The journey of an aspiring fighter: A new chapter #7
10 reasons why AKA Thailand is the best place to train MMA in Phuket
A little background on Phuket and its many, many gyms: By now I have most definitely lost count just how many gyms are in Phuket. Let’s be honest, it’s basically paradise, and if there was one place you could go in the world to sweat profusely this is high on the list.
The first MMA gym in Phuket was Tiger Muay Thai on Soi Taied (If you know, you know). I myself started at Tiger but as always it’s down to the individual, and personal preference told me it wasn’t for me. I did however, make a lot of friends whilst I was there, many of whom I am still friends with today.
The second MMA gym in Phuket was Phuket Top Team. PTT is the gym I went to after Tiger. I absolutely loved PTT, and learnt more than I could have imagined to learn in a short space of time. I also had my pro debut under PTT (which I won) and multiple other Muay Thai and MMA fights.
When I came back to Phuket on holiday, I decided to see what else Phuket had to offer in terms of MMA. I knew a few people who trained at AKA so I took a visit to see what all the fuss was about!
As I walked around the gym for the very first time, I got a buzz unlike anything I have felt in a while. I felt at home immediately, and I couldn’t wait to start training.
So exactly why is AKA so good?
1. AKA Thailand is set half way up a (very long, very steep) hill. This means not only are you further from distraction, but the views from the gym are fantastic. From the Muay Thai area you can see trees and hills and there is nothing else more comforting when you are sweating your tits off half way through a round on the pads.
2. As mentioned, the road the gym is set on is half way up an (extremely) steep hill. This perfect for hill sprints, hill runs, and sweating a disgusting amount before you’ve even stepped foot in the ring. Also bliss when you’ve finished your session and you realise just what you’ve achieved.
3. The road it’s placed on is a Muslim road, so there are no chances of bars being built there. The roads inhabitants are also very friendly and will always smile to the runners (or are they laughing at the sweat?!)
4. The mats are thick and of excellent quality. On the mats you will find the ever dedicated Marcio Cesar who has a ridiculous amount of knowledge that he is waiting to share with you.
5. Muay Thai is split into a competition team and a mixed ability group. I did a few sessions in the mixed ability group before they decided I needed extra torture. The competition team almost killed me, but I loved every second of it.
I loved how much the trainers paid attention to what we learnt. Let’s be honest, if you have hundreds of people coming in and out every week – some training with more enthusiasm than others – it’s hard to stay enthusiastic, and teach like you care about the outcome. Somehow, the trainers at AKA do, and remain passionate about every single round of pads.
6. If some of the best fighters in the top MMA promotion in the world use AKA Thailand as a base for their training camps it must be good, right? UFC fighters regularly use AKA as their main camp, which means not only is the training of an extremely high standard but also that there are a decent level of training partners at all times.
7. Speaking of which, the people who train at AKA are who give it it’s fantastic atmosphere. It is not an overly busy camp (however bear in mind I went in low season so things might change) but everyone I met was kind, dedicated and wanted to help each other achieve the best they could.
8. Gym manager Adrian is one of the few managers in Phuket that can be seen on the mats each and every day. He was extremely helpful and supportive to me, as well as having a genuine interest in how my training was going. It wasn’t just my training he took an interest in, I heard him ask almost every single person training during the same week as me how their training was!
9. I agree that everyone who goes to Phuket won’t be going there to train 5 hours a day like some nutters (Absolutely do not include myself in that). You can in fact, train as much or as little as you’d like. Some people prefer to train in the morning and spend the rest of the day exploring or relaxing on the beach. Others prefer it the other way round, spend the day on the beach and train in the evening when the sun has gone in. Either way, there are packages to suit everyone’s needs. The Muay Thai area is outside (covered) but in the natural Thai heat. The rest of the training space is inside, in air conditioned bliss.
10. Speaking of the beach, if you drive 10 minutes in most directions you will get to one (apart from north, where you will discover Phuket town – a wonder in itself). My personal favourite is Nai Harn (South West) but there are many other beaches to discover during your stay in Phuket.
Over the last 5 years Phuket has become known as hive of great MMA training, and I think adding AKA to the mix will only bolster this reputation. Anyone who is interested in training, from a bit of holiday “fun” to serious fighters can find a home in Phuket; the “fighters’ paradise”.