KnuckleUp Competitive Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Team delivers another strong performance at this years NAGA Georgia Championships.

The KnuckleUp Braziliian Jiu Jitsu Competition  Team  with  Head Instructor Master Ricardo Murgel.

KunckleUp had another strong showing at this years NAGA Georgia Championships. The gym had several of our members win thier division and some even won in mulitple divisions. Read on for a list of the winners from the gym. Read more ›

Posted in Atlanta BJJ, Knuckleup Fitness News

Entering The Ring For The First Time by Eric Phillips

Eric Phillips Staredown

Eric Phillips, a member of the KnuckleUp family, recently made his debut as a competitive fighter.  He writes about why he decided to fight and what it means to him to be able to test himself inside the ring.


As long as I can remember, I have wanted to step inside of the ring. Growing up during the Mike Tyson era and watching Bruce Lee, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Chuck Norris movies fed that desire. I remember my parents buying me a pair of boxing gloves with a digital Sugar Ray Leonard autograph for my 6th birthday. I was always practicing boxing and other martial arts.

Fast forward to when I joined Knuckle Up Fitness a few years ago, I focused primarily on Brazilian jiu jitsu and dabbled in Muay Thai when I had a chance. After watching my teammate Maryia Arlova’s success in the past year, I decided to finally to add a greater focus on Muay Thai and feed that childhood desire of stepping into the ring.

My first fight was set with another fighter that was fighting for the first time. All that I knew was that he was a Tae Kwon Do black belt. Our plan was to clinch and grind him out with pressure, knees, and dirty boxing. I put in as much training as possible in Muay Thai, boxing, and cardio kickboxing classes at Knuckle Up Fitness. During the Muay Thai classes, I would spar 5-10 rounds at a time. After each round a new partner would step in. This was a grueling process but forced me to push myself past exhaustion.

The night of the fight I was obviously nervous. I was the 12th fight on the card, so I had time to think about the fight. I did my best to relax and focus on my strategy. Once it was time to start wrapping my hands, I switched my mind to the business at hand. I started to warm up by hitting pads. Once the warm up started, I began to relax. My coach Ryan Raleigh pulled me to the side. We went over our strategy, and he gave me words of wisdom.

It was now time to walk to the cage. Many teammates, friends, and family came out to support. Hearing the cheers when I walked out was motivating. When the opening bell rang, I got into the clinch early. I felt that I had the advantage there and continued to work from that position. In the second round, I continued to work the clinch. I could hear all of my fans and his fans chanting back and forth. This was just as I imagined it. I was having fun out there. Later in the round, I landed a knee. I heard him grunt and lower his hands as if I hurt him. I went for the finish and started working in hooks and uppercuts. I hit him with everything I had, and he did not fall. He was able to get off of the cage and came back at me. Those training sessions of working those rounds with a fresh partner each time definitely helped me push through this exhausted state. The third round continued as the previous round had with me working the clinch and kneeing him. I was so tired. I kept telling myself, “just twenty more seconds and then just twenty more seconds.” When the final bell sounded, I knew I had done enough for the victory. I wanted to finish him, but I was proud that I left it all in the cage. My name was announced as the winner, and I had won my first fight. This was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I can’t wait to do it again. I thank all of my teammates and coaches for preparing me for the fight, all of those who came to cheer me on, my wife for her support, and my opponent for pushing me to the limit.

KnuckleUp Instructor Stephen UpChurch wraps Eric's hands before the fight.

KnuckleUp Instructor Stephen UpChurch wraps Eric’s hands before the fight.

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To help send KnuckleUp’s resident Brazilian Jiu Jitsu prodigy Quentin Rosenzweig to next month’s IBJJF World Championships KnuckleUp will be raffling off a this top of the line Grips Competition Jiu Jitsu Gi plus one hour of personal training with Quentin himself. Quentin has dominated competition over the last year and his KnuckleUp family has high hopes for him at this year’s World Championships.  Tickets are 50 dollars each and we are limiting the raffle to 20 tickets so  that each ticket  has a good chance of winning. The winner will be announced may 20tth.   Tickets available for purchase at the front desk.


Posted in Atlanta BJJ

The Benefits of Kid’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu last a lifetime says Master Ricardo Murgel

Master Ricardo Murgel
Photo: Melanie Lynne Klaer

I recently had the chance to sit down ( over Facebook at least) with KnuckleUp Brazilian Jiu Jitsu head instructor, Ricardo Murgel and discuss the many benefits Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training holds for kids.


“The goal for our children’s Jiu Jitsu class is to improve concentration, build self control, esteem and character in a safe and fun environment,” he says.


“My goal as a teacher isn’t to just create champions in competition but to train young people to succeed in life. The challenges a child faces in the gym and the character traits they will develop in Jiu Jitsu class are closely related to the sorts of activities and challenges they’ll face and need to overcome in the real world.” He gave as an example the impact that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has in bullying situations.


“The basis of bullying in both children and adults is fear and insecurity on the part of the bully. Therefore a confident child, one with healthy self esteem and a strong moral character will neither bully others nor allow themselves to be bullied.”


Master Murgel, who is one of the highest ranking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Masters in the United States went on to list some of the other specific benefits training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can have for children.


  • Increased strength
  • Increased coordination
  • Decreased risk of obesity
  • Increased overall health
  • Better flexibility
  • Development of cognitive ability (Jiu Jitsu is, after all, physical chess)
  • Mental Balance
  • Character Building
  • Self Confidence
  • Self Esteem
  • Improved socialization skills and learning to respect others
  • Creation of a healthy sense of discipline and proper respect for authority


He also described the valuable life lessons children can learn in the safety of Jiu Jitsu class.


  • When you fall, get up and try again – In every setback there is an opportunity to learn.
  • The best are not born that way but get that way through effort.
  • Self-control – The greatest and most lasting victory is the one you win over yourself.
  • The value of a team spirit
  • The importance of honesty


If you would like  for your child to experience the wonderful effect of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu then sign up here and try out our classes free for a week.



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KnuckleUp Fitness Instructor Dave Vitkay Has High Hopes for The Ultimate Fighter

KnuckleUp Instructor Dave Vitkay

Dave Vitkay


KnuckleUp fighter and fitness instructor, Dave “The A-Town Ogre” Vitkay, believes the second time’s the charm. He travels to Las Vegas this Sunday to try out for The UFC’s flagship reality TV show, The Ultimate Fighter. Dave nearly made the cut at his first try out and says he’s much better prepared this time.

“The first time I really didn’t know what to expect,” he said recently, “Now I do. I’m going there and taking my spot on The Ultimate Fighter!” Dave’s latest win streak and renewed dedication to training are both big things he has going for him on this trip. “Having five wins in a row definitely helps my confidence. I am much more professional about the whole fighting lifestyle. Before, I think I was just a fighter and now I’m a professional athlete.” Dave’s tryouts are April 27th in Las Vegas.


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KnuckleUp Fighters Represent at NFC This Saturday Night.

KnuckleUp heavy Bag

KnuckleUp Logo for FB 504w

KnuckleUp will be well represented during Saturday night’s National Fighting Championships at Center Stage in Atlanta. Coach Stephen Upchurch gave me the lowdown on three exciting fighters currently training at our gym in Sandy Springs who will be appearing on the card.

Emmanuel Osho, MMA – Osho has been smashing folks at 185lbs and that he’s an absolute killer. With just two fights under his belt, Osho’s first was a barn burner and in his second, he flattened his opponent early in the first.

Zach Golt, Muay Thai – Golt has a serious work ethic and not an ounce of quit in him. Plus, he kicks like an army mule.

 Richard Gillings, Muay Thai – Gillings is a super talented, very unorthodox striker with tremendous hand speed.

 KnuckleUp wishes Emmanuel, Zach, and Richard all success this Saturday night.


Posted in Atlanta BJJ, Knuckleup Fitness News

A Rave Review for KnuckleUp Kickboxing


Dear Knuckle Up,

Thank you for the 1-week free trial. I signed up to enhance my career as a stand-up comedian. I have heard many comparisons between performing and fighting, and now I can say I have bombed at both. Before visiting your facility, I was nothing more than a below average Joe. Since taking on the week-long challenge, my confidence has evolved into Joe Show status. I wanted the full experience, and got way more than I bargained for. I was able to try my hand at everything from Muay Thai to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to Boxing and Kickboxing. My only previous experience with a “gym” was the YMCA, which I joined for the free coffee. It was intimidating to visit a gym where the staff is in actual shape. The Knuckle Up trainers are not the spray tanned Tae Bo disciples you see on YouTube. These are highly trained professionals that could kill you with a wink, but choose not to out of sheer discipline. I was pleasantly surprised with the kindness and generosity of the staff. They were very patient and willing to help me without laughing once. That takes a level of focus only a martial artist could obtain, because I was horrible. In all honesty, the only bad part about the classes was me.

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Posted in Knuckleup Fitness News

Meeting Anderson Silva and a Close Shave with Rousimar


 In the final installment of this three part series on the roots of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which first appeared in FIGHT! Magazine, Master Murgel and I meet Anderson Silva, nearly get shot and meet Rousimar Palharaes before anyone had ever heard of him.

Beau­ti­ful People

As you move south of the equa­tor, so too does the focus of male sex­ual atten­tion. Unlike the Amer­i­can cul­tural obses­sion with large breasts, Brazil­ian women pride them­selves on the tone and shape­li­ness of their behinds. The ideal of fem­i­nine beauty is also dif­fer­ent: darker, ath­letic, and more authen­ti­cally sex­ual. Where the US gave the world blonde but bland Jes­sica Simp­son, the pri­mal pas­sion and phys­i­cal vigor of Shakira, truth-telling hips and all, is more Brazil’s speed. Brazil is home to some of the most beau­ti­ful women in the world – they are one of the nation’s great­est nat­ural resources. Brazil­ians are in gen­eral a good-looking peo­ple and in crowds, one’s eye is drawn to plain peo­ple because they are out of the ordi­nary and here even the ugly ones are homely in inter­est­ing ways.
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Who Really Invented No Gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

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Master Ricardo Murgel and the History of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Master Ricardo Murgel
Photo: Melanie Lynne Klaer

KnuckleUp Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Head Instructor Ricardo Murgel has a 60 year history with  BJJ.  A few years ago, I was lucky enough to accompany him to Brazil for the once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from some of its originators.  What follows  is the first of a three part series that was initially published in FIGHT! magazine describing our amazing trip. 

On June 7th 1494, at the Treaty of Torde­sil­las, in an act of mon­u­men­tal hubris the nations of Spain and Por­tu­gal divided up the known world out­side of Europe. Spain got every­thing west of the Cape Verde Islands and Por­tu­gal got every­thing that lay east, includ­ing what would become the nation of Brazil. This is why, although Span­ish is spo­ken in the rest of Cen­tral and South Amer­ica in Brazil they speak Portuguese.

Brazil’s pop­u­la­tion is com­posed of the descen­dants of Euro­pean set­tlers, African slaves, and the indige­nous Amerindi­ans. With a land mass as large as the con­ti­nen­tal US, abun­dant nat­ural resources and a pop­u­la­tion of almost 200 mil­lion, Brazil has always been a nation brim­ming with unmet poten­tial and pos­si­bil­ity. How­ever in the minds of MMA fans the coun­try will for­ever be linked with the fight­ing style known as BJJ or Brazil­ian Jiu Jitsu. The style came out of nowhere in the early 1990’s when Royce Gra­cie used it to smother, trip and choke his way into his­tory dur­ing the first 3 UFC’s.

My own intro­duc­tion to BJJ came from a great mas­ter of the art, Ricardo Murgel. I met him over a year ago after he relo­cated to Atlanta and I was lucky enough to be able to train with him. Murgel’s resume reveals that he is a 7th level mas­ter of BJJ as well as a Judo Black Belt with over 50 years of expe­ri­ence in mar­tial arts. He has coached fight­ers to cham­pi­onship lev­els at events such as the Abu Dhabi Cham­pi­onships and in the UFC and Pride. His under­stand­ing of fight­ing and fight­ers is ency­clo­pe­dic and he knows every­one in the busi­ness. He is an invalu­able resource to me as well as a close friend. Murgel can be a lit­tle rough around the edges but is also incred­i­bly intel­li­gent and wise. Imag­ine a Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid who curses or a Yoda who likes to drink beer; that is Mas­ter Murgel. He has often told me that if I really wanted to under­stand MMA I needed to go to Brazil, the source. I needed to meet the peo­ple who invented it, not in 1993 or with the UFC but sixty years ago in South America.
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