To Whom It May Concern,
Recently I returned from Phuket Thailand, where I had the opportunity to study at one of the premier fighting camps on the Island, Phuket Top Team. Although Top Teams through out the world are recognized for their Brazilian Jujitsu due to time restraints and placement, Thailand, I committed myself to certification courses that would help me when I returned home. I registered for the Muay Thai Pad holders and Wrestling for MMA courses as both took approximately the same time to complete.
Now I am seasoned fighter, the broken teeth should tell you so, not professional, seasoned none the less. When I got to camp, it was all I expected and a little more. First I was surprised to find myself staying on a rapidly developing part of the Island (mostly based on fitness tourism). Next there were “fighters” training at all levels, from day tourists to pros prepping for their next competitions. The Facilities where partially interior and partly exterior. Outside for the striking, inside for the grappling and pro MMA training. Multiple classes of each discipline were offered daily or at least on a bi-weekly basis in the cases of Yoga and Boxing. I was there for a purpose and knew that in order to accomplish my goals I would have to concentrate on the classes that enhanced the certifications I was taking.
First up was Muay Thai the certification which consisted of 12x 1 on 1 privates over the course of a Month. I felt I had a good grip on that as I had done “North American” Kickboxing for years and started Muay Thai in the past year. I knew I would have to attend group classes to ensure I had a proper technique for those I may work with upon my return. I committed to 1 sometimes 2 group classes a day, I still had my privates and wresting to complete which lead to heavy schedule.
The Wrestling Certification consisted of 3 group classes a week and 1 private. First off I have ground fighting experience but very little PURE WRESTLING to speak of. As a matter of fact you could count my previous wrestling experience on one hand. Secondly , my wrestling instructor Eric Uresk, is a WRESTLING THOUROGHBRED. The type of coach you see in movies. He is tough, discipline, demands and expects a lot. He also gives a lot. He straight up told me “Just because someone paid for certification doesn’t mean they get it, you gotta work”. And work I did signing up for extra privates to ensure a pass.
The Majority of my training days looked something like this….. Morning 1 hour of wrestling, afternoon 1 hour private with Athit for my Pad Holding, evening 1 ½ hours group class. Wrestling privates mixed intermittently dependent on schedules. Some days equalled out to 5 hours of training depending on what I committed to. Things did not always go according to plan. As such I found myself off the mats for a week due to a possible staph infection. The time off let me enjoy some of the island I might not have caught, it also led to me having to play catch up. The team was cool about it, none the less there was no give on fulfilling requirements for certifications. I was prepared and extended my stay a bit to ensure I finished up. Receiving both accreditations approximately 1 month and ten days after arriving.
The Muay Thai Classes were run under the guidance of approximately 9 fighters. And yes I mean at the same damn time. All levels trained together and classes went something like this warm up 20-30 mins. Students where then separated into different group heavy bags, pad work, clinching drills, light sparring etc.. Each student went through each station with the Krus holding pads there by giving each person individual instruction. My Privates were something completely different.
Kru Kiatchai (Athit Praditphon )
I studied with Kru Kiatchai who had over 600 fights, very few losses he also had 10 years experience as a Kru. Still actively competing he was training for 2 fights while I was there. One just as I arrived and one shortly after I left. The privates went like this warm up, hand wrap, light kick boxing combos on the hands, boxing combos, then punches and elbows on pads, then kicking combinations. Each session I was shown not only combinations but also new techniques. Anybody could have taken this course, previous experience determines what you walked away with. We moved rapidly and I learned a great deal. He was skilled and understanding adjusting to a persons level and kicked so hard I swear he gave me a conclusion through the pads. My final test consisted of leading a group class through warm up and holding pads for different students, under the watchful eyes of the Krus.
Now lets talk grappling. So one of the certifications they offer was a white to blue belt in 3 months. I knew I wasn’t gonna be there that long but figured I might have time to dabble. Truth was with my training schedule (and being careful with injuries), I managed to take 2 bjj classes and a couple no gi grappling. As I stated I was there for my wrestling certification. First off, the mats where clean and new. For group classes we all started together and then were subdivided dependent on level of experience and interest. Every Pro interested in MMA showed up for wrestling. Maybe it was a requirement , I think a huge part had to do with respect for the head coach(Eric). Classes were an hour and after a quick warm up we went into technique then free rolling with partners, working take-downs, positioning and submissions. Classes where “short” but intensive. On more then one occasion you heard “Class is only an hour, you don’t need water” He wanted you drilling, drilling what you learned that class which was almost always a continuation from the previous. Off the top of my head I learned stance, headlock take-downs, escapes, trips , pummeling for position, leg pummeling, head & arm control, the 5 defensive points in wresting and proper wrestling sprawls.
My privates for this were a little different we focused mostly on conditioning, strengthen my flexibility and back strength and double leg shoots. Once again it was a warm up then drill, drill, drill. I am half laughing half crying as I write this, cause when you are alone in a room with Eric there is NO ONE who can save you. He wants results and doesn’t accept excuses. On multiple occasions he brought in other students for me to work with so we could work live wrestling shoots. By the end of it all could double leg shoot a guy half my age, I still wasn’t ready to play with pros though. I passed certification with extra classes and with the respect of my coach.
Things I got that I didn’t expect. Training with top level COMPETITIVE fighters from around the globe. Including my main trainer Athit Praditphon multiple time Muay Thai Champion , access to the pro teams head coach Eric Uresk whom I also took my certification from. Coaches and Krus with more gold then a bank vault including WCB Oleydong Sithsamerchai . Training Partners that consisted of the likes of Nikolay Alekshakhin, who was competing against Ben Askren for One Champion Welterweight Belt. Japanese Muay Thai Champion Yukiya Nakamura to name a few. Ultimate Fighter Competitor Luke Barnnett. Although I did not train with these guys one on one, it was very influential to be around them. Coach
I enjoyed many of the Luxuries’ of western living while being immersed in Thai culture. A Sak Yant Tattoo, from a top artist. I learned to ride a motor scooter. I got to enjoy the Thai New Year, Whiskey and the water festival. I saw Monkeys and touched an elephant, got my teeth fixed and even tried a little Thai Gambling. All within a stones throw away from the gym. Most importantly what I took away from time while training at Phuket Top Team, was a rejuvenation in my personal and spiritual life. I have not felt more like myself in years. Even months after returning to western world. I HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMEND a visit to Top Team Phuket whether you’re a day tripper, looking for the ultimate fitness vacation and ESPECIALLY if you are a “young” fighter looking to pursue your dreams. Thailand is the one place you can make some money while fighting, Top Team might just be the place to get you there. Sincerely