Fighter Jonny Wong banner



Published July 2015
Help For Heroes

Today I am going to be speaking to a young Muay Thai instructor who contacted me with regard to a Martial Arts Fair that he is arranging. As I read about it and the local clubs supporting him I became even more interested and raising funds for 'Help For Heroes' sealed the deal so to speak. At this point I realised I know almost nothing about this fighting style apart from a few films I had seen some...well a long time ago anyway and a piece in a magazine called 'Combat' about a very young then Master Sken. So armed with all this information I decided lets do this from the angle of someone who knows nothing about Muay Thai. Perfectly qualified for this position in a moment I will be talking to Jonny Wong and finding out more about him and the fighting style he practices. First off though something I do know about is how important the funds such things as the up and coming Martial Arts Fair are too charities and without people both holding and attending such events charities like 'Help For Heroes' would be unable to continue the important work they do.

The Martial Arts Fair is to be held on Saturday 21st March 2015 at: Universities at Medway, Pilkington Building, Chatham Maritime, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4IB if you can support the fair please do so.

Hi Jonny thank you for contacting me let's do this by starting off with the Martial Arts Fair you are organising.

Q: You are currently attending Medway University tell us a bit about what you are studying?

A: Indeed, I am a third year student at the University of Kent in Medway. I study Sports Management which looks at both the physiological demands of sport and the management aspect. My modules in the third year for example consist of nutrition, sport psychology, sports marketing, placement and Event Management. I chose this module because of my own personal interest in exercise and the growing demands of sport. A lot of people ask me if I am taking this course to be a coach, but the truth is that you can do so much more. Sport Companies and organisations are now seeking people with sport specific management knowledge over general business, so hopefully I’ll have that advantage.

Q: Why a Martial Arts Fair and who are you doing this with or is it a lone effort?

A: As part of my event module myself and a team of 2 are required to set up an event related to sport. Like a lot of you out there I am a big fan of Martial Arts, if I am not working on other school projects I’m training, and if not training, then I will probably be looking at techniques on line or practising by shadow boxing. The point is that I am always trying to learn and improve, anyone who thinks they know everything about Martial Arts deserves a slap. I have visited a lot of clubs around Medway and I have learnt something new from each one of them, it may not necessarily be a new technique but it can also be new exercises, opponents, philosophies, etc. This is what I am trying to emphasise at the fair, that you should keep an open mind because it will take you much further. The aim of the fair is also to raise the profile of Martial Arts around Medway and turn those “maybe I'll start one day” people into “ glad I tried this” people. I believe it’s important to have a discipline, it keeps the mind and body healthy. Finally and most importantly, it is too raise money for Help for Heroes.

Q: I see you have chosen to support 'Help For Heroes' what is the reason you chose this charity over the many other worthy causes?

A: There are a lot of worthy causes out there that I support, such as Water Aid, Cancer Research, and Shooting Star Chase. Help For Heroes caught my attention as I have several friends who are joining the army or are already in it. I just wanted to show them my support and to all those that have risked their lives fighting. This fair is not about the wrong or right of war, but it’s to give those who have gotten injured a second chance in life, everyone deserves a second chance.


Q: So what can the people attending on the 21st of March expect to see during the day?

A: We have a variety of Martial Arts available for every type of people, no matter your weight or age, there’s something for you. If you’re looking at relaxing and improving your balance check out the Tai Chi stand. If you want a good workout and compete then check out the kickboxing stands. If you’re aim is to impress, why not have a talk with the Taekwondo people? If you are simply not sure then sit back and check out the clubs demonstrations. This will give you an idea of what the training can do for you. Once you have witnessed the demo’s you can participate in 30-40 minute workshops which nearly all the clubs will host. If you pay the workshop fee you can participate in as many workshops as you like and later decide what you enjoyed best. However there are not only martial art clubs there but also fitness organisations such as Virgin Active and Dominance Nutrition. We also have Williams Falade, who is W.B.F.F. World Champion runner up giving a talk on nutrition and exercise.

Q: Having been involved myself with a boxing promotion I know from personal experience how much work is involved in arranging something of this nature not including the worry of how things will go on the day. How are things progressing with such a short amount of tie left before the day?

A: As you probably know it is very stressful and with other work in the way it is hard to dedicate 100% to the event but so far it is looking good!

Q: Is there anything else people attending need to know about the day like bring plenty of money and please be generous or the entry price etc?

A: We should have refreshments available for people, plus there is the student union bar right next to the building, so if you ever get hungry for a meal and beer just head down to Coopers. And yes, bring some money, door entry will be 4 pounds and workshop tickets will be around 15 pounds, which is very little considering you can train in a variety of martial arts for 5 hours! Again, all proceeds go to Help For Heroes. Furthermore A lot of stands will also be selling supplements / equipment, so make sure you have some money left for that.

Well I wish you every success with the day and hope you manage to raise plenty of money for Help For Hero’s. A change in the line of questions and let’s find out a little about Jonny Wong himself and the fighting style of and Muay Thai

Jonny Wong

Q: How long have you been practising and how did you get started in Muay Thai.

A: Before I started I was very intimidated by the sport but at the same time very impressed. The fact that you can use your elbows seemed a little crazy, but it made a lot of sense (damage wise). I was a bit shy and lacked confidence back in those days not even standing up for myself when needed. I knew something had to be done. I started in my home country Luxembourg when I was around 14 years old. As soon as I started I was hooked. That was it for me, from then on I was training every week, whenever I could, sometimes even 6 days a week. Back in Luxembourg we have a different mentality when it comes to competing and training, most fighters would train for 2-3 years before having their first inter club and a lot of great fighters I know would not even compete. As I arrived in the UK for the first time I noticed that people were stepping inside the ring after 6-8 months training… very bizarre it was.

Q: Who is your instructor and what is their background?

A: My first instructor was Luis Bif Lorenzo,he really opened my eyes to the art and was indeed very knowledgeable in other south east martial arts such as Kali, and Filipino boxing. He had trained under the wing of Dan Inosanto, which I later learnt was a big deal. When I moved to the UK for my studies, I started training with Daren Nicholson at Medway Muay Thai. He has a background in Wado Ryu Karate and boxing and have been training in Muay Thai for 13 years. Daren is one of the nicest trainers I have met and looks out for his students very well. He constantly pushes you to reach your goals and is not afraid of trying something new in class.

Q: Where do you train and I believe you instruct. Am I right with the second part of that question?

A: My main gym at the moment is Medway Muay Thai in Gillingham. However I have made it a goal to try out every single kickboxing club around the area, this might sound stupid to a lot of people but I have really enjoyed the experience so far. And yes, you are partly correct about the second part. I started a club at University called the Universities at Medway Muay Thai (U.M.M.T.) I felt there was a lack of martial Arts at the uni, I mean we don’t even have a boxing club. At first we were meant to hire an external coach to help with the sessions but it turned out to be too expensive, so I decided to get my gradings and teach what I can. I know I am not the most experienced instructor or the best fighter out there but I am passionate about the sport and I try to keep the lessons as professional as possible. Even though I am not a Kru (Master in Thai) People gave me really good feedback and before you knew it loads of people at uni were giving it a try. Last Tuesday we had 30 people turn up to the session, and there are new faces strolling in nearly every class. Our regulars have made amazing progress and have won competitions against other universities. That has been one of the most rewarding moments of my coaching.

Q: Like I said earlier I know very little about the fighting style is there a grading system as in Karate or is it more like boxing where there is no belt system?

A: The grading system is a bit bizarre. It is not emphasised a lot in clubs and when it is, it’s very expensive to do, so not everyone does it. There are 12 levels in Muay Thai, the 12th being Grand Master. With this grading you are eligible to coach anywhere in the world with no problem. You don’t have belts in Thai boxing, but you have bands instead called prajioud (around the arm of fighters).

Q: As a brand new student walking into your gym what would I expect to be doing in the first few weeks or so of training?

A: Well, if you came to U.M.M.T. you will be participating in a mixed levels class. We do a lot of Dutch drills so you have to work your mind as well as your body. If you are a complete beginner I will give you a different (simpler) set of combos to do but still in the theme of what the group is working on. Obviously if you are experienced I make the combinations slightly more difficult. There are so many techniques and combinations out there that I have never done the same thing 2 weeks in a row. If you come on Sunday (where there are less people) I will be able to take you through a proper induction of the techniques required, the rest is for you to practise at home.

Q: I would think teaching people can be a little hard on the patience at times. Despite this what do you enjoy most about teaching people?

A: Ha yes, sometimes it can be a little frustrating, but you have to understand that your students are trying their best and they all have a different approach to learning, so if they are not picking something up, try a different approach. Also, you learn to be patient after working with 4 year old (used to be a tennis coach). The most rewarding part of coaching is the progress that you see unfold before you, nothing makes you feel more proud than to see your students get stronger and more confident. Seeing your students come back week after week and them telling you they love the sessions just makes you want to make it even better!

Q: Recently one of the bare knuckle boxers I know went to Thailand to train which culminated in a bout between him and a local fighter. Our man James is a big old lump where as the Thai guy was nowhere near as big. Things were kept to boxing only and although I know the Thai fighters are tough guys things didn't look in the local lads favour. As things turned out it was a draw. How much did only being able to use his fists close down the Thai lads fighting ability as compared to being able to use everything at his disposal. It didn't look like it did to be honest but if you take away parts of some fight styles they are not as effective is this true with Muay Thai?

A: It takes a lot of balls to enter the ring with a Thai fighter either way but making a Thai use only hands takes away a lot of possibilities. The Thai’s are great at deceiving the opponent with different strikes, they may fake the knee and then BOOM! Come with the cross while your looking down at their feet. If you are a boxer and try Muay Thai, you will be completely lost in the ring as you have no idea what will come at you. Obviously, Thai fighters are not useless with just their hands but this means a whole new strategy has to be put in place for the Thai fighter to create openings. Fighters like Coban were well known for having a mean hook. Don’t underestimate their hand power. You will see a lot of European Muay Thai fighters use their hands mostly but Thai’s love to kick and knee (also because it scores higher). So I would have to agree that taking away those parts of the fighting style will hinder performance but only to a certain extent.

Q: So what are Jonny Wong's plans for the future after University?

A: Well, I am going to try to apply for a post graduate course but I will keep my options open. I would very much like to work for the combat industry, or marketing for sport brands. I guess We’ll have to see what opportunities arise.  

Well thank you very much for your time answering these questions and I hope those both training already and those unfamiliar with Muay Thai enjoyed reading this. One last thing for me to do is to put some information that maybe of interest Jon P.

Please try to support the Martial Arts Fair it is for a good cause

For information email Jonny Wong

Check out Facebook

Catch up with Jonny on his Facebook page

Universities At Medway can also be found on UMMT


Leaflet FrontLeaflet Back

Find Cage Amateurs UK on Twitter also Cage Amateurs UK can be Found on Facebook and on YouTube and Google