The journey of an aspiring fighter #26

Published On July 21, 2013 | By Helen Harper | Blog

I’m not really sure where to place this week in the good and bad scale, but actually after today, I am not really sure it matters. I went to see Big Buddha with my friend Ash and it really made sense of everything. I will write more about it later, but for anyone who feels confused about which path to take, I strongly advise you do the same.

Wednesday 17th July 2013

I have been pretty lazy/jet lagged if I can still get away with that (only landed 48 hours ago, surely it’s still valid?) and not written anything about yesterdays training. I was also completely high off the buzz of it but by the time I had edited the previous two weeks all I wanted to do was sleep!

So yesterday I started off with wrestling class– it was so good to be back!!

I was so hyper about training that I breezed through the whole of wrestling without remembering the details. I know we worked a pick, but that is literally the only thing I can remember in detail! Everyone I saw kept telling me how giddy I looked and it was just pure happiness to be back (and a little bit of jet lag!) I then jumped straight into Muay Thai class which I remember in a vague amount more detail. I only did the second hour, because it starts at the same time as wrestling, but I started with a couple of rounds on the bag. I did my pad work with kru Choek and my favourite of his comments was “You are weak today” I told him I was jet lagged and he just looked at me as if “You are really pulling the plane card? You realise how many people come here and are more jet lagged than you but still do better than this?” He was still pretty nice to me to be honest, he really didn’t need to be that kind. After the pad work I worked with a tall English girl in the clinching. It was hard because she was far taller than me and we were both very sweaty by this point. I think training with her will do me some good though because her Muay Thai was much better than mine.

Back to today then! MMA class was absolutely packed! I wish we had taken a group photo but I didn’t think to suggest it until it was too late. We did four rounds of boxing and take downs only (in MMA gloves) and then did 3 rounds on the wall with the same rules. I took one guy down twice within those seven rounds! I was so so proud of myself!! I don’t know the guy so he might have been a complete beginner for all I know, but a take down’s a take down – I was more proud of myself to actually shoot in for it, rather than sit back and defend. After that we worked some positional jiu jitsu defense. For instance, one person in turtle and the other has a seat belt grip. The person in turtle has to escape/regain control within 15 seconds, whilst the person on top has to try and submit their opponent. We did this with four different positions: Turtle, back take, mount and loose triangle from mount. The first two rounds were really easy for me as I was paired up with a beginner. The second two however were with his much more experienced friend who pretty much killed me.

Next up was BJJ gi class – and my first session at Top Team in a blue belt!! I was super nervous before I got on the mat – I sort of feel like a fraud wearing it at the moment – but I guess everyone feels like that when they first get it. I soon relaxed into the session though and was so happy to work with Akira for the last time before he head’s home. I am really sad to see him go because along with George he was one of the best training partners I have ever had. We worked on a guard pass into a choke, and it was a jiu jitsu technique I hadn’t done before. The first hand went into the collar as usual, but the second hand went across the face so that your opponents face was being pressed down on to your wrist and choked them. It hurt, a lot, so Akira and I also ran through what they worked on in the morning to try and mix it up (and create less pain!) It was another guard pass into a choke, this time the first grip wet deep into the collar as before, but then you sprawled out and went over to their back and grabbed their belt. You then twisted your hips into the ground which brought the choking hand up and choked them under your arm pit. I really liked this one – very different to what I have done before, and I reckon after a couple of hundred reps I can start introducing it into my rolling! Lastly, we did a simple guard pass, which I always need to work on, and came into side control. I had awesome last rolls with Akira and Axel and I really am sad to see them both go. I also had a roll with a new girl who was pretty good. She was a lot bigger than me but seemed to know her stuff too. Was good to roll with her.


Axel, myself, Akira

Sunday 21st July 2013

Wow, I really didn’t get back in to the blog thing at all did I? I feel bad because I had some really good sessions this week, but my mood was slightly dampened by getting injured on Thursday. I did Muay Thai class at 4pm, and then at 6pm we had no-gi with Anthony. In the no-gi class, we worked a Peruvian neck tie, which I actually managed to pull off in the live rolling and I was super proud of that! Near the end of Anthony’s class though, I rolled with a guy who decided to go 100% on me even though he was clearly a lot bigger and stronger than me. Now I wouldn’t mind that if he hadn’t yanked on the submissions so hard, I mean it was literally like he was trying to kill me for real. I was thinking, “What did I ever do to you?” Anyway, he ended up ankle locking me and snapping the submission on so fast that it popped my knee. It happened to be the same ankle that has been operated on so it is already weak – and I literally tap as soon as someone takes a hold of it because it is not worth the pain just to hold off an imminent submission. I tapped straight away but because he put it on so quick, the damage was already done. Luckily the adrenaline was flowing by this point, so it wasn’t so painful at the time, but the thing that was painful was the full on kick in the face I received from the same guy less than a minute later. I still have a black eye from it – that happened on Thursday. It’s now Sunday. Black eye still going strong. I don’t understand why people can’t just go 50% on people they don’t know? Surely saving injury is more important than getting that tap? Maybe not to some people. I haven’t had so much of this from Top Team actually, there is barely anyone which that opinion of rolling, which has been great for me. But there is always one! Also, don’t get my wrong, I do like to roll hard, but even when you go 100% in the actual roll, you still put the submission on slowly, purely out of respect to your partner? Obviously there is the odd time when it comes on a little stronger than you expect but you don’t just yank it on without a care in the world. Anyway, rant over. I promise I will shut up about it now!

As I was out on that knee injury for the Friday and Saturday sessions, this blog is going to seem pretty boring, so I will just talk a little about my fellow team mates. First things first, I love them, so so much. They are my big brothers, my family, the glue to this whole experience for me. The current on site MMA fight team consists of: Jj Ambrose, Anthony Leone, Andrew Leone, Rob Lisita and Brad Terrey. We also have a new addition coming soon from England: Ian Enty.

First up, Jj, who is basically Superman and has an outstanding record of 19-4. He recently did an interview which would be worth watching especially if you are one of those people who don’t get why we live our lives like this. Why we live in Thailand and train our asses off every day, for that one fight every few months. Most people back home have no idea why I do it, let alone why there are so many more like minded people out here, all trying to achieve the same thing, all helping each other to get there. Jj has a way with words, and puts it so much better than I ever could, so please, if you do one thing today – watch this interview!

Next up, Andrew (6-2) and Anthony (12-5). They basically come as a pair. I have never seen two brothers be so supportive of each other, and care so much about the other ones success as I have from these two. They are both absolutely lovely, and always make time for me, and my questions, no matter how stupid or ridiculous they might seem. Anthony recently did a wrestling technique clip with Jj, which was pretty cool, well worth a watch if that’s your thing – even if it’s just to see Jj in his spats. I know you girls are going to watch it even if you don’t know a thing about wrestling!

Rob Lisita. That’s a name we will all know in the future… he is currently the #1 ranked featherweight in Australia and has a record of 11-5. Rob is crazy, but so lovable – and really helps me out with my training.

Last but not least, Brad Terrey (1-2 MMA and 3-0 Muay Thai) who as you can see fights both MMA and Muay Thai. Although his record doesn’t tell you much, if you look further into his fights and who he has fought, you will see what a great fighter he is. Perhaps his most memorable fight would against Eric Kelly – it’s certainly the one most of Asia knows him for!

I have the pleasure of training with these guys on a daily basis – and I could not ask for a better team around me. It’s not so out of reach though – anyone who decides to train at Top Team can train with these guys every day. As Jj says in his interview, Phuket is one of those rare places in the world where like minded people accumulate and all train, fight and have fun in the same place. No long journey to the gym, no stressful traffic on the way there, if you choose to work out here then guaranteed it will be 100 times more relaxed than it was back home. Come and see for yourself, enjoy the Thai way of life.

Just a last note for this week, living in Thailand, which is predominantly a Buddhist country, obviously exposes you to a large amount of Buddhism. I have never been a particularly religious person, but Buddhism is one religion I feel I can connect to more than any. Today myself and my good friend Ash went to the Big Buddha and I was lucky enough to get blessed by one of the monk’s there. It was a truly humbling experience, and one I will never forget. Before the blessing we spent time in and around the actual Buddha statue, and I felt a sense of calm. The weight and tenseness I have been carrying around with me lifted, and I felt like I could see my path in life a little more clearly. We are so lucky to have such a place on our doorstep and I would like to visit more often. I feel like when I am up there, on top of that mountain, everything starts to make sense. The blurred lines become clearer, and the will to succeed becomes stronger. My perspective changes up there, the things that really matter shine through, and the things that don’t? Well, they are forgotten.



Getting blessed


Ash and I under Big Buddha


Under Big Buddha


The view from Big Buddha

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About The Author

English Mixed Martial Artist fighting out of Andy Roberts BJJ and Legacy BJJ with a pro record of 4-1.

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