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  • Writer's picturePretty Top Team

Pretty Spotlight: Introducing Co Owner of Pretty Top Team & Head Coach Paul Hosking.

Welcome to our interview series, where we shine a spotlight on inspiring coaches at Pretty Top Team.


At Pretty we hold ourselves and our members to a higher standard of core values: Respect, Integrity, Kindness and Community. Paul Hosking - Head Coach and Co Owner

 

Today, we're thrilled to introduce Paul Hosking, the dynamic owner of Pretty Top Team Gym in Cairns, Queensland. Paul is a former Queensland champion who has channeled his passion for combat sports into creating a thriving gym with his wife, Frankie Hosking. Known for his incredibly structured classes, Paul has made it his mission to welcome beginners into the exhilarating realms of Muay Thai, wrestling, boxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Under his guidance, Pretty Top Team is not just a place to train but a community that champions inclusivity and diversity, boasting a remarkable up 50% female membership. Join us as we delve into Paul's journey, his approach to training, and his vision for making combat sports accessible to all.



  • When did you first discover your love for Muay Thai?


I’ve always trained and been involved in combat sports since I was around 9-10 years old. I came across Muay Thai in my teens but wasn’t very interested in it at the time as I believed that it was not a very “attractive” martial art compared to other arts like Boxing and MMA. My only exposure to Muay Thai at that time was from Western (Australian) practitioners who emphasised the more brutal aspects of Muay Thai over the beautiful parts. It wasn’t until my early 20’s when I met my first Muay Thai trainer, who was a Thai, that I realised how brilliant Muay Thai is. I quickly fell in love with it within the first few weeks of starting.


  •  Can you share your background and journey in Muay Thai? How did you transition from a fighter to a trainer?


When I started Muay Thai, over 10 years ago, it looked very different to how it looks now. For example there was no such thing as amateurs and professionals, there were no padded fights. There were modified rules bouts (no elbows) but it was full contact, bare shins, no headgear or protection apart from mouth guard and groin guard. I learned and practised Muay Thai the “old school” way. That is to say there was never a real path to follow, it was just show up and train for 4 hours a day, take any fight offered and do your best. As I rose through the ranks locally, interstate and then nationally I became acutely aware of the myriad shortcomings and issues that to some extent still plague the sport. Things like dangerous weight cutting practices, lack of clear and concise athlete development programs, harmful processes within gyms (daily hard sparring and excessive conditioning tactics). Many of these things were and are still occurring within gyms, including the very gym that I started and fought most of my career out of.


It was around 7 years into my fighting career that I experienced a massive change in my personal life that inevitably pushed me to leave my old gym and join another local gym where I began to run striking classes occasionally. Eventually I was offered the coaching role which I reluctantly took on as I still wanted to fight, however I also knew that if I wanted to continue fighting I would need to develop a program that was safe, inclusive and most importantly, effective. One of my biggest strengths is understanding people, which I attribute to my background as a preacher’s son. I was involved in church from a very young age where my parents taught how to manage people.


  • And likewise how did you transition from coach to gym owner? What core values made you take that leap?


Overall the transition from fighter to trainer and then to business owner was not so difficult. Among many other things, one of the most important lessons you learn as a serious athlete and fighter is the value of hard, smart work which is something I’ve always naturally found myself doing. Instead of working hard, I would find the smarter way to accomplish the same task, and then I would work hard at doing it the smart way. Incidentally, this is also how I earned my fight name “Pretty” as I would spend hours on my technique and IQ to the point that my skills became cleaner and “prettier”. I’ve always applied the same concept to any challenge I’ve made for myself and so far it hasn’t failed me. Also, something that I believe is crucial to success in anything is the ability to see the similarities between different things and then focus on those things. As a Muay Thai fighter there are many different styles of fighting, but if you focus on the similarities you’ll find more success. I apply the same principles to being a trainer and a business owner. In large part the biggest deciding factor for me going into business was my family. Being a father of 2 very young children it was imperative to me to be as present as possible with them while still being able to provide for their every day needs.



  • How do you tailor your training programs to suit the needs and skill levels of different students? What is the Pretty Top Team regime and why does it differ from other martial arts gyms? 


The biggest difference we have to most gyms is simple: EFFICIENT RESULTS.


Our members have a motto “Trust the Pretty Process.” The Pretty Process is what makes our gym unique in comparison to other gyms and development programs. The first thing we establish with any new student is “buy in.” We ask them three very specific questions, 2 open ended questions and 1 closed. With the answers we can then better design a training program that best suits the individual. We find this is the most effective approach to development and with this approach we have successfully recruited, retained and developed hundreds of first time fighters/martial artists from absolute beginners into various levels of success: first time fighters, amateur fighters, amateur champions (state, national and world), pro fighters and pro champions (state and national) all within the span of 5-6 years. If we look at the standard timeline of a gym from first opening, the success that we have and are experiencing generally occurs around the 10 year mark. We have achieved this and more in less than half the time.


  •  Can you describe a typical training session you conduct? What are the key components you focus on? 

A typical training will depend on the Level. At Pretty our students are divided into levels from 1-6:

L1. Beginners

L2. General Population

L3. Challengers

L4. Pretty Prospects

L5. Pretty Rookies

L6. Pretty Pros.

The focus for Level 1 beginners is very specific: fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. Interestingly the focus for Level 6 pros is exactly the same - fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals.


  • What challenges do you face when training students, and how do you overcome them?


There are many challenges when dealing with people in general. These can depend on gender, life experiences, world views, bias, perception or prejudice. However, at Pretty we hold ourselves and our members to a higher standard of core values: Respect, Integrity, Kindness and Community. We encourage our students to abide by these tenets regardless of their personal opinions or differences.


  • You have run many successful ‘Build a fighter’ training camps. Can you talk me through these and maybe can you share a memorable success story of a graduate from one of these programs? 


There are honestly too many success stories to count, the BAF program has exceeded all expectations. The BAF program is my answer to the lack of a clear path in development in combat sports. It also serves as a measurable, achievable, lower entry point for anyone wanting to enter the world of combat sports. As I stated earlier, when I first took up Muay Thai the entry point was and, in most gyms, is much higher and much more difficult. My first Muay Thai fight was full contact in front of hundreds of strangers, my first fight camp was 4 hours a day for 8 weeks, hard sparring and clinching 3 days a week with 10km jogs as my warm ups on a daily basis, not to mention the thousands upon thousands of kicks, knees, stomach punches and situps. With the BAF program, a challenger is able to crawl, walk, run then fight their way into the big bad world of combat sports. In our most recent challenge I was approached by one of the challengers who won her fight and expressed to me how this challenge had literally “put her back together” after suffering serious mental and physical trauma in her recent past. This woman may never fight again, and that’s okay, she will always remember this period in her life that I hope will remind her of just how strong and capable she is and can be.


  • Pretty Top Team has a real community feel, why do you think that an inclusive and supportive environment is so important for people training at your gym? 


Once again, understanding people is essential to building a strong and inclusive community. We are designed to interact and congregate, at Pretty we understand how difficult and intimidating physical exercise can be. Our goal is to ensure that our students have the smoothest experience we can possibly give them while engaging in a naturally tough, uncomfortable environment like combat sports.


  • As a father why so you think it is so important for kids to get involved in sports, in particular martial arts such as Muay Thai or BJJ?


At its core, martial arts is the pursuit of “mastering one’s self”. That includes physically, mentally and spiritually. A human being who has the skills and ability to master their own emotions, mind and body will naturally become a positively contributing member of society which in turn makes the world a safer place. If children learn this from an early age they find that their journey through life is simple and safer which is what I want for my own children. That one day when I’m gone I know they will be safe and can keep themselves and each other safe. Just like anything else, not all martial arts are created equal. The arts that we provide such as Muay Thai, Boxing and BJJ are proven and battle tested in the competitive arena as well as the street/world outside. This is why these arts are important for a child or family to look into if they are wanting to get involved in self defence or combat sports.


  • Pretty Top Team is situated in the heart of Cairns city, what are you doing to give back to the local community? 


In addition to our Build Series programs (BAF, BAB) we have also founded a not for profit called the Combat Sport Association. The proceeds and donations that we receive for our charity is then diverted towards assisting junior competitors in Muay Thai, Boxing or BJJ to attend local, state and national events such as State Titles, National Championships etc. We will also be holding seminars and development days for our members and any gyms who are affiliated with CSA.


  • Lastly what do you think are the key ingredients that make a successful student of a martial arts discipline?


Teachability, Consistency



 





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