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Posts of category  "Martial Arts"

Hyper Pro Kalman Csoka explains what it means to have honor as a martial arts athlete.

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“The martial arts are ultimately self-knowledge. A punch or a kick is not to knock the hell out of the guy in front, but to knock the hell out of your ego, your fear, or your hang-ups.”

– Bruce Lee

Recently on a visit back home, I met my one of my close friends at his son’s martial arts studio so I could drop in and see what young Ethan was up to. Ethan was one step away from getting his white sash in Poekoelan, an Indonesian martial art. He beamed with pride as we watched him do various forms and drills. Shortly after I left town, Ethan earned his white sash, upon which he got to join the big kids in the adjacent room. There the big kids practice more advanced forms, techniques, and even some sparring. He was thrilled.

Ethan’s always been a good kid, but from what I observed the martial arts gave him quite a healthy dose of self esteem and self respect – two of the many benefits one gains with participation in them. Whether your kid is too bossy, too shy, or perhaps just a little hyper, the martial arts can help your child learn many important life lessons. (And, of course, those same lessons apply for all of us, not just kids.)

Why Your Child Should Practice Martial Arts

Reason #1: They (and You) Will Get More Active

This is the obvious reason kids should do martial arts in this day and age – to get active and moving. In case you haven’t noticed, we have an epidemic when it comes to our nation’s obesity problem. We’re also increasingly unfit in addition to being overweight. The problem is particularly alarming as it relates to our kids. Youth sports and physical education programs are great, but not every kid is an athlete and many schools no longer offer PE. The martial arts offer many benefits, but when it comes to fitness, becoming a true martial artist means becoming a supremely fit person. When I was practicing boxing or muay Thai kickboxing on a daily basis, I was in the best shape of my life by a long shot. Martial arts can help your child get fit and healthy.

Reason #2: They’ll Learn to Find Focus and Stillness

Of the many challenges that parents face today, one is that we are constantly plugged in. While there are a great many benefits to the Internet, there are many more benefits in stillness and silence. Unfortunately stillness and silence seem to be rare to find. At some juncture in life, every one of us comes to learn that the greatest obstacle we face in this lifetime is ourselves. That battle is fought in the stillness of our hearts and the willingness to confront ourselves. As Bruce Lee pointed out, behind the punches, kicks, and knees, a true martial artist learns to sit with himself and see where his weaknesses are. In years of martial arts classes, I remember many challenges, breakthroughs, and setbacks. What I do not remember are distractions or gimmicks like you often see at your local health club. At the martial arts studios and boxing gyms where I trained, there was no loud music or flat screen TVs, just hard work and sweat equity. As a martial artist, your child will learn what it is to be still, challenged, and focused.

Reason #3: They’ll Learn to Take Hits

In the martial arts, your child will learn what it is to take a hit, whether that hit is a literal blow or a disappointment like failing a test.

Part of life is learning that we all take hitsThe key is in learning how best to take that hit and get back up. Unfortunately, this lesson seems to be lost on many in our every-kid-gets-a-trophy culture. In the martial arts, your kid will learn to fail – a lot. Half of martial arts is hitting, but half is also getting hit.

When people hire me to teach them boxing, they can’t wait to lace up the gloves and start hitting things. Seldom does someone mention how enjoyable it is when I tap him or her upside the head with a focus mitt for dropping their hands.

The first time I got struck in the head sparring in kung fu, I immediately rushed to the mirror to see if there was a mark on my face. The students in class laughed about it for months. While I didn’t find it too funny at the time, I came to learn that accepting I would get hit enabled me to relax and better protect myself. That acceptance led me to be able to better respond, maneuver, and anticipate. Ironically, learning how to take a hit is perhaps the best way for your kid to learn how to avoid it.

Reason #4: They’ll Gain Self Confidence and Self Respect

As noted in talking about my friend’s son Ethan, I was able to witness firsthand the confidence he gained by participating in the martial arts. Being able to advance and play with the big kids gave Ethan a tremendous amount of confidence.

Of course, playing with the big kids also gives all of us a little reminder of humility – someone is always bigger and stronger. I remember Sifu gently threatening the two young boys in our kung fu class that if they ever used their kung fu training in the wrong way or to show off he would have their hide.

The right martial arts school will teach your child that there are no tough guys. Every martial artist ultimately learns this sense of respect and true confidence. Your child will learn that confidence and respect for others comes from a deep sense of self-knowledge.

Reason #5: They’ll Connect Their Mind and Body

What they don’t teach you at your local health club is how to really listen to your body. To listen to your body is to also see your thoughts and have heightened awareness of your emotional construct.

A martial artist is taught to see, feel, and listen – both internally and externally. Tapping into intuition, fear, and courage are examples of being able to put the physical together with the mental. How often have we heard the phrase “being paralyzed with fear”? Being able to combat such a thing is what you learn in the martial arts.

Reason #6: They’ll Learn Conflict Resolution

People often ask me whether I have ever used my martial arts and boxing training in a fight. Indeed I have used the skills learned from martial arts many times to resolve conflict, but thankfully, never in a physical altercation outside the ring.

One of the first lessons Sifu taught us in kung fu was that words were never grounds for a fight. That advice right there has saved me many times. In the martial arts, you learn that there is no such thing as “fighting” words. Instead, you learn to respond without reacting in the martial arts.

Reason #7: They’ll Learn to Breathe

Of the many things I have learned in the martial arts and boxing, breathing is near the top. Back in my kung fu days, Sifu told me that he could tell how someone fights just by observing how he or she breathes.

Indeed, nothing is more essential to the success of how we move our body than tapping into the life force of our essence – our breath. Ask a professional athlete, or an actor, dancer, or signer, and they will tell you that to succeed in any physical craft is to access your breath correctly.

I am shocked at times working with adults who never learned to breathe properly when under physical exertion. This skill can literally save your life. In the martial arts your kid will learn the essence of how to breathe and even relax under pressure.

The Take Home – How to Proceed

The bottom line is that almost any child can and will benefit from participation in the martial arts. As to what martial art, it’s honestly not very important. For a typical six or eight year old the point is to just get them moving and focused. The key in choosing a teacher or school is to do your due diligence when it comes to evaluating the integrity of the program. As a starting place, I would choose a prospective instructor or coach who talks more about the needs of your child than his or her program.

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Bruno Pucci never had it easy. In fact, it seems like the odds were stacked against him since the day he was born.

Growing up in Curitiba, Brazil, he was a hefty child who was bullied a lot, had very few friends, and coped with the heartache and other familial issues surrounding his parents’ separation. Also, he was abnormally short, and by the age of ten, the doctors diagnosed him with pediatric growth hormone deficiency.

For the next five years, Pucci had to receive treatment in the form of daily injections to correct the disorder. But in addition to the injections, the doctor also offered a valuable piece of advice to him and his father.

“Basically, the doctor recommended me to play a sport to help with my condition,” the 26-year-old recalls. “I tried a couple of sports, but I never stuck to any of them.”

The budding athlete nicknamed “Puccibull” didn’t exhibit any natural talent for skateboarding, football, or tennis, and although he excelled at swimming, the activity did not hold his interest.

On a random afternoon in 2004, however, as the Brazilian was roaming the neighborhood with his dad, they discovered a martial arts academy. The dojo offered classes in a variety of disciplines, including Muay Thai, karate, and boxing.

That immediately appealed to Pucci, who had been a fan of action movies featuring the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme. As a result, he developed quite a fascination for striking disciplines.

Despite an initial fondness for punching and kicking, his dad suggested that he try out a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class instead. Young Pucci complied, tried out a class, and was hooked. There was one technique, in particular, that sold him on the “gentle art.”

“I learned an armbar, and found the move cool. I did not know what it was about. It was different from my perspective. I was not just thinking about punches. I was thinking, ‘Wow, this is very effective’ because they put me in an armbar and I could not escape, so that got my attention,” he admits.

Three months into his training, his coach invited him to test his skills in competition. From that moment on, Pucci participated in as many tournaments as possible. Also, the aspiring mat wizard lost the excess weight, transformed into a strapping young athlete, and gained self-defense skills in the process. Needless to say, the bullying also stopped.

At the age of 16, he took his jiu-jitsu pursuits more seriously, and dreamed about becoming a world champion. He spent most of his free time on the mats, determined to get better and achieve his primary objective.

Early on, however, he did not gave a reputation for winning. The Brazilian had subpar performances, even when facing opponents with the same ranking, and had quite a few uncertainties he desperately needed to conquer.

“There was a point in the beginning where I did not know if I was going to make it. I was so nervous. Mentally, I could not compete. I was doing awful in competitions, but the next day I was always back in the gym training,” he explains.

“I used to compete almost every weekend. Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost, but the next day I was training already. I saw how hard it is to be a world champion, so I just said I would try my best and see what happens.”

The more Pucci trained, the more confident he became. His techniques were continuously being refined, and unsurprisingly, he was performing better in competition. All of that hard work and dedication culminated in 2009, when he won the No-Gi BJJ World Championship. He would win again in 2010.

“There is no one training more than me. Maybe I am not as talented as some guys who win in their first attempt, but I will keep trying and do my best,” he re-affirms. “There is no secret. As long as you train hard and work hard, and keep doing it, then there is no way to fail. It is not easy and it takes a long time to become a world champion, but I had the confidence. I did well.”

Puccibull, who was awarded his black belt by Sebastian Lalli in 2012, knows exactly what it takes to become a world champion, and he is looking to take that championship pedigree and replicate it in mixed martial arts.

Full Fight: Bruno Pucci vs Bashir Ahmad

Bruno Pucci brings the style. Catch the Brazilian wonder in action on 30 June! 🕺TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | PPV: Official livestream at oneppv.com | Tickets: bit.ly/onenation17

Posted by ONE Championship on Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Evolve MMA representative made his professional debut in 2011 and has garnered a record of 4-2, with all four victories coming by way of rear-naked choke. While he has experienced a few setbacks in recent years, he is focused on becoming the ONE Featherweight World Champion one day.

Pucci will take a step towards his next major goal on Friday, 30 June, when he meets Jimmy “The Silencer” Yabo at ONE: LIGHT OF A NATION in Yangon, Myanmar. He may not know exactly what will happen, but his confidence and unbreakable spirit have yet to let him down.

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We can talk about philosophy and respect and better lifestyle all day, but when it comes right down to it, the martial arts have martial roots. The earliest martial arts came from a need to defend oneself in actual battle. This means that when push comes to shove, a martial art can definitely be extremely deadly. In this list, we look at 3 of the deadliest martial arts around, and what makes them so lethal.

  1. Krav Maga

A staple of police and military training all over the world, Krav Maga is a devastating martial art that aims to end a fight as fast as possible in the practitioner’s favor. This deadly style combines traditional martial arts with street fighting, featuring eye gouging, strikes to the groin, elbow strikes, and other practical ways of shifting the balance of a battle towards you.

  1. Muay Thai

The national sport of Thailand, Muay Thai is an extremely dangerous martial art that features terrifying knee and elbow strikes. Even if the competitive form uses boxing gloves, some three-fourths of all matches end in a stoppage or a straight-up knockout. Muay Thai is actually pretty commonly seen in MMA, particularly in the UFC – major competitors like Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre have used the Thai martial art to devastating effect in the ring.

  1. Silat

Silat is a martial art that has its roots spread out across Southeast Asia, particularly in what are now Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. This martial art is designed for killing, and doing so very quickly. So effective is the style, that its users may have defeated 3 different invasions of their homelands by major empires of the times.

Martial arts are for self-defense, but sometimes that means shutting down the aggressor’s ability to fight – permanently. Do you practice any of these deadly martial arts?

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Planned event likely sought to end the argument between supporters of the two combat styles, which has been bubbling over since MMA fighter defeated tai chi master in April

Police in Shanghai on Monday closed down an unlicensed fight between two teams – one led by a tai chi master and the other by a leading mixed martial artist – just weeks after footage of a similar, very bloody, contest went viral online.

The event, dubbed a “group brawl”, was set to pitch four MMA fighters, led by Xu Xiaodong, against four tai chi experts led by Ma Baoguo, Guangzhou Daily reported.

The planned fight came just weeks after Xu, a fighter and promoter of mixed martial arts, doled out a severe beating to another tai chi master, Wei Lei, in a bout that lasted just 10 seconds. Many commentators described the fight as a clear victory for modern combat techniques over traditional styles.

Monday’s bout, however, failed to get underway after police raided the venue, the report said.

Footage of the incident posted on YouTube shows the would-be combatants preparing for the bout in front of a crowd of spectators, before the lights go out and police come in.

Officers are then seen talking to Xu who can be heard saying: “I will certainly cooperate, but don’t push me. You won’t be able to push me!”

He is later seen being escorted from the premises.

In late April, Xu – known as “Mad Dog” for his intense fighting style – scored a convincing victory over Wei, after making controversial remarks about tai chi in which he said he wanted to “expose” its lack of merit.

“[I] crack down on fake things, because they are fake. Fake things must be eliminated. No question,” he was quoted as saying by state-owned tabloid Global Times after his win.

Wei was once featured in a Chinese Central Television documentary as “one of the greatest tai chi masters in China”.

Xu’s crushing victory in their head-to-head contest led to a passionate debate online about the relative merits of the two martial art forms.

Many people suggested that Wei’s defeat showed that traditional martial arts had been found wanting in a real combat situation.

Supporters of the centuries-old art form, however, pointed to its place in Chinese history and culture. Others, of a more patriotic bent, seemed outraged that MMA, a form of combat championed in the West, could be considered superior to a traditional Chinese martial art.

The Chinese Martial Arts Association said in a statement in May that the initial match had been illegal, and had “violated the morals of martial arts”.

Wushu is a traditional Chinese exercise activity, an excellent part of traditional culture, with merits for physical fitness, self-defence and health cultivation,” the statement said.

Other martial arts experts, including tai chi masters Lu Xing and Wang Zhanhai, rushed to challenge Xu to provide “fresh perspective on martial arts”, Lu was quoted as saying to local media.

Meanwhile, Chinese tycoon Chen Sheng, founder of the Tiandi No. 1 drinks company, even offered to raise the stakes by putting 10 million yuan (US$1.5 million) into the mix to “defend the dignity” of traditional martial artists.

Xu’s microblogging account was deactivated after the national attention, but internet users excitedly referenced the latest incident with the police as his “resurrection” after months of silence. They also complained about the apparent deletion of messages relating to the planned Shanghai bout.

“Blocked again! This is regional politics!” one person wrote.

“[Xu] can defeat all of the ‘fakeness’ across the lakes and rivers, but he cannot defeat the government!”

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The fight ended before it even began. Footage posted online shows four Chinese police officers sweeping in and detaining controversial Chinese mixed martial arts fighter Xu Xiaodong minutes before his comeback fight Monday against a Tai Chi master.

The planned event came just weeks after video of Xu flattening a different Tai Chi master in only 12 seconds went viral, prompting massive backlash that forced Xu out of the public eye. An outspoken self-promoter, Xu has claimed he’s on a mission to expose fake masters of traditional martial arts.

Xu’s victory in April was seen as a slap in the face to Chinese culture from a Western-style fighter, triggering a heated national debate on the combat effectiveness of Tai Chi, a traditional and performative form of martial arts endorsed by the Chinese government. Skeptics said that Monday’s competition was broken up to prevent Xu from continuing to insult traditional Chinese martial arts.

As for the second fight that never happened, Xu later announced on his Chinese social media account Wechat that he had been “censored for the second time.”

VICE News met with Xu at his gym in Beijing earlier this month when he was still preparing for battle.

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Michelle Waterson has been an MMA fighter for more than a decade, but she says her life — and her career — has never changed more drastically than when she gave birth to her daughter six years ago. For ESPN’s annual Body Issue, the 31-year-old Waterson (aka the Karate Hottie) opened up to reporter Morty Ain about being an MMA mom, stretch marks and what she wants fighting to teach her daughter.

MMA is not for someone who wants to keep cute. Your body changes. You lose body fat, and that means you lose breast tissue. Your shoulders get broad, and you get scraped from the gloves. I do it because I love to do it. I could definitely be doing something else if I just wanted to look hot.

I like my Karate Hottie nickname. I think it’s catchy. I don’t mind saying that I’m hot. If you want to underestimate your opponent [because of her nickname], for sure, go ahead.

I was 10 when I started martial arts. It was a heavy influence on me going into adulthood. It’s really given me a voice. It gave me the confidence I needed to go into the world without shying away. As a kid, I was outgoing, but I also never wanted to make anybody mad. I never spoke out. But martial arts allowed me to stand up for myself when I felt like something wasn’t right or when I felt like I was being taken advantage of.

I absolutely fell in love with Muay Thai in college. We took a trip to Thailand to see family, and that’s when I started exploring it. When I came back, I was going to college and working at Hooters full time. I got the opportunity to be a ring girl, and it was something fun to do and make some extra cash. I remember watching these MMA fights and saying, “Hey, I think I’d rather be inside the Octagon than out.” One of the fighters — he’s a really big name now in UFC, Donald Cerrone — overheard me and came to my work because they needed another girl for a fight. He left a note for me that said, “If you’re serious about training, get your butt in the gym.” I haven’t looked back since.

Mark Seliger for ESPN

It was a shock when I first found out I was pregnant. A million thoughts were going through my head all at once. “What about my fight career?” Being pregnant for me was probably one of the hardest parts of my career, just because I had so many unknowns.

There is nothing that compares to the pain of childbirth. On a scale of 1-10, any pain I’ve taken in the ring would rank a 6, and childbirth is a 10. Now I know that if I can get through 12 hours of labor, then I can get through a 25-minute fight.

I have a warrior instinct that was birthed with my child. I was like, “OK, you’re fighting for a reason now.” I was hungrier and more motivated because I had somebody to take care of. I would start visualizing the fight as me being Mama Bear and someone was trying to take my cub.

Being a mother, you have to be completely selfless, and being a fighter you have to be selfish. So when I’m training, I’m 100 percent focused on training, and when I’m at home and being a mom, I have to be 100 percent focused on being a mom, switching from that fierce primal warrior instinct to being maternal and loving and caring and understanding and open to her.

For a long time, I was embarrassed about my stretch marks. Now I embrace them, because for me it was like this nest that I created to grow this little human in my body, and I’m proud of that. They are like my battle wounds.

I’ve finally come to a place in my heart and my soul that has embraced my body and the things that it does for me — and the way that it makes me feel. I’m really at peace with who I am. That peace came after I had my daughter. I really gained an appreciation for the work that I put in to get my body where it needed to be.

Fighting for me has nothing to do with bludgeoning my opponent or making them bleed. To me, fighting is finding myself, battling with myself and becoming more whole with myself.

I was raised Buddhist. The meditation part of Buddhism teaches you how to be in the present moment and block everything else out. In fighting, it’s important to do that, because the minute you start thinking about what happened two seconds ago, or what might happen a minute from now, that’s when you pull yourself out of the moment. That’s when it’s dangerous, that’s when you can get hurt and that’s when you lose.

There is so much I can teach my daughter just by her watching me fight. She’s come to every single one of my fights, and I’m hoping she’s learning just by seeing what I do day in and day out, dealing with having a great victory and staying humble, and dealing with defeat and how to handle losses. All of these things are life lessons that need to be taught to a child, and what better way to do that than through your own experience?

I don’t want her to see me hurt, but at the same time, when I lost my belt [in 2014], I think it was important for her to see me at that point. “I’ve hit rock bottom and everything is still OK. Tomorrow I get up and work my way back up the mountain.” It’s important for her to see that.

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Source: Bigbangmusic

Seungri is preparing himself for a showdown on some tatami mats as he is about to raise his belt level in Jiu-Jitsu this summer.

He will be attending the New York Summer International Open IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship this July to earn a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Seungri has been training for the competition all year and in great company too, with even the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt fame, Matheus Diniz, giving him the thumbs up.

Recently, Seungri has been training in Osaka, Japan and has even gotten many of his fellow Jiu-Jitsu mates into supporting BIGBANG.

A post shared by @kengojits on

This will actually not be his first try at belt competitions as he already owns a black belt in Taekwondo.

All there is for Seungri to do now is to take the last month of training by storm and rock the competition to get a level-up for his current blue belt!

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Martial arts is powerful, and not just in the physical sense. In fact, martial arts is one of the world’s most valuable treasures, with the ability to transform people’s lives for the better.

It provides discipline, enhances health, boosts self-confidence, and equips people with self-defense skills, amongst others. Truly, the benefits are endless.

While martial arts continues to transform lives on a daily basis, including all of the athletes in ONE Championship, it miraculously altered the course of reality for seven of our heroes in particular.

Even when life seemed its darkest, it became the key to unlocking brighter days.

#1 Eduard Folayang Fought His Way Out Of Poverty

From an anonymous kid on the hills of Baguio, to a World Champion recognized in the hills of Hollywood.TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | PPV: Official livestream at oneppv.com | Tickets: bit.ly/onedestiny

Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, March 25, 2017

Eduard Folayang was raised in extreme poverty. He was one of nine children, five of whom died from common illnesses because his family could not afford proper medical care. Struggling to make ends meet, his mother worked at a laundromat, and his father toiled as a laborer and part-time farmer.

Being illiterate, his parents knew that the key to a better future lay in education, which is why they made sure all their surviving children would made it through school in search of a better life when they reached adulthood.

To help ease the financial burden, Folayang became an athlete. He picked up martial arts when he was 14, earned a wushu scholarship to the University of the Cordilleras, received his degree, and competed as a member of the Philippines Wushu Team.

“Landslide” went on to win three wushu gold medals at the SEA Games, headlined ONE’s first-ever event, and claimed the ultimate prize in Asian martial arts — the ONE Lightweight World Championship — in November 2016 to solidify his status as a Filipino martial arts icon.

#2 Aung La N Sang Became Myanmar’s National Hero

Why does a country of over 50 million stand behind ONE man?TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | PPV: Official livestream at oneppv.com | Tickets: bit.ly/onenation17

Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, June 19, 2017

Even as he approached his university years, Aung La N Sang never imagined he would be a martial arts phenomenon. The “Burmese Python” attended Yangon International School, joined the institution’s sports program, and left for a collegiate education at Andrews University in the United States back in 2003.

He was going to do something in the Agriculture Science field. Or so he thought. Just a year after arriving in America, he saw a big Samoan student hit a heavy bag in the school’s gym, and was instantly enamored with combat sports. A three-hour drive to a Carlson Gracie affiliate school sealed his fate, and he has been a dedicated full-time martial artist ever since.

Aung La N Sang made his professional mixed martial arts debut in 2005, amassed a wealth of experience with 19-10, 1 No Contest record, and returned home to Myanmar in 2016 with ONE Championship to become an instant martial arts sensation and national hero.

Now, he is Myanmar’s most recognised athlete, and has a chance to make history as the nation’s first-ever World Champion by defeating reigning kingpin Vitaly Bigdash in a rematch for the ONE Middleweight World Championship. The bout takes place as the main event of ONE: LIGHT OF A NATIONin Yangon’s Thuwunna Indoor Stadium on 30 June.

#3 Bibiano Fernandes Went From Janitor To World Champion

Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes had a traumatic upbringing in Manaus, Brazil. He lived in poverty, his mother tragically died when he was only seven-years-old, and his father abandoned him and his siblings in the middle of the Amazon jungle. The young Brazilian was even sick with malaria, and came inches to death.

Soon, everything would change. After he left the jungle, he discovered a BJJ academy in his poverty-stricken hometown. However, Fernandes, who had resorted to cleaning houses and washing cars for money, could not afford to pay his fees.

Fortunately, the instructor saw potential in him, and allowed him to clean the gym in exchange for training. The Flash” took advantage of that opportunity, becoming a dedicated student who ultimately earned a black belt. He went on to win several gold medals in the “gentle art”, including the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships three times.

He then set his sights on mixed martial arts, and after a storied career that saw him claim several prestigious titles and international acclaim, he reached the pinnacle of his career by capturing the ONE Bantamweight World Championship in 2013. He has since defended it several times, establishing himself as the most dominant champion in the promotion’s history.

#4 Agilan Thani Overcame A Lifetime Of Obesity And Bullying

Once bullied for being overweight, Agilan "Alligator" Thani lost 60kg with martial arts. 👏TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | PPV: Official livestream at oneppv.com | Tickets: bit.ly/oneheroes

Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, April 29, 2017

Raised solely by his father, Agilan “The Alligator” Thani shared a one-bedroom apartment with three other family members in the rough neighborhood of Sentul in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

It was not an easy childhood. He rarely saw his father, who was too busy with work trying to make ends meet, was bullied and beaten on a weekly basis, constantly abused by his peers, and suffered from childhood obesity. At his heaviest, Thani weighed an astonishing 140kg.

All that would change once he discovered Brazilian jiu-jitsu after watching the movie Flash Point when he was 13He sought out training, bargained with his father to pay for classes, and even paid his own way by working at Monarchy MMA.

After years of remaining dedicated to his diet and craft, he lost close to 60kg, gained self-confidence, and focused on becoming an elite mixed martial artist. It was a miraculous journey that led him to a title match against ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben Askren this past May at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES in Singapore.

#5 Adrian Matheis Transformed Trauma Into Strength

When Adrian “Papau Badboy” Matheis was a child living on the Maluku Islands of Indonesia, he was surrounded by violence. In the late 90s, Indonesia went through political turmoil, and religious violence was rampant.

One particular episode saw an angry mob murder his grandfather in front of his very eyes. Fearing for her family’s life, his mother escaped with Matheis and his siblings through the jungle to the island of Papua, reuniting with his father.

From a chaotic childhood to his teenage years, which were full of street fights and delinquency, he desperately needed a change from he unruly norm. His parents encouraged him to do martial arts, which gave him the much-needed discipline and direction he sought, and the young Indonesian found purpose and fulfilment.

Matheis is now a budding prospect in ONE’s strawweight division, wants to be a role model to his fellow countrymen, and become a symbol for the positive change martial arts can have on the human spirit.

#6 International Superstar Roger Huerta Left His Troubled Upbringing Behind

As a child, Roger “El Matador” Huerta never had a stable environment. His father was a drug addict, and his mother abused him. Despite Child Protective Services placing the 7-year-old Huerta in foster care, his mom abducted him and fled from America to El Salvador during a civil war, abandoning him soon thereafter.

A year later, she returned to America with Huerta, and placed him on his dad’s Texas doorstep before disappearing once again. The cycle of daily abuse would remain unchanged, and after relocating several times, Huerta was left to live on the streets as a homeless youth, even joining a street gang for survival.

However, when a friend’s mother gained legally custody of him and enrolled him in a Texas high school, he blossomed. “El Matador” excelled in wrestling, earned a scholarship to Augsburg College in Minnesota, and turned to mixed martial arts in 2003.

He eventually became a superstar in North America, the sport’s first athlete to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2007, and has since relocated to Thailand. He eventually signed with ONE Championship, and having defeated Adrian Pang in a three-round thriller last November, is a force to be reckoned with in ONE’s stacked lightweight division.

#7 Bruno Pucci Defeated Growth Problems And Childhood Obesity

During his childhood in Brazil, Bruno Pucci experienced a couple of medical issues that severely affected his life. He needed hormone replacement because he was not properly growing, and he eventually became overweight due to the therapy’s side effects. The doctor told him playing sports and staying physically active would help to solve the dilemma.

After trying a handful of sports, he and his father stumbled upon a Brazilian jiu-jitsu academy. The young Brazilian had a tryout, was fascinated with the world of submissions, and has been hooked on martial arts ever since.

Pucci went on to become a two-time BJJ No-Gi World Champion, made his professional mixed martial arts debut in October 2011, and is one of the most gifted athletes in ONE Championship’s featherweight division.

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World Taekwondo president Choue Chung-won (centre) and delegates pose for a photo before the 2017 World Taekwondo championships in South Korea

World Taekwondo Championships
Dates: 24-30 June Venue: Muju, South Korea
Coverage: BBC Red Button from Tuesday, 27 June

The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) has changed its name to World Taekwondo because of the “negative connotations” associated with its initials.

The organisation had used the previous name since it was established in 1973.

However, it felt in the “digital age” the slang of the old abbreviation was “unrelated to our organisation and so it was important that we rebranded to better engage with our fans”.

The change was made before the start of the 2017 World Taekwondo Championships.

The event is taking place in Muju, South Korea.

“World Taekwondo is distinctive and simple to understand and reinforces the global nature of our sport,” said World Taekwondo president Choue Chung-won.

“Our vision is taekwondo for all and as World Taekwondo we are confident we can build on our success to date and achieve that vision.”

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