Head Muay Thai trainer of Absolute MMA Collingwood, Tao Jaiphet is a pioneer of the Melbourne Muay Thai scene. With over 16 years experience as a fight trainer, he’s produced over 150 fighters, including 14 champions to date. Incredibly passionate about Muay Thai (and the simpler things, like peanut butter and dad jokes), Tao is a strong advocate for healthy living and sustainability.
Having spent the late 90s training and fighting between Thailand, Australia, Hong Kong and Macau, Tao holds a record of 12 wins from 19 bouts in Muay Thai, as well as an undefeated Sanda record of 11 wins.
Read on to find out a little bit more about Tao!
How did you first get involved with Absolute MMA? (What industry were you in prior to Martial Arts? What made you change?)
“I heard Absolute MMA was considering opening the Collingwood gym and I pursued this opportunity to get on-board. I had watched Absolute MMA grow as an industry leader while I was running my own gym. Personally I was struggling being both a business owner and a trainer at the same time. Absolute had an already strong combat sports business model and coming over allowed me to concentrate 100% on being a trainer/coach, which is what I love and where my skills are better applied.”
Tell us about your life growing up, what is your favourite memory from when you were younger?
“Surfing with my adopted father/brother at sunrise before school… I had a great mentor called ‘caveman’ who was a dread-locked tattooed mountain of a man. But he was a boxer and a hippie surfer. He was kind to everyone until its opposite was required. He taught me about nature and our relationship with it. My times with him were the most influential moments of my youth.”
What’s your favourite place to eat in Melbourne and your #1 dish recommendation?
“I really like Yong Green on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. Awesome vegan food. On my plant based diet this place is my go to! Smith and Deli is the king of vegan junk food though…”
Who are the kind of people that you look up to and why?
“Those who are making an effort to improve our world. We face many challenges and I think the majority of world leaders lack the motivation to address these issues. I value the likes of HH Dalai Lama. Noam Chomsky. Naomi Klien. Clementine Ford. Mooji. Richie Hardcore. The Guerilla gardeners of Sth Central LA. Sea Sheppard. And all the other organizations fighting to restore our thinking to a more sustainable model.”
Is there a book you’ve read that has influenced your outlook on life or the way you approach certain situations or people?
“Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. I read this book for the first time in 1989. It had such an impact on me that it set my life in a direction that has never really waivered. I have returned to reading this book at times in my life when my path became unclear and it has always inspired me to refocus my principles and get back on track.”
During a Absolute MMA staff retreat a zombie apocalypse breaks out. You get separated with 3 AMMA team members. Who would be part your dream team and why?
“Claire Fury for obvious reasons (she saves my arse all the time), Simon Carson for his background in the commandos. And Thiago Stefanutti so that I get to enjoy a good laugh while he pokes fun at Zombies in broken English for being “too slow man” (read in Thiago’s accent)”
“He’s a bloody hippie, but a good pad holder.” – Liam McNeill
“A great, high level authentic Muay Thai trainer, one of the best I’ve worked with outside of Thailand. He hasn’t watered the style down into something it’s not, which is all too common, he’s true to the Thai culture and the origins of the sport. Whether he’s training the fighters or starting a dance off in between rounds he always adds great energy to the gym.” – Joe Boobyer
“He’s a very approachable person, with a really good energy and at the same time is a great trainer, who has produced many champions along his martial arts journey.” – Thiago Stefanutti