‘Life Is a Fight.’ Johan DeLeeuw on Eating Right, Repetition Training, and Coaching Fighters

Like pretty much every mixed martial artist, Johan DeLeeuw is intimidating — and for good reason. Born and raised in the Netherlands, he trained from the age of 12 at the renowned Mejiro Gym in Amsterdam, the birthplace of Dutch kickboxing the home gym of multiple world champion fighters. At age 21, DeLeeuw came to Atlanta and now coaches at Team Octopus, an Atlanta MMA and fitness academy where he says, despite the intimidating reputation of MMA, anyone can come to build strength and skills (yes, even you). “You’ll find something you like by trying out different things,” he says. “We welcome anyone who wants to train with our fighters! Every time I teach someone, I learn something too.” For today’s Trainer Talk, we asked DeLeeuw about his pre- and post-workout meals, go-to workout, and coaching philosophy.

NewGym3On coaching

Life is a fight. Everyone has tough things they are dealing with and this sport helps mentally prepare you for all that life can throw at you. One of the reasons I am involved in coaching is to give back to the sport that gave so much to me. It has created so many opportunities and opened so many doors for me.


The technique (Mejiro style) I teach at Team Octopus is based on Dutch kickboxing roots. Dutch stand up is, by far, the most aggressive and effective for MMA fighting. MMA and kickboxing are not sports that you get points in; you win by submission or knock out. We train in a spartan kind of way. Our guys are mentally tough because I constantly build them up for the fight.

IMG_8408Favorite exercise

Sparring because it comes as close to the real fight as you can get.

Pre-workout food

I’m diabetic, so a banana and/or protein shake. (I need to keep my sugar levels normal throughout my workout.)

Post-workout meal/snack

I eat light — six small meals during the day — rice, all organic, halal (grass fed, humanly raised and killed meat), fish. I don’t want to get bored with my meals. I need variety.

Go-to workout

Shadow boxing, conditioning, and bag work. With my skill set, repetition is necessary. We do the same thing over again. It’s not for everybody. We are constantly polishing our basic fighting skills. My training is very specialized for each fighter, and even for each fight or specific opponent.

Team Octopus’s 12,000-square-foot facility offers Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, fitness kickboxing, MMA, boxing, kids Jiu-jitsu, strength and conditioning, and women’s self defense. Thinking about getting in the ring? They offer a one-week free trial