10 of the BEST Dutch Kickboxing Gyms you should visit in 2018
Apart from my now obvious penchant for lists (I do love them ha ha), my desire to write this particular post is born from my ongoing love affair with the Netherlands, and in particular, the Dutch Kickboxing gyms! A Little back story to add context, my family have very good friends (akin to relatives) that live in Holland. Because of this I have been going there (and they have been visiting us) since about as far back as I can remember. I would like to say that this is all positive but as they would (on their trips over to us) frequently bring hand me down clothes from some of the older boys they had, I had some issues with it at times. Let’s just say that walking around Manchester in the Dutch fashion of that time did not exactly enamour me with some of my fellow kind hearted Mancunians…..
Aside from this though, I have always loved Holland. Maybe because it is the only foreign country we ever went to (as something of a council estate family, going abroad for holidays was really not an option) or maybe it is because all the people there have always fascinated me (I love the laid back culture, bohemianism and everyone’s ease at speaking multiple languages), I really could not tell you! However, once I started developing my passion for Martial Arts, Holland took on a whole new light for me. Like most people growing up with this interest in my era, I would read about (or watch on VHS) Dutch fighters such as Rob Kamen and Ramon Dekkers and be blown away by both their skill and their ferocious intensity.
This saw me at just 17 years old moving over to Holland on my own to live. I got a job labouring with a family friend on the old boat houses by the harbour front in Dordrecht (it was my first introduction to really hard graft as I was often doing 10-12 hours a day) and set about emerging myself into Dutch culture. I was living in Eindhoven and because of my age and lack of finances I was limited to an old bicycle (kindly given to me for free on arrival as it seems everyone in Holland must own one or risk being cast out as some kind of social delinquent ha ha) for transport.
I busied myself trying out different gyms that I could bike to during the week (I remember going to Muay Thai, Kickboxing and Taekwondo clubs locally) after work and catching a train to Amsterdam for the same at the weekend. What were my first impressions? Well, the Dutch trainers were no nonsense and at that time spoke little English when coaching so I had to just learn visually a lot to begin with. I did start to attend night school to learn Dutch at this point but I never really made it past the light conversation, swear words and cheap pick up lines level of ability. The main thing that stuck out for me though was the intensity. If the Kickboxing training sessions were hard, the sparring was harder. Thankfully, I had come from a background in the UK where I had already trained for a few years, competed and was not a stranger to gym wars. Even so though, I had my eyes well and truly opened at times. I had considered myself a decent level (the folly of youth I know) at striking but a Turkish guy and Thai kid both brought me back down to Earth in my first few spars there.
Anyway, I am carrying on with myself and that is not why you clicked on this post is it? Fast forward to present day and because of my work running the Warrior Collective I have since been back to Holland many times over the years and have visited a huge number of the awesome gyms to be found all across the country!
So then, what makes a great Dutch Kickboxing gym to visit for someone and what should they consider? Well firstly, if you live like I do in Europe, the Netherlands are easily accessible. Everyone in the country typically speaks great English so staying there, travelling internally and training holds no problems from a communication point of view. My caveats really are that it is wise to have some training experience already before going (beginners won’t get the best out of Holland) and be prepared for harder sparring than you may currently be used to (don’t take it personally, it is the culture there and all gyms follow this approach) at times! The fact that most gyms have what is referred to as Meat Loaf Wednesday (a traditional dish in Holland) where they have a really hard sparring session should tell you everything you need to know in this respect!! See below for a few fun clips from my travels filming sparring in Holland;
I have put together this list though by focusing on the following; quality of facility, experience of instruction, amount of training available to a visiting practitioner and level of sparring partners available. After much deliberation, here are the 10 Dutch Kickboxing Gyms that I would recommend for anyone wanting to experience training in the Netherlands in 2018;
Mike’s Gym – Amsterdam
Mike’s Gym is world renowned for good reason. The Amsterdam based gym has been consistently producing elite Kickboxers for a long time. Fighters from a wide range of back grounds competing on as diverse a list of promotions as you are ever likely to come across (UFC, Glory Kickboxing, K1, Pride to name but a few) ensure that their experience at the highest level is second to none. Badr Hari, Melvin Manhoeff, Serhiy Adamchuck, Murthel Groenhart and many other feared strikers call this gym home.
Mike Passenier is the man behind both the name and the success of what is now a globally recognised brand. The logo of which features the outline of one of his first ever fighters from back when he started coaching. This fact alone allows a little glimpse into how much he values his fighters. He has made his gym into such a dominant force through his strictly adhered to ethos of discipline, hard training and teamwork. Uniquely gifted in not just the way he develops his fighters skills/game plans but in the way he motivates them right up to the point they get into the ring or cage. His walking of Melvin Manhoeff to fight with the collar/lead is an excellent example of this. His fighters don’t just fight for personal gain, you can see that they fight for Mike and the team equally as much!
The facility at Mike’s gym is phenomenal. From the reception through to the strength/conditioning section and kickboxing area, this place is going to blow your mind!! It is located outside on the outskirts to some extent though so you will need to factor in a short bus journey or taxi ride to get there if staying in the centre of Amsterdam. Although they do have onsite (and nearby) dorm style accommodation if you want to be situated close. The training timetable is huge and varied although you will need to have some decent existing skills to survive the pro sessions (I would recommend contacting them in advance if this is your aim). All in all, I have been to Mike’s Gym a few times now and I always look forward to going back, a place worthy of it’s reputation. Check their website out today at www.mikesgym.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Dutch Kickboxing Gyms you should visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Hemmers Gym – Breda
Hemmers Gym has a rich history behind it. Formerly known as Golden Glory, this Breda based gym was originally founded by one of the pioneers of Kickboxing in the Netherlands, Cor Hemmers. Cor was the step father and trainer to possibly the most famous fighter to have ever come out of Holland, Ramon Dekkers. Cor is now currently one of the men behind the phenomenal promotion Glory Kickboxing and is the match maker behind each amazing event. The coaching and running of the gym is now the responsibility of his son Nick Hemmers.
I could of course focus on all the successes this fantastic gym has had in the past but that is behind us and not the reason I include it in this list. Nick had big shoes to fill following both the untimely passing of his brother Ramon and the leaving of Cor to Glory. But fill them he has, the gym has gone from strength to strength over the past few years with elite fighters such as Jamal Ben Saddik, Zack Mwekassa, Ariel Machado and Marat Grigorian all flourishing under his banner. Nick has literally grown up surrounded by the best in the world. This experience coupled with his own passion and knowledge has made him into one of the most sought after coaches going!
Stepping into Hemmers Gym feels a little like getting a history lesson on all that makes Dutch Kickboxing what it is. Countless pieces of memorabilia are dotted around, each piece with their own story to tell. Facility wise, this gym is fantastic. The training mat/ring area is huge and the reception feels like a cool coffee shop. Tons of training available and you will never be amiss for excellent sparring partners here! I am fortunate enough to have spent a substantial amount of time with both Nick and Cor so have no hesitations in recommending Hemmers Gym to anyone!! Check their website out today at www.hemmersgym.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Dutch Kickboxing Gyms you should visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Vos Gym – Amsterdam
Vos Gym is another gym firmly entrenched in Dutch Kickboxing history. One of the original pioneers of furthering the sport in the Netherlands Johan Vos, opened it way back in 1978. After retiring in 1995 he handed the torch and responsibility for continuing his legacy over to internationally renowned fighter Ivan Hippolyte. He, alongside fellow coach Francois Lubbers, run Vos and has ensured it remains within the very top tier of world Kickboxing since that point. There is a real Kyokushin vibe to the gym (which, if you know your history is one of the major influences on the present day Dutch system) with it’s very hard approach to training/sparring being married to a strict ethos of respect and self-discipline.
Ivan is legendary within the sport and his experience is showcased daily in the standard of both his own coaching and in the levels of the fighters who train there. People travel from all over Holland (and even further afield) to come to their notorious Meat loaf Wednesday sparring sessions and you can guarantee that each week their mats are filled with the cream of the crop of European K1 talent on this night. Francois is another huge asset to Vos Gym, his international fighting career allows him the experience to regularly travel all over the world cornering their huge stable of professional athletes to consistent success.
The facility at Vos Gym is crazy. They are one of the only places I have ever visited to have a dedicated BLM Altitude chamber specifically for their athletes to use!! An awesome amount of matted space, ring, strength/conditioning area and super cool bar/reception amounts to pretty much a complete package in this area. The talent on the mats in the open and pro sessions is super high level as you would expect. Check their website out today at www.vosgymamsterdam.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Dutch Kickboxing Gyms to visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Mousid Gym – Amsterdam
Mousid Gym in Amsterdam is possibly not as well known outside of the Kickboxing Community as others mentioned on this list but don’t let that fool you, it is truly exceptional! Founded originally in 1989, this gym is run by former Dutch, European and World Champion Mousid Akhamrane. Those savvy to great training flock to this gym in droves to benefit from both his experience and the phenomenal coaching on offer. Mourad Bouzidi, Hafid El Boustati, Fikri Tijart and Mosab Amrani are just some of the amazing fighters to have come from Mousid!
Mousid’s fighting record is extensive, having fought 83 fights with only 11 losses (6 of which he avenged in returning match ups) and his opponents included the likes of legends such as Lucien Carbin. He is a much sought after coach internationally and can often be found leading seminars all over the world. The gym is not huge but it is well laid out and a great place to train in. What it lacks in size though, it more than makes up for with the levels of coaching and training partners available!
Check their website out today at www.mousidgym.nl to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Dutch Kickboxing Gyms to visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Oosterbaan Gym – Rotterdam
Oosterbaan Gym gets it name from owner and founder Jan Oosterbaan. He, along with his wife, opened this phenomenally huge gym in 2008. For those of you not familiar with Jan, he is about as old school as it gets, an original product of the legendary Maeng-Ho Gym, he has been on the Kickboxing scene in Holland for a long, long time. As tough as they come, this no-nonsense fighter’s opponents include renowned champions such as Peter Aerts, Branko Cikatic and Frank Lobman.
The facility is set over two large floors with an unparalleled amount of training space and equipment (possibly the largest of any of the Dutch Kickboxing Gyms I have been to). FC Feyenoord (Dutch Football team) and many other well know mainstream figures have visited this gym to try their hand at Kickboxing over the years, no doubt attracted by both it’s impressive looks and reputation for consistently great coaching. I have had the pleasure of spending a decent amount of time here so know it well. The timetable is large and varied with enough sessions available to suit any level of visitor, from novice to pro fighter. All is catered for!
Another boon for this gym is it’s great reception/bar area. As it is a completely family affair behind this gym, everyone knows everyone so there is a brilliant vibe throughout. Jan’s wife looks after everyone that comes through their doors and it is a real pleasure to visit/train there! Check their website out today at www.oosterbaangym.nl to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Dutch Kickboxing Gyms to visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Mejiro Gym – Amsterdam
Andre Mannaart is the is the highly regarded man behind the Mejiro Gym. A former multiple time European and World Kickboxing Champion he took over the running of Mejiro Gym from his renowned coach and original founder/owner Jan Plas (whom himself had opened Mejiro in 1978) after he retired. The gym can boast some of the biggest names in Kickboxing to have graced it’s mats at one time or another including the likes of Rob Kamen, Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky and Andy Souwer.
Mejiro is always busy, a sign of just how popular this centrally located Amsterdam gym is. I have been there in the evening and seen classes that run back to back all completely rammed with people training. Andre is an excellent coach, his old school approach to training is simple, show up, work hard and stay respectful. It is a family affair as well with son Roel and daughter Sharon following in his footsteps, both successfully fighting at high levels in their own right and helping whenever necessary with the coaching on the mats.
I have always enjoyed my time with Andre, he is a no nonsense guy not easily impressed with the trappings of the modern day fight game! The gym is not massive (in comparison to some of the monsters featured elsewhere on this list) but it is more than big enough for purpose, has fantastic coaching, loads of available training and an abundance of eager partners to work/spar with. What more could you want? Check their website out today at www.mejirogym.nl to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Dutch Kickboxing Gyms in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Colosseum Gym – Utrecht
The Colosseum plays home to a couple of fighters (Peter Aerts and Mohammed Jaraya I am looking at you) that I am a big fan of and hosts sparring sessions with the craziest amount of talent (garnered from a wide range of other great Dutch Kickboxing Gyms) you could possibly wish for under one small roof (often including the likes of Rico Verhoeven and Hicham El Gaoui)! It is real team that runs this gym and some of those taking the lead with coaching are the fantastic Danny de Vries, Daan Kortland, Willem van der Mark and Kevin van Heeckeren. With fighters from here regularly on cards of the biggest promotions in Europe (Glory Kickboxing and Enfusion), it is clear they are doing more than a couple of things right.
With such a large amount of coaches and high level fighters resident, you really are spoilt for choice with regards to what you train in (they offer Kickboxing, Boxing and MMA) and who you do it with. The gym is located in Utrecht, which if you are basing yourself in Amsterdam really is not too far a distance to travel. A great sized timetable means there is training available day and evening most days of the week.
The facility is great, good training space, dedicated fitness area and nice reception! Anyone who wants the opportunity to jump in on some sessions with a wide assortment of exceptional fighters really should take the time to visit here!! Check their website out today at www.thecolosseum.nl see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Dutch Kickboxing Gyms to visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Team Holzken – Helmond
Anyone reading this who has even the passing interest in the world of high level Kickboxing will know the name Nieky Holzken. The multiple times World Champion has won accolades and awards aplenty throughout his competitive career for his exciting, high energy, attacking style of fighting (including fighter of the year and fight of the year). Sjef Weber whom is also responsible for Nieky’s training, is the other main coach to be found at Team Holzken.
Nieky is also an experienced and accomplished boxer, having fought and won 12 pro fights with no losses. The gym has great coaching on tap with either of these exceptionally talented individuals and given that Nieky is still very active on the global fight scene today, the energy in the gym is always going to be high! Chasing similar success are the large number of up and coming young fighters who are regularly competing under the Team Holzken banner.
As you would probably no doubt expect, the gym is impeccable! An excellent facility with a large training area, boxing ring and vast assortment of talented fighters to train with! Check their website out today at www.teamholzken.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Dutch Kickboxing Gyms to visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Souwer Sports Institute – Den Bosch
Another world renowned fighter here in the form of Kickboxing and K1 legend Andy Souwer. Vastly experienced, he has won against some of the most well known names in Kickboxing, including the likes of Masato, Buakaw Banchamek, Albert Kraus and Mike Zambidis. Now also a highly regarded instructor, he coaches regularly at his gym and can often be found travelling all around the world delivering seminars.
The Souwer Sports Institute is situated where he first started training, in Den Bosch. The facility has a big open matted space with plenty of bags and is visited often by many fighters and their teams wanting to train with Andy. The timetable offers daytime, evening and weekend sessions in Kickboxing mainly but also incorporates MMA and BJJ for those with an interest in those areas.
You can expect to find great talent at this excellent gym with strong training and sparring partners aplenty!! Check their website out today at www.souwersports.nl to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Dutch Kickboxing Gyms to visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Carbin All Style / Bien Fighters – Diemen
The Netherlands is literally filled with legendary Kickboxing names/Dutch Kickboxing Gyms and this last place on the list is no exception to that. Only recently opened (latter end of 2017), this facility is headed up by none other than the truly brilliant Lucien Carbin! For those of you who need a quick history lesson, Lucien is a former multiple European/World champion in different disciplines (including Kyokushin Karate, Savate and Kickboxing) and the coach responsible for many top names including the likes of Alistair Overeem, Tyrone Spong, and Gilbert Yvel.
Lucien’s much admired style of fighting is something that bears the hallmarks of his history (Kyokushin kicks for one) and his phenomenal coaching is much sought after across the world. Although I have not been to his new gym yet, I have seen the videos and images he shares on his social media. It is a great looking, spacious facility with stacks of talented young fighters already training regularly there. Expect to see this gym get very big, very quick!
What can you expect here? Unparalleled training from one of the best in the game, it really is that simple! He currently does not have a website set up yet for this new gym so please contact him directly through his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lucien.carbin or through the instagram for Bien Fighters at www.instagram.com/bienfighters to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Dutch Kickboxing Gyms to visit in 2018 list and for further information on all training, private lessons and how to arrange a visit!
It was actually pretty hard not to make this list containing my thoughts on 10 of the best Dutch Kickboxing Gyms to visit bigger as there were a good few others that could have easily been on it! What do you think of these gyms? Are there any others that you think I should have included???
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