COVID 19 has hit the world with unprecedented impact.  As of 3 April Malaysia numbers is at 3333. The highest in South East Asia. To curtail the spread, Malaysia government has declared a Movement Control Order (MCO) which started from 18 March till 31 March. But even before the end date was reached, it was extended till 14 April. In MCO, aside from the essential services ( ie: medical, food supply, logistics, etc ) most business operation came to a stop; which include gyms & any sports events.Warriors.Asia decides to talk to some personalities to see what they have been up to in this MCO.

First off is none other than the leading combat sports photographer of Malaysia Mr Y.K. Tang.

YK as he is fondly known is originally from the town of Rawang. He now stays in Kuala Lumpur with his family.

YK picked up the interest of photography since school days. He still remember spending so much money on buying rolls & rolls of film as he started exploring photography. It was a hobby for him but one day a desperate call from a friend to help in wedding photography kick started YK into making photography his career. In 2012 YK attended a ONE Championship show in Kuala Lumpur. Being a photographer, he always bring along his cameras. MMA was very new to him back then. He took some photos to explore sports photography and with that few shots he managed to convinced MIMMA to bring him in to shoot for the first MIMMA in 2013. And the rest as they say is history.

YK is the main photographer for MIMMA. He has develop his skills to perfection and is always on time for the perfect action by the fighters. In 2018 he progress further and became a photographer for ONE Championship and has been travelling around Asia to capture all the actions.

This MCO certainly hits him hard. Because when the situation became serious, ONE Championship decides to have a close door event in Singapore on Feb 28 for ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: KING OF THE JUNGLE. YK could not attend the event.

After that the following event in March 20 was cancel and the rest of the event is still pending. Asides from photography YK also manages a corporate training business.

“ Prior to the MRO I was in Johor Bahru and my client called to cancel a training program as they are busy shutting down the office. Now because of the MRO all offices & plants are shutdown with most people working from home, therefore organizing a corporate training will be very difficult. I have been out of income for two months now. Don’t know how long all these will continue.”

The stimulus package announced by the government doesn’t seems to have anything to help those doing freelancer like he is. YK is the sole bread winner in the family. He has to support his wife & two kids. During this MCO, YK basically cook at home, simple meals as he does not want to spend unnecessarily.

He spend his time watching TV with his family and also take the opportunity to sort his thousands & thousands of old photos in his computer and many hard disk. It’s basically housekeeping time for him

He also spend time to learn new photo editing skills during his free time. For online learning, whether it’s for himself or for his client, YK does not jump into the bandwagon as most people do during this time.

YK believe in building a foundation for this.

“ You need to do a lot homework first. Who is your target audience? What platform do they have? What topics? Are they willing to spend online? What is their priority and so on…, not as easy as just setup a meeting app and  go. “

So currently he is also doing his research and surveying the market for this. YK will be doing a sharing session in Photo Jam. He will sharing his experience in doing fight photography. Catch him at 9pm on 5 April. Click the photo to go to the link.

Do check out some of YK’s excellent work in combat sports in his FB – YK Tang Photography

Next up is Jihin Radzuan, Malaysia’s MMA darling whom is a fighter in ONE Championship strawweight division. Jihin also known as her fight name Shadowcat holds a pro record of 5-2-0. Prior to ONE Championship, Shadowcat made an impact in the amateur MMA scene of Malaysia by capturing the MIMMA 4 female title.

Well known for her grappling prowess Jihin’s interest in MMA was influenced by her fondness of Korean TV star Song Ga Yeon. You can read all about how she started in my previous coverage when Jihin won the MIMMA 4 title.. click here )

Jihin works as a vet nurse and during this MCO, she is still putting in regular hours of work because her work is categorized as essential services.

Lots of people during this MCO admits to putting on weight because being at home they constantly look for food. But not for Jihin, because her schedule is basically work & training. After coming back from work, she will shower and then starts her own training. She eats like normal. She is also blessed to have her sister to be at home during this MCO and does all the cooking for her. Jihin loves her sister’s soup. She eats almost everything her sister cook except seafood which Jihin is allergic to.

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Lots of other people also uses this MCO to watch movies, but not for Jihin. She does spend some screen time, but it’s mostly on BJJ techniques videos and also on an online course. Jihin is studying for her vet nurse qualification online.

She doesn’t mind the MCO, as in normal times she mostly spend her time in the gym and home anyway. She misses the cats in her gym in Ultimate MMA Academy. During MCO while at home, Jihin also spends lots of her time with her own cat, she simply love just observing her behavior and patterns.

So is there any newfound awareness for her during this pandemic?

“ I think during this time people more jaga ( take care ) their hygiene and surroundings. Before and after toilet wash hands, touch stuff wash hand, after go out reach home straight away shower and change to clean clothes. Before MCO, I think most people after go out, when got home sometimes they just go straight to bed with same clothes.

I believe when this pandemic is over, people will take their hygiene more seriously, and it will become a habit. I never see people cough or sneeze freely now. As precaution, I follow Malaysia Ministry of Health advice; like physical distancing 1 meter away, avoid crowded places and  I always carry sanitizer with me.”

There’s no confirm date yet for her next fight as the world are still engulf by this pandemic. Most ONE Championship events are pending because a lot of Asian countries has restrict movement in and out of the country.

Let’s hope we can see Jihin fight again in the near future.

Catch Jihin’s ONE Championship highlight

Let’s go now to Land Below the Wind – Sabah, to visit Lias Mansor or better known as A.J Pyro.

AJ is a former national silat exponent, Muaythai champion and a Malaysian pioneering pro MMA fighter. He won the ONE Championship Malaysian featherweight title in 2013 and holds an overall pro MMA fight record of 4-4-0. He also owns Borneo Tribal Squad gym (BTS) in Kota Kinabalu and was the one that trains a number of pro MMA athletes from Sabah such as Ann Osman, Hisyam Samsudin, Kelvin Ong and Audrey Laura.

At 46 this year he competes regularly in BJJ competition and recently was promoted to Black Belt by Prof Adam Kayoom, making AJ the only 2 BJJ Black belt in East Malaysia.  At 45 last year he still manage to make an impact in regional MMA competition by winning the Predator Fight Series Welterweight Title in Philipines.

Most recently AJ has taken up a new challenge, by becoming a pro wrestler and has been a feature draw in Malaysia Pro Wrestling (MYPW) and Singapore Pro Wrestling (SPW) circuit.

The Covid19 pandemic affects his income directly as his source of income is from his BTS gym. He closes his gym two days before the government announce the MCO.

“ We were being affected already in February with people already being worried about close contact. People have been talking about this virus since January! The nature of our business, especially with Jiujitsu, there is direct close contact and people sweating on each other, so we are not able to have the gym open at all and almost all of our business is shut down now – meaning no revenue during the lockdown, but still all our bills (rent, electricity, waters etc) have to be paid.”

Not just for his business but AJ whom is very close to his mother have to follow the advice of Ministry of Health Malaysia. His mother stay around 16 km away from him, but AJ are not able to visit her because he does not wants to put his mother’s health at risk as Covid19 affects the aged one more seriously. Thanks to technology, he is still able to keep a lookout on her through video call.

In this MCO, AJ manage his weight very well by regular training. He stays in a condo, but the condo’s gym and swimming pool are out of bounds so he does all his workout in his own unit. He alternates his workout days between BJJ & SC (strength and conditioning).

He still able to roll as his wife Emily is also a Jiujiteros. He has matt set up in his living room. Food wise, AJ does his own cooking. He eats sensibly and in fact he lost 3.5kgs on the 10th day of MCO!

AJ makes occasional visit to the supermarket buying groeceries…. on top of his shopping list is not food for him and Emily but its pet food! Yes AJ really have a soft spots for cats and dogs, especially the strays as to him they are homeless and defenseless.

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AJ make regular trips to the street to feed the strays. It’s not only during the MCO but he has been doing this for a long time, he is well known in SPCA Kota Kinabalu as he regularly volunteer his energy to help out there. During this MCO he make a special commitment to bring food to the strays daily as to him, the MCO makes life harder for the strays as there are less food in the streets that the strays can scavenge on.

“ It’s very tiring. Yesterday I was not well but when I think about the street animals are starving, I pushed myself to drive out there and feed them. Dog/cats food always running low too. My gym is closed and I have no income. I use my saving to buy the animals food. I have few close friends who donate for the food. Hope more people donate and help the voiceless, defenseless and homeless street animals.”

Do get in touch with AJ through FB and PM him directly if you can offer any help in his work to help the strays.

I ask AJ on what does he reflect on during this pandemic…

“I’m happy with my life. Even at this difficult time, I still try to help the strays even though I myself is in a hard situation. I hope there will be more awareness on the public to help the street animals.”

His message to everyone:

“Stay home, keep clean, stay fit, don’t panic, don’t share fake news and always think positive during this COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Last but not least, we talked to Rashid Salleh. Rashid iscurrently MASMMAA – Malaysia’s MMA Association president. He has extensive experience in the media from his role as a sportscaster in SportsCenter Asia, ESPN Star Sports, Astro Arena and stint with Fox Sports Asia.

He was part of a successful cast of a local sitcom “Kopitiam” that received recognition at the 1998 Asian Television Awards for “Best Comedy Programme “ and dedicated over 20 years in local theatre and TV. He recently appeared in local Malaysian movie on MMA, SANGKAR.

Rashid with the two main stars of SANGKAR – Zul Arifin (L) and Remy Ishak (R)

Rashid is an experienced emcee with more than 15 years of hosting various events and has also directed several TV programmes in the past. Rashid hosted MIMMA for many seasons alongside Malaysian MMA star Peter Davis. He currently run his show in Youtube, The RSS with HD ( The Rashid Salled Show with Haresh Deol )

( hosting MIMMA with Peter Davis )

While still moonlighting as an actor, presenter & performer, Rashid runs his own media firm, Toucan Media. Being in the media profession that utilizes the internet a lot and have many clients all over Malaysia, he is used to work from home.  He has his own office set up at home.

Even though he is used to being home, Rashid felt that this is the time to spend more quality time with his family. Limiting their screen time he plays board games with them and even simple things like making paper airplanes. To makes things even more meaningful, he celebrated his daughter’s and also his son’s birthday during this MCO. Media business also involve a lot of events which has been either delayed or postponed. This obviously affect his source of income too. But Rashid is taking this positively. He is discovering new ways to move his business online and for personal development, he is taking an online course in marketing. For him this is the perfect time to do this. To Rashid, life has to move on even during MCO, standing still is not an option. Being negative and sulk on what cannot be done is just wasting time.

As MASMMAA president, MASMMA’s initial plan was to have a IMMAF level 1 and youth MMA coaching course in Kuala Lumpur & Kuching. But this has been postponed twice, from the March-April dates, it was moved to June, but it looks like June is also not a date possible as Covid19 cases seems to escalate in Europe and Malaysia too.

( Rashid with Andrew Mashanov )

As Rashid said it he does not like to stand still due to obstacles, to move forward, he has discuss with Andrew Mashanov the Director of Development for IMMAF and Andrew has offered to do certain theoretical parts of the course online. The good news is that this online course is FREE!

Check out the interview below to find out more

Rashid is glad that a lot of MASMMAA members, gym owners and fighters are doing online workout for their members to keep them healthy and busy. He encourage and suggest to members, gym owners or any fighters to contribute online…it can be videos on how to eat healthy, how to do bodyweight exercise, how to do online meeting, how to do hand wrap properly, etc. He will use MASMMAA social media page to share and this he believes will be a good promotion for their gym and for the fighters themselves.

Rashid himself has been busy sharing pass events of MIMMA in MASMMAA’s social media pages. This he said is using pass successes and experiences to motivate fighters and gym owners on what they have achieve together as a team.

And he also believe together, Malaysian warriors can overcome this Covid19 pandemic.