John Hyon Ko, The AllStar’s Senior MMA Correspondent, is conducting a training camp in Phuket. He will be documenting his experiences in this blog over the coming months as he prepares for his first MMA fight later this year.
After two months of focusing on getting my mind and body prepared for the intensity of mixed martial arts, I will be ramping up my training regimen with the team at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA over the next three months in Phase 2 of my adventure.
I have learned a lot about the sport and myself through this process and the difficult aspects have not even begun.
My coaches have decided that I need to have a schedule that consists of three grappling (BJJ & wrestling) classes, two MMA classes (sparring & technique), one S&C session, one fitness class, a weekly mitt session with George Hickman (MMA striking), and not to mention the open mat & extra practice with teammates. So much to absorb and compute. Not to mention the physical toll it is going to take on my body.
Phase 2 is going to be nuts.
It has been a shitty week. I got a bacterial infection (on Sunday I think) and it turned into tonsilitis so I was out of commission for a couple of days.
After going to the doctor, I took antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicine that worked in clearing my infection but had diarrhea for a few days due to the pills.
Trained on Wednesday. Did a little three-station circuit on the assault bike, rower, and ski machine. 1-minute full blast sprint four round. Before the workout, I had a light jog for about 20 minutes. Just to test the lungs out and to see if I can work out on antibiotics.
Thursday I took it up a notch and attended the weekly 5×5 fitness class. In rounds 4 and 5 I was struggling with fatigue but got through most of it. Remember I was also trying not to shit in my pants as well.
I feel okay today but still, diarrhea plaguing me. Last day of antibiotics and I am done. My tonsilitis is almost gone. I am so afraid of illness because over the year I was getting less and less sick. I guess old age is catching up.
Anyways, got a mitt session with George in the afternoon. I will likely see the physio afterward to check on my shoulder. It has been giving me pain around the shoulder blade and neck area. Fucksake.
Woke up on Monday with a sore throat and cold sweats. Felt extremely fatigued. There is a sore in the back of my throat that hurts when I swallow and getting worse. What a pain in the ass.
Took the whole day from early morning to late afternoon to conduct interviews, edit video/articles, attended a weekly meeting, and did administrative work. As the day got deeper and deeper, I did not feel any better so I decided to skip MMA sparring.
After around 12 hours of sleep, I woke up on Tuesday morning with the same symptoms and nothing getting better. Need to go see a physician to see what is this open wound in my throat. Let’s see what the doctor says.
Yesterday I had a mitt session with George Hickman. I keep forgetting to tape my feet and end up getting blisters from all the pivoting and footwork. It sucks walking around with a blister on the bottom of your feet and worrying about staph as well.
Anyways, did 5 rounds of mitts and worked on the basics. The basics are still hard to master. This is why people say martial arts is a lifetime journey.
With some pain in my shoulder and neck, I decided to skip MMA sparring.
Woke up this morning with the same pain in my neck. Heading to Saturday morning fitness rather than grappling class. Sweat out these demons.
5:30 alarm rings. 7am interview. 9am fitness class.
My weekly 5×5 fitness routine. Always tough to get through but rewarding once you are done.
Today I woke up with some pain in my shoulder, neck, and soreness in my left wrist/thumb area. Nothing that will not allow me to get through a fitness class. Just made some adjustments and got it over with. But with throwing punches, I cannot make contact with my left hand without sharp pain running down my forearm.
Wednesday is one of the busiest days of the week. Morning jitz, physio appointment, and MMA technique in the evening.
Went to morning grappling and learned some more slick additions to the techniques he was teaching us the previous day on how to attack from the back. Some little details I forget all the time.
Got to drilling with a guy from the UK. Looks like he is a fighter traveling through training at the gym. Very good at grappling so he gave me a lot of tips and tricks. I am very fortunate to run into him to learn. Sparred him and it was fun. Got submitted but I am starting to figure out some mistakes.
After going back to the house and showering, I went to my weekly physio appointment. The doctor is concerned that the shoulder is being misdiagnosed because the pain continues so she recommended that I get an MRI. When I get back to Korea, I will be getting that MRI.
She gave me some shockwave therapy on the shoulder for some deep tissue shock. Sometimes it gets painful but it is worth it. Normally, after shockwave therapy, it is recommended to limit the use of the shoulder for the rest of the day.
No MMA technique.
Back in action. Morning grappling class. Here I come.
Had a fun class with Alex Schild. He showed us how to trap the arm behind your opponent while maintaining back control. Pretty slick stuff and fun to drill. At the end of the technique, we went from standing to passing the guard to taking the back to trapping the arm to strangling your opponent. Fun times.
Had a few rolls afterward. Worked a lot on my defense. Got tapped out a few times but all part of the process.
Went back to the gym later around 4pm and did a cardio circuit involving the assault bike, ski machine, and rower. Got a decent sweat.
Took Monday off and worked from the house. Did not leave the house once. Buried me in work.
Woke up super early and went to fitness class. Thought I needed to get in one more workout before the weekend really kicks in. One of the toughest workouts I have had since coming. Som puts together some heavy circuits.
Woke up, did some work, and went to my morning training. Mitts with George.
It was fun moving around with George again since he was gone last week. Worked on the basics. Did a bunch of rounds and I was burnt out.
Went back to the house, showered, did some more work, and then back to the gym for MMA sparring. It started off well.
During my second round, while I was sparring with Topnoi, my shoulders just gave out. My hands would not go up to cover my face so I got lit up again. My shoulders really need strengthening. Sat out the rest of the rounds and sat there like a sad little man.
Yesterday was a good day. Morning grappling with George Hickman and some very solid rounds of sparring people from around the world. Very friendly environment to come and train.
A good sequence of moves is taught by George from standing to takedowns to passing the guard. Mixing in wrestling techniques with BJJ is so imperative for MMA. And it is hard as shit.
Between sessions, I went to go see the physio and she worked on my shoulder. The pain does not go away but it is sustainable. No shockwave therapy so I can train.
After some rest, I returned to the mats for MMA technique. My favorite training session of the week since everything is slowed down and we work on skills. Lots of wall work with Frank Hickman teaching. Me, Ken, and Khalid were partners and we got some good rounds in.
Took a shower and rushed down to Rawai with Frank and Jada Ketley to help Dangermouse Jones cut weight for TFC 6. He will be fighting for the inaugural bantamweight title inside Bangla Stadium.
Today, I went to morning fitness like normal on Thursday. 5×5 is always going to be a tough workout. That is why Woody emphasizes I do it every week. Thanks, buddy.
After a recovery session, I decide to take the rest of the day off and rest while working on some content.
Filming a workout with Mark Hunt this morning. Alarm goes off at 5am. Get up, prep for interview at 6am. Conduct interview, get ready and call the cab.
Took more than an hour to get down to Rawai from where I am at. It is raining like crazy again. Really depressing weather.
Look for that video soon.
Everybody hates Mondays. Woke up to heavy monsoon showers. 5am alarm goes off and I need to get up to conduct a few interviews this morning and attend Monday meeting with my bosses.
The rain ruins everything.
After taking Thursday off to rest my shoulder (doctor’s orders), I returned this morning at 9am to fitness class. Felt sluggish.
The warmups felt like the actual workout. 7 exercises, 7 reps, 7 rounds. Pretty intense but you can go at your own pace. I ended up only completing 6 rounds with a few minutes left. It was tough. I hope I can make it to MMA sparring later tonight.
A long day of training is ahead of me. Morning grappling, physio, and then MMA technique class. Wish me luck!
Went to grappling class and learned some techniques for arm drags and taking the back. Drilled those moves with Ken exhaustively and sparred for two rounds.
After showering and organizing my shit, I made a visit to the physio. The hip is completely fine now. I have no issues of any kind. But my right shoulder is a major problem. Last week the doctor did some manipulation and ultrasound therapy. This week she added in shockwave therapy. That shit hits hard. Stings at some moments.
Since there is a lot of impact on the shoulder the doctor told me to not train tonight and take tomorrow off. Sucked but gotta follow the doctor’s orders.
Woke up this morning with soreness in my neck. Luckily I do not have any morning sessions planned and can focus on working from my computer all morning.
Did a couple of interviews, edited some articles, edited videos, and post on social media. I hope to make it to wrestling class tonight.
Decided not to go to wrestling class but rather go get a massage and did a couple of sessions in the sauna for recovery. That did the trick. Sleep well and train tomorrow.
Been extremely busy so no VLOG this week. I will return next week with a new format and more of my training partners.
New week, new outlook. Compared to last week I feel much better. Morning grappling class is in my sights.
Last week, I split my time between my career and training very evenly. Due to some timing issues and the state of my body, I skipped a couple of sessions. Hopefully, I can make it to all the classes scheduled.
Frank Hickman filled in for Alex Schild [sickness] and we worked ankle picks and takedowns. Worked with Jada Ketley to drill these moves. Working with someone much smaller than you can really put your skills into perspective. It is easy to use your strength and size advantage but using technique and movement to execute things is the real progression.
When it was time to spar, I put in my mouthpiece and got manhandled by two guys…pause. Got tapped out a few times and was extremely exhausted from the class.
Got back to my sleeping quarters and did my laundry as well as started editing the next episode of Fine Dining with Fighter which features Mark Hunt. 4pm MMA sparring is next. I hope I can make it there.
Went to MMA sparring and felt good physically but my movement was off. Got lit up a few times. By the time I got to my third round, I was exhausted. Just my luck Topnoi wanted the next round.
Got kicked around and punched a lot but it was fun. Exhaustion is the killer of all men and women. Was pretty burnt out by the evening.
Must have got a stomach bug. Not feeling so good this morning but I got a few interviews lined up so I got those done and went to my first session of the day. Mitts with Frank Hickman since George is gone to corner Ji Yeon Kim for her fight at UFC 277.
Yesterday was pretty hectic. Morning grappling and afternoon MMA technique. Probably one of the best days of training I had so far. Energy levels were pretty high and learned a bunch of stuff along the way.
In grappling class, Alex taught us a submission that went pretty viral on social media a few months back. It is a fun submission to drill since there are so many parts to it and none of them are super difficult.
During MMA technique class we drilled some of the stuff we learned last week and added small details to the moves. It was a low intensity, high work rate type of class. I did have some pain in my shoulder from slamming down onto the canvas.
On Thursday, I woke up with some pain in my left hand. It must have been from slamming my hand down hard on the mat. It affected me during the morning fitness class. I could plant my hand down without pain but I made the adjustments and toughed it out.
On top of my hand, I just felt sick to my stomach during the workout. Even though I had a good night’s sleep, I did not feel good. Took the rest of the day off.
Ain’t gonna lie to you. Woke up this morning feeling like shit. Made some terrible food choices on Sunday night and paid for it. Feeling bloated and fatigued.
Did an interview and attended the weekly meeting with The AllStar. Thought about rushing to grappling class but it would be too late so I skipped.
Got the physio at 2pm and then 4pm MMA sparring. Sit here and do some work until then. Hydrate and rest.
Ended up taking the rest of the day off to work some things out mentally. My mind has been racing the last few weeks. Battling some issues with my family.
Pain-free and it feels so good. Did some work in the morning and went to hit mitts with George. Felt a little lackadaisical and fatigued. The session went well. Footwork was a little better and my timing was off.
Got an appointment with the physio this afternoon.
I had a good session with the doctor and she worked on some tightness in the middle of my back. Going to the physio and incorporating the sauna has changed everything. Gives me some confidence my body won’t fail me.
Skipped MMA sparring at 4pm since I felt exhausted. Took all the coaches out to dinner to show my appreciation for the work they put in and all the intangibles they provide. And they did not hold back.
Woke up this morning without no serious aches and pains. Did some work and headed to my weekly fitness class. It was tough and the heat was an obstacle but made it through.
Got Frank Hickman back to motivate me. He was away coaching Alex Volkanovski and Israel Adesanya during their training camps for UFC 276. He has returned and is in full effect. Always good to have him around to push me when I am acting like a bitch.
Shortly thereafter, I went to the sauna and ice bath. Woody joined me and we did a few sessions in the dry and steam sauna. My doctor told me to stay away from the ice bath until my hip is in order.
Before jumping in I rubbed some ‘Sweet Sweat’ on my stomach, back, arms and legs. It definitely works. I sweat crazy. Even after I got home I was still sweating so I took another shower to cool off.
Did some more work on the computer and ate some food.
Just returned from my first S&C class with Woody. I liked it a lot. We concentrated on the lower part of the body. The workout was super easy to follow and I got through it with a sense of accomplishment.
I talked to my coach and we talked over having just one S&C session a week. There is so much ground to cover that at this moment it is not as important as skill building.
Some adjustments to come next week to the schedule.
Just got back from morning no-gi class. My neck is sore from just two days of grappling. On top of my hip flaring up a little bit, and my rib on the right side is giving me some pain. It is super hectic to be a fighter with these little niggles.
On Tuesday, I went to my first wrestling class. It is eye-opening and tough. Got to learn some techniques and drilled them. Drilling is so important and the coaches emphasize that in every class.
Anyways, I skipped sparring and decide to rest up for MMA technique class. Went back to the house and did a bunch of work on the computer.
Had the best MMA technique class. Felt great and movement decent. Worked on a lot of takedowns and wall work. The shit was difficult and I already feel deficiencies but it was fun.
I worked with a guy that really understood my level and he helped out with tips here and there. I feel that makes the experience much more beneficial. Drilling and working with a good partner, even if you don’t know them, is vital for your well-being and development.
Frank and George Hickman are some of the best coaches in the world and I get to learn from them. I really have to be fortunate and grateful.
Went to BJJ class and got through the whole session without much complications with the hip. Did all the technique work and did a few rounds of sparring for the first time. Gained a lot of confidence from the workout.
Went to my appointment with the physio and she worked on my right hip which was painful. She also did some deep tissue work on my left hip and that was also painful. She told me that my spine is realigning nicely. Just need to continue going and getting worked on.
Went back home and did some work on the computer. Felt really drained so I decided to lay down for a quick nap before 4pm MMA sparring.
Woke up and felt extremely fatigued. Decided to take the rest of the day off.
Went to the physio on Thursday and got some work done. This is something I will have to continue doing as well as the ice bath and sauna. But before I went to see the doctor I tested my hip in fitness class. Throughout the session, the hip started to hurt again.
This morning I conducted a bunch of interviews and went to my weekly mitt session with George. I struggled with movement and positioning. Frustrating as hell.
I figured that next week I need to just train and work around the injury. I cannot take time off.
Took Tuesday off. Today I go to see the doctor about my hip, shoulders, and lower back.
Went down to Rawai to meet with Dr. Gerald. Really nice clinic. The doctor ran some tests and then explain what was exactly wrong. He said that I have deep muscle issues and I will need to work with a physio since it is so deep a massage will not do any good. The good news is that I have no bone and placement problems.
Messaged the physio and I have an appointment tomorrow at 2:30.
A storm has started early in the morning and I am not about to go out in that storm. Riding on a motorbike in heavy rain with slippery roads is a task and completely dangerous. So I decided to stay in my little humble abode and spend the whole morning on editing and work-related tasks. The internet and electricity keep going out so I don’t know how much I will be able to get done. The storm is fast and furious.
Thinking about taking another day of rest so I can let my hip heal. I will see how I feel at 4pm and maybe I will go to MMA sparring.
Decided to take the rest of the day off and let my body have some more recovery time. Plus it is pissing rain outside and I am kinda scared to go out there and battle the water.
I will likely need to rearrange my schedule for the week since I have a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday morning and missed two workouts on Monday. I will need to have the doctor look at my shoulders and hip. Looks like I might have some ligament issues or muscle tears. But that is a diagnosis I just came up with. We will see what the doctor says.
Woke up on Saturday and had a few interviews to conduct before heading to fitness class. Ran over time so I was late to class and could not participate. So I got on the assault bike and rode it for around 30 minutes.
Then, I headed over to the MMA area and did some work on the bag. Practicing form and combinations for a few rounds. While I was doing this, a UFC fighter was going through a circuit that looked so grueling that I felt bad for them. Cardio is king!
Thursday morning I went to fitness class to do my weekly five rounds, five minutes routine. Everything was going well until one of the stations required me to do get-ups. While I was dropping back during the exercise I tweaked my hip once again. This time when I got back up it was painful. Sharp, stabbing feeling. Like a knife carving.
Toughed out the rest of the workout and went home to lay down and relax. Rest. Skipped S&C again.
Today the hip is still bothering me but I got a mitt session with George and I cannot miss it. Low impact workout, hopefully.
Yesterday was an off day for me. Did not hit mitts with Topnoi so I decided to just go to the gym and break a sweat alone. Did 30 minutes on the rowing machine and 20 minutes on the assault bike and some laps around the track before and after.
My body still aching so I went for a massage and shut it down for the rest of the day. My hip is still bothering me and it hurts like someone is stabbing me on the inside part of my left hip. It sucks!
This morning I woke at 6am and when I got out of bed my hip did not have any pain. Only time will tell. Get some work done at my desk and go to training at 10am. See how that goes.
Went to MMA technique class and learned so much about hip positioning and control inside the guard. From striking to takedown to ground and pound is such an intricate puzzle. Controlling your opponent and causing damage is such a difficult endeavor.
During one of my takedowns, I decided to switch to a high crotch and lifted my training partner Ken. Once I lifted him, felt the sharp pain in my hip. I battled through since there were no live rounds.
Talked to someone and they recommended a doctor to help with my hip issues and everything else. Trying to see him soon. Haven’t seen a doctor yet but I am getting closer to finding a good one.
After a good night’s sleep, I woke up extra early. Did some editing and work for The AllStar and headed to 10am no-gi grappling class. My hip is still bothering me so I decided to just involve myself in the drills and technique aspect again.
We had a special guest instructor, Cody Steele. He taught us some leg lock techniques. This is the first time I have ever drilled any leg attacks in my life. I played around with people in the past but never sat down and really focused.
I had a difficult time understanding exactly how to get to every position but when we drilling Cody came by and gave us some tips. Little adjustments mean the world.
When it was time to spar I stepped out and went over to the fitness area to ride the assault bike for 30 minutes. Rewatched the first Volkanovski-Holloway fight and toughed out the session. My hip was slightly bothering me throughout but nothing too debilitating.
Got back to the room I am staying in while it was not raining. Riding in the rain sucks hard.
Worked on some videos, edited my vlog, and tried to get some rest before 4pm MMA sparring.
I had the worst day in sparring. Nothing was working. My body wasn’t responding. Very frustrating and discouraging. Terrible. Just terrible.
Woke up this morning to having immediate pain in my left hip. I have no idea where this is coming from. Maybe I tweaked it during a grappling exchange? I don’t know but it hurts like hell. I really need to see a physio. Or any doctor. But until then I will just do what I can.
Today is fitness class at 9am and S&C at 5pm tonight. Let’s see if I make it through.
Balancing work and training has become a difficult task. Waking up every morning at 4 or 5am to conduct interviews, edit videos, and many other tasks can be tiresome especially if you are expected to train twice a day. It actually gives me anxiety. Am I doing enough at work? Am I doing enough so I don’t get smashed inside that cage? These are the questions burning through my mind every day. It is stressful but something I need to figure out so I can be productive in both aspects.
Today I have no-gi grappling at 10am and MMA technique at 4pm. Hopefully, I can make it to both classes and learn something. Update on my health: pulled muscle on the right side of my back, stiffness in lower back, left hip soreness. Need to make some adjustments so I can train while still hurt.
It is raining this morning. An excuse to not go to training is waiting in the wings.
Made it to both sessions and even did an interview between those workouts. Even though I had a little bit of pain, I made adjustments and did what I could. Today was a fun and an educational day since I learned a lot of new techniques.
A long morning of interviews, editing, writing, and organizing. Finished just in time to go to my 1pm session with Topnoi.
It was fun working with him. He has a good combination of fun and seriousness. He is teaching me how to throw proper knees down the middle and elbows at the end of combinations. The elbows are fun the throw. I don’t know why people do not utilize those during street fights.
Anyways, during one kick I pulled the muscle in my back again. It is straight pain. It comes and goes so I toughed it out and did the whole session. I did not want to cancel the session since he is doing it as a favor.
Even with the injury, I had a productive session with Topnoi. He is such a good instructor.
I rewatched the session and I noticed that I am carrying a little more weight than I should. I need to watch my diet a little better. It is a struggle.
I was supposed to go to wrestling at 4pm but with the back problem, it is better to sit out today.
Today is the start of my intense training. Monday consists of no-gi grappling in the morning at 10am and MMA sparring at 4pm.
Woke up still groggy from the weekend of bad cuisine choices and late-night shenanigans. Pulled myself out of bed, did some work, and headed to class.
The grappling class is headed by Alex Schild, ONE Championship veteran and BJJ black belt, who does an incredible job showing technique. He took us threw a counter to double underhooks that led to a kimura finish.
I was drilling with Che and a woman. We were all at different levels but it worked out well. Che being the more advanced grappler did most of the instructing. I learned a lot of small details that will come in handy.
When it was time to spar, I decided to not spar due to my muscle issues on the right side of my back. But I did head to MMA sparring later that day.
MMA sparring was fun. I did 4 rounds with all different body types and styles. I got hit more and had frustration because my feet did not move the way I wanted. Sometimes I feel like I am so slow compared to everyone. I feel slow out there. One bright side is that I land the calf kick more often than not.
Did I mention that I went off the rails the last few weeks and ate junk food a few times during the week. This battle with food has been rough. I hope I can control myself moving forward.