A few days before travelling over to Penang, Malaysia I sent out a few mails to different gyms to try and secure an invite to come and train. In a matter of a couple hours I had gotten a couple different e-mails from cool people offering to open up their gym to a visitor 🙂
The first on the list was Kombative Fitness / Penang Top Team, a little south of Georgetown proper. My Contact was Lim, who I had met through the BJJGlobetrotters group. Lim dropped me a message through Facebook to let me know they were going to be training on Tuesday night and would love to have a visitor. Of course, I jumped on the chance to get some mat time!
Lim picked me up at my hotel which was awesome because I am sure I would have paid a fortune for a cab on my own! We rolled into Kombative fitness right at 8:00 pm as the Muay Thai class was cooling down.
Kombative Fitness trains no-gi / MMA on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 pm to 9:30 pm (I love the 1.5 hr. classes – plenty of time for drilling AND rolling!). And is located in a small’ish shopping mall (it even has a trampoline park just outside the gym door).
Once inside I was greeted by an enthusiastic group made up mostly of beginning grapplers. They were all sweating pretty good from the Kickboxing workout prior to grappling but took their time to come and introduce themselves.
The mat space consists of about 240 sq. meters (~ 400 sq. feet) of one-inch puzzle mats lined on two sides by walls and some heavy bags, one side open to the main foyer and then one side lined by what must be the BIGGEST heavy bags I have ever seen! These things were meant for Muay Thai shin conditioning for sure! There is also a boxing ring and a weight lifting area.
Before class I was introduced to Kombative’s head grappling instructor Beksat. Beksat is a relatively young guy, from Kazakstan. He has been training in the grappling arts for some years and just recently adopted the gi and received his blue belt as well…
Penang reminds me of a lot of places in the USA back in the mid – late 90’s: When Jiu-Jitsu was just being introduced and it was far and few between to find a black belt on the mats. We would all get together on some mats, watch videos (VHS-no less) and train hard to try and learn the gentle art. BJJ is fairly new here and there aren’t any full-time black belts on the island (that I am aware of).
That said, Beksat is a legit blue belt and has a good eye for detail, which I noted when he was teaching his students the basic armbar from guard. He was very sure to show each little detail.
Class consisted of the normal running, shuffling, feet up, knees up, etc. Pretty much every gym in the world seems to follow this structure (exception: De La Riva in Rio and BJJ Cambodia in Phnom Penh).
We did about five minutes of single-leg drills and five minutes of “duck-unders” to finish the warm-up. Then it was time for technique and we spent about half an hour drilling the armbar from guard. The guys that train here are all aware that they are at the beginner level and I didn’t feel any false egos trying to act differently. Just a bunch of hard workers who really love learning the gentle art.
After technique, we did about 20 minutes of sparring and then another twenty minutes of situational sparring. By the time the hour and a half was up, everybody was completely drenched from sweat – it was about 34c that day, though it had cooled down a bit in the evening. Kombative Fitness does not have A/C but does have a LOT of fans that run steadily throughout the session. It was pretty hot, but the fans made a big difference.
Kombatives is a very traveler friendly gym and everyone is welcomed to come check it out and get some training in. There is a 40 Ringitt mat fee, but higher belts (purple and up?) can probably work out a good deal if willing to help out 😉
The schedule is up on their facebook but I know they have No-Gi BJJ on Tuesday and Thursdays at 8:00 pm along with a full schedule of Muay Thai, Boxing, and Kickboxing throughout the week.
You can check them out on the website: http://www.kombativefitness.com/
or on their facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KombativeFitness
I will definitely be back and I hope you will stop by if you happen to be in the Penang area.