Beginner To Black Singlet, A TFC Muay Thai Journey

The day that Jake got his black singlet, December 2023, end of year grading

(Jake gets his black singlet, December 2023 at TFC end of year Muay Thai grading)


When Jake went looking for an alternative to the boozy footy lifestyle, he chose Muay Thai, and found himself back in Logan where he grew up.

Jake is a certified O.G of The Fight Centre, and is always a friendly, familiar face on the mats, where he assists with the Muay Thai class on a Tuesday night. He’s also a fantastic story teller, so we asked him to write the TFC Monthly Newsletter. In this first edition for 2024, he shares his ‘Beginner to Black Singlet’ story on –

  • Why he got started with Muay Thai
  • Looking for a Muay Thai gym
  • How Muay Thai saved his life
  • The evolution of TFC he has witnessed

What is up everyone? I’m Jake and I have been given the job, nay, the honour of writing the new TFC newsletter.

You may have seen my various ramblings on fights if you are a member of the TFC Members facebook page if you’re not what are you doing? Join it here

Otherwise you may have seen me dudeing around the general Thai class saying stuff like – “Keep your hands up” – “Don’t forget to check” or, “If I was in Enter the Dragon and the bad guys came at me one by one how many do you think I could take?…Be honest” – You know classic Muay Thai stuff.

I have been a member of TFC for almost 8 years now and recently achieved my Black Singlet so Jarvie thought it would be a good idea to give my TFC Origin Story.

A Beginner Getting Started In Muay Thai


(Jake right before he started to learn Muay Thai in Logan)

I grew up in Logan but moved to Brisbane City when I started going to Uni.

As with most uni students (at least the ones I liked hanging out with) I spent a lot of my time making sure all the beer taps at the uni pub were in working order.

All my housemates were FIFO workers so every couple of weeks after surviving on ramen and chips they would come back and we would drink so much the Bundy Bear himself would send a thank you card.

I was playing footy but the efforts on the field were often overshadowed by the efforts at the bar afterwards, subsequently, I swiftly learned that your mental health mirrors your physical health. In 2016 when the scales tipped into the triple digits (up from 75 kgs) and I was f*cking miserable, my brother Izzy and I decided to get back into a sport heavy in cardio, but without the strong boozing culture footy has.

We had both fallen in love with combat sports since we watched a DVD of The Ultimate Fighter 2 and saw Seth Petruzelli land a head kick on Dan Christison.

We collected International Kickboxer, Fight! And all the old UFC magazines, but my love of Muay Thai was ignited when I got to watch Evolution 12 live in 2007, which was a cracking card with JWP, Cosmo Alexandre, Daddy Kool, Eli Madigan and Preacher to name a few.

Looking For A Muay Thai Gym To Learn

We made a list of all the Thai/MMA gyms near Brisbane city and each week we went to test a new gym hoping to find one where the instructors knew their stuff.

Some highlights of this period at other gyms were:

  • Getting told on our first session to jump into sparring and getting hit with head kicks from their fighters.
  • Getting screamed at by a gym owner because I put my bag in the wrong section (apparently that section was for the weights users).
  • Getting in trouble for not calling the instructor Kru (I have since googled this guy and found no trace of them in any Muay Thai circles).
  • Getting (accidentally?) choked unconscious while being used to demo a technique in an MMA class, in their defence the instructor was away and one of the more advanced students was taking the class, but c’mon man sort it out.

We were pretty damn sick of the whole search. We thought maybe we should just bite the bullet, buy an under armour rashie and become a member of the cult of crossfit? Some of the outfits looked pretty snazzy. Instead we decided to extend the search to Logan.

I mean if there is one thing we knew from childhood, it’s that people from Logan love a scrap. We decided to try out a little gym next to a ballet studio in Watland street. The place was so small you had to wait in the car park for the class before yours, to finish AND EXIT so that you could walk in.

I still remember the first thing Benny said to us –

“Are you guys related? Yes I can tell, You’re punching each other too hard, pull it back” – No dickhead policy. Check.

On the way out we asked the guy at the counter (who happened to be Jarvie) if we needed to buy an armband or if there were any Thai words we had to study.

He hit us with “Nah man we don’t do that here”. All inclusive environment. Check.

As we were leaving we saw a photo of Ben, he was in the corner for Aus Muay Thai Veteran – Michael ‘Tomahawk’ Thompson. The guy knows his stuff. Check.

We got in the car and I looked at Izzy and asked “This is the place, right?”

“Absolutely” was the response and we have been here ever since.

How Learning Muay Thai Saved My Life

Purple singlet Muay Thai grading at old TFC location in Slack's Creek Logan

(Purple singlet Muay Thai grading at old TFC location in Slack’s Creek Logan)

Muay Thai and TFC have given me a lot over the years.

When I was struggling to balance the stressors of uni, shift work and mental health it gave me motivation to do better.  I wanted to –

  • Lose over 20 kgs so I could skip for more than a minute without my knees hurting.
  • Be sober so I could train the next morning.
  • Learn how to spar responsibly so that the fighters with upcoming fights could get some rounds in.

A lot of people put so much focus on their financial or career goals at the cost of their health or just the joy of learning something fun. Time spent getting fitter or learning to defend yourself is never time wasted.

After a shift one night (I was a Child Safety support worker at the time), I dropped into the Pimpama tavern to meet mates and watch the first Poirer vs McGregor fight. Literally 5 minutes after I rocked up a guy who had about 30 kgs on me walked up out of nowhere and threw a right hand straight at my jaw.

I was able to shift my weight, slip it, clinch the guy and hold him there (and maybe throw a sneaky knee to the body or two, I’m only human) until security came, dragged him out and turned him over to the cops.

Turns out a guy who looked just like me (one of the perks of looking like every hipster bartender or barista from Brissy to Byron) had a scuffle with the guy earlier on and legged it and this was a case of mistaken identity.

The number one question every bystander asked me that arvo was – “Where did you learn to do that?” – TFC. My answer every time was TFC.

I rang Benny afterwards and remember distinctly saying “Muay Thai just saved my life”. Combat sports can do the same for you.

You don’t have to be a pro fighter or UFC champion to be successful at Thai, BJJ or MMA. Pick a goal that is right for you (mine was a black singlet), immerse yourself in the positive community that Jarvie and Ben have fostered at TFC, and most of all just keep rocking up. I have never been mad that I got my ass down to the gym.

The Evolution Of TFC

Muay Thai fighter in Logan wins QLD title

(Harry Sheppard on the night he won his Muay Thai QLD title)

Some amazing parts of the TFC story I have got to witness:

  • The move from Watland street to the white mats gym at the ‘Old Pacific Highway’ (shoutout to any other members of the 3 Gym Mafia).
  • Adding 5am and 9am morning classes (the morning class used to be Dan, Izzy and myself until 1000 class member Colin Moore came shortly after rounding out the numbers to a massive 4).
  • The introduction of Boxing and BJJ classes to the TFC schedule.
  • The creation of the TFC Muay Thai grading system.
  • Ben’s WBC light heavyweight World Title win against Dan Edwards.
  • Raf’s Queensland Muay Thai title.
  • Getting trained by both Corey and Mitch Nicholson (Corey is the current WBC World Champion and Mitchy repped Australia at the IMFA Worlds).
  • Dan’s first Muay Thai fight (did someone say sweep?).
  • Getting to see Harry’s first Amateur fight and Pro fight.
  • Dan’s promotion to head trainer.
  • The first ever TFC in house fight night.
  • Both Ben and Raf’s Eternal MMA debut.
  • Getting promoted to assistant trainer.
  • Boum sending someone to the Shadow realm with a spinning elbow KO
  • Ben getting to be a part of Stylebender’s training camp for UFC.
  • Boum winning the WBC QLD Welterweight Muay Thai title
  • Diego’s first fight under the TFC banner
  • Harry winning the WBC Super Lightweight QLD title.
  • TFC’s first Black Belt in Nakia
  • The move from the white mat’s gym to the new space at Meakin Ave (guys we already need more space)
  • Chelsea Hackett winning her PFL bout as part of the TFC MMA team.
  • The success of the TFC BJJ team at the Pan Pacific BJJ tourney in Melbourne.
  • Nate winning the XFC Welterweight title
  • Achieving my Black Singlet alongside Jayde and Michelle