Richard Quan is one of the best MMA coaches in the country. Here’s how he gets his clients into top fighting shape

Fight Fit Militia (FFM) is the real school of hard knocks. A tough factory of fitness and fighting, it takes soft, slow rookies and turns them into ripped, lightning-quick athletes whose engines never die. Quan coaches fighters like Garreth “Soldier Boy” McLellan, Demarte “The Wolf” Pena and Boyd Allen. Born in South Africa, he moved to Thailand in 1997 and started his fighting career, where he competed at the highest level in the two infamous Muay Thai stadiums: Rajadamnern and Lumpinee. He fought in over 50 Muay Thai fights before moving to Los Angeles and studying Mixed Martial Arts.

He opened his own MMA gym called OC Muay Thai, won seven MMA pro fights and ranked high in several grappling tournaments. In 2005, he was recruited to train parts of the US Marine Core and the LA Police Department in hand-tohand combat, and trained with Thai Navy Seals in 2006 before moving back to South Africa. Quan has a comprehensive list of fitness training, having studied everything from AMOK combat training through to CrossFit, and has a blue belt in Gracie Barra Jiu-jitsu.

“What sets training at FFM apart from your traditional gym training is that it’s fun. You’re learning individual skills like Muay Thai and getting fit at the same time,” says Quan. “You train a different skill everyday – you never get bored or stuck in a routine that doesn’t provide results.” The fast growing numbers in MMA in South Africa (and globally) backs this up. “In my opinion, it hits every aspect of strength and conditioning.

Doing a class offers high-intensity interval training as well as great strength training: try grappling with a 100 kilogram man for 30 minutes,” says Quan. “MMA can also provide a mental edge – it builds self-confidence knowing that you can understand and know how to deal with violence and high stress environments.”

Workout Wisdom – “Use your tools to get into shape. Suffer in training, and suffer often, so you can learn how your mind and body are connected. Then you’ll find confidence, and in that your greatness.”

Advice For Beginners – “Make sure you have a good instructor that teaches you a good foundation and doesn’t try to rush your training,” says Quan. “Take it slowly – if fighting was easy, everyone would be a great fighter. MMA includes a variety of different martial arts which each take time to adapt and master. And never stop having fun.”

Training Takeout – High-Intensity Work Rate Even if you don’t start doing MMA , you can utilise one of its strengths. Cut down on your rest time, and structure your training exercises to be one circuit with a rest at the end.

Firness Formula – Muay Thai; Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; Gymnastics; Olympic Weightlifting; Boxing; Wrestling; Plyometrics; High Intensity Interval Training. “Our training formula at FFM uses a variation of these training mediums that’s perfectly programmed for the individual. There’s nothing training-wise that you can’t do here at FFM,” says Quan.

The Next Big Fitness Trend: BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) “I’m not very big into trends, but when looking in terms of MMA, BJJ is the one area that hasn’t taken off properly in South Africa  yet,” says Quan. “BJJhas become very popular all over the world, with women too, and there are a number of schools and competitions internationally. Personally, I think the BJJ wave hasn’t hit the South African shores hard yet.”

Favourite Gym Tools: The Airdyne and Sleds “It’s a tool that everyone has a love and hate relationship with,” says Quan. “We call it the devil’s bike.” Similar to an Assault Bike (and also known as an air or exercise bike), the Airdyne uses wind resistance to work your arms and legs while taxing your cardiovascular system. The harder you pedal and push with your arms, the higher the resistance becomes. “Another training favourite is our sleds. We load them up with weights to push and pull as fast as possible – it always gets the heart pumping.”