So, as I mentioned before, I had initially thought that my short stay in Khao Lak was simply a step-off point for my live-aboard dive trip to the Similan Islands and that I wouldn’t be getting any BJJ for a week or so. As I have also mentioned before…that sucks for me! I miss more than 2 days in a row and I start getting anxious (though I am working on a healthy BJJ / life-balance) 🙂
I heard about Combat 360X from a friend I met training at Phuket Top Team, Zaim, from Brunei. When I mentioned to Professor Olavo that I was heading to Khao Lak he straight-away gave Combat 360X a good review.
So, there it was…5:15 on a Tuesday as I walked into the gym. It was a gritty, open air type gym with a squared-ring, hanging heavy bags, and a space towards the back with mats and an occasional heavy bag hanging randomly around the room.
There was a small’ish Thai guy yelling at people as they were doing LONG rounds of Muay Thai sparring. As I walked into the area he came quickly over to me. He didn’t say a word, but I knew the inquisitive look in his eyes.
“Sawade Krab”, I said – with palms together at my forehead…
“Sawade Krab” he repeated…
“I’m Here for Jiu-Jitsu”, I said…unable to hide the Brazilian accent (Zhoo-Zhitsu) that has crept into my pronunciation…
“Jiu-Jitsu?”…he repeated back to me…”There”..he said, pointing to the back room (the only fully walled space in the gym).
“Khop un Krab” I said, and headed toward the back room. Before I could get there, Mike came strolling out to greet me. Mike is a BIG guy. Big, with tats! The kind of guy that looks like he could pick you up by your face with one hand and shake you until all the change fell out of your pockets….
“Mike?”, I said…
“Hi, I’m Eric…I emailed you yesterday?”…still following those five rules for travel training!
We exchanged greetings and he pointed me around the corner to the changing area. I went round and changed into my gear and came out to find that the Muay Thai team was still hammering out those loooong rounds!
I sat down on the mat, stretching a bit when Mike came out and sat down with me. We talked a bit and it turns out that Mike has been in Thailand for about 10 years. He started out training at Tiger Muay Thai and was one of the first people to start training BJJ when it made its way there. After some years Mike and his wife moved to Khao Lak. He wanted to start a BJJ specific gym but the reality of the market made him realize that a Muay Thai / MMA / BJJ gym was the only real business model that would make it here (remember, we are in the heart of Thailand’s south…just a couple hours north of the Chalong district)…Muay Thai is king!
Meanwhile, as we talked, the Muay Thai class had ended but they went straight into a conditioning circuit that consisted of push-ups, sit-ups and medicine balls being slammed into their abs! Not-Even-Kidding! This was after what was probably an hour long Muay Thai workout! Guaranteed Bad-asses right there!
When it finally came time for BJJ, we went with a “Let’s just roll” style, which I am totally cool with! When I was in Cozumel, MX we rolled “open mat” style a lot! One-at-a-time I rolled with all the guys on the mat. I felt like there was a bit of “expectations” in their eyes as we all rolled. Being that they are in Thailand and they are two hours north of “Muay Thai Central” in Soi Tai Ied, they don’t get a lot of visitors. So, yeah…I felt like I was being sized up as everyone would watch each match.
It was totally cool though. I started off rolling with Mike and I told myself…”Whatever you do, don’t get underneath of him”…That was easier said than done. As we squared up on our knees, I tried to turn him left or right but the guy is a tank! It just wasn’t happening. At some point, he made a move and I ended up on my back with my guard on. I tried to work the omoplata technique that Professor Joao Paulo had taught the week before but Mike’s back was so broad, I just couldn’t clasp my hands! He ended up getting to my half-guard, where I tried an arm-bar set-up that Cyborg had taught me but again…Mike wasn’t having it! He passed my half-guard and I would turtle / roll out to inverted guard, back to guard and we would start again. It was, honestly, an awesome roll! It was great! He eventually passed my guard but I was able to hold him off with the defense technique Master Royler had taught me so many months ago. In the end we fought to a draw, but I would definitely say Mike had the upper hand of it. Like I said…a great roll!
Next Up I rolled with a guy that had just won an MMA title the weekend before in Manilla (he won by rear naked choke in the first round!). I can see why he is a champ! He was tough! and technical!We had a super tough battle for the whole five minutes! At some point he had my back but I was able to fight out of it. Then, suddenly with just a few seconds left, we got into a MAD scramble! I was trying to hit X-guard but he kept slipping his leg out..he turned to avoid my last, solid attempt at X-guard and I caught his leg…we rolled for a sec and I felt the tap…Knee Bah!
I don’t knee-bah often, but when I do….Ah, hell…let’s be real. It was 50/50 in that match! He was fast and technical. I wasn’t sure until the tap if I could even keep up with him!
By the end of the evening, I had rolled with everyone on the mat. They were all tough guys with good BJJ. More importantly though…they were all good guys who live up to the Jiu-Jitsu code: work, brotherhood, and respect! It was great!
I left Combat 360X feeling like I had just met some kindred spirits. Some of them, I couldn’t even communicate with (outside of the occasional “OSS” – I hope they know what that meant…) but I would go back there in a minute! Actually, I AM going back there! I get back from my live-aboard on Saturday afternoon and don’t leave for Malaysia until Tuesday morning which means….Monday night No-Gi session at Combat 360X !!!! If you’re in the area, stop on by 🙂
Until then, Oss and good training!