Team Encore is Slowly Gaining Mat Notoriety
When you come from an established team, building a new one from scratch can be a tall order. But Coach Joshua Abella is hopeful that Encore will pick up and reach the same level of success as his previous group.
I arrived at this relatively new gym before 7 on a Sunday morning. Apart from the receptionist, the only person I saw was a guy, perhaps in his early thirties, mopping the canvas. I was almost positive it was Michaelo “Mike” Sumulong, one of the owners.
Then the students started coming in. Looking around, I noticed that none of them were elite fighters. In fact, some of the guys started their martial arts journey right here, as I would learn later from their coach, two-stripe Fabricio purple belt, Joshua “Josh” Abella.
This is a stark contrast from the previous gyms we have featured where hardened fighters enter the premises day in and day out. Here, I see men who train almost as hard as they work for their families, and are willing to test their skills in competition. Yet their coach, himself an active jiu-jitsu competitor, encourages them to focus on improving without thinking too much of competing.
“Right now, we are focused on building techniques,” said Coach Josh, who also handles the gym’s MMA program. “If you have a good foundation, you won’t have much problems fighting in the cage, which is the same thing with jiu-jitsu. If they advance, I have good friends from the MMA and jiu-jitsu communities who can help hone their skills further.”
Coach Josh is, of course, the former trainer of URCC bantamweight champion Drex Zamboanga and former strawweight title challenger Solomon Dultra. While he has already departed from his former team, he acknowledges their influence on his coaching style. “I try to apply some of the principles I learned especially since we are a new team, and thankfully, nagbubunga naman. This is a good program that we have started, and hopefully, we continue our winning ways.”
Indeed, his students have been doing well in competition. Among them are Encore owners and brothers CJ and Mike Sumulong who, in their first taste of jiu-jitsu competition, bagged medals in their respective divisions. One of his ace students, Jasper “Coby” Delos Santos, has a win over a much more experienced grappler in Clube de Jiu-Jitsu and Team Lakay’s Godwin Langbayan.
After the training, Coby invited everyone to join Team Encore and Fabricio: “If you want to get fit, martial arts is the way to go, and we have them here at Encore. With Fabricio, our leader is a four-stripe black belt (Stephen Kamphuis). Sobrang babait ng mga tao dito. Pwede kang mag-train sa ibang gyms (Fabricio affiliates), at hindi sila madamot sa techniques.”
On that note, Coach Josh extended his gratitude toward their Fabricio teammates at KMA: “Anytime we need them, they can be reached, especially when we are preparing for competitions. They allow us to visit and fine-tune our skills.”
This emerging gym that is literally a stone’s throw away from the Pasig Church prides of customer service unlike any other. Coach Joshua, the Sumulong brothers, and all other coaches of Encore House of Athletes have started something good, and they invite everyone on their journey.
Apart from MMA and jiu-jitsu, they also offer boxing, Muay Thai, taekwondo, wrestling (under former national team coach Erwin Mariñas), karate, circuit training, and more. For inquiries, you can check their Facebook page at Encore House of Athletes.
Mark “Sexymundo” Raymundo is a copywriter and an amateur fighter with a perfect record of 21-0. Nah, he’s just a copywriter.
By the way, Mark used to have lousy photos during his gym features. Not anymore, thanks to photographer Jeffrey Guaves.
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