Alexandre Khan Jean Blin has discovered an unusual method to accelerate his growth in mixed martial arts: Spearfishing.
Just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the Thai-French fighter picked up the hobby through an unplanned encounter at a local watering hole in Phuket with a training partner from jiu-jitsu class.
“We met at a bar on Tiger [Muay Thai] street and he was having a rough night,” Blin told the AllStar. “The guy was good. The guy has good jiu-jitsu and he’s a good training partner. I respected him without really knowing him. That’s how martial arts works I guess. We started talking and he was telling me about his rough episode. Somehow he mentioned he had a spear gun. That caught my attention.
“Spearfishing is something I always wanted to try. I grew up with a father that would tell me stories about him going spearfishing. Immediately I was like, let’s go.”
This conversation led to his first trip into the blue sea and was instantly addicted from the start.
“We meet out this early morning at Yanui beach, you know, where you can take the kayak out and go for a loop around the island,” Blin said. “We swam out for like 15, 20 minutes to get to the other side just scouting the area. And I had my first kills over there. Speared my first fish and that sparked a new obsession for me.
“I was recovering from my [knee] injury. This was kinda like an active recovery thing that I can do. Light on my knee. Not running, I’m swimming. It’s a good workout. I like this, I want to do it more. So after that first day I was hooked.”
Similar to his MMA journey, the 28-year-old dove deep and eventually sparked a friendship with a local expert in the art of spearfishing around Naiharn beach, on Phuket’s southwestern coast. Blin was able to learn and explore many of the island’s undiscovered hot spots. Not too long after, he bought a gun and fins to take it to the next level.
As he pursued this new endeavor, Blin learned much about himself related to combat.
“Growing up I’ve always been hyperactive,” Blin revealed. “In my fighting style, I used to be kinda dumb just like walk for the fight. Engaging people and trading blows. It’s not very healthy. You get hit a lot doing that and it’s not smart at all.
“I might not have the skills or the experience but I have the will and the heart. That’s how I used to be. And you can’t do that in spearfishing. You can’t just see a fish and dash to it and try to shoot it. You have to be very smart, calm, and patient, cool, and collected. That’s what I learned picking up this hobby which definitely changed me a lot, benefitted me a lot.
“Not only [on] an individual basis but also in my fighting, in my fighting career for sure.”
Coming face to face with an animal in the wild can be a daunting task. Outsmarting fish is more than a cerebral undertaking. A spearfisher needs to lure their target with tactics and then aim to shoot at the opportune opening.
“It’s silly to say but picking up spearfishing definitely made me a better person,” Blin added. “A more mature, a more intelligent fighter.
“[Spearfishing] allowed me to have a different approach to my fighting style. I’m still working on it. Still got a lot of improvements to do. Still need to improve in many aspects but this element is definitely something that I’m adding to my fighting game. I can see it benefitting me a lot. Setting traps, baiting the guy, and just waiting for the right moment to strike.
“It’s hunting. It’s something I wasn’t considering before…prior to picking up spearfishing which is kinda funny. You need the right timing to attack. You need the right timing to shoot. You need the right timing to throw a punch. You need to give and take. You can’t always march on and chase. Sometimes you have to bait and wait.”
Blin continues his journey as a pivotal member of Phuket Fight Club and a representative of the Thailand national team for MMA.