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Posted: February 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

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The Diesel Diva meets the New York Bad Ass

The Diesel Diva meets the New York Bad Ass

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here, but priorities (like my paying job) sometimes get in the way!! But enough of that! The Diesel Diva is back.

I decided to start 2013 with a bang… or should I say Boom!! The gods conspired and here I am in beautiful Chiang Mai, Thailand doing some wickedly good Muay Thai training!  I recently finished an MMA management course with Sports Management World Wide and my course facilitator was Scott McKendry of Team Quest USA.  In the meantime, I made contact with Joel Bowen of Team Quest Thailand and at the same time saw a Facebook post for a seminar with none other than the New York Bad Ass Phil Baroni on 5 January 2013!!  Like I said, the gods conspired. Everything said “DD – get your butt to Chiang Mai and check this place out”.

As many of you know, I travel a lot for my “real” job and as a result I have lots of opportunities to train around Asia (a good thing), but there is a lack of consistency both in the routine I follow and the level of training I receive in different elements.  I also came to realize as I encountered different styles of training, that for some of my goals I needed something different.  Let’s backtrack a bit.

I started hard training in early 2011 when I arrived in Bangkok and I am grateful for the level of fitness I have achieved.  From a recent large weight loss and accompanying muscle loss, my experience in the “commercial gym” circuit (mainly True Fitness at Exchange Tower, Bangkok) has been very fruitful. I’ve reached a level of fitness that I never expected to achieve – at least not this quickly. My strength training at True has been nothing but outstanding. However, I realized that on the Muay Thai training side that I was getting training for fitness rather than training for technique. As often as I said “please train me as if I’m going to fight”, I found myself frustrated – particularly after my return from Fight Fortress Islamabad, where they took this 50-something training freak seriously. (Thank you Ehtisham).


The Diesel Diva with Adam Shogun Kayoom

I got back to Bangkok and decided to seek out some alternatives.  I recently started training with Abbas Ahmadi, formerly of the Iranian National Muay Thai team and I am sure that this trainer relationship will bear fruit in improving my skills. As well, I recently started training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) with BJJ black-belt and One FC MMA fighter Adam “Shogun” Kayoom, who showed us what determination, skill and conditioning can do when he deftly defeated Gregor Gracie at One FC …  But since Abbas is out of country to fight in Australia and Adam is preparing himself for One FC … on 2 Feb, I found myself in a bit of a hiatus.

And BooM!! There it was!! The Facebook post advertising a seminar with a well-known UFC fighter and personality, Phil Baroni. I decided to take as much advantage of this as my work schedule would permit and suddenly I was in Chiang Mai for a few days of intensive training with Team Quest Thailand!! (Talk about a long way to get back to this point!).

Baroni posterArrival

So my first night in town, I discovered that I had accidentally on purpose found a hotel within walking distance from TQ.  After walking according to some misdirections from the hotel staff, I followed the online link from TQ to a google map and discovered I was closer to the camp than I had anticipated. Team Quest is located very close to the large shopping centre of Chiang Mai. However it is at the end of a lovely cul-de-sac and gives the perception of being in the jungle. Very nice (except for the mossies at night!) I arrived to meet Joel and at the same time got to shake hands with Phil (and a helluva handshake – I hope mine stood up to it).  Joel and I set up my training schedule to include Muay Thai classes twice a day with Thai Muay Thai instructor Ni and on the day of the seminar a grappling class with Alex Branom in the early morning.

Muay Thai

I normally approach new gyms with a little trepidation. I never know if I’m going to get someone who doesn’t give me enough or if they are going to be overzealous. I walked to the gym and did some stretching/warming up prior to my first class. He sized me up quickly and realized that I needed a good review of basics – some of which I had never done before. In the first few classes, Ni easily took me through stance, guard, strikes, kicks, blocks, and elbows. He gave me a structured approach, correcting me easily and showing patience and alternate approaches when I didn’t pick something up right away. He also wasn’t afraid to punch me in the stomach while I did crunches … I like the challenge!!! Ni recognized that I am here to learn, to train, to improve my technique. He doesn’t candy coat it. He explained it well and didn’t let me move on until I got it down.

IMGP6605     Ni


I also had a great grappling lesson from Alex Branom of Team Quest Portland, who is here for about six months. Giving one lesson to someone is a pretty hard thing to do because there is no time to gauge their level, observe their strengths and weaknesses, or to get to know their training style and personality. However, Alex made it easy.  I was warmed up by the time of our scheduled lesson, so we started right into it. He asked me a few questions about my level (basic) and then we discussed what I would like to get out of the class. It was very useful and as a result, I learned something!!! Hey – that’s one of the goals every time I train with a coach. To learn and to improve. And with Alex that is what I did.  We covered everything from various armbars, to rear naked choke and to use Alex’s term – “being a backpack” (mounting the opponent’s back and getting the hooks).  Alex was patient, methodical and made sure that I mastered the technique before moving on to the next one – then he put it all together. A great class, an outstanding instructor and I hope to train with Alex again!

Seminar with New York Bad Ass Phil Baroni

Then came the main event!!  The seminar with Phil Baroni was what brought me here in the first place. There were about seven participants so it was an opportunity for real hands on training. All of us had pretty much no experience with wrestling and that was to be the focus of the training. I was feeling pretty intimidated when I walked into the training area, but Phil put us at ease pretty quickly with his easy manner and badass banter.  He talked to us for a few minutes to see what level we were all at and then gave us a brief idea of what we would be doing.

The New York Bad Ass approached this as he would a “normal” training session, with a bit of warming up, followed by some basic defences and then put it all together in 3 and 5 minute warm up shadow-fighting sessions.  Warm we were, even in Chiang Mai, after the first few minutes! He definitely succeeded in this objective!

Phil also kept the pace fairly steady but not overwhelming since there was a bit of a range of fitness levels in the room.  He really knew how to read the room. He took us through a series of very simple moves including simple arm blocks, how to properly sprawl, pummeling, and then put some of the moves into practical scenarios.  We paired off and practiced and he ensured that we all could use the moves he showed us.

Warming up


After two hours of sweating it up we completed the class. The most important thing for me is that I came away from it, not muddled by confusing complicated moves, but with some practical simple tools to use in a fight. Oh yeah. And I’ve got to remember when sprawling to “keep it d-ck down”!  It was with a great group of guys and an outstanding trainer who really put us through the paces to make sure we “got it”.  I really am grateful to Phil Baroni for taking the time to come to Chiang Mai and provide us with this seminar.  The Diesel Diva will be at the next one wherever it is!! Phil — We want more!!

Learning.... :)



After the training

To finish the day The Diesel Diva, The New York Bad Ass, The Team Quest Trio and The Doc all went for the biggest ass pizza I have ever seen!! And he sings too... well, kind of ;) This was followed by a few “soda pops” at a local Mexican karaoke bar (who knew?) in which the Trio goaded each other as well as DD, NYBA and Doc into having a great time making fools of ourselves on the karaoke stage.  So the day ended with a lot of fun and a lot of laughs. A great way to wind down!!

Why Team Quest Thailand?

There are a few well-known camps to train Muay Thai, grappling and MMA in Thailand. So what is special about Team Quest?

First of all, its location in Chiang Mai lends itself to more focus on training. Being in Phuket or Koh Samui or other more touristy locations, for me personally would mean the distraction of the beach, the beach, oh and the beach.  Team Quest’s location in Chiang Mai means that the camp is less crowded and individual attention is available. As well the weather in Chiang Mai is more moderate making the outdoor training pleasant and comfortable.

Affordability is important to a lot of students of fighting and the cost at TQ is quite reasonable. In fact, the grappling lesson was about half of the average price that I got while pricing various training options.

When I arrived, I found that all the trainers are young and fit, and apparently willing to spar!! This is not the case that I have found at some other gyms – especially the fit part! The trainers here are professionals at their area of expertise – they have either just finished their fighting careers or in fact are still fighting.

Another important aspect for me was that the trainers all have a good grasp of English. While it’s not always the most critical issue, the lack of English has affected my training efforts in the past when a trainer was unable to clearly articulate a move or explain a correction needed.

While I brought my own gloves and wraps, TQ provides a fully functional Muay Thai training facility as well as an MMA room equipped with mats, bags, and cage as well.

TQThe TQ team have excellent connections with the One FC network – One FC being Asia’s largest and in my mind, most prestigious, MMA event.  The team has great connections with Muay Thai promoters including Lumpinee Stadium. Couple these connections with the Team Quest network throughout the world, and this simple gym has reach and clout!!

So when you’re next thinking about where you’re going to take that first step into the ring for Muay Thai, hit the mats for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or enter the cage for MMA – or for experienced fighters at any level to simply get some no holds barred focused training – think about Team Quest Thailand.  The Diesel Diva will be back!!

Posted: August 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Thought that some of The Diesel Diva readers might find this of interest. Thanks to Thierry!

So it’s been a while again. No excuses. But hopefully soon the relentless travel and work mode will slow down and I can get back to regular posting. Having said that, I took a weekend off from my grueling schedule and came to Muscat, Oman for the weekend from Islamabad.

Now the boys back at Fight Fortress Islamabad are busy starting to train for Beatdown II, which is intended to be held before I depart Pakistan. I am not there for the beginning of the training, nor will I be fighting, but I wanted to ensure that I maintain my workout schedule. As I am never certain what facilities I will find in a hotel gym, I asked Ehtisham to prepare a short bodyweight program for me.

We’ve been busy in the last week with a couple of conditioning days. I had my own circuit that I’ve done in the past that included 3 (4) no-break between exercise sets of: 40 x pushups, 1.5 min plank, 50 per side half-crunches, 40 tricep dips, 40 squats. 40 sumo squats (with weights when available) and 20 per side lunges (with weights when available). 3 minute break between sets. This was a nice little circuit that met my needs, especially in places where facilities were limited or it was … ummm… unusual to see a woman in the gym.  Depending on what is available, I can adjust this and ramp it up a bit when possible.

Last week, Ehtisham put a new spin on bodyweight training for me, when he partnered me with his younger brother Uloomi. Uloomi is what a French Canadian friend of mine used to refer to as having a “body by nerve”… in other words there is not much fat but neither is he a muscle-bound behemoth. In fact, he has a great lightweight physique. We were training at Vostro, and after our regular extensive warm-up, we did the following:

10 x 5 Towel pull ups (1 min break) (put the towel over the pull-up bars and grasp the towel tails to perform the pull-up). I needed a bit of assistance on these, but I could feel the power actually increasing after I got used to the movement.

We moved upstairs for the remainder of the session:

8 x 40 hindu/bodyweight squats (1 min break).  Now not having been raised in Asia, my flexibility for full Hindu squats is not quite “there” yet, but it’s improving. I opted for simple full range bodyweight squats. Uloomi rocked his way through the sets of Hindu squats, and I like to think he was feeling my pain by the end of the sets. Not to mention what I was feeling when trying to move over the next couple of days!!

Push-ups 2 x 20; 4 x 15; 4 x 10 (1 min); 2 x 5 (30 sec); 2 x 5 (15 sec). These were narrow stance pushups intended to simulate the motion associating with striking. Yes. I was feeling that spaghetti arms feeling at the end of this…

And finally:

Lunges 8 x 60; (1 min). These are self-explanatory.

The whole program was simple but made us work incredibly hard. I felt like I had accomplished something at the end of it. So that’s why, as mentioned earlier, I asked Ehtisham to provide me with a travelling program.  I love this guy. He takes no prisoners!! Here is the reply I received:

Hope you have a nice trip, rest as much as you can and be ready for the torture that comes after Eid *evil grin*. Here is your training routine for two days:

Day 1:

  • Start with your regular warm up and stretching.
  • 100 knees (50 each leg)
  • 300 straight punches (continuous + full speed)
  • 300 hook punches (continuous + full speed)
  • hindu pushups (15+15+10+10) (a minute rest in b/w sets)
  • squats (40+40+40) (a minute rest in b/w sets)
  • planks (2 sets (3 minutes each, with a minute rest) )
  • Abs (half crunches: 90, full crunches with punches x 40, air bicycle x 60)
  • Stretching

Day 2:

  • Warm up
  • 100 low kicks (50 each)
  • 100 side elbows (50 each)
  • 100 downward elbows (50 each)
  • 50 sprawls
  • pouncing on the ball of your feet (2 sets of 3 minutes)
  • lunges (20+20+20)
  • simple push ups (20+15+10+10)
  • bridge and hold for 5 seconds (50 reps)
  • neck stretching (15 reps)
  • neck strengthening (45 seconds for each position) (rest: 60 sec)
  • Abs (same routine as above)
  • Stretching

 So today the Day 1 routine is the plan. I’ll let you know how it goes!!

Addendum: Day 1 Complete. I managed all, and as usual I have to push myself a bit harder. So I extra punches, and 4 x 50 squats. Since the gym seems to have every piece of equipment in the world except for an incline bench (and the instruments of torture used at The PIT), I resorted to an alternate but just as effective ab workout.

Addendum 2: Day 2 Complete. He almost got me with the 50 sprawls and the 2 x 3 minute planks. The bridges are not as easy as they look. But I did 120 each where it said 100, and I did 4 x 20 narrow stance push-ups. All in all, it was great training! And I appreciated the “Keep going partnerrrr” encouragement from Uloomi during my lunges!

I like to review gyms to give folks an idea of what’s available in sometimes obscure places. Though I try to keep things positive, it’s not always possible – often gyms are simply inadequate. Once in a while however, I come across a pleasant surprise!!

Hotels are not always known for their great gym facilities. They often just provide the basics so as to keep their accommodation guests satisfied.  More often than not, there is a little space set aside with a few free weights, a couple of machines, a guy who gives you a towel and uninspiring atmosphere. Other hotels, expand the target client base by providing a full-service gym with trainers and open the availability to other than hotel guests.  These are still not always the optimum gym facilities since the trainers are not always certified and are there for monitoring rather than the provision of trainer services. As well, in those gyms I often find that the hotel guests get left behind as the regulars come in and hang out with their buddy the trainer! I’ve encountered the excellent, average and the less than adequate.

I am currently at the Chedi Hotel in Muscat, Oman and here I have encountered a gem in the annals of hotel gyms. I was expecting the regular isolated room with a few machines. But what I encountered was quite different.

I walked to the end of the extensive hotel grounds, past the “Long Pool” (it really is), and had to ask for directions. I opened the door and found a luxurious women’s change room with showers, sauna, relaxing area and all the amenities needed for after training.

Then I entered the gym. It was not like any gym I’ve been in before. It’s more like a library with compartmentalized reading rooms furnished with extensive training equipment. Sprinkled in between were sitting areas, almost loungy …with cold water, Pocari Sweat, and green apples available. It is serene (although I’m not sure that’s what I would always want in a gym). I was immediately greeted by a trainer/physiotherapist who encouraged me to review what was available and to entertain any questions I had.

So I took the Ehtisham Karim Warrior Bodyweight Workout with me and trained fit for a fighter 😉  There were a number of people training in the gym, but no one seemed to get in each other’s way. I needed a space to do my workout and the gym trainer, Innes, immediately assisted in finding me a suitable spot, moved some equipment around so I could use the mirror and then discreetly moved out of range.

The only thing missing seemed to be an incline bench! However the equipment ranges from a full Pilates suite, to a Kinesis wall, with machines and free weights interspersed. The gym apparently accommodates a limited number of non-guest memberships that need to be approved. Otherwise, The Chedi has obviously invested a great deal of care (and money) in designing a gym suitable for the style and class of the hotel. While it’s not necessarily the gym at which I would want to go for fight training or any other specialized work, it does represent the best hotel gym I have ever encountered (and I’ve been to a lot!) Oh yeah, if you train hard, bring your headphones. The saccharine music to cater to all just doesn’t inspire Diesel training … But given the facilities, I think this one challenge can be overcome easily enough!

Well done Chedi Hotel, Muscat!!! The Diesel Diva highly recommends!!

Luc “The Doberman” Rousseau, of Muayfit in Kuala Lumpur, is not only a friend but an inspiration. Luc recently fought in Ultimate Beatdown 9 ~ Johor Bahru’s Very Own Big Show on 7 July at the De’bali bistro. This was a grudge match between The Doberman from France and Isamu Himura from the US, with a fair bit of trash talk ahead of the game. It was the co-main event. Luc remained professional throughout the lead up to the event and showed what he could do with his BJJ expertise once he got into the cage! Luc controlled the fight and in the third round the ref stepped in to stop the match.

Rousseau came into the fight with a perfect professional record of 4-0 while Himura was 3-5. Luc is a BJJ brownbelt. Luc is also known to speak his mind and have a great sense of humor. The Diesel Diva asked Luc to tell us a bit about himself…

Name: Luc “The Doberman” Rousseau

Sport: MMA

Age: 24

Weight: 84 kg

Team(s): Muayfit!

Record: 5-0 (all before decision)

Which fight did you like the best and why?

My last fight [UB 9], took on with 2 weeks notice. I was totally overweight and out of shape, so it was challenging. I gassed out in 20 sec during the fight,but still manage to win smashing way.

How did you get involved with MMA?

I started after doing krav-maga, realizing I needed to learn how to become a proper fighter, as I knew already how to kick in balls, poke eyes and other street stuffs lol. I was 17-18 I think.

What is it that you love about MMA?

It is challenging, complete, strategic… when I started competing in pancrase then in MMA, I wanted to prove myself and people that Jiu Jitsu works still well.

What kind of training do you do? How often do you train?
Depending on competition schedule I can train once or twice a day. I train mostly BJJ when no fights [are scheduled], but when I have fights I train in wrestling and striking as well. I don’t consider myself uni-dimensional, if I was training more in my striking I could just strike in fights instead of going to the ground.

Do you follow any special nutritional program?
I’m overly greedy and love food, but when you have to cut 10kg for a fight I diet very strictly and its hell! lol!

If you were going to give one piece of advice to anyone wanting to start training in this sport, what would it be?
Do it for the right reasons, and mostly love what you do, love your training, love learning. If you love what you do, its really less hard!

Is there any other message you would like to pass to our Diesel readers?
Please follow me on my facebook page, Luc ”Doberman” Rousseau
Thanks to everyone who supports me, and in particular to my sponsors :
Aggressionz, Motor Trader, box!, k-link, Havokk Clothing Company.

I had the pleasure of training with Luc in Kuala Lumpur, and all I can say is that Luc “The Doberman” Rousseau is legit! He loves what he does, knows how to energize others to love it too! We’ll keep watching Luc for more notches on the win stat!! (see for review of training at Muayfit!).

The Diesel Diva with The Doberman after excellent training in Muayfit!

Pakistan has a special place in my fitness history. I arrived here the first time in April 2009 weighing in at a hefty 87.5 kg, something of which I am not very proud. By the summer of 2009 I decided that this excess must go. By the summer of 2010, I had lost about 33 kg. However, I had also lost all of my muscle. I moved to Bangkok in the spring of 2011 and started to train regularly, becoming a bit of a fitness addict. Now the circle has closed and I’m back in Pakistan and ready to train here.

As many of you know, I was recently in Kuala Lumpur for One FC Destiny of Warriors. I was getting a bit of training at Muayfit, the home gym of Arnaud “The Game” Lepont, Eric “The Natural” Kelly, Peter Davis, Luc “The Doberman” Rousseau, and a number of others who frequent the gym. Mark “Mugen” Streigl and Will “The Kill” Chope, are two of these and while chatting with Mark, I mentioned that I would shortly be deploying to Pakistan and was seeking a gym. He immediately mentioned that Will is scheduled to fight in Lahore, Pakistan at a PFC fight in September and might know someone. Sure enough, Will put me in touch with Bashir Ahmad, COO of Pak Fight Club and a pioneer of MMA in Pakistan.

I contacted Bashir who responded quickly with two potential gym options for me and the contact details. Both seemed good but I decided to try out Fight Fortress Islamabad, partially because it is only a five minute drive from my Islamabad based office, but also because of the available training described to me in my correspondence with Ehtisham Karim. I was a bit concerned about whether they would train a woman in full contact martial arts, but I was assured that this would not be an issue.

Fight Fortress offers Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, Boxing and MMA classes held in the a facility within the Trim Fitness Fort at the Pakistan Sports Complex on the Kashmir Highway in Islamabad. It is a simple club operated by two brothers, Ehtisham and Uloomi. Ehtisham is a Taekwondo blackbelt and has training in a variety of disciplines including Kyokushin, Boxing, Wrestling and MMA.

I arrived in Pakistan in the evening of 2 July, checked out the facilities the next day and started training immediately. While expecting the standard one-hour class, Ehtisham surprised me with an extensive and vigorous warm-up, some strike work to determine what level I was at, and some low weight circuit work, with excellent stretching at the end. He is an unassuming fellow but with a calm demeanor and exudes confidence in what he is doing. I was immediately impressed. He ensures safety in the training but pushes me to my limits and then a bit beyond. He concentrates on technique and makes sure that I am doing things right. I like!

Now this is not a state of the art facility. It is a room with some mats, some gloves, kick pads, a bag and some skipping ropes. Is anything else really needed? As I mentioned, the fight club shares facilities with Trim Fitness which has a large weight room which is uncrowded, with a high ceiling, and fitted out with a variety of machines and free weights. I was pleasantly surprised. I had used the facilities at a higher end gym in the complex in which I work, and my colleague and I managed to use ALL the free weights between us at one point! This certainly wouldn’t be the case here. As well, there is a cardio room with stationary bikes and a big space for the offerings of aerobics and Zumba!! Who knew??

Anyways, back to Fight Fortress. The first night (and subsequent ones) I was sweating… and I mean sweating. It has been about 46 degrees celsius every day since my arrival and there is no air conditioning in the gym. There are a couple of wall mounted fans. Oddly, those require power and the availability of that wonderful resource is incredibly limited in Islamabad. So fight in the heat, and then in the dark, we did!! And there was the constant thwack of other students and fighters practising various elements and their corrections, which in the fairly small space actually benefits all of us (except for the part in Urdu – I have to pay attention to the demonstrations a little more carefully)!

Each day has been different. Ehtisham and I have clarified my weaknesses – I don’t breathe well, my flexibility is limited and my fast twitch performance and cardio are weak. So much for my “I’m so strong” bravado!! 🙂 I am strong but fitness, as I’ve been learning at a variety of gyms (The PIT Singapore, Activelifestyle Bangkok, Muayfit Kuala Lumpur, and Radical Fitness Male’ to name a few), there is more to fitness than strength.

Given the comprehensive programme that Ehtesham has in mind for me, which will be based on a warm-up, variety of MMA techniques, cardio/circuit training, plyometrics and stretching, 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, I think I may finally get somewhere with the Total Fitness concept!! I’ve already ventured into new techniques which have left me a little bruised and with a bit of road rash, but were challenging and good to add into the mix!

We have also been discussing the changes that we’ll need to make to the routine for the Holy Month of Ramadan while we are both fasting (this will involve decreased time in the gym, timing workouts near the end of the day, and changes to some of the techniques due to potentially lower blood pressure). But let’s save that for later blogging! However, if you are interested you may want to check out this interview I did last year with Bangkok Trainer on just this topic. There are a number of other good articles on the Bangkok Trainer site, dealing with fasting as well as a number of other training challenges!

This is just the beginning as I’ll be here off and on for about six weeks. Today we did some ground work in some simple BJJ and wrestling defensive techniques. I’m not a natural, but with Ehtisham’s instruction and guidance, I already feel like I’m learning! And make note, PFC will hold a fight in Lahore tentatively scheduled for the first week of September. Will “The Kill” Chope of Kuala Lumpur and Uloomi, will both be fighting. If no livestream, at least let’s see the YouTube version which is sure to follow!!

Many thanks Ehtisham! I am loving every challenging minute of our training 🙂

The Diesel Divasigning off!

Address:   Pakistan Sports Complex, Inside Trim Fitness Fort, Between Gates 8 and 9, Kashmir Highway near 7th Avenue, Islamabad, Pakistan
Hours:      Open evenings 6:00- 10:00 pm.
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