So, I completed a full week of training. I can confidently say that I have settled in to my training and my routine and it’s just a matter of fine tuning things this week, followed by the normal week by week adjustments that I would be making whether I was training at home at my own gym or anywhere else.
There are essentially 2 parts to any MMA camp in Thailand, the MMA portion and the Muay Thai portion. Talking with Joel (one of the co-owners of TQT) it seems the plan was to focus on Muay Thai for the first year and than begin putting more work into the MMA program in the second phase. I am lucky enough to be at the beginning of that and so all the people in the South Asian MMA (Pakistan and India – although I am sure more Pakistani’s are reading this) scene reading this post you can feel proud that PAKMMA is going to be one of the first MMA orgs/fight teams with strong ties with Team Quest. As someone who had to start things from scratch and knows the pressure, pride and passion that goes into creating a successful gym, I can relate to the things that Joel and Ian might be growing through at this phase in setting up and establishing their dream.
Anyway, since the Muay Thai program is pretty well established here let me tell you a bit about that first. The team here is great, the trainers are all technical and on numerous occasions I have heard them laude the “IQ” style of fighting which in Thailand translates into technical Muay Thai with an emphasis on not taking too much damage to yourself and inflicting as much as possible on your opponent. For anyone very familiar with Muay Thai, it should be pretty obvious that it’s very often a game of standing in front of one another and exchanging blows. Fighters who fight smart such as Saenchai are called “IQ” fighters and these are the people who fight into their 30’s (most Thai fighters retire in their mid to late twenties) so this is the type of Muay Thai training I want for myself and want to adapt into my MMA game. The team is led by Kru Jen who is the All Thailand 115 lbs Champion, the All Thailand Champion is up there with the Lumpinee Champion and Rachademnern Champion, so this guy can easily be classified as one the best strikers in the world. He is not only teaching but actively training and I am lucky enough to be able to regularly spar with the guy. Along with Kru Jen there is Kru Joe (Jen’s twin brother), Kru (Naughty) Ni, Kru Nat, and Kru Ping. Your gonna read more about these people individually eventually but would like to make a separate post for that.
Along with the great trainers, Team Quest has already created some great fighters from scratch. One of these fighters and their premier fighter is a guy named Adrien “Kaew” Team Quest Thailand. He is from France and has been training in Muay Thai for about 1 year and has sky rocketed to the top of the Muay Thai scene and those in the know in Thailand are calling him a Muay Thai phenom. He has 22 fights and 21 wins with 21 KO’s. He is tall, very tall and uses that length to his advantage by winning virtually every fight by knee or elbow. In fact he fought one of Northern Thailand’s top fighters yesterday and won via knee in the 3rd round. The guy put up a good fight but Adrien’s intelligent use of his best weapons are going to very, very difficult for anyone to figure out any time soon and I don’t see any major roadblocks for this kid until he enters into the realm of Thailand’s elite. Once that happens it’s just a matter of preparing himself appropriately for the next set up challenges. Anyway, Adrien’s career will get enough attention over the course of this blog. All I can say is that I am very lucky to have this guy as a sparring partner as I hate fighting tall fighters.
Now on to the MMA program, a true, true veteran in David “Hollywood” Hulett runs the MMA program at Team Quest Thailand. David has been around the sport a long time. He has been fighting for 12 years and has thirty recorded professional fights (20-10) and about 10-15 unrecorded ones. This guy is on the cusp of breaking it into the big leagues and has come to Team Quest to be in the environment he needs to make that happen. Although we are going to get to David in more detail later on, I have taken an immediate liking to him. He is humble and straightforward with everything and doesn’t take on any airs about his experience and skills. He is also a great instructor and breaks down techniques in detail and has very good knack for explaining the big picture that lies around each technique and how to incorporate it into an overall strategy for one’s MMA game.
The final part of Team Quest are essentially the most important and it is through them that all this has come together and that is Joel Bowen and Ian Cartwright the owners. I met both of these guys at the ONEFC Asia summit and we got along very well immediately. When I was looking for places to train I contacted these guys and the first positive sign I got from them was that they told me upfront that they were more concerned with who I was as a person than my skills. They view Team Quest as not just an MMA team but also a family they are building and that is also very important to me. When you feel close to your teammates and you respect them you give everything you have to not disappoint them. When we met at the summit after the facebook conversation and got along so well, it was pretty much decided that I would be choosing Team Quest as my home. Joel is an American from Oregon and trained at the original Team Quest. He is easygoing and good-natured but I can tell that he doesn’t take his role as Team Quest’s representative in Thailand lightly. He over watches the training session and takes an active part in pushing and motivating those who come to train here. Ian is a Canadian and is the co-owner of Team Quest, along with Joel he has extensive experience training in Thailand. He shares the desire and obsession to turn Team Quest into not only one of the top gyms in Thailand but one of the strongest MMA teams in the Asian region. Looking at both these guys I can almost fast forward my brain into the future and see them in the future as being not only great managers but great coaches who are going to have integral roles in the lives of a lot of future fighters.
So, that covers the “Team” in Team Quest Thailand. I really hope this does justice to them but I am sure as the time goes on here I will be able to paint a clearer picture of the people who are setting up Team Quest for success.