Personal Combat Training with Paul Studholme Interview

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Personal Combat TrainingThis month I’ve come down to PCT – Personal Combat Training @ Bristol Fitness Gym in St George, I’ve not noticed this place before (they hear that a lot). Its on the main road and has some parking available around the building. It has a well kitted out full gym just through the Reception but I’m sent down a set of stairs to what appears to be a kind of Muay Thai heaven and the sweat and punches are already flying. There is a full ring with some boys going at it a mountain of pads, guards and belly pads (a number of which are from our store I believe). Then random pairings battling around the room on the matted areas, these boys mean business.

I meet up with the founder and head instructor Paul ‘Skybwoy’ Studholme (Bsc), you may have heard of him, he is pretty handy in the ring so I’m not stepping in there with him, instead I play it safe with a short chat.

So Paul how did you get into Muay Thai?

I started doing Thai Boxing about 15 years ago, the reason why I started doing thai boxing is I wanted to do something totally different. I’m a bit of an extreme person so I wasn’t going to be satisfied with doing just, I don’t know, straight boxing, I wanted to do the hardest sport in the world, which is Muay Thai. First of all it was like a fitness thing really, I wanted to challenge myself and I took to it like a duck to water I was quite good at it.

So you’d found your home so to speak?

Yes, I’d found my home. I’d found something I was good at, it was hard at first of course, I wanted to get good at it, step by step getting better and better, and I excelled at it really. Started doing a few events and then I fought in Thailand events and then turned professional.

How long had you been training before going pro?

I trained as a professional for about 4 years and did a lot of amateur events in between that time, got myself the English Belt in 2012 training in the UK then my training in Thailand too, it all changed my focus really, learnt a lot about myself, my character, my discipline.

You feel it has spilled into other areas of your life too?

It has definitely spilled into the other areas how I am , how I hold myself, it’s a very positive thing!

That’s the thing about Martial Arts….

Yeah it’s the taming of the shrew a little bit as well, you know.

Yeah, I think I feel very much the same….

Yeah you come to a martial arts club and you know where you are, its good, its good.

You have some pretty impressive fight stats, let me see what I read earlier if its right ….

…Paul has to get involved with his students again, he is constantly keeping an eye on his students pushing them driving them and helping them all the way, endless motivation and pointers. It’s incredible to see this much dedication and passion in a club and says a lot about the man I’m talking to (he’s back).

So fight stats I think I have, you had 25 fights?

29!!  Fights

Sorry, 29 fights, which gave you 19 wins!?

YEEES! (he says with still a thrill of the win in his voice and a giant grin rises on his face)

6 losses (I try to skip over that the best I could). And 4 KO’s ?

Yeah that’s right.

Is that stats across the UK and Thailand?

Yes, yes that is across both.

What I am interested to know is what is the difference between fighting here and fighting in Thailand the home of the sport?

Well, there is a BIG difference, when I was in Thailand training there, people are like Thai’s are great Thai’s are the best, of course they are its their national sport, but the westerners are certainly catching up the last few years! I usually say the Thai’s are a lot more calm, but when it gets to round 3 or 4, they are not calm anymore! They then really open up on you. I would say the westerners put a lot more emphasis on the boxing and the strength and the power. The Thai’s are very very clinical, its not many attacks but its strong knees strong hits, everything, every punch is venom, I don’t know like fire really. I would say now, we are on a level playing field with the Thai’s but what do I find different? I mean you are there you know, training in the culture.

Is it more brutal training out there?

(He nods a knowing and telling yes) Yes the training is harder, the training in the UK is a bit more for leisure, like not the fight guys they are another league, another level, but the general person training its more for leisure for fitness. Out there its PROPER, you are under 30 degree blazing heat you and the endurance level of it is very hard, and you know some of them have trained since they are 5 or 6 years old. It’s definitely an eye opener out there, it totally changed the way I train, after I came back my whole ethos of Muay Thai changed for me.

Were you a trainer before you went out there and did it change your approach to that too?

Yes, I was I trained before I went out there and it did change that for me as well.

So how do you train these guys behind us here?

I train them the same way I was taught, I had a very good trainer and the way he taught me is the way I train my students, rigorous, get 100% out of them but never put them up to anything they are not prepared for and I build machines basically.

That is spot on from what I can see behind us today! Does everyone here have to train to fight or not?

No, I train people of all levels, for fitness for fighting whatever, this evenings class here is the advanced class, most of these boys are interclub level, amateur level but we cater for whatever kind of person comes through the door (the receptionist told me he gets a lot of people in and more and more of them too btw) if you do want to fight and get up to that level then obviously we can get you up to that.

Personal Combat Training How did PCT come about?

It was during my studies and in my second year there were a few of us throwing names about and I came up with Personal Combat Training and it just rang and people liked it so I actually got it trademarked. So its been around since then which is about 4 years now. I obviously had my experience from KO to where I trained for 10 years. I wanted the extra angle as its fine to do squats and burpees and all that but nowadays you need more, you need to know the detail and more in depth side of it. I still do general personal training too.

Where do you see PCT going in the future?

Well I’d like to open a gym, probably in Bristol,  under the PCT brand, the whole brand stands for trainers with the same interests really, Personal Trainers all with experience in combat sports, maybe franchises after that, maybe global who knows.

If someone is coming down for the first time what do they need?

Just yourself and some enthusiasm, trust me if you come to PCT you WILL come back (Smiles)

If you are watching the video everything going on behind us is obviously the advanced class, don’t be frightened by that!

Yeah, these guys in here right now are advanced and they are all training for a fight event on the 10th June, that’s right here actually so people can come down and see that. So we are starting to build it up for them and put them through their paces.

What’s better fighting or coaching?

COACHING, its more satisfying, and you don’t get all the cuts and bruises (laughs).

I saw you are affiliated with Bristol university in some way also?

Yes we train all the classes at Bristol Uni I am the Chief instructor there we run all their classes

There is also a Nutrition side of the business?

Yes, Amy Tavner (Naturopathic Nutrition Practitioner) she can work out everything you need for Nutrition and what you need to intake. She can give you everything from recipes to advice. Tailored packages for you whatever you need all good whole food, vegan etc.

I think that is about all from me so thanks very much Paul for your time and all your boys here as well, its exciting to watch them train. There is some dedicated training going on here and it may seem fairly brutal for some but will be perfect for others. Whichever, you couldn’t ask for a more dedicated coach and they certainly have a bunch of the right kit too, motivation is high and Paul’s drive for himself and for his students is inspiring to see. Sadly I cut the video before one of the finest moments where I said don’t let me keep you from the class, it was a struggle to keep him away even for a second and he said “I gotta get back in, I love these guys, their my boys I gotta get back and keep them going”. Not something I’ve seen too often from a coach, literally itching to get back to teach, he is putting a ton of energy and pride into everyone in the room and they are gonna see that pay off when they fight. So if you fancy some quality Muay Thai guidance, get down to a class yourself and begin your journey.