"Trevor Cooper (left) trains with Lamsongkram"
At only 18-years-old, Trevor Cooper is already making waves in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world with his speed and technical ability. The California native has been at Tiger Muay Thai and MMA Training Camp in Phuket, Thailand for a year and-a-half and was previously a student of Cesar Gracie – a mainstay in the BJJ world.

Recently, Trevor was invited to be the first fighter to train at the new TMT facility in Chiang Mai – a majority of which is still being constructed.

Over the sounds of hammers and cranes still building the massive new camp, Trevor talked a bit about life at the site, what fighters can expect, and the progression of his striking game.

What are you thoughts on the TMT Chiang Mai site?

It’s going to be huge, the plot of land is 3-times the size of the area that is currently built now. Only three trainers are here right now. They have the mats out and have some pads. I usually get one of the trainers and hit pads for a bunch of rounds, work on techniques and clinch stuff. But it’s going to be really different once everything is built – more rings and fighter specific. There’s going to be lot of Crossfit and bootcamp stuff. I’m sure the Muay Thai area is twice the size of the Phuket camp’s.

There is construction going on everyday here. Right now they are building this 10-foot wall around the camp and setting up the restaurant area. They’re painting the office – this big 3-story building, orange with black stripes. It’s definitely easy to become motivated here. There is a lot more stuff that you can’t get distracted by. People can find all the stuff they need really cheap in the this area of Thailand.

What do you think site has to offer people who want to train?

It would be better than the TMT in Phuket. All the same stuff is going to be here but in a newer facility and a bigger area. People who want to come down here will save money and party less. It’s way more training focused. We are pretty far out from anything so I would say it’s the same training, but this is more for dedicated people and it’s a lot more fighter specific. This place is not just for the weekend warrior. There is nothing else to do here at this second. You could run here, there are trails that aren’t paved and they run along the river. There are no cars driving out here so you could take a really good run if you wanted to without any distractions. It’s a lot cooler up here too in terms of weather. When it rains it isn’t the same kind of humidity as in Phuket so you can train longer and harder. It’s more foreigner friendly because of that.

My advice to any fighter who really wants to focus on training and budget more, then this would be the place to come. It’s definitely easy to become motivated here. You really have to wake up like a Thai person in the early morning. You have only one choice, you train and you go home 2-3 times a day depending on the weather or how hot it is. This is definitely geared toward the guy who is fitness-oriented or goal-oriented. The training has been great, it is really focused and it’s top notch. It’s definitely the area where if you want to knuckle down, take 30-days out of the year and try to double down on your training.

What do you think about the city of Chiang Mai?

I think it’s a nice city, people there are very friendly like in Phuket. The whole city is basically a circle. There are these little buses all over the place so you don’t need to take a taxi everywhere. The buses are about 20-30 Baht. The area is less than half the price of Phuket so it helps with accommodations. You can buy food for 20 Baht which is super cheap.There is a night market everyday of the week. Once TMT gets setup I’m sure you’ll be able to find that stuff too (temples, museums, zoos, etc) through them. There are places to party as well and it’s a lot less expensive too. Laos is right next door, about a 3 to 4-hour bus ride so Visa runs are much easier. But keep in mind that we are in Mae Rim, the city is 40 minutes away.

If you’re in Mae Rim, for example, and you wanted to eat a sandwich, you can’t just walk down the street for that, or get new hand wraps. You really need to plan, you can’t miss details when you come here. My best piece of advice is figure out exactly what you need before you come just in case. You do not get very distracted here at all. And I’m sure nutrition wise once the restaurant is set-up people will have tons of options.

As far as accommodations go, it’s either Tiger or a hotel at least 15-20 minutes away. Motorbikes are more expensive here than in Phuket. It’s hard to find stuff you need. I’m sure people would like it but they would have to get used to it. Phuket camp right now is super luxurious compared to what Chiang Mai is right this second. It’s up to the person who comes here to train to decide what their priorities are. If you wanted to just train and didn’t care about sitting around in some restaurant, then you’d want to come here.

What are your thoughts on how you are progressing as a fighter at the camp?

I train everyday and see improvements every other day. I notice things I didn’t notice before; you just feel your level of experience get better day-by-day. The trainers are very specific and technical. Right now, I’m focused on striking. I’m getting so much better, where I was taking baby steps before. Now I take big long steps and am figuring it all out easier. Timing is getting a lot better, everything is coming together striking wise.

When I first came here, they picked my game apart. It is really cool to not be stagnant on training. I’m super young now, I want to get two or three Muay Thai fights for experience and striking before doing some MMA fights in Asia. Doing a lot of clinching work with Lamsongkram Chuwattana. He’s pretty tall, at almost 6-feet, and holds 2-3 belts right now and is the current Middleweight Champion at Rajadamnern Stadium in Bangkok. He’s just one of the best around. I definitely skipped out on a few things, specifically the Pan Asian BJJ tournament to be here, but it’s going to be worth it. I’ll probably come back to TMT Phuket in the next six months. In the meantime, I’ll try to get some Muay Thai fights in Chiang Mai city. I have been at TMT for a year and a half doing MMA training and some Muay Thai, but here I got more focused on striking because that’s all there is to do right now.

Tiger Muay Thai Chiang Mai is set for its full grand opening at the beginning of 2013!