Week 29 – Gyms 24 & 25 – Monarchy MMA, Kuala Lumpur

Cambodia, it has been nice but the lack of BJJ gyms has given me some seriously itchy feet. It’s time for some consistent mat time!

Malaysia was not part of the original travel plans but after receiving a newsletter from matsurfng.org on potential places to train and BJJ people to meet, I send an email to Ren Chew, a BJJ purple belt, living and training in Kuala Lumpur.

I’m not looking to sightsee this week, I just want to attend as many BJJ classes as possible :-)

Arrived in Malaysia

Arrived in Malaysia



Ren, gets back to me immediately, kindly gives me a load of useful information and passes on the contacts and details of the gym he was currently training at – Monarchy MMA

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I then get in touch with Ben Abbes Jihad, the business developer at Monarchy MMA who is also super helpful……

Hi Craig,

Thank you for your interest for Monarch  MMA . My name is Ben Abbes Jihad and i am the Business developer.

It is always a pleasure for us to receive practitioner from all over the world, and our BlackBelt superstar,  Professor Bruno Barbosa  (number 10 in the world on the IBJJF in his weight category)  will definitely fulfil your trust of Knowledge.

We have another gym, totally new and much bigger, in a place called BANGSAR, one of the best area of Kuala Lumpur for cheap and expensive food, with lots of locals and expat.

Our pass give you access to both unit, all the classes, ( bjj, No gi, Boxing, Yoga, Krav Maga, etc…)

I remain at your disposal for any further information you may need about us.   and if you need advises about place to go and to eat, feel free to bother me at anytime :)

Have a lovely day and a rich martial journey at Kuala Lumpur !

In a follow-up email, Ben also sent through all the gym details, training packages (including a super-useful weekly package), and a bunch of location and accommodation options. If everyone else is as friendly and helpful in Kuala Lumpur I think I’ll be in for a good week ;-)


After dropping my bag at my guesthouse which is located 2 minutes walk from the gym (I’m not messing around – this is training week! :-)) I have enough time to have a quick wander and get some bearings before the first class.

KL Tower

KL Tower


One thing that stands out in Kuala Lunpur – it is a shopper’s dream! There are multi-storey shopping malls everywhere. Even the airport I arrived at, had a shopping mall as part of the building!

Familiar sight - Shopping malls in KL

Familiar sight – Shopping malls in KL

Anyway, enough wandering – time to train! I head down to the gym and meet Ren, Ben and 2nd degree black belt Professor Bruninho Barbosa.

The city centre gym is located (like nearly everything else) inside a shopping mall. The space houses a 2000 square foot matted area, Heavy bags, weight equipment, and, of course, a sledge-hammer :-)

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The class begins and we go through the most in-depth and rigorous ‘warm up’ routine I’ve experienced yet at a gym. Approximately 20 – 30 minutes of jogging, squats, lunges, burpees, press ups and various BJJ movements to scale the mat. It was like attending a fitness session before a BJJ class! Once it was done, everyone was drenched in sweat already and breathing heavy.

“Right guys, get a drink and then we’ll start”, Professor Bruno calls from the mat when we are done.

‘I don’t think anyone’s going to be struggling here for cardio when they compete’, I think as I chug some water :-)

Me and Bruno Barbosa

Me and Professor Bruno Barbosa

The class is great! Intense technique drills, troubleshooting, variations, and class finishes with some rolling. There’s a real sense of a family atmosphere. Everyone here seems to have a real bond and all seem to be friends off the mat also. Everyone also makes a real effort to make me feel included, really friendly group of people :-)

I’m added into the gym Facebook message group after my first class…..there are literally 100 messages exchanged back and forth between the BJJ members every day! I had to switch the notifications sound off on my phone as it was blowing up! :-)

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And this is my life for the next 5 days. Sleep, eat, train! I make every gi and no-gi class available on the timetable – 12 sessions in 5 days. By the time Friday came around my legs were so sore I was walking like John Wayne for the weekend :-)

A couple of these classes I took at Monarchy’s 2nd (and new) facility in the Bangsar area. An even larger 3500 sq ft. matted facility!

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Was a great week, and just what the doctor ordered! The hardest part was having to hand wash my gear at least 2 times a day…..I no longer have fairy-soft hands!

Thanks again to Ben, Bruno and all the guys down at Monarchy MMA for the great training and making me feel so welcome. Special thanks to Ren who took a bunch of time in between classes to show me around KL….as I’m someone who likes his food, I couldn’t have asked for a better guide as Ren is also an expert in all things around Kuala Lumpur food :-)

I tried a bunch of incredible dishes for the first time (and also from different places for each particular dish who would do it best according to Ren) including Hokkien Mee, Char kuey tiew, Turkish Ice Cream and Banana Leaf……..which was amazing…but we both regretted eating it so close to training….it was huge!

Take care guys! Hope to see you on (or off) the mat again some day :-)


Me and Ren


Char kuey tiew


Bana Leaf! Incredible food….but 1 hour before class was a massive mistake!

2 thoughts on “Week 29 – Gyms 24 & 25 – Monarchy MMA, Kuala Lumpur

  1. Dear Craig,

    It was a real real pleasure to have you us! It is always nice to meet martial artists and especially the ones who travels for knowledge! You have the good spirit and excellent skills! We hope we succeed to help you on the path of your Jiujutsu Journey .

    I am extremely glad that you enjoyed training at Monarchy. We are a big family right here. Like the BJJ family. And as am member of it, please note that our casa will be always your casa !

    We hope to see you back very soon among us! Have a lovely journey and safe trip!

    OSS !

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