and the student.
Grand Master Sken
the rank of Instructor.
- Wolf-Gym / Warrington Kickboxing Studio :
A Martial Arts Academy
that has over 26 years produced several National,
two European and two World Amateur Champions!
( Thai-Kickboxing ) :
( including Muay Boran Techniques - Ancient style
Thai martial arts system )
Trainer of Champions,
Certified Instructor ( 1992 ) by Grand Master
Sken ( Thailand )
( Japanese 'K-1 style' Kickboxing )
Black Belt ( 7th
Dan ), Shihan / Master Grade.
Certified by The
Kudo: ( Japanese
M.M.A. system ) :
Black Belt ( 2nd
Dan ), Nidan Grade.
Certified by Grand
Master Takashi Azuma ( Japan ).
in the historical city of Chester, as
a child Neil
was always very talented at the various
sporting activities that he participated
in at school such as football, distance
runnings and athletics.
When he was ten, Neil
training at the Bolton Martial Arts Centre,
initially learning Japanese Ju-Jitsu and
moved onto Thai-Kickboxing, with his first
Muaythai session being taught by one of
senior Instructors, Phil
Nurse, at a small club in the town
and it was here that his many years with
Master Sken's the Sitnarong Camp began.
( Pict : Neil 1992,
ripped at 6ft 4in and just 75kgs with
5% bodyfat ).
those early days Neil
has dedicated his adult life to the martial arts
and has for over
When Neil was 18
the opportunity arose for him to train full-time
as an Assistant Instructor at Master
Sken's headquarters, that at this time
was based in Bolton.
The Senior Instructor and propreitor of this gym
was Sandy Holt a
European Champion and a very successful trainer
Neil left home and spent just over a year
as a 'live in' student, ( what
is known in Japan as an uchi-deshi ), staying
at the Bolton gym in a very basic dormatory type
bedsit area which enabled him, to train in the
mornings, afternoons and evenings.
this time Neil's
training and sparring partner was his good
friend Steve Reilly,
who later went on to become
a European Champion.
also opened his own school and is now the
and Head Coach of the
Horwich Kickboxing Studio.
Pict : Steve Reilly, European Champion )
syllabus included traditional Martial
Arts methods from Ling-Lom style Muay-Boran
for Self-Defence, as well as teaching
the Combat-Sport side, known as Muaythai.
Muay-Boran was recently popularised
by the martial arts hit movie
( Pict : Neil performing
a Muay-Boran Jumping Side Kick, 1991 )
has many distinct regional styles that have evolved
over time. Muay Thasao, a style from Northern
Thailand has an emphasis on speed and kicking.
It is also known as "Ling-Lom"
which means Windy Monkey.
As Master Sken was
born in the North of Thailand, Neil
was taught techniques from "Ling-Lom"
style Muay-Boran which were part of the Master
Sken's Sitnarong syllabus.
At many Sitnarong Muaythai demonstrations Neil
would often partner up with one of Master
Sken's senior Instructors ( Kru-Yai ) Phil
Nurse to perform the ancient Muay-Boran
techniques such as "Tai
Khao Phra Sumeru" - running up your
opponents traditional wide martial arts stance,
( horse stance ) leaping onto their shoulders,
wrapping your legs around their neck and finishing
them off with downward elbow strikes to the top
of the skull!
as an Assisant-Instructor
under Master Sken,
Neil was taught
first hand, how to prepare fighters for
competitions, as well as the skills required
to be a cornerman.
( Pict Above : Grand Master Sken and
Neil Holden, corner team for Nigel Ashton
W.K.A. Northwest Area Welterweight Champion
Neil passed his senior student rank, Master
Sken began training Holden at his newly relocated
headquarters in Stockport.
him specifically to be an Instructor, and
having him assist at two of his Schools,
( Irlam and Eccles ), in Manchester.
Neil passed Master
Sken's Instructor Grade and received
his Instructor insignia, ( the Red
Band ), on the 10th
October 1992 after teaching as an
assistant for almost 2 years.
then applied for a government sponsored
scheme to help small businesses start up
called the 'Enterprise Allowance' and once
he was accepted onto the scheme, ( 1992
), he started his full-time career as a
registered professional martial arts Instructor.
( Picture: Neil with
trainer Phil Nurse ).
Neil was teaching during the daytime, One-to-One
personal training sessions at the BTBC gym
in Bolton and also at HnH gym in Farnworth.
Then in the evenings he would travel to
the surrounding towns and teach group classes
at his network of schools.
( Picture: Neil's 1st Business Card, yr - 1992.
It took several years of sacrifice and dedication
but eventually the
Thai-Kickboxing ( Muay-Thai / Muay-Boran ) classes
that Neil ran built up a considerable following
of members, with the largest attended classes
at the Warrington School, which he opened in 1992.
This was based in Bewsey and had 3 classes a week.
this time Neil entered a team from his various
schools into an Amateur level event in Leigh.
Incredibly, all ten won their debut bouts! This
lead onto some of his students then competing
more regular and eventually progressing onto Professional
rules, ( without padding ), and more successes
1994 Neil gained his first two Champions.
One under Muay-Thai Rules and the other
under K-1 rules.
who was renown for winning his fights
by stoppage, defeated the highly respected
by T.K.O. and become a Muay-Thai Champion
( S.I.M.T.A. ).
defeated another highly regarded fighter,
called Peter Davis
by first round K.O. to become a W.K.A.
Kickboxing Champion ( K1 Rules ).
Photo : Grand Master
Sken raises the hand of the new
Champion - Rhys
was a great start to Neil's
career as a professional martial arts Instructor
and there were soon more of his students that
would capture Championships under his guidance.
Matthew's had just won his first title
under Pro Rules. Mark went on to win a
total of 5 Pro. titles while training
under Neil Holden.
Peter Crooke, ( World Champ )
Mark Matthews ( baby Dominique )
Kirkwood Walker ( World Champ )
Promoter Paul Hennesey
with title belts and a cheque
for £ 1'000.00
proud moment for Neil Holden as a trainer, when
Mark Matthews who
was the British Ranked #2 at Light-Welterweight,
moved up a division and challenged the British
Ranked #1 Welterweight, Keiren Keddle, for the
I.S.K.A. British & Commonwealth
Mark stopped his
opponent in round 4, in what was at the time one
of the most eagerly awaited contests on the U.K.
Holden trained Mark for 12 weeks for this contest,
and the victory was a great reflection on the
level of coaching at the Wolf-Gym.
A reflection of how significant a win this was,
is shown by the fact that Keddle followed this
bout with a tremendous win of his own, defeating
the W.M.C. World Muaythai Champion Lee Chesters
for the W.A.K.O. Pro. World Welterweight Muaythai
Master Sken - the teacher of teachers.
is very proud to have trained under and
be Instructor Certified
by one of the Worlds most dynamic instructors,
Grand Master Sken
Reneown as an International teacher of Thai
martial arts, that has trained many top
level coaches and several
European and World Champions!
Pict : Grand Master Sken)
arriving in the U.K. from Thailand, Grand
Master Sken initially concentrated
on training top level Muaythai fighters.
He trained World Champions
Humphrey Harrison and Oliver Harrison, European
Champions Sandy Holt and Phil Nurse,
and several British Champions including
Pict : Master Sken's team of Champions )
of which, following successes in Muaythai, then
progressed onto Professional Boxing with Carl
Thompson eventually becoming W.B.O. World Cruiserweight
Champion, and Oliver Harrison becoming one of
the U.K.'s leading Boxing Coaches.
Having achieved his goal of proving himself as
a'Trainer of Champions', Grand
Master Sken switched his aims from producing
Muaythai Champions to instead producing Instructors
in both Muay-Boran as well as Muaythai for his
expanding association S.I.M.T.A.
( Sitnarong International Muay Thai Association
). Teaching not only the traditional and spectacular
techniques rarely used in the ring, ( jumping
kicks / flying elbows etc ) but self-defence methods
too, where one not only counters an attack but
takes the opponent to the floor and follow this
up with finishing strikes. This was Ling-Lom style
Sken's Instructors could then spread the knowledge
of Muay-Thai as a Sport and Muay-Boran as a Martial
arts system for people to participate in, not
just for the ring-sport applications, but also
as a system of self-defence and personal fitness.
This produced a generation of Instructors, along
with Neil Holden,
that are highly regarded on the circuit such as
Colin Heron, Darren Phillips, Steve Reilly, Howard
Huges, John Craig, Richard Lewis, David Eckersley,
and Johnny Steele all of who'm continued the cycle
and went on to produce Instructors and Champions
of their own!
Pict : Grand Master Sken with Kay and Instructors
Phil Nurse, Howard Hughes, James Clayton
and Neil Holden)
Some of these trainers specifically operate within
the sport of Muaythai, while others have diversified
into other combat sports such as 'K-1'
style Kickboxing and 'M.M.A.'
mixed martial arts. All of which is a credit to
Grand Master Skens's
Sken's early business Card :
Such arts teach Modesty, Discpline and Respect
( Sken Kaewpadung )
Master of Muay-Thai ( Kick Boxing
) Thai Weapons.
Founder of the
British Association of Thai Martial Arts.
International Referee and Judge.
Tae Kwon Do Master
( 5th Dan Black Belt )
Kickboxing Studio - Established 1994:
Most Martial Art Schools are merely twice
weekly classes held in hired rooms. In 1994,
after many years of sacrifice and dedication,
Neil completed his
lifelong ambition and setup his own full-time
martial arts centre at the age of 22.
This Amateur sports club
is open to the community seven days a week and
runs excellent programs for Children aged 6 onwards
and Teenagers-Only classes as well as seperate
programs for Adults. Helping members improve their
self-confidence, fitness ( and
weight loss ), giving them an activity to pursue
with regular training goals like training towards
their Black Belt or competing in the sport of
Over the years the Warrington Kickboxing Studio
has raised thousands of pounds for various causes
and charities, most recently with the the Wolf-Gym
supporting Cancer Research U.K. with a series
of three events known as Samurai-Challenge..
The logo used for Warrington
Kickboxing Studio is
the Wolf and
the school is often refered to as the Wolf
Gym. ( Japanese name
= Okami-Dojo or
Thai name = Kai Mapa
Many schools like to use a mascot, such
as Scorpions Gym in Newcastle, Golden
Cobra in Manchester, and Tigers Gym from
took two of his leading fighters to compete
in Japan, Mark
( Inter-Continental Champion : W.P.K.L.
Rhys Edwards ( British Champion
: W.A.K.O. Pro. ).
( Pict left : Mark and Rhys at the H.Q.
the All Japanese Kickboxing Federation)
here that the Wolf-Gym
was given its Japanese name. Rhys
Edwards who was facing the Japanese Welterweight
Champion, was introduced to the ring as, "representing
England... and fighting out of.... the OKAMI
( which is the Japanese
translation for 'Wolf Gym' ).
Japan experience had a tremendous influence
his system of teaching, and the way of
running the Wolf
Gym as a martial arts school.
Upon his return to England, Neil
completely revised his coaching syllabus,
The Wolf Gym's Kickboxing syllabus soon
proved to be a success, and now consistantly
produces Black Belts
of the highest standards.
( Pict Above : Neil working Matthews on
at the H.Q. of the Japanese Kickboxing
has continued training in the martial arts throughout
his career, always seeking to update and expand
his knowledge further.
a 7th Degree Black
Belt, Neil received
his Masters Degree in 2012 from the W.K.A. World
Kickboxing Association after completing over 20
years as a Full-time Professional Instructor.
As well qualifications to teach Thai-Kickboxing
( Muaythai ) and Japanese Kickboxing ( K-1 ).
Holden is also a certified Combatives (
Self-Defence ) Instructor, registered with the
British Combat Association.
also trains people for the combat-sport of Mixed-Martial
Arts ( M.M.A. ) as he also holds a Black Belt
( 2nd Dan )
in the Japanese Mixed-Martial-Arts
system of KUDO
from Grand Master Takashi
Azuma ( Japan ). KUDO
combines 'modified' Japanese Kickboxing and 'modified'
runs a once-weekly 'Combat class' specifically
focusing on KUDO
M.M.A. training as a supplement to the Kickboxing
classes at the Wolf Gym.
From this class three students have also passed
their KUDO Black
Belts under direct examination from Grand
Master Azuma. Two members also from the
KUDO M.M.A. programe have, Grant Sharples and
Jamie Hayes have also gone on to win M.M.A. Championship
Grand Master Takashi Azuma
9th Dan -
7th Dan -
has built up a very professional team of Instructors,
that have to date trained over
Black belts, along with several National Champions,
two European and
two World Amateur Kickboxing
Kickboxers from the Wolf
Gym have also proudly
represented their country at international level
on many occasions, in both Amateur and Professional
bouts against oposition from...
------------------ ------- France, --Belgium,
States of America --and
is also an established promoter, and over
the last two decades has raised many thousands
of pounds for various charities and good causes.
In 2013 Neil became only the second U.K. promoter
to ever promote an official
This was the 2013 'K-1
MAX England Grandprix', K-1
being one of the biggest professional Kickboxing
events in the world.
with various sanctioning bodies and promoters,
Holden was asked
to help re-organise the I.K.F.
activities in Europe and from 2007 to 2009
Neil was the EUROPEAN
DIRECTOR for the International
Kickboxing Federation, sanctioning
over 100 title bouts under 'K-1
Rules' and 'Muay-Thai
Kickboxing Studio has been producing Champions
since it was established in 1994, ( over 25 years
ago ). Champions in both the Professional and
Professional Muay-Thai Champions :
Gym has produced several champions in the
Professional divisions on the U.K. Muay-Thai circuit
over the years.
At one particular time, three fighters, while
training under Neil Holden,
actually held between them 12
Championship title belts!
These were Rhys Edwards,
Mark Matthews and
Darren Collins. An
outstanding achievement for any trainer
World Champions :
has produced many Amateur Champions as well as Champions
under Professional rules.
One particular stand-out being Graham Sayer who
concluded his undefeated ring career by capturing
the I.K.F. World Middleweight
Graham also received the 2005
Warrington Sports Personality of the year
in recognition of his achievements in the ring,
( 32 Amateur fights - undefeated, with 6 Title defences
Am. World Super-Middleweight
Am. World Middleweight Champion.
European Middleweight Champion.
Am. British + Commonwealth Middleweight Champion.
modified for the Cage, ( Cage-Kickboxing ) is also
known as M.M.A.-Striking.
M.M.A. Mixed Martial Arts Champions :
As a Striking-Coach, Neil Holden has also trained
two Champion's that have won titles in the Octagon-Cage.
M.M.A. Middleweight Champion
Grant Sharples - Warrington
M.M.A. Welterweight Champion
Jamie Hayes - Warrington
reading Neil's background,
you can see clearly that he strives only for the
highest of standards, wether in his own training
over the last 30 years with the very best teachers,
or in his own teaching during a professional career
spanning more than 25 years.
knowledge with regards to the Martial Arts / Combat
sports and fitness training is second to none!
If you train personally with Neil,
or train with any of his certified Instructors,
you know you are receiving the very best in Martial
Further reading : recommended...
Click here to see Neil Holden's Certificates
here to see some Warrington Kickboxers in action!