MARQUETTE — There is a group of Yoopers who train for a combat sport that holds back no punches or kicks.
Muay Thai focuses on stand–up striking techniques, which includes punching, kicking and use of the knees when clinching. Warriors Muay Thai is led by four–time muay thai pro champ Gary Swanson, one of the top coaches in the country.
“It’s a living art where it evolves and changes. With hands, there’s boxing coming in more because we use knees, elbows, legs, hands and clinch,” Swanson said.
Among those that train at Warriors Muay Thai is amateur kickboxer Missy Pontbriand.
“I really like the intensity of the workouts. We come in here for 90 minutes to two hours and work out really hard, kicking and punching. Really maxing out what your body’s potential can do,” Pontbriand said.
Although the gym has been around for about six years, the popularity has continued to pick up steam.
“It seems to be growing because of the UFC. That’s a big scene. And they train Muay Thai for stand–up so that’s helping,” said Swanson.
“We’ve had younger kids in here. We’ve had teenagers. We have adults who come in and know nothing. We start them right off with the basics and most of them stick around. They seem to enjoy it and enjoy the positive atmosphere,” said Pontbriand.
ABC 10’s Sam Ali decided to give it a shot, beginning with getting used to the kind of impact he would be feeling. Pro kickboxer Ben Yelle and his powerful legs showed me a tutorial. Then it was time to step in the ring and work on punching, kicking and knees. Next, he now had to put my knowledge together and take on Pontbriand in a light sparring session.
If you would like to get involved with Warriors Muay Thai, head to their Facebook page for more information.