The world of MMA can be a very scary and intimidating one for the average joe or the beginner looking to start out. People are scared of walking into the sweat pit of ‘meatheads’ and testosterone, they fear upon arrival they will get gloved up and made to fight. While this might be the case in some instances, it need not be like that, and your fears will often be gone by session 2. The world of mixed martial arts is an evergreen area we recommend that everyone tries at least once, and try all aspects of the ground and the stand-up games. In this section, we will look to review gyms so you don’t have to and perhaps help make up your mind on when and where to attend.
For the second edition of Review, we made a trip out to Boksburg to spend a day with JP Kruger. JP has two branches of HOT, Boksburg and Springs. As always in order to start with the Gym, we must start with the trainers. HOT is spearheaded by JP Kruger and Marcel Els. Marcel Els has recently signed as a Pro with Fightstar where he has been competing. Marcel Els is a name MMA fans must lock down as i truly believe he is going places. I spent a lot of time with Marcel and it was clear to see his Passion for the sport, great skills he possesses and a gift in sharing knowledge. His passion for the game will drive him well into the future.
JP Kruger is a professional MMA fighter currently fighting in the EFC, his record stands at 6-3. Interesting to note on his record is two losses to Gareth McClellan who is currently in the UFC and his only other loss is to Yanick Bahati who is currently the EFC Middleweight champion. At the time of writing, he is ranked 5th out of 24 active middleweights in South Africa, and who, in my opinion will one day soon be champ of his division. JP comes from an extensive Kickboxing and K1 background but has recently caught the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu bug. He is currently a Purple belt and his passion for Jiu-Jitsu is becoming evident as shown when he recently took gold at ADCC in Cape town. His Jiu Jitsu Lineage involves the South African MMA and Jiu Jitsu Legend Chris Bright who is JP’s head coach and Huntley Smith who is the Arte Suave BJJ head coach for South Africa. Chris Bright is widely considered a pioneer of the game and a mass of knowledge and the First person in the Eastern Cape to receive a black belt in Jiu Jitsu. JP only has the best comments about both Bright and Smith, and told me of what amazing people they are.
The Comet sports club Boksburg
Arriving at the gym I couldn’t help but smile at the sight of what is, in essence, a community recreation centre. HOT is nestled in the Comet sports complex in Boksburg, and as I arrive I was greeted by Marcel Els and two tiny chaps bubbling with excitement and ready for their class. The first class on the agenda was a family based class where kids train with their parents. The Group was marshalled by both JP and Marcel and was aimed at fun, family fitness, and that’s exactly what it is. Watching the class happen I was truly impressed at how these two great fighters are not only starting an MMA movement in the youth but how they are serving a community through a sport and fitness. HOT has broken barriers through MMA and created a family environment for time together through fitness and it is truly amazing to see. I had to admire the time they put into the youth through MMA and their Art Suave Jiu Jitsu, something I would recommend for everyone with kids and even without. JP and His team do extensive work for with kids and the community and it is highly commendable.
Next up was the fight team in action , and JP suggested I jump in. I must be honest I was very excited as I saw some of the athletes arriving. Jasen “Money” Van Der Merwe and Ruan “Fangz ” Potts to name a few. I got to get a small glimpse into these guys training lives and even held some pads for them( which I am not very good at), but simply sweating on the same mat with one of South Africa’s best MMA teams was awesome. Next on the HOT agenda was a striking class still being conducted by JP (class number 3 for the day already). The class was extremely well structured and informative balanced out nicely with some light sparring, drilling and conditioning. I had left my shin pads and head-gear at home so I did not take part in the sparring, but instead got to watch some awesome athletes having a bit of fun as well as hitting pads with JP, those who don’t spar get to do some pads with JP and Marcel which is very cool. The last class on the agenda was Jiu-Jitsu. I put on my Gi and hit the mat with great excitement. The class was again well structured with some drills, as well as a light, rolling and I even learnt a cool new sweep or two which was awesome. The guys in the class were all extremely welcoming, friendly and helpful. No one looked at me as a submission waiting to happen but rather a fellow MMA enthusiast, even the might Ruan Potts was extremely helpful and gave me a pointer or two that I really appreciated.
Overall the classes were a lot of fun and extremely informative. JP and Marcel have created a nice balance in the structure of the classes with great technique and good cardio and conditioning, wrapped up in using the tools you have just learnt with some light sparring. The students are all on the same path and no one was trying to beat anyone but rather be a good training partner and improve each other’s ability. The guys I rolled with were all very skilled and very welcoming which is a direct reflection of the kind of teaching going on. I am happy to declare HOT a ‘Meathead” free zone.
Overall I had a great time at HOT, everyone made me feel extremely welcome and the attitude and atmosphere was truly amazing. This is a great team with a great future. The gym itself is a little strange, set in this old fashion rec center. With that in mind, i believe that magic will always happen in the strangest places and that’s exactly what is happening at HOT. There is no fancy hill climbing machine and extensive weight corners for “oaks to check their gains”. There is an awesome Matt which is the pinnacle of the gym and the “Wand which creates the magic”. It’s very humbling to see how something as simple as a mat can create so much. The gym has a ring that could probably use a bit of love but it serves its purpose. There are toilets and shower facilities in the rec center that are in good shape and well-kept, ample parking and winning attitude, what more could you need. As i stood outside watching the planes from OR Tambo flying over i couldn’t help but think of the symbology, all these planes flying over the home of a team that is definitely on its way up and truly they are going places.
Driving home i felt tired mainly hahaha, but honestly i was truly inspired by the magic i had witnessed inside HOT. JP and Marcel are really a massive foundation in the community providing structure and stability in the youth of the area. Their tools are MMA and BJJ and i truly commend them on what they are doing for the community and the sport. The members of their growing fight team are really making a mark on the MMA scene in the country and it is very easy to see why. Synergy and a love for the sport is gaining massive rewards for these athletes, they are focused and going places. JP and Marcel, thank you for opening your doors and the sport needs more people like you.
Facilities – * * *
Change Rooms – * * * *
Cleanliness – * * * * ( maybe in need of a tidy up here and there)
Classes – * * * * *
Price – * * * * * * (6 out of 5 stars here, with great pricing)
Location – * * * *
Total Score – 26 out of 30
‘Meathead meter’ – 0
Facebook: – HouseOfTinkerbell
or Contact JP Kruger or Marcel Els directly, they are awesome guys who will really help you.