. Escaping the mount and sweeps from the guard. Very very basic stuff. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 101 for sure. We did that for about an hour and then rolled for another hour. First the two students, whose names are Shakeel and Omar. Then each student rolled with me for a bit. We did this and I finished the class off just giving them some tips on how to train while I was gone and what possibilities I foresaw for the future of the sport in Pakistan. Its the 12th today and I leave on the 24th. After that it will be about 9-10 months before I get a chance to see how far these guys have progressed.

By the way I found out this morning that the owner of TapOut “Mask” passed away. He did alot to promote the sport from way back when it was still “human cock-fighting.” So I hope MMA fans thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends he has left behind.