So finally, I am getting some time to sit down at a proper keyboard and wrote about some of my training so far. I have arrived in Cambodia via Ubon Rachathani where I trained at one of the top MMA gyms in South East Asia – Legacy Gym. Legacy Gym though small and not the most fancy gym in Thailand is most definitely a legit fighters gym. All the guys there were within the same skill level and there were hardly any new guys and absolutely no one who was just passing by or was not training seriously. Ubon is random rural city in south eastern Isaan (the rural Thai breadbasket) with no real tourist sites or attractions. Anyone going there to train is not coming there to train and party or train and mess about. They are there only to train.
Most of the students are from Scandanavia as the gym owner himself Ole Laursen is from a Danish background. However, I did also meet a an Australian and a guy from Hong Kong named Alex Niu who is a professional fighter and is currently fighting in Asias biggest promotions outside of Japan including Legend Fighting Championship in Hong Kong and Martial Combat out of Singapore.
I walked into the gym and was greeted by the MMA trainer Vaughn Anderson, a very knowledagble and very, very nice guy hailing from Sweden. He is also fighting on the SEA circuit and is the MMA trainer at Legacy. You can view his biodata on the website for the gym (www.legacygym.com).
After that I started training by jumping rope. Then shadow boxing. Then hitting the pads for 3 rounds. Then hitting the bag for 4 rounds. Then doing 100 kicks on the bag.
I nhave trained in Thailand before and this is not an extreme workout by any stretch of the imagination. In all honesty this is quite light, and I probably do approx the equal amount of total work at Shaheen MMA on a regular basis. What made it different was, was that for the first time in almost 2 years, I had a trainer pushing me the whole time and not giving me any rest between any of these exercises. At the end of all this I was done. I didn’t end up being sore but for the first time in a long time, I was tired. I mean I was really tired, I just wanted to go home and lay down and that felt good. Very very good.
Of course conditioning comes and goes and its the techniques that stay with you forever. This session, although mostly about getting me back into training mode also got me some good tips from Ajarn Rye regarding how to throw knees. I have a lot of experience training in Thailand but its nice to feel like a student and get little adjustment that turn good execution of techniques into perfect ones. I am after the perfect, and I will probably never get there.
Since they don’t have MMA training in the morning I went back to my friends house and went exploring the streets and markets of Ubon with my wife (this is also my honeymoon :).
Later on in the afternoon it was sparring time. Six four minute rounds with three partners switching every 2 rounds. The guys were good and it sort of increased in intensity as my partners changed. My first partner I was quite even with, I think he had less experience than me but he had been training full time at the gym for some time and was quite sharp. My experience is went held me through as I started to figure him out and started hitting him with hook and leg kicks with some regularity by the end of the second round.
My second opponent confused the hell out of me. He obviously had ALOT of striking experience in something other than Muay Thai cuz he kept throwing these weird spinning kicks and hook kicks at me. He did this weird double kick and it landed right next to my eye slightly cutting me and giving me a bruise. On top of this he had some good speed and movement and since I had not trained in so long and was already exhausted from the morning, I was not fast enough to catch him. Third round I was with one of the Thai trainers and although more skilled than both guys before by far, I had a better time sparring with him. I have a lot of experience with the Thai style and I know how to work with it. Although I got my butt kicked, I did not feel as confused as I did with my second partner. Also, with Thai’s sparring is a lot of fun since they like to m ake a lot of weird OOWAYYY sounds when they are fighting. Unless you have trained in Thailand your not gonna understand :).
After sparring was the MMA class with Vaughn (for those who also trained in MMA, everyone else continued the Muay Thai regimen) where we went over mount escapes and I learned a very cool escape that would lead into a foot lock or at the very least a scramble.
All in all, a great time at Legacy, I hope to go back for an extended period at some point, maybe 3-6 months. Great gym to be training in after such a long hiatus. Made me think of something standout grappler from my home state of Virginia once said and I think a lot of Martial Artists in Pakistan should really think about before they consider themselves to be at the peak of all knowledge and think that no one can teach them anything – “You an instructor for a few hours a day, but your student for the rest of your life – act like it.”