Before becoming owner and head trainer at Sityodtong Muay Thai Academy, Mark DellaGrotte spent a decade in Thailand, training under muay thai guru Kru Yodtong and competing in high-profile bouts. His experience transformed him into a formidable muay thai kickboxer, earning him spots on several TV shows including Spike TV's The Ultimate Fighter and UFC Countdown. However, it also made him an expert ambassador for Thai-style boxing. Today, Mark and his team of instructors foster fight-ready fitness with classes in muay thai, Brazilian jujitsu, mixed martial arts, and boxing.
With over 15 million students trained since their founding in 1968, Villari's Martial Arts Centers continue to train pugnacious pugilists young and old using techniques crafted by Grandmaster Fred Villari. Developed as a fusion of classic Eastern fighting styles, Villari's exclusive Shaolin Kempo Karate combines the graceful energy of Shaolin, the quick, explosive blows of kempo and karate, and the grappling of Chin Na to provide combatants with a varied, effective self-defense system. Children gain strength and discipline in youth classes, while adult classes leave grown-ups ready to handle anything from dojo defense to tense lunchroom stand-offs over the day's last apple bran muffin.
After retiring from professional boxing with a 44–9–1 record, two-time World Boxing Association heavyweight champ John “The Quietman” Ruiz opened Quietman Sports Gym to guide aspiring fighters toward greatness. Located inside Gold’s Gym, Quietman offers classes in boxing, MMA, jiu jitsu, and muay thai taught by Ruiz, his brother, and their experienced staff.
On its website, Redline Fight Sports boasts that it is not a typical, low-intensity health club. Rather, it is a 5,000-square-foot facility designed to train fighters and fitness enthusiasts who want to train like fighters but do not want to interact with large slabs of meat. Its coaches—most fighters themselves—preach purposeful and practical training, where natural movements replace rote exercises to help boost strength, speed, flexibility, and stamina. For example, instead of sitting at a bicep-curl machine, a student in the popular Fighter-Fit class may slug an uppercut bag or whip into a teardrop knee bag. This choreography of punches and kicks takes place in the training area, where heavy bags and lightweight striking bags hang, some on a custom, 40-foot rail system that slides them to and fro. In a back cage room, grapplers can train over fully matted floors and walls, even practicing throws on a crash mat.
A regulation-sized sparring ring is available for dedicated boxing training, and free weights work to boost strength capacity. An air exchanger circulates fresh oxygen into the gym, which also rents towels for its fighters in training.
There are more black belts in Mass BJJ's Acton and Arlington studios than even the biggest of Johnny Cash's walk-in closets. Though in this case, they're tied around the waists of expert martial arts trainers, who teach the finer points of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to both kids and adults. This particular martial art form focuses on getting an opponent to the ground, where size doesn't matter and proper fighting technique reigns supreme.
While Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu inspired Mass BJJ's name, it isn't the only discipline taught atop their red padded floors. In fact, the instructors encourage students to mix different classes to get a well-rounded martial arts education. To that end, they lead kick-boxing, MMA, and general strength-conditioning classes.
As the head coach at the Brazilian Top Team (BTT) studios in both Boca Raton and Boston, Joao Amaral boasts a resumé that includes training law-enforcement departments and winning in tournaments such as the Brazilian national championships. At the Boca Raton facility, Joao and assistant coach Matt Janzer lead group and private classes that include both gi and no-gi Brazilian jiu-jitsu; the former is a grappling technique that aims to give smaller people the leverage to take down a larger assailant, and the latter is more like traditional wrestling. BTT's muay thai classes, featuring a style of boxing often used in cross-training with jiu-jitsu instruction, can be adapted for those interested in competitive fighting or for those simply looking to get fit or learn self-defense.