Black Belt School of Excellence
Established 1994

Instructors: Neil Holden

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Neil Holden


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Head Coach :
Neil Holden

Trainer of
Muay-Thai, Kickboxing
and -M.M.A. Champions

Certified Muaythai
( Thai-Kickboxing )
by Grand-Master Sken
( Thailand )

Black Belt Graded
by Master Azuma
( Japan )

W.K.A. Registered
7th Dan Black Belt

Training in the Martial Arts
+ 40 years.

Professional Instructor
+ 30 Years.



The teacher and the student.

Grand Master Sken
awarding Neil Holden the rank of Trainer ( Kru ) for Muay-Boran ( Martial-Art ) and Muay-Thai ( Combat-Sport ).

Neil Holden.

Founder - Warrington Kickboxing Studio :
A gym that has over 29 years produced several National, two European and
two World Amateur Champions!

Muay-Thai ( Thai-Kickboxing ) :
( including Muay Boran Techniques - Ancient style Thai martial arts system )
Trainer of Champions,
Certified Instructor ( 10th October 1992 ) by Grand-Master Sken
( Thailand ).
Sanctioned by : S.I.M.T.A. SITNARONG International Muay Thai Association.

Kickboxing ( Japanese 'K-1 style' Kickboxing ) :
Black Belt ( 7th Dan ), Shihan ( Master of Sport ).
Certified by :
The W.K.A...World President - Dave Sawyer.
Sanctioned by : W.K.A...World Kickboxing Association.

Kudo: ( Japanese M.M.A. system ) :
Black Belt ( 2nd Dan ), Nidan Grade.
Certified by Grand Master Takashi Azuma
( Japan )
Sanctioned by : K.I.F. KUDO International Federation.

Combat Ju-Jitsu: ( Japanese style ) :
Black Belt ( 5th Dan ), Godan Grade.
Certified by : Hanshi Lee Hasdell ( 9th Dan I.C.O. )

Sanctioned by : C.B.O. Combat Budo Organisation.


Born in the historical city of Chester, as a young boy Neil was always very talented at the various sporting activities that he participated in at school such as football, distance running and athletics.

When he was ten,
Neil began training at the Bolton Martial Arts Centre, initially learning Japanese Ju-Jitsu and Japanese-Kickboxing.

When Neil started High-School, aged 11, he then moved onto Thai-Kickboxing, with his first Muay-Thai session being taught by one of Master Sken's senior Instructors, Phil Nurse, at a small club in the town of Westhoughton.

It was here that his many years with Master Sken's Sitnarong Camp began.

( Pict : Neil 1992, age 20, ripped at 6ft 4in and just 75kgs with 5% bodyfat ).


Holden has now been martial arts training for
over 41 years!

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 of this gym was Sandy Holt a European Champion and a very successful trainer himself.

left home and spent just over a year as a 'live in' student, ( this is known in Japan as being an Uchideshi ), staying at the Bolton gym in a very basic dormatory type bedsit area which enabled him to train two and sometimes three times a day, in the mornings, the afternoons and the evenings.

During this time Neil's training and sparring partner became his good friend Steve Reilly, who later went on to become a European Champion.

Steve also opened his own school and is now the and Head Coach of the very successful Horwich Kickboxing Studio

( Pict : Steve Reilly, European Champion )

Master Sken's syllabus included the Thai martial art of Muay-Boran for Self-Defence as well as the Combat-Sport of Muay-Thai.

was recently popularised by the martial arts hit movie

( Pict : Neil performing a Muay-Boran technique, Jumping Side Kick, 1991 )


The Martial-Art of Muay-Boran has many distinct regional styles that have evolved over time. Muay Thasao, is a style from 'Northern Thailand' and has an emphasis on speed, especially swift kicks. 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 S.I.M.T.A. Association Grading syllabus.

At many Sitnarong Muay-Thai demonstrations Neil would often partner up with one of Master Sken's Senior Instructors Phil Nurse to perform the ancient Muay-Boran techniques. One in paticular often used at the demonstrations was "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 with downward elbow strikes to the top of the skull!

Training 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.

Neil would be a cornerman ( 2nd ), to Grand-Master-Sken. A fantastic way to learn correct cornerman coaching skills.

( Pict Above : Grand Master Sken and
Neil Holden, corner team for Nigel Ashton -
W.K.A. Northwest Area Welterweight Champion )


After Neil passed his Brown Grade at the Bolton Gym, Master Sken began training Holden at his new headquarters in Stockport.

Training him specifically to be an Instructor, and having him assist at two of his Sports Centre clubs, in Manchester, These were in Irlam and Eccles.

Neil passed Master Sken's Instructor Grade and received his Red Band, ( the insignia of an Instructor ), on the 10th October 1992 after teaching as an assistant for just over a year.

( Picture: Neil with trainer Phil Nurse ).

Neil then applied for a U.K. Government scheme which had been setup to help small businesses start up, called the 'Enterprise Allowance' and once he was accepted onto the scheme he started his full-time career as a registered professional martial arts Instructor, offering Personal-Training and Group-Class Instruction.


Initially Neil was coaching 'One-to-One' Personal-Training sessions, based out of the BTBC gym in Bolton and also at 'HnH' gym in Farnworth.

Then in the evenings he would travel to the surrounding towns and coach group classes at his network of clubs based at different sports centres.

( Picture: Neil's 1st Business Card, yr - 1992. )

Neil had several Sports Centre clubs, teaching Group-Classes in Chorley, Warrington, Leigh, Irlam, Bolton, Westhoughton, and Atherton.


Neil clubs soon built up a considerable number of members, with the largest classes at the Warrington School, which he opened in 1992. This was based in Bewsey and had 3 classes a week.

At this time Neil entered a team from his various schools into an Amateur level event in Leigh, and all ten of his student 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 followed.

It was a great start to Neil's career as a Professional Martial Arts Instructor and it was not long before he had his first two Champions.

In 1994 Neil gained his first two Champions.

Rhys Edwards, who was renown for winning his fights by stoppage, defeated the highly respected Simon Chu by T.K.O. for the S.I.M.T.A. Light-Welterweight Title ( Muay-Thai Rules ).

Dave Rathbone, ( pictured on the right ), defeated another highly regarded fighter, called Peter Davis by first round K.O. for the W.K.A. Welterweight Title ( K1 Rules ).



Photo : Grand Master Sken raises the hand of the new

Muay-Thai Champion -

Rhys Edwards




Neil Holden,

Phil Nurse


Mark Matthews

One of Neil's proudest moments was when Mark Matthews won his first Pro. Championship Title.




Peter Crooke, ( World Champ )
Mark Matthews
Kirkwood Walker ( World Champ )
Promoter Paul Hennesey with two I.S.K.A. Muay-Thai title belts
and a winners cheque for £ 1'000.00.


Another proud moment was when Mark Matthews was the British Ranked #2 at Light-Welterweight, and moved up a division and challenged the British Ranked #1 Welterweight, Keiren Keddle, for the I.S.K.A. British & Commonwealth Title under Muay-Thai Rules.

Mark stopped his opponent in round 4, in what was at the time one of the most eagerly awaited contests on the U.K. circuit.

A reflection of how significant a win this was, is shown by the fact that Keddle followed this bout with a tremendous come-back win of his own, defeating the W.M.C. World Muaythai Champion, Lee Chesters for the W.A.K.O. Pro. World Welterweight Title ( under Muay-Thai Rules ).

Grand Master Sken - the teacher of teachers.

Neil is very proud to have trained under for many years and be Instructor Certified by one of the Worlds most dynamic Instructors,
Grand Master Sken Kaewpadung

Reneown as an International teacher of Thai martial arts, that has trained many top level coaches and several
European and World Muay-Thai Champions!

( Pict : Grand-Master Sken)


On arriving in the U.K. from Thailand, Grand Master Sken initially focused 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 William Hilditch, Junior Salmon & Carl Thompson.

( Pict : Grand-Master Sken's team of Champions )

All of which, following successes in Muay-Thai, 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 Muay-Thai Champions to instead producing Instructors in both Muay-Boran as well as Muay-Thai 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 someone not only counters an attack but also takes their opponent to the floor and then follows this up with finishing strikes utilising echniques from Ling-Lom style Muay-Boran.

Grand-Master Sken's Instructors could then spread the knowledge of Muay-Thai as a Combat-Sport and Muay-Boran as a Martial-Arts system for Self-Defence and Personal-Fitness.

This produced a second generation of Instructors, along with Neil Holden, that are highly regarded on the circuit such as Colin Heron, Darren Phillips, Steve Reilly, Howard Hughes, 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 Instructors Kay-Hampson, Phil Nurse, Howard Hughes, James Clayton and Neil Holden).

Some of these trainers specifically operate only within the sport of Muay-Thai, 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

Master Sken's early business Card :

Master Sken Muay-Thai

Such arts teach Modesty, Discpline and Respect for others

( 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 )



Warrington Kickboxing Studio - Established 1994:

Most Martial Art Schools are merely twice weekly classes held in hired rooms. In 1994, after years of sacrifice and dedication, Neil completed his life long ambition and setup his own full-time Martial Arts Academy

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 ), and giving them an activity to pursue with regular training goals such as training towards their Black Belt or competing as an Amateur fighter.

Over the years Warrington Kickboxing has raised thousands of pounds for various causes and charities.

The logo used for
Warrington Kickboxing 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 Leeds ).


In 2001 Neil took two of his leading fighters to compete in Japan, Mark Matthews ( 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. of
the All Japanese Kickboxing Federation)


It was 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 DOJO !!!"
( which is the Japanese translation for 'Wolf Gym' ).

The Japan experience had a tremendous influence upon Neil, his system of teaching, and the way of running the Wolf Gym as a martial arts school.

Upon his return to England, Neil expanded his coaching system to also include Japanese-Kickboxing ( K1 Rules ). Combining the S.I.M.T.A. grading syllabus with the W.K.A. grading syllabus.

The Wolf Gym's new Striking syllabus soon proved to be a success, consistantly producing Black Belts Instructors and Champions of the highest standards.

( Pict Above : Neil working Matthews on the Pads
at the H.Q. of the Japanese Kickboxing Federation)


Further training.

Neil has continued training in the martial arts throughout his career, always seeking to update and expand his knowledge further.

This has seen Neil eventually gain the highly regarded 7th Dan - ( Dai-Shihan Grade) in Japanese ( K-1 style ) Kickboxing.

As well qualifications to teach Thai-Kickboxing ( Muay-Thai Rules ) and Japanese Kickboxing ( K-1 Rules ), Holden is also a certified Combatives ( Self-Defence ) Instructor holding Black Belt
in Kakuto ( Combat ) Ju-Jitsu under Shihan Lee Hasdell ( 9th Dan I.C.O. ).

Neil 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 Kickboxing and Judo techniques.

Neil runs a once-weekly 'Combat class' specifically focusing on KUDO training as a supplement to the Kickboxing classes at the Wolf Gym. From this class three students have now also passed their KUDO Black Belts under direct examination from Grand Master Azuma, and Brown Belt student, Alex Charnock, who is a two times British Amateur Kickboxing Champions ( K-1 Rules ) also won a COMBUDO British Combat Ju-Jitsu title.

( Click here further information on Kudo and Self-Defence Combatives )

Picture :

Grand Master Takashi Azuma
9th Dan -

Neil Holden
7th Dan -

Neil has built up a very professional team of Instructors, that have to date trained over
60 Black belts, along with several National Champions, two European and two World Amateur Kickboxing Champions.

Fighters 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...

----------------------------------------Scotland, --Ireland, --Wales,
------------------ -------
France, --Belgium, --Holland, --Italy, --Turkey

---------------------NewZealand, --United States of America --and Japan!

Neil 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 K-1 Kickboxing event.

This was the 2013 'K-1 MAX England Grandprix',
K-1 being one of the biggest professional Kickboxing events in the world.

Working 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 Rules'.

Warrington Kickboxing Studio has been producing Champions since it was established in 1994, ( over 29 years ago ). Champions in both the Professional and Amateur divisons.

Listed here are just some of the Championship wins for members of the Wolf Gym competing in Amateur Kickboxing under 'K1 Rules'.

Amateur Kickboxing Circuit - results ( 2007 - 2013 )

In 2013 members from Warrington Kickboxing Studio captured

----------Three -I.K.F. British Championships and
----------Two Commonwealth Championships!

In 2012 members from Warrington Kickboxing Studio captured
----------Two I.K.F. British Championships!

In 2011 members from Warrington Kickboxing Studio captured

- ---------SixX I.K.F. British Championships!

In 2010, members from from Warrington Kickboxing Studio captured
----------Two I.K.F. British Championships

-------That is Fifteen I.K.F. Amateur Champions over 4 years!

In 2007, members from from Warrington Kickboxing Studio captured
----------Five I.K.F. British Championships.

Leading fighter in the Amateur team, Graham Sayer who was involved in his 6th international contest, defeated Indian Champion, Rajeet Singh, for the I.K.F. World Super-Middleweight Title.

U.K. Professional Muaythai Circuit - results :

Neil Holden has produced several Professional Champions over the years.

Three standouts, that are today Instructors themselves are Rhys Edwards, Mark Matthews, and Darren Collins.

Between the three of them under Neil's guidance they captured 12 Pro. Championships Titles under both Muay-Thai rules and K1 Rules.



4 x Pro. Titles

Mark Matthews
6 x Pro. Titles

Darren Collins
2 x Pro. Titles

Between them they captured
Professional Championship Titles
Thai-Kickboxing ( Muay-Thai Rules )
Japanese Kickboxing ( K-1 Rules )


Rhys Edwards ( Pictured - Left )

Pro. Regional ( Area ) Welterweight Champion ( S.I.M.T.A. )
Pro. English Welterweight Champion ( I.K.B.O. )
Pro. English Welterweight Champion ( W.A.K.O. Pro.)
Pro. British Welterweight Champion ( W.A.K.O. Pro.)

Mark Matthews ( Pictured - Centre )
Pro. Regional ( Area ) Super-Lightweight Champion ( I.K.B.O. )
Pro. Regional ( Area ) Light- Welterweight Champion ( W.A.K.O. - Pro )
Pro. English Light- Welterweight Champion ( W.A.K.O. - Pro )
Pro. British Welterweight Champion ( I.S.K.A. )
Pro. Commonwealth Welterweight Champion ( I.S.K.A. )
Pro. Inter-Continental Super-Welterweight Champion ( W.P.K.L. )

Darren Collins ( Pictured - Right )
Pro. Regional ( Area ) Super-Lightweight Champion ( W.A.K.A. - Pro )
Pro. English Light- Welterweight Champion ( W.A.K.O. - Pro )

All of which can only be a solid endorsement of the
Wolf-Gym's Black belt Kickboxing Syllabus!

From readings Neil's background, you can see clearly that he strives only for the highest of standards, wether in his own training over the last 40 years with the very best teachers, or in his own teaching during a professional career spanning more than 30 years. His knowledge with regards to the Martial-Arts & Combat-Sports and Ftness-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 professional tuition.

Further reading : recommended...

( Click here to see Neil Holden's Certificates )

( Click here to see some Warrington Kickboxers in action! )