But the last weekend’s inaugural Siam Sub-Series Brazilian Jiu Jitsu event on Soi Tad-Ied proved that the island’s thriving martial arts culture is for real, and organiser Alex Schild believes it’s just the beginning.
“The tournament was a huge success and went exactly how I envisioned it would go when I first started this. It’s really amazing to have the support from the community, not just Phuket, but all over Thailand and Southeast Asia,” he said.
The competition saw 59 competitors from 22 different countries take part in a series of grappling matches, with a ruleset that encouraged non-stop action.
The first five minutes of each match was submission-only. Points were allowed after the initial five minutes, ensuring that all grapplers were continuously looking to win, not just coast-along if ahead on the scorecards.
Grapplers who were victorious would walk away with prizes from local shops and sponsors from along Chalong’s famed Muay Thai street Soi Tad-Ied.
“We held the Siam Sub Series on one of the most famous streets in all martial arts. The street is home to two of the biggest gyms in the world in Tiger Muay Thai and Phuket Top Team. Living as a coach and professional MMA fighter in Southeast Asia since 2011, I put together this tournament because of the lack of professionally-run tournaments in Phuket and Thailand in general. This is not a revolutionary idea, in every place in the world, where there is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) training, there are competitions in which to compete.
“Phuket has such a high concentration of fighters that we should have a tournament. It’s a truly international tournament with competitors from 22 different countries,” said Schild.
Competitors were separated by skill-level and weight categories, with some professionals showing their skills. Professional MMA fighter and featherweight champion of Polish promotion KSW, Kleber Koike Erbst, submitted all of his opponents to win the 75-kg advanced category.
Meanwhile, other pro fighters like Mallory Martin (Invicta Fighting Championship) and undefeated title-contender Tiffany Teo (ONE Championship) showcased their skills, along with other pro fighters from other promotions.
With plans for a second Siam Sub Series event for early 2018, Schild says they’re just getting started.
“I have many plans for the future, but I will be taking it one step at a time to ensure it’s done the best way possible. I plan to be able to bring the tournament to other parts of Thailand, and eventually all over Asia.”