The journey of an aspiring fighter #29

Published On August 18, 2013 | By Helen Harper | Blog

It’s always important to end the week on a positive note, and I have done just that, although it was a little sketchy towards the middle of the week. Quote of the week: “Everything will be OK in the end, and if it’s not OK then it’s not the end.”

Monday 5th August 2013

Back to Monday again, why does the weekend go so fast?! Not that I don’t love the week too but I could do with a few more hours of weekend – oh would you look at that? We get a day off next Monday for the Queens birthday (Mothers Day) Thank you to the Queen of Thailand. Much appreciated.

MMA sparring class

Really good class today, run by Andrew of course. We did a couple of mini shark tanks to start off with, although had some newbies in today who didn’t really get the format…. but it was great all the same. We started boxing only (30%) and moved to boxing with take downs after that. After this we looked at some positional rolling: guard, half guard, mount and back control. I am definitely getting better at passing guard. I mean it’s not perfect by any means, but it’s improving. I felt good in class today, legs a little fatigued from the Buddha run on Saturday but not as bad as last Monday, so there is also an improvement there. I’m on it for this fight, so excited!!!!

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gi class

Olavo had a problem with his tooth so Tommy Yang took the class tonight. Always love Tommy’s classes – never fails to entertain and keep us all hooked on what ever he teaches. Which tonight was a Jiu Jitsu technique from side control, firstly looking at an arm bar, not your standard arm bar though, one where you hook your heel over your opponents face and base out over their body. Secondly we looked the transition to a kimora if the arm bar failed. Both really cool set ups and submissions, the sort of thing I would love to be able to put into my game. I had some fun rolls, Alaska first, then one of the American’s (I want to say Josh?) he’s a purple belt so I was just glad to survive that one! Lastly Dmitrii from Russia. This guy is huge, and did I forget to mention got his blue belt THIS MORNING! (Congrats by the way) I discovered after we rolled that he weighs 94kg. That’s almost two of me. And it’s basically 90% muscle. I will try and take a picture of me and him together because imagining us rolling is almost laughable! It is always fun to roll with him though, even if he is bloody heavy.

Tuesday 6th August 2013

Unfortunately I missed wrestling today because the rain was SO bad that I had to stay at school until all the kids had been picked up. I remembered when I got home that Muay Thai was on so I raced up to the gym for that instead. I haven’t done Muay Thai for a while because I was fatigued last Saturday when I usually do it – but it was a welcome change to my routine. I did pad work with Daeng, and it was loads of fun. He worked particularly an elbow and knee combination which felt pretty strong by the end. I also did some clinching with one of the other trainers which was pretty hilarious, always good fun though.

muaythaitrainersOur crazy Muay Thai trainers in their new blue shorts!

Boxing sparring class
Another good class today – not often I have a whole evening of training staying standing! I think we had about 6 rounds of straight sparring with a couple of drilling rounds on top of that. We worked the uppercut specifically today which was actually pretty cool because I almost never use an uppercut in sparring – it’s about time that changed! I felt pretty good in the sparring, mainly more confident I think which makes a lot of difference. Maybe I wasn’t completely shattered too from wrestling as I didn’t do it – sure that made a difference but it’s not something I want to repeat too often (missing a class).

Another of my friends left today, Andrew Webber. This is the guy who gave me a pair of MMA gloves! Lovely guy and someone I will definitely be keeping in touch with.


Thursday 8th August 2013

I had an awful evening last night, in which I almost canceled my fight. I won’t go into details because quite frankly I want to put the whole thing behind me, but I am mentioning it because I did say when I started this blog that I would record everything, whether it be good, bad or ugly. Last night was pretty ugly, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I went back to training today with a fresh start in mind and actually ended up having an awesome couple of hours! Started off with a private with Boyd – Phuket Top Team’s owner and founder – which was amazing. I felt a bit crap in my last private with him, didn’t really feel like it clicked in my head so well, but tonight it felt so much better – actually made me realise how far I have come. Obviously I am not going to go into detail on the contents of the private because it was specific to my fight camp, but it was certainly very productive.

No-gi grappling

Anthony is back soon! But for now we had the pleasure of Kim Jung Soo’s knowledge and expertise. Commonly know as ‘the brown belt’ throughout the last few episodes on my blog, he is one of my favourite people to train with at the moment, because he is extremely talented and a legit brown belt but never goes too hard, or tries to prove that he’s the best, he just cracks on and trains with everyone, and has fun whilst doing it. I really enjoyed the Kimora series he taught us today – very useful stuff. Hopefully someone will drill the stuff we did tonight with me *hint hint* (let me know if anyone’s down for that)


Friday 9th August 2013

School was mental today, kids were crazier than normal. I was absolutely shattered by the time I got to training. Wrestling turned in to MMA because everyone wanted to spar, which was cool. I had no energy today though, my legs felt 100kg each and my arms almost as much. I know this is the time you need to push through it but there was something blocking the brain and limb communication today! I got through it, just. Need to find some energy from somewhere!!

Brazillian Jiu Jitsu gi class

Tommy took the class! I love Tommy. He’s just so awesome, and everyone loves his classes! Today we looked at some submissions from guard: Kimora and then a guillotine if they defend it by coming towards you. If the go away from you when you Kimora them then there is a good sweep that we also looked at, so something for everyone. We then rolled a couple of rounds and I was very happy to have the opportunity to roll with Tommy. Always such a fun technical roll from him, and today was no different. Quite possibly my favourite roll of the week. Thanks Tommy!!

I have realised today, that there are always going to be haters. I have been subject to some negative vibes this week, which to be honest made me want to give up, it is the closest I have come to it but I am so so so so so very lucky to have the people I have around me, supporting me through the good and the bad. For one, my gym Phuket Top Team and the manager Boyd, have been really great. Also there are a few certain individuals that have been ridiculously awesome this week and I just want to say thank you: you know who you are. Training and working as much as I do is always going to be hard – and especially stressful a few weeks before a fight. Thank you for sticking by me guys, I promise I am going to give it 110% and bring back that win.


Saturday 10th August 2013

I missed Muay Thai again this morning because I was shattered! I hate missing sessions but I keep reminding myself that it’s more important to have productive sessions that lots of sessions (quality not quantity). I then felt so much better in wrestling though, so it must have worked, plus I got a good long sleep because I didn’t have to wake up early for Muay Thai.

Wrestling for MMA
There was 9 of us in this morning which was a big class for a Saturday morning, so after our standard drilling, we each did a mini shark tank. They were only 3 minutes long, and the opponent changed every minute, but with 9 of us it still took half an hour to get through us all. It was good to do because we all got to watch a little more than usual, and see some new moves, and see if there was anything new we could put into our own games. The wrestling technique before the mini shark tanks was a combination of everything we have done in the past week, like a revision session. We have looked at double leg run the pipe, go to double leg then take the back, standard double leg and side control, and a pick to distract before coming in to take the double leg. I think my drilling is definitely getting smoother so that’s a bonus if nothing else! Awesome music too today I must say Mr. Leone. Thanks for the awesome week of wrestling.

Big Buddha hill run

I did not want to do this run today. I made literally every excuse I could possible think of not to do it, and 20 minute before I was supposed to do the run it started raining, which of course would make it too slippery to run on a hill. Wouldn’t it? Oh yeah but I forgot I was in Thailand and 10 minutes after it started raining it was sunny as you like and the ground was dry in minutes. Dammit Thailand, now I don’t have a valid excuse. OK, I suppose I have to go run this hill….
Anyway so I did it, had plenty of time to think about stuff on my way up which is always good. I think sometimes especially those of us who work and train all the time, spend a lot of time doing and not a lot of time thinking about things, and evaluating things. I am definitely one of them, sometimes I just need to take a step back and a) not jump to conclusions and b) chill the F*** out. ‘Scuse my language. Training and working simultaneously can get pretty intense especially when you put a lot of pressure on yourself (like I do) I guess it’s the same for whoever runs two lives together – having to put two different heads on every day. OK now I am a teacher, and later I will be a fighter. I can’t even keep up with myself, I don’t know how other people do!

Things I have learnt this week:

1. Take a deep breath
2. Take a step back
3. Appreciate those around you

I can’t believe the amount of love people have shown me in the past 7 days – I am so very lucky to have each and every one of you in my life. You know who you are, you are all so very awesome in your own little way and I am really feeling the love and support right now.

In 3 weeks I am going to bring back that win and it’s dedicated to each and every one of you who have supported me through this fight camp.


Last week I just couldn’t get my head straight to finish up my blog, so I never posted it. This week however has been entirely different, and although I am tired, I feel good and ready to start the week ahead. Last week taught me a lot, and I am thankful that I went through it, however horrible it was at the time, this week has been better – as you will see and I will try not to miss any more weeks!!


Monday 12th August 2013

Well here is my long awaited day off work, in which I decide to train for the entirety of and therefore feel like I haven’t had a day off. However, all good because training was amazing.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gi class
Finally I get to do morning class – always so much more packed than evening class, love it! Olavo was on form this morning and had us sparring for 40 minutes before we even started the Jiu Jitsu technique. I got some insane partners, it was so so much fun! I feel like I fell back in love with Jiu Jitsu, and it was the kick I needed to fall back in love with MMA.

Muay Thai sparring

We are lucky enough to have some insanely good pro’s here at Top Team and one of the latest to join the team is Jay from Australia. He is only 16 which makes him doubly awesome and he taught me so much in the hours sparring we did, can not wait to spar with him again! Thank you so much Jay!

MMA sparring
Last session of the day because I am attempting not to burn myself out. I had so much more energy than normal – drank a can of iced coffee before the class and actually managed to feel strong right up to the last round. Really happy about that, so I am going to try and drink a coffee every day around 3pm so try and keep the energy levels up for the evening. I know it’s not ideal long term but I figure the last 2-3 weeks of a fight camp you have to give it everything and that’s the only way I am going to be able to give 100%. One day when I don’t have to work 8 hours a day before the training sessions start I won’t rely on caffeine, but until them it’s just the way it has to be!

Tuesday 13th August 2013

Another awesome day in paradise! We had a long weekend and I think some of the kids must have felt it because they just kept running up to me and cuddling me today. It’s a feeling that makes everything in life 100% better.

Wrestling for MMA
Today Don Carlo Clauss ran the class, who is a friend of Andrew and Anthony’s. He’s a wrestler ad MMA fighter from the US (with a 10-7 record) so has some cool stuff to show us. I worked with Angela on the drilling section, and we looked at a double leg, followed by a double leg defense (sprawl) and finally a defense to the sprawl. It was good to work with Angela because she picked up on a lot of my technique that was a bit sketchy – and managed to fine tune me a little. We had the live section in groups of three, Angela and I worked with one of the Penang Top Team guys who is nice and small so it was cool. I actually felt pretty good in the live section although my take downs were limited – but my defense was not so bad. Feeling good after that – lets see if I can keep it up.

Boxing sparring
Yet another awesome boxing class, they seem to be getting better and better. We did one of my favourite drills to warm up: you have to touch your opponents knee or shoulder, and defend them trying to touch yours. We did a couple of rounds and it was really good fun. We then did a couple of drills which I worked with Andrew (Ho not Leone). Next up was the sparring section, I stayed in the pro ring for the entirety of the sparring which was AMAZING and I had so much fun. I really miss just pure boxing, I definitely need to do it more. It’s kinds of nice sometimes to only have to look out for one thing (punches) instead of punches, elbows, knees, kicks, take downs and submissions. I mean MMA is awesome but sometimes it’s nice to just have punches thrown at me!


Wednesday 14th August 2013

I was on the coffee again today and it worked brilliantly again, I managed to keep my energy up the entire way through MMA sparring. Unfortunately, I was the subject of more leg kicks so my leg hurt a little too much for Jiu Jitsu but Olavo gave me a recommendation of a painkiller which I am hoping kicks in pretty soon! I got a pretty cool war wound too, which was quite by accident – Angela and I were scrambling whilst I tried to defend a take down and she slipped and head butted me by accident. It doesn’t hurt too badly but it does look pretty cool!!

blackeye1 blackeye2 blackeye3“50 shades of black eye” OK, so just three, but you get the idea!

 Back on it tomorrow with a private with Boyd and some no-gi action.


Thursday 15th August 2013

Well the painkillers worked a treat – thank you Olavo! I got a great session in with Boyd, working further on my distance closing issues, and my angling. Always opens up new options for me working with Boyd so I get a lot out of those sessions. Really looking forward to the next MMA sparring session so that I can try and implement the things I am learning.

Next on the menu was no-gi with Tommy – yet another amazing class, Tommy never fails!! We looked at a back take, followed by a reverse triangle which I really liked! Had three rounds of rolling also, but nothing too crazy as we had a few inexperienced guys in tonight.

Another of the awesome people on this island left tonight which was very sad, Good luck with your next adventures Ryan, we will miss you a crazy amount!


Friday 16th August 2013

I didn’t sleep at all last night, my legs are in agony – they have so many knots in them that they are actually preventing me from sleeping! Crazy I know, but sadly this is not a new thing for me – it happens fairly regularly – but more so the harder I train. I also got pretty dehydrated today on the school trip to Logos Hope (the biggest floating library in the world), which was by the way pretty amazing! However my lack of water for the entire day really didn’t help my lack of sleep – so I felt pretty rough by the time I finished work and skipped wrestling in favor of a quick nap. Sorry but sometimes it has to be done! I came back stronger and managed to do the gi class with Tommy, so at least I got something in. Tommy never fails to put on a good class, and today was no exception. We warmed up with drills, and then looked at a couple of cross collar chokes.

I still felt pretty rubbish, but as so many people are leaving I made it out for an hour to say bye to a few people. (Will people stop leaving?!) Got a few pictures of us all too, looking beautiful as ever!

shaneraymondhelenandrewShane, Raymond, myself and Andrew

teamyellowRaymond, Andrew, myself and Ron (otherwise known as “Team Yellow”… don’t ask!)

thefridaynightcrewThe whole group (minus a few on Skype dates)

Saturday 17th August 2013

Just the one session again for me today – STILL didn’t sleep last night again. Wrestling for MMA was loads of fun though, we had the pleasure of both Andrew (Leone) and Don coaching us and we played a game at the end which was absolutely hilarious. We had two teams, and each team player had a number: 1-8 on one team and 1-8 on the other team. Andrew stood at the side and threw a wrapped up belt in to the middle whilst shouting a number. If your number was called you could go out (hands and knees only) and try and grab the belt. Everyone was completely over competitive and I think it actually ended on a draw because I don’t think Andrew could take one of the teams loosing – it would have caused too much trouble! We has so much fun though. Also it was Andrew’s birthday – so THANK YOU for coming in and coaching us on your birthday and of course HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

The last thing on my list for the week was a shark tank. I had loads of people coming to help me out, some watching and shouting encouragement at me, and some beating me up. I want to thank each and every one of you because you are all helping me become a stronger fighter, I could never go through this without you all.

I had planned for that to be my last session, but then Benji and Angela gave me an extra session in the evening, all on footwork! THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart you two have helped me so much, thank you.

Sunday 18th August 2013


feetbeach helenbeach1 helenbeach2Thanks to my mate Irish for taking a few pictures, because I completely forgot…

Stay healthy and happy, live for the moment and make the best out of every situation – whether good or bad.

THANK YOU to my sponsors, I would not be here without you. Phuket Top Team, Cast Iron Supplements, Vicious  Circle



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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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