The journey of an aspiring fighter #28

Published On August 4, 2013 | By Helen Harper | Blog

Another awesome week in paradise. Biggest news of the week is, I have just announced my newest sponsor: Cast Iron Supplements, from Ohio in the States. I am REALLY excited about this, because if and when I make it over to America it will be awesome to have part of my MMA family there. Check out their website if you have time, they do mail order so it doesn’t matter what country you are in, you can still benefit from their great range of supplements.


Monday 29th July 2013

I felt good after this weekend, legs slightly fatigued from the Buddha run but generally I felt strong.

MMA Sparring class
Anthony is still away so Andrew ran MMA (bless him, doing double shifts covering all Anthony’s classes!) If you ever want an instructor with a lot of energy put into the class, it’s Andrew. He is SO enthusiastic, especially when it comes to things like shark tanks, of which we did mini ones, to get us started. We started with 30% boxing only, and moved on to wrestling only (with MMA gloves on). I got some great partners because we had a load of guys who were small like me, and they were all really technical rather than just smashing. Such perfect training partners. We then moved on to some grappling, again with MMA gloves on. We did “positional sparring” starting with guard, moving on to half guard, and finishing with mount. For each position we got to experience both side of it – top and bottom – before we switched partners for the next position. Last but not least, we worked a couple of rounds off the wall. I need to work on this. I swear I am getting worse not better. Confidence? Maybe. Need to work on it either way….

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gi class
Gi class was awesome. I worked with the only other blue belt in the room – don’t know his real name but he’s from Alaska so everyone just calls him Alaska. He’s a really cool guy actually, and very good to work with. The Jiu Jitsu technique we looked at an arm bar from side control: Starting at side control come up to knee on belly. When they push your knee away, under hook their arm and step round to their back for the arm bar. An extra little thing that Olavo taught up with was to grab the gi pants by the knee to ensure they can’t escape. The next technique is the escape, if they don’t grab the gi pants. You kind of switch your hips and roll over their leg, before coming back round to their back. I got this one really quickly – as if I have done it before, it was weird muscle memory, I got a strange sense of de ja vu when we did it! The last technique we looked at was for the eventuality that someone pushed your chest instead of your knee when trying to escape knee on belly. When they push up, you control their arm with your hand closest to their head, and your other hand pressures down on their hip to control them and prevent them from escaping. You then put your knee basically as near to their face as possible and your other leg over their face and the arm lock is yours!

The techniques were fun today, but the rolling was even more fun. I rolled with the brown belt again (Kim Jung Soo)  which is always great fun and of course my friend Alaska. I rolled with one other guy too but I can’t remember his name, Steve or Steven I think? Either way, it was great fun, very good evening of training.

helenkimjungsooMyself and Kim Jung Soo


Tuesday 30th July 2013

Another awesome days training! This fight camp has been loads of fun so far, I feel like that’s weird! Obviously it’s a good thing, but I feel like it should be harder…. Maybe it’s because I don’t have to cut weight? Who knows. I’ll enjoy it while I can!

Wrestling for MMA
Another great class from Mr. Leone – So lucky to have him as one of my coaches. I worked with Angela Magana for the majority of the technique, which started with a duck under, and moved onto a series of double and single leg take downs, taking the back and a take down from a body lock. Angela is a wrestling coach back in the US so she was great to work with and gave me LOADS of fantastic pointers. She is just like Olavo with her attention to detail and pulled me up on loads of things that I simply didn’t know before – so that was super cool. In the sparring part, I still didn’t manage to get a take down but I also barely got taken down – so I figure that I am improving my defense if nothing else. The take downs will come…

Boxing sparring class
Another really fun class to end the Tuesday evening session. We did a couple of drills before rounds of sparring. I sparred with some awesome guys, including Mr. Andrew Leone himself, which is always a pleasure. There are loads of people of fight camps at the moment so the atmosphere is really exciting at top team right now. Everyone is really focused and driven, it’s the best place to be as a fighter without a doubt.


Wednesday 31st July 2013

I felt pretty fatigued today, mainly my arms which could be from boxing yesterday thinking about it! I feel like I trained pretty light in MMA, didn’t push myself as much as I should have, but also didn’t have the energy to push myself.

MMA sparring
We started off working on the slip, and I worked with Angela for the boxing technique. The sparring came next, beginning with pure boxing, and moving on to Muay Thai, and then Muay Thai with take downs. I sparred with Angela and got absolutely obliterated again, which was fun(!) and a couple of the boys but I think they were going light on me. I kinda appreciated it today, my body aches. Also, exciting news: I managed to get a few take downs! They were pretty messy but they were there and that’s what counts! Definitely confidence winning this battle, need more of it. It’s coming though…

Brazillian Jiu Jitsu gi class
I was pretty shattered for this class, but I hung in there and it was a great class as always. I worked with one of my friends Ash (who I know from my previous gym which both of us have left) who is also a blue belt, but has been for about a year now so is much more experienced than me. It was loads of fun going through the techniques with him and he taught me a few extra things that might suit my style too. The technique was a kind of choke/pressure submission. I rolled with the brown belt and Ash, plus a few others, which was awesome fun but I felt pretty fatigued.
On a separate note, Ash gave me a shirt from his gym which was very kind of him – although I do apologise for the selfie Jj. Sometimes it can’t be helped. If you want to know what I am talking about – look no further than Jj’s blog for a full explanation!

 atttshirtAustralian Top Team representing!!

Thursday 1st August 2013

I felt fatigued again today, so took wrestling off. I had a quick chill after work for a change before heading to the gym for a session with Benji. It turned out Angela was there as well so they both helped me out absolutely loads with my shooting. Angela is a fantastic coach as well as having awesome wrestling technique, so she was really fine tuning me.

No-gi class
Once we had finished our session, Angela and I both jumped into the no-gi class (taking by Tommy Yang today as Anthony is still away) and worked together during the grappling techniques, which started with an escape from half guard, and moved on to gaining the mount position after escaping the half guard. Next up, we did 5X7 minute rounds of grappling, in which I got smashed in every single one! Angela, Ash, Kim – love you guys but wish I stood half a chance! Training with fantastic partners only accelerates the learning.
One last thing about today – Anthony is obviously away as I have mentioned a few times, for his semi-final fight which happened last night (or this morning in Asia) and he only went and won it! Third round Rear Naked Choke. We are so so proud of you Anthony!!


This is what the kids of today should be using as role models – athletes at the top of their game, they train hard, the fight hard and they live a healthy lifestyle. Not the idiots that appear week in, week out on the front of stupid magazines designed to force people into anorexia. Rant over!

Friday 2nd August 2013

Wrestling for MMA
This was a tough class, although I feel like my game is tightening up from all the help Angela is giving me. I think I am getting better, and people are just getting tougher on me, but sometimes I doubt myself and think maybe I’m not getting better. Then I see video’s of my training a year back and realise I am definitely getting better, I just need to believe in myself more. But then don’t we all?

After wrestling, Angela put me through my own Shark Tank. We had the two American guys (who are awesome by the way) and 5X5 minute rounds with a 30 second break in between each one. By the fourth round I was wondering why I even fight, and by the fifth round I was wondering why I even train. I think that’s the point of shark tanks though, they break you down until there is nothing left but raw passion and drive to keep you going, and of course you do keep going because you love it. The passion and the drive keep you sane almost, keep you believing you are a normal person who is just doing something they love.

After the Shark Tank we all went out for Angela’s birthday which was a lovely change from hanging out in our sweaty work out clothes…. We had dinner at a sweet little restaurant in Rawai called Sala Mexicali, which is probably my favourite restaurant on the island. I have been there a number of times and never once been disappointed!

angelahelenAngela and I at Sala Mexicali

Saturday 3rd August 2013

Wrestling for MMAWrestling was a fun class, we had a bit of an audience so Andrew spiced it up a bit! Before I forget, thank you very very much to Todd for taking so many pictures of the class, I really appreciate it. Here is the best 6 of about 150 photos!

wrestling2 wrestling3 wrestling4 wrestling5 wrestling6 wrestling7

Yoshinori Hasegawa Grappling Seminar


This is all the introduction this seminar needs. Yoshi taught us a variety of different techniques using a guard passing set up.
We started with the guard pass itself, from standing, both your opponents legs on your hips. Push their legs forward and drive your knee towards the floor over their bottom leg (same side knee to their leg).


From here you can come round to side control and this is where the first few techniques started.
The first was an arm bar, from side control, we brought our knees in to their side, swung our leg over their head (almost like we were to triangle them) all the while keeping their arm controlled under our armpit.

From here we could easily swing the other leg over and round their head to complete the arm lock.

Now, I don’t want to give all of Yoshi’s secrets away, because you really had to attend the seminar to see for yourself. However I will run through the techniques we covered and throw a few more pictures out there. After the arm bar, we looked at a back take from the same guard pass, and following that a head an arm triangle.

From here we moved onto the legs and looked at a calf slicer, ankle lock, heel hock and toe hold. Awesome stuff, and leg locks are great for small people so it was fantastic for me.


I would just like to say a personal thank you to Yoshi for coming to teach us yesterday, it has been great having him at the gym all week and I am very much looking forward to the next time he comes back.

Big Buddha
Yes, after wrestling and the seminar I somehow persuaded myself to go and run Big Buddha again. I told myself last week I was going to run it every Saturday before the fight and I didn’t want to fall at the first hurdle, so off I went up that hill again. I definitely started it more fatigued than I was last week, but somehow it was easier this week. I felt stronger going up there, my recovery time was quicker too, which can only be a good thing. I guess once you have done something once, you know you can do it, so there is less of a mind battle with yourself. When I get really tired when I run I count to 100, sometimes in different languages just to really take my mind off it, and I tend to judge how well I’ve done with how many times I needed to count to 100. Last week I counted to 100 in English 3 times and Thai once. This week I didn’t even make it to 100 once even in English because I started counting a couple of times – got to about 20 and then got distracted – which is fine because it means I didn’t really need it. So from this, I figure (really scientifically) that my fitness is improving.

In summary, this week has been brilliant: Seminar, Big Buddha run, new sponsor! I am very lucky to be living my dream, thankful to everyone that is in my life and grateful that they want to stay in it.

One last note, my friend from back home, Carl Fisher, has a really good blog called The Fighting Photographer. If you have a spare minute, please check it out – he would really appreciate it.


THANK YOU to the people that let the magic happen: Phuket Top Team, Cast Iron Supplements, Vicious Circle and Pony Club Grappling Gear. Not forgetting Juggernaut Fight Club who are co-sponsoring me for my next fight.


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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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