To my surprise, this tiny 7km-long paradise island of Boracay has somewhere to train BJJ!
I had already passed this time off as ‘Holiday’ time, but as we we’re packing our bags in Manila the night before, Kev tells me
‘I’ve already checked it out for you, there is a place you can keep up the BJJ training while we’re there!’
‘Kev, I’m so touched you’ve already done the research to allow me to continue getting choked……even in paradise!’
A few days in and I’m making my way over for a drop in session. Unfortunately, I’d lost my phone in a tricycle cab earlier in the day. Despite a few texts to the phone offering a reward (no questions asked!), and throwing in a ‘God Bless’ at the end for good measure to try to play the numbers and lean a bit on some catholic guilt (86% of the population of the Philippines is Roman Catholic), the phone had been switched off 5 minutes after loosing it and would never return online again!
I was surprisingly calm about it, I think I had sort-of expected that loosing a phone (or having it stolen) was something which was likely to happen at some point during the trip. There is nothing you can do, so just look at the beach, smile, and make a plan to sort out a replacement phone in a day or 2!
The only downside is that I’m now on my own with my navigation skills (not my strongest point) to find where the gym is located from memory. After a walk up the beach followed by a couple of side paths inland, I’m walking along a street in the local town and there are no other tourists to be seen. The shops and people became more and more sparse, and I’m seriously beginning to think I may be lost before I see a hand painted sign on the roadside letting me know I’m almost here!
Up the stone path, around the stray dogs and goat and I’m here, Legacy MMA!
The gym is fully in keeping with the general feel for the island. It’s an outdoor training facility, with bamboo rooms and sheltering on top and around the boxing ring, training ground and full size MMA cage.
When I arrive the gym is in full flow for the Thai boxing class; around 30 people sparing and drilling pads in and out of the ring. Everyone seems to be working super hard, and the 35+ degree heat is also having an affect.
I notice, in between rounds, that there seem to be a lot of introductions between sparing partners. I sit down, next to one of the guys taking a water break and introduce myself. He’s a local from the gym and explains the reason for the class size is that they are hosting a bunch of guys from Korean Top Team who are there on a training ‘holiday’ for the week.
Apart from the class schedule and training facility, this place also has accommodation if you really want some dedicated training time in – sleep, wake, train, eat, train, sleep, repeat!
The thought entered my head for a couple of seconds to just get myself a room for the rest of the week – I had no phone so Kev and Ian would not be able to track me down! The thought left my head 2 seconds later and was replaced by beer and coconuts……
I watch the remainder of the Thai Boxing class. Behind me, there are 2 guys sparing in the cage. A dog, which seems like it had spent too much time in the sun, is sprinting back and forth along the side of the cage barking at them. Either the dog’s crazy, or has spent so much time watching MMA that he’s trying to bark out advice!
The class finishes up, and the majority of the members either disappear to the rooms upstairs, or make their way out. A guy, who had been reading in a hammock to the side of the boxing ring, jumps out and stretches. My BJJ instructor for the day, Texan black belt, Marcus Waters.
I introduce myself and we have a chat about what I was up to and how Marcus found living on paradise island training BJJ. ‘Shall we start?’, Marcus asks and I realise that it’s going to be a small class today; apart from myself and Marcus, the only other attendee was Mike from Korean Top team who still had the energy after the Thai Boxing class to join in.
There are definite advantages of have a small class size – the main one being the amount of attention you can get for the hour – it’s like having a private lesson with a black belt! :-)
We spent the lesson working on some top half guard pressure passes and finished with a bit of rolling after the sun went down.
Thanks Marcus and Mike for the training, and the guys at Legacy MMA for having me down and giving me my first taste of training outdoors in paradise!