Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Running vs. Muay Thai vs. CrossFit for Fitness

Hey guys this is Johnny. It's been a long time since I posted and that I've been training, but a comment I got today from a reader wanted me to share his success with Muay Thai for fitness. He started a runner, but as 100% of runners do, he got an injury and had to do something else to keep in shape. Like me he put on 10KG (22lbs) of fat as soon as we stopped working out. Luckily for him, instead of buying new clothes and just accepting it, he found Muay Thai.  Here's what he said:

I used to be superfit .. competing in 10k's and half marathon's .. at 5 ft 10 I had a 12% bf @ 77kg. Weight hovered from 77kg to 80kg also cuz I'm a massive foodie. Also used to hit the gym to maintain muscle mass so had a good proportionate chest size. All the running caused me a bad left knee .. loose ligament. Physio advised me to stop running altogether and stop sports .. either that or go under the knife. In a year of inactivity, I put on 10kg's so I became a proud owner of a fat tummy. I lost my shape and my zest. My old clothes didn't fit no more and I never ever thought that the weight would affect me but it had. Badly. Morale took a nosedive. Not exercising intensively, I wasn't the same person.

Muay Thai fighters going for a warm up run

I bumped into an article about Muay Thai online. Chanced upon it. I love martial arts but only ever done Tae-Kwan-do as a kid. Decided what the heck, quit my job and travelled to Phuket (Soi Tai-Ied) to give it a crack. YOLO moment. As a matter of self-discovery, Muay Thai did not affect my knee condition one bit. Also, I opted for skipping rope instead of running for warm up. It worked a treat.

The 1st 2 weeks of Muay Thai were hell .. pleasure in pain type of hell where I felt sore and pain in areas of the body I never knew I could feel sore in. I enjoyed the intensity and after having been a year out of fitness I usually got nervous before pad work wondering if I'd have the stamina required.

How to jump rope for Muay Thai warmups

Now, after 2 months of Muay Thai (average 5 times a week as during the first 3 weeks I needed rest days in between to let the body heal) with absolutely NO other activity like crossfit or weights I've lost 12 kg's. However, my body now feels and looks different to when I was superfit thru running at more or less the same weight. I feel leaner now, but point to note is I'm 14% bf (2% higher than previous fit life), my body feels tighter, the whole body feels rock solid - not in a heavy way but in a feathery springy sort of way. I lost my slightly buffed chest but I kinda like the way it is now ... Diet wise I wasn't eating a 100% clean (I would say 70% -ish) but I've only ever touched beer twice in the last 2 months.

Not sure how to say it but I feel reborn and I thank Muay Thai... turns out I happen to love this martial art. I'm going to continue Muay Thai even after I leave Thailand for as long as my body is able to. It is fantastic. It's a top art of self-defence and fitness coupled with respect and camaraderie. And I'm not training to fight either.

-My Fight Camp Reader

Read The Original Article where this comment was posted: Muay Thai vs. CrossFit for fitness.

If you haven't already, read the book 12 Weeks in Thailand and get money saving tips on doing your first Muay Thai fitness camp in Thailand!

Warm Regards,


Thursday, September 10, 2015

1st Day Training BJJ at Team Quest Thailand with Professor Bruno Carvalho

I've been heavily focused on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu these past few months but have been mainly doing open mat at the college as it's 2 minutes from my house. But this week I decided to drive over to Team Quest and check out their Tuesday night Gi BJJ class that is technique focused.

The classes are now lead by Professor Bruno Carvalho who is a 3rd degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt originally from Brazil. Here are my first impressions on the BJJ program at Team Quest Thailand and the training with Bruno.

The Facilities:

The gym is no longer brand new as I remember it but still a great place to roll. Just make sure you bring your own Gi as they don't have a selection of loaners.

Black, White or Blue? Just don't' bring camo.

The Class:

It's hard to say as I've only been to one session so far, but it seemed like a decent mix of regulars and beginners who have been there for just a few weeks or less.

The biggest benefit of training down in Southern California or Phuket would be having a ton of training partners to roll with. Right now Chiang Mai's scene isn't big enough to be consistent, but it's growing and by having a legit Jiu-Jitsu program at Team Quest now it's going to attract more and more students.

Professor Bruno Carvalho Teaching After Class

Professor Bruno Carvalho:

Even before I went to class, I already knew the the new trainer would be good to work with. I knew that he was a legit black belt originally from Brazil, and he's had a lot a ton of BJJ competition experience as well as 25 MMA fights, but that doesn't always means they are a good teacher or patient with new students.

 I happened to skype with my buddy Nicolas Gregoriades, another great black belt and as soon as I mentioned Team Quest, he immediately said that Bruno was super legit and that I would enjoy the class. Here's a highlight reel of Bruno's MMA fights, definitely worth watching. 

What really impressed me about Bruno was how patient he was even with the total beginners and when I was just not getting a technique he was teaching. 

I was also really glad to see that he would roll with students after class during the sparring sessions, and after 5 minutes rolling with him and being completely outclassed, I was reminded how big of a skill difference there is between me rolling with other white, blue and even purple belts at the university open mat club and rolling with a legit black belt. It was a humbling experience and was glad he went gentle on me as either way, his experience and skill showed me how much I still have to learn.

But what impressed me the most and really cemented how legit Bruno really is was after class after he took of his Gi and everyone was ready to go home. Two students, stayed around to practice one of the techniques they had learned in class, and instead of getting on with his day, Bruno was more than happy to jump back onto the mat to help them. 

Overall 1st Thoughts:

If I was coming to Chiang Mai for the first time, or if I lived closer to Team Quest, I'd go there as my default BJJ gym. With their great new black belt, and open mat sessions on weekends, it's definitely worth the membership.

I'd really like to see the BJJ scene grow even more in Chiang Mai as it's my favorite city in Thailand and much more affordable and livable than Phuket. We'll see how fast the scene will grow to a point where there are multiple training partners for all size people and belt levels, but so my experience has been positive enough for me to recommend it, and I'll be going back to Team Quest for their Thursday class tonight.

If you want to check out their schedule, pricing, and find out more info, you can go to Team Quest Thailand's website here.

See you on the mats!

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

BJJ in Chiang Mai: 3 Month Update on my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Journey

I can't believe that I've been back on the mats for 3 months now after taking a 2 year break from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. A huge part of getting back on the mats is in thanks to my good friend Chris Lioe who is a purple belt from Orange County, California.

Team Quest has been making a huge push to get more people doing BJJ in Chiang Mai and even started offering two open mat days a week that are completely free even for non-members. I think it's awesome they are letting people use their mats without a fee as well as offering classes taught by a legit black belt. There's also the BJJ Club at Chiang Mai University which has been growing in popularity. Here's my three month update on my personal journey, recovering from an injury and thoughts on the growing sport here in Thailand.

Chiang Mai vs. Phuket for BJJ

I'd love to say Chiang Mai is better for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu simply because I prefer living here over Phuket, but that would be a untrue. There are so many more gyms and rolling partners down south at Phuket Top Team, Team Quest, and the new AKA Thailand.

If you're looking for the best Jiu-Jitsu program in Thailand, it would still have to be the program at Phuket Top Team with Olavo Abreu, a 4th degree Carlson Gracie Black belt. However, if you're looking to live in Chiang Mai for the overall better quality of life, lower cost of living, and access to the digital nomad community then be happy we have a growing scene here as well and bring your gi!

Phuket is the winner for best BJJ programs
Chiang Mai is the winner for best overall quality of living

Taken at Phuket Top Team a few years ago

Team Quest Thailand

A great facility with a Professor Bruno Carvalho a 3rd degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt leading the classes now. They also have open mat rolling sessions on both Saturday and Sunday which is completely free even for non-members.

At only 250 baht ($7us) per drop in class or 2,000 baht ($57us) per month for unlimited BJJ classes it's a heck of a lot cheaper than training in Phuket which charges an unbelievable 10,000 baht ($285us) a month. If you're wondering why BJJ is 3x the price in Thailand as it is back home, it's because people back home do it as a hobby a few days a week while at a fight camp, you're training 6+ times a week and really getting your money's worth.

Either way, with Team Quest now lowering their unlimited BJJ class prices coming to Chiang Mai combined with it's lower cost of living is a no brainer if you're on a budget.

BJJ Class at Team Quest Thailand in Chiang Mai

My 3 Month BJJ Update

Ever since my buddy Chris moved from California to Chiang Mai and convinced me to buy a gi, I've been super dedicated to rolling again. My grappling cardio went from 0 to a respectable 8 in just a few weeks and because of my background in wrestling, MMA and Muay Thai and the fact that I'm a lot bigger and stronger than most guys, i've been able to hang against some of the blue and purple belts which has inspired confidence.

I mainly train at the Chiang Mai University mats but solely because it's 2 minutes from my apartment in Chiang Mai and I'm currently more interested in open mat than learning new techniques but if I was coming here for an actual fight camp or to up my jiu-jitsu game I would have gotten an apartment by Team Quest and just trained their full time instead.

Instead of going to technique classes or trying to piece together techniques myself, I started following Nic Gregoriades' BJJ Building Blocks program online instead which is a 52-week online course that you can do from anywhere. I originally planned to follow the videos week by week, but then found myself watching 3 or 4 at a time right before class so I could try out the techniques that day. So far i'm only 1/4th of the way into the course but can already highly recommend it.

At Chiang Mai University's BJJ Club

Overcoming the Injury 

My grappling cardio was getting insanely good, my tech was improving every week and I started being able to be a danger even to purple and blue belts that were smaller than me while being able to submit fellow white belts my size.

But then...I got hurt. The stupid thing was, it wasn't even during rolling, but afterwards while stretching. I still believe it's healthy to stretch, but over stretching, especially when the mats are slippery from you dripping with sweat can be dangerous. I was doing a neck stretch I learned when I used to wrestle in high school and slipped forward on my shaved head and heard a loud popping noise in my spinal cord. It was a scary moment, but luckily I was completely fine with the exception of not being able to put any pressure on my neck without it being sore. I'm pretty sure I had tore some of the supporting ligaments or supporting muscle.

I iced it and let it rest a few days before testing it again, but every time I put the slightly pressure on my neck, I could feel it wasn't quite right. As much as I loved my progress in BJJ, I didn't want to risk further injury so I marked a date on my calendar for an entire month and didn't even consider rolling again until then.  In retrospect I should have continued my online training to learn technique, but I was so disappointed in myself for doing something so stupid that I didn't open it once. Luckily, I forced myself to go to the gym, do pull ups, strength and conditioning, hikes and even went to the university once to sprint on their track.

Pool side in Chiang Mai on the weekend with Chris

Back in Action

As of this week I'm back in action and back on the mats. So far after two days of rolling, my cardio is still suffering but I'm back on track and my grip strength feels like it is completely unused to what I'm trying to do, but it's an incredible feeling to back.

If you're still thinking about whether or not you should come to Chiang Mai to do jiu-jitsu, I'd say go for it and bring your gi. The Muay Thai scene up here has always been fantastic with Team Quest, KC Muay Thai and Santai all being great gyms but now BJJ is also growing. If you do plan on coming to Thailand to train, make sure you read my book 12 Weeks in Thailand: The Good Life on the Cheap as it'll save you a ton of money and give you an idea on how to navigate life out here when you arrive. 

By the way, big thanks to Chris Lioe for helping lead the BJJ revolution here in Chiang Mai and for being a great rolling partner. Happy birthday buddy!

Hope to see you all out in Chiang Mai and on the mats.

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Buying a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gi in Chiang Mai, Thailand

It's been a few weeks since I started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu here in Chiang Mai again and have really need enjoying it. Even though I've always prefered no-gi while traveling as it was easier, the guys that train over at Chiang Mai University almost all train in Gi's so I figured it was worth the investment.  The problem is, where would you get one?

Basically there are 3 options in Chiang Mai, I'll go over the pros and cons of each in this post.

In Store:

Look for it in stores. Unfortunately, even at the biggest sport stores in Chiang Mai, they only have Judo Gis which might be tempting as they are a lot cheaper and are still strong enough for BJJ, but don't get it. The reason why Judo Gi's aren't good for BJJ is because of their cut and collars.

By having huge easy to grab sleeves and easy to grab collars, you'll make it too easy for your opponent to control you, as well as make it dangerous for your partner to get their fingers or toes caught in your gi.


On Amazon most companies don't ship to Thailand, but if you look around enough, you'll find some that do such a Fuji. If you are willing to wait 2 weeks, and pay for the shipping + customs charges, you can get a Gi starting at $150.

Saturday Gi Class at Chiang Mai University

Team Quest:

Where I ended up buying my Gi is Team Quest Thailand near the airport.  They only had a few sizes left when I went, so I'd call them ahead of time to make sure they have yours but I was lucky that they had an A3 which is my size since I'm 5'10.5" and around 210-215lbs.

The price was 3,200 baht which is $100US and very reasonable for a high quality Gi that reminded my purple belt friend of an unbranded Shoyoroll. I've been washing it in cold water and air drying it on my balcony and it has only shrunk by a tiny bit but fits me perfectly.

The Shop at Team Quest Thailand
I'm getting ready to head to another session today, but if you're in Chiang Mai or planning on coming, definitely get yourself a Gi so you can come roll. I'd bring your Gi with you as I talked about in my previous post as it's a lot easier to get one back home but either way see you on the mats at Team Quest or at CMU.

Someone mentioned that the Muay Thai and MMA gear shop in the Night Bazaar also sells Gi's and has name brands such sas Grips. Unfortunately their website doesn't work but it might be worth checking out.


Also see: BJJ is Back in Chiang Mai
My other blog:


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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

BJJ is BACK in Chiang Mai: Bring Your Gi to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu!

It's been awhile since I've been actively training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu here in Chiang Mai, but guess what, I'm back! For the longest time, if you wanted to do BJJ in Thailand, you'd have to go to Bangkok or Phuket, but recently Chiang Mai has been developing the reputation of having a growing jiu-jitsu scene and I have a feeling it's just going to get bigger and bigger.

Two years ago, when a friend asked me if they should bring their Gi with them to Chiang Mai, I told them not to bother.  Even Black Belt legends like Nicolas Gregoriades would leave their kimonos at home when coming to Chiang Mai, but last week my buddy Chris who is a purple belt based in S. California asked if he should bring his Gi with him from the states, and the answer is finally YES.

That's me and my buddy Chris on the right!

Who's Here?

There are some legit blue and purple belts and even a couple black belts in Chiang Mai now. My buddy Chris Lioe who has been a purple belt for 2 years has recently moved to CM and will be training regularly.

Bruno Carvalho is the resident Black Belt at Team Quest here in Chiang Mai.

Roger Gracie's First Black Belt, Nicolas Gregoriades comes back and forth and spends a decent amount of time living and training in Chiang Mai.

BK Kesler is a Brown Belt based out of Gym Bangarang a bit outside the city but trains regularly at Team Quest.

Also there are a bunch of regulars and visitors who come through Chiang Mai on a regular basis, adding to the mix.  Who's here changes quite often, but there seems to always be a few really good guys to roll with now that BJJ is back in Chiang Mai.

Where to Roll?

There are two main places to train BJJ in Chiang Mai. The first is the only official and structured place to do it which is Team Quest Thailand located near the Airport Plaza in Chiang Mai.

Prices start at 4,000 baht ($133US) per month for unlimited MMA/BJJ classes and open mat sessions. They also sell basic Gi's at TQ but I would bring your own from home if you have one.  They have three Gi classes a week as well as a few No-Gi classes that's more geared towards MMA.  

CMU BJJ Club: 

There is also a BJJ Club at the local university. At last night's open mat session there were two purple belts on the matt with the rest of us white belts and beginners making it interesting and fun to both watch and learn. The training here is on the same mats at the University's Judo club and is pretty much free to attend.

However it's non-structured and geared more towards local college students and beginners.  Since it isn't an official class, think of it more as bonus mat time if you're in town.

Last night's open matt at CM University

If you're a fan of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu I can finally say that you should bring your Gi with your to Chiang Mai. Sure it's a bit hot here, but at least your Gi will air dry quickly after training sessions. =)

If you're looking for structure and training, I would 100% signup for a month at Team Quest and check them out. But if you're just looking for some mat time it's good to know that the BJJ Club at CMU is an option.

2016 Update: 

A new gym just opened a few months ago here in Chiang Mai and it's quickly replaced CMU as the go to place to roll. They have free open mat every Saturday and Sunday and great classes during the week in a brand new facility.

Check out the new Chiang Mai Fight Fit for the newest brazilian jiu-jitsu school in Thailand. They have a ton of rental gi's, a consistent amount of rolling partners and is overall a great BJJ club. They also offer Muay Thai and MMA classes but I only go for the Jiu-Jitsu. 

Here's their current schedule: 

Personally I've been training at Chiang Mai Fight Fit but mainly because it's close to my apartment in Nimmanheim. If I lived closer to the airport, old city or Hangdong I'd also train at Team Quest as they have a world class black belt there. 

Wherever you end up training, hope to see you guys on the mat!

Author of 12 Weeks in Thailand: A Must Read if you're coming to Thailand to train!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Pro Muay Thai Fighter Germain Yeap Pretends to be a Fake Nerd and beats up men.

Bet these Muay Thai trainers didn't expect this nerdy girl to kick their ass in the ring!  
Female Muay Thai champion pretends to be a nerd and takes the phrase 'fight like a girl' to a whole new level.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

7 Muay Thai Gym & Beach Resort - Guest Review

Hey guys, I'm happy to share a guest review of the new 7 Muay Thai Gym in Rayong, which is only a two and a half hour drive outside of Bangkok. It's near Pattaya which is a bit of a wild area, but since it's in the next city over,  you should be able to have both the convenience of being near Bangkok without the craziness of neighboring Pattaya.

This review is from Gery Bavetta a Muay Thai fighter from Italy:

My name is Gery Bavetta, and I am a Muay Thai professional fighter and this year for the first time I have been at the new camp ‘7 Muay Thai’ just a few month after they opened.
My two month at the camp were very positive, because I felt at home and also because everything is organized seriously.


Even if the area is very quiet, a few steps from the camp there is a small supermarket open 24h, other than that after 9 PM the area doesn’t offer much, this is a flaw for who loves night life, but for me that I love Muay Thai, is an advantage. Being only 1 hour taxi ride from Pattaya, it can be decided to go there for some leisure.

Food and Services:
The camp has in program to offer Italian food and a massage service (already available on request) and I heard about a Yoga center and other things that I don’t know if they will do but I think they should.
The gym has a few strong professional Thai fighters but they should be more present and train every day to help fighters like me grow in level.
Near the gym there is a very good and cheap Thai restaurant which offers the camp’s guests a very convenient package.
At walking distance there’s a most often deserted beach, but since I had to train hard, I rarely went to the beach because after 2-3 hours of training even a 10 minute walk is scary.

Video of 7 Muay Thai Gym:

The camp has just opened and a part of it is still being built, but it is working under all aspects and day by day I saw small changes, this is positive because it means they are always trying to improve.
Other Gyms:

I think this kind of camp is a benchmark for Farangs, because unlike other gyms I have trained at (Sitsongpeenong, Luk Barn Yai,ecc) at 7 Muay Thai, other than training, Muay Thai theory and ring strategy is discussed, as well as scoring system and many other small things about fighting in Thailand that normally Thais don’t waste time saying as they are only interested in the Farang’s money.
I’m sure this gym will improve its flaws because I know there are serious people inside who work day and night and put their souls in it. Also, being the camp associated to the Muay Farang agency, who trains at 7 Muay Thai and wants to fight, has always the best fighting chances, so I think 1 or 2 years from now it will be a reference and important camp.

You can check out the gym at:

Gery Bavetta's Pro Muay Thai Fight
From Johnny:

I haven't personally been to 7 Muay Thai Gym as I'm based in Chiang Mai now and haven't been training much since last year, but it sounds like a great new gym to check out especially if you want to be near Bangkok/Pattaya but still far enough out of the cities to focus on your training.

If you're coming to Thailand to train Muay Thai, make sure you read my book 12 Weeks in Thailand: The Good Life on the Cheap before you do. It'll save you a ton of money and give you a good idea of what life is like doing a fight camp.

Find the book at 

Warm Regards,