On March 22nd and 23rd, the WKA hosted the National Tournament for Muay Thai, Kickboxing, MMA and grappling. Over 500 competitors came to the Arthur Ash Center in Richmond Virginia to compete for the chance to be the national champion and for a spot on the US Team that will be going to Italy at the end of the year to fight in the World Championships.
I have been a proud part of this process since 2001 as a coach, competitor and now an official. I have had the unique opportunity to watch combat sports evolve and progress in the US and on a world wide scale and I have seen it from every vantage point that I can think of. It has truly been an honor for me to be a part of something so grand.
This year, after opening my own gym The House of Muay Thai International,
I was able to coach as well as officiate. I also had the opportunity to watch my Kru’s and Coaches “Lead from the Front” as two of them competed, while another played the role of coach. The House of Muay Thai’s
very own Jake Chamberlain
compete for the very first time under our banner. Jake, who will be testing as a Kru under the Muay Thai University
next week at our Coach and Kru Course April 5th and 6th
, moved from Charlottesville VA to become a better Muay Thai and Kickboxing fighter. His wife, Maggie, lived in Charlottesville and took care of their household, while he slept on a coach in Norfolk and trained tirelessly for 12 weeks for his shot to be a national champion. Though he did not win the tournament, he fought courageously and set an amazing example for the students that he passionately teaches at The House of Muay Thai. He led from the front by “walking the walk” and showing his students the value of sacrifice and dedication.
MTU Kru Jimmy Canales, who has spent 10 years in service to his country with the Marine Corp, played the role of coach this past weekend. He brought a young man by the name of Shawn Carey to his first national tournament and was able to coach him to a silver medal victory. Jimmy, who has helped cultivate and grow the MCMAP’s (or Marine Corp Martial Arts Program) taught Marines on a daily basis how to defend our country by implementing Muay Thai into their system. Though I am proud to say I have fought and trained Muay Thai at the elite level, I am in awe of the men and women who sacrifice their well-being for the sake of our freedom and liberty. Men like Jimmy Canales give back to our nation in ways that many will never understand. I am excited to see what he will do with his Muay Thai and leadership as a civilian.
Last but not least we have MTU Kru Apprentice Andrea “KGB” Lee.
A mother to a beautiful daughter Ainslee, and wife to an amazing coach Donny Aaron, Andrea appears to be a good ole’ Texan sweetheart. When she steps in the ring, however, she fights with a tenacity that is unparalleled in our sport. As a virtual unknown in our region, Andrea shocked many by defeating North America’s top female fighters. Still she remains humble and kind in her victory, setting an example to all fighters of how a fighter should conduct themselves both in and out of the ring.
It is important that leaders in our Martial Arts community set the example of how to behave both in victory and defeat. There will come a day when all of us are not able to compete. When that day comes, it is important that people remember not only your performance, but your character as well. The Muay Thai University and I are proud of our Kru’s and Coaches. They have set a precedence of excellence that will trickle down to generations of fighters, practitioners and teachers to come.
-Ajarn Buck Grant