Last month, the UK’s leading martial arts magazine, Martial Arts Illustrated, put together an annual Hall of Fame awards night to honour many of the world’s leading martial artists, in recognition of their talents, achievements, contributions, and hard earned efforts in the world of martial arts. The magazine’s editor, Bob Sykes, along with Hall of Fame promoter Paul Barnett sifted endlessly through a multitude of nominees, selecting the best the country has to offer. Gymbox are bursting with pride that Team Tieu Muay Thai instructor, Phillip Tieu, received top honours when he received the award for the UK's top instructor. "It was overwhelming" he gushes.
Massive congrats Phil. How did it feel when you won it on the night?
It was a very quiet and personal event for me. Only those who mattered to me attended, and I was glad to have them by my side. In the beginning, it felt like any other day, and only after I got home that reality hit me - finally all my efforts have been recognised, and that I've hit another milestone in my life. Apart from my fighting awards, this is my first teaching award.
Amazing. Tell us about how you first joined Gymbox
I've been with Gymbox since it opened a decade ago. Two years prior, I was approached by a guy named Troy who was in charge of managing the combat side and he told me I'd be perfect to manage it. I naturally jumped at the chance - it was a great opportunity for me, and I was excited by it. Look at where we are now!
Your next competition is Oct 19th, at the Super MTC at KoKo Camden. Is it important to you that you win?
To be honest, my mindset never focuses on myself and instead focuses on what my students can achieve. This is because their victories are my victories. Thus, it's only important for my students to win, and not me.
Honourable. What's the most rewarded element of your work with us at Gymbox?
The joy of seeing my students grow as a person, both in the ring and in their daily lives.
Interesting. So how does Muay Thai translate into our everyday lives?
Muay Thai is a very beautiful sport to participate in as it will help improve how you tackle life in general. I like to look at it is this way - How you handle yourself in the ring is how you handle yourself in real life. If life throws you a right hook, you follow back with a kick!
Makes sense. How has it changed people you’ve trained?
I've seen my students grow both physically and mentally. Physical transformations from being an overweight and unhealthy person, to being fit and ripped. I've seen students grow in their confidence and see them lead happier lives.
And how has Muay Thai changed you?
By teaching people, I find that I learn more and more about myself. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and I deal with mine on a daily basis. I grow alongside my students, and sometimes they have as much to teach me as I them.
Many people start training in Muay Thai very young, what’s your story?
When I was 3-years-old, my mother was very busy with work, and when I got up in the mornings, she would place the same movie on, Enter the Dragon starring Bruce Lee. As the months wore on, and I watched the same movie over and over again, it's no surprise that I soon became obsessed with it and became a great fanatic of martial arts. At age 5, my father enrolled me into a Chinese Kickboxing school which soon progressed into Shaolin Kungfu, Tae Kwon Do, Jeet Kun Do and finally Muay Thai.
So impressive. Why Muay Thai?
It's the most exciting practice amongst all of them. Everything you learn in Muay Thai is simple, yet incredibly difficult to truly master. Not only that, but everything you learn in Muay Thai is functional and can be used effectively in all self defence.
What’s the most surprising thing we don’t know about you?
I absolutely love cooking. I consider myself an avid chef and often cook for myself, friends and family.
If you start feeling tired of the gym and training yourself/other people, how do you get back in the zone?
I find that I rarely if ever get tired of the gym and training other people. This job is my dream job. I have huge passion for it and it's an absolute obsession. If I do get weary, I just take a few days off and go somewhere nice, and come back refreshed and pumped!
Congratulations to Phil from all of us at Gymbox.