“Our Gym is Stronger Than Ever,” Says Instructor Stephen Upchurch

KnuckleUp Fitness in BuckHead

Stephen Upchurch is one of the most versatile and dedicated members of the KnuckleUp fitness staff.  I recently spoke to him about what was going on with his career as a trainer and about the current Renaissance at KnuckleUp Fitness.


Hi, Stephen.  It looks like you’re coming back strong from your recent surgery and recovery. Tell us about that.

Yeah, I was out for about four-and-a-half months. I had a SLAP repair, which is repairing a labral tear, and also an impingement surgery.  They shaved some bone, took out some of the bursa, that kind of thing.  It was supposed to be a six to nine-month recovery period, but I was pretty diligent with the physical therapy.  I am back to training now.  I wouldn’t say full training, but pretty damned close considering it’s only four-and-a-half months after surgery.

Are you back to teaching at KnuckleUp?

I am back to teaching.  I actually taught my kickboxing class the day after my surgery.  You can’t keep me out of this place!

Tell my about the new gym that just opened.

You’re going to love it, man.  It’s a pretty amazing facility.  We have 5,000 square feet of marital arts mats down on one side, cardio and weight machines down the other side and the back is all CrossFit.  If you can’t get it done in this building, you aren’t going to get it done.  We really have everything you need to practice martial arts, get yourself physically fit, get yourself in shape, get big, get strong.  Whatever it is you want to do, you can definitely do in that place!

Are you helping Chazz Walton prepare for his upcoming fight at Legacy 47 on October 16th?

Definitely!  I was training with Chazz today.  Being injured, it was hard for me to help in the way I normally do, which is holding pads and physically working with fighters, but I’ve been doing as much as I can as far as just helping and coaching, that kind of thing.  But Dave, Chazz, those guys, they’re definitely ready.  Dave Vitkay’s going to go out there and get shot out of a cannon like he normally does.  And Chazz is just one of the most talented fighters in the Southeast, if not the country, maybe the world.  That kid’s definitely got what it takes to take this thing all the way.

Chazz’s fights are generally over pretty quickly.  Describe what you mean when you say he’s talented.

Chazz is extremely dedicated to his training and he’s just a smart guy.  Some people have to grind and grind and grind to really pick up on stuff.  He picks up on things very quickly and he applies them very quickly.  He’s really good at making things his own, which is one of the first concepts Master Murgel taught me about when we first started training together.  He said everyone has to fight within their own reality.  There are things that work for Anderson Silva that are not going to work for me.  I’m 5’10” fighting at 145, so you have to take the things you learn from people and apply them to yourself, and that’s something Chazz is very good at. He’s quick on his feet and confident in what he does. Sometimes fighters get that mental block in competition where they know what to do, but they just can’t bring it to the front quick enough.  Chazz tends to bring it to the front very quickly.

Is Dave Vitkay scheduled to fight on the Legacy 47 card as well?

Oh yeah.  He’s fighting a guy named Wes Barnes.  He was slated to fight previously on another card, but his opponent had a staph infection and Dave had like five other guys pull out of the fights. It was insane.

Have you been involved in Dave’s camp at all?

As much as possible, but like I said, not physically so much, but I’ve definitely offered coaching.  It feels weird for me because I’m a very hands-on coach or training partner.  I don’t like to stand on the sidelines and tell people how they’re doing things and how they should be doing things better.  I prefer to get in there with them. But their training hasn’t suffered as a result of that—they are ready!

 This has been a very tumultuous past eight or nine months for KnuckleUp, but I think we’re entering into the New Year maybe stronger than ever.

This move needed to happen.  Call it a blessing in disguise, call it whatever you want.  The old building couldn’t really keep up with is.  It didn’t really reflect the attitude that we have and it was very compartmentalized.  The new space is going to re-instill in people that KnuckleUp is not so much a gym as it is an attitude and a lifestyle.

What do you love most about the new facility?

One of the things I like about the new space is that it’s so open.  When you walk in the building, if you’re kickboxing, you can see people doing CrossFit.  If you’re doing Jiu-Jitsu, you can see people doing Muay Thai.  It encompasses the all-inclusive family atmosphere that we’ve always had at KnuckleUp.  Change is always hard, but this change will definitely re-invigorate KnuckleUp as an entity – its members, it’s trainers, coaches – everyone.  A lot of hard work has gone into this and just like anything in life, when you see hard work pay off, it feels good.

What do you think it is about KnuckleUp that draws people in?

KnuckleUp is an intangible thing and some people get it.  Whether you’re a member or a trainer or it’s the first time walking in the building, you walk into KnuckleUp and see what we’re doing. You will see the hard work and the smiles and the joking.  It’s like one big family. People gravitate toward that mentality and the hard work and the rewards that come from that.  Those are the kind of people that will get it when they walk into KnuckleUp.  They see it, they get it and they say, “Alright, this is my kind of place!”

 What kind of people will you find at KnuckleUp?

We have every type of person here at KnuckleUp – men, women, fighters, business people, you name it.  KnuckleUp doesn’t just find its place in our competitors.  We have active competitors, practitioners, hobbyists, fitness enthusiasts – but the one thing we all have in common is that attitude.  We’re going to set goals and do whatever it takes to meet them.   People have their own personal goals and that’s the thing we all share. We all try to help each other reach those personal goals – whether it’s on the mat or with a weight loss goal or just getting in shape.  It’s that attitude and energy that circulates through every aspect of that room now and that’s what I love about the new gym.

Sometimes a very busy gym atmosphere can intimidate new folks, but one of the reasons I think we have so many women members is that, unlike many gyms, KnuckleUp is a very safe environment. You come in and you feel welcomed and supported and that’s something you really have to experience to appreciate. Would you agree?

I would.  It’s one of the things we definitely always strive to do and that’s why we break everything down into different levels, whether it’s Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai or any of our martial arts.  Not everyone who walks onto the mat or into the ring wants to become a world champion.  Some people want to learn the heart of a discipline or do things for the fitness aspect or apply it for self-defense.  We want KnuckleUp to be inviting and it’s another element we love about our gym.

Fitness Instructor Stephen UpChurch Poses with Wife at KnuckleUp Fitness in Buckhead

KnuckleUp is a Family Affair for Mr and Mrs Upchurch and Punchkin ( Due to Arrive in November.)



Posted in Knuckleup Fitness News

Bernard Rutherford, RIP

Bernard Ruhterford Wins

The Atlanta Fight Community and KnuckleUp  lost a good friend this week when local fighter Bernard Rutherford died from injuries he sustained in a motorcycle accident.  The colorful Rutherford, whose ring name was “Roughneck”, “Always made an impression with his unique ring walks,” says local promoter David Oblass.

“Bernard was a good guy and one of the most well liked guys in the fight community.  His cage entrance with a gasoline jug from which he drank is etched in my memory for a lifetime.  He had swagger before the word swagger existed.  Reading his Facebook comments today it’s interesting seeing not only how many people in the MMA community he impacted, but how many people outside as well.  Bernard will be missed by many, many people.” Promoter David Oblass

KnuckleUp Owner, C.J. Wilson, says he had known and liked Rutherford for many years and added this about the tragic passing:  “ There are too many of our industry friends and family passing away lately, so  everybody please be careful out there.”

Posted in Uncategorized

BJJ Submissions Ace Parker Graham’s Victorious Trip to Brazil

BJJ Standout Parker Graham

KnuckleUp standout BJJ competitor Parker Graham traveled recently to the home of the western hemisphere’s only indigenous martial art.  He and KnuckeUp’s head instructor, Ricardo Murgel, went to Murgel’s hometown of Porte Alegre in Brazil.  Parker tells us about what it was like to train with the members of Murgel’s Union Team and compete and win in Brazil.


Tell us how you got started with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

I started maybe eight or nine years ago and it was originally for general self-defense.  I was probably about seven years old. I started training with a guy named Remonte for about a year in Atlanta and then Master Murgel came to the U.S. and I started training with him.

Ricardo Murgel is one of the most prominent Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) instructors in the world.  What was it like going from your first instructor to training with Master Murgel?

I trained more self-defense with my first instructor.  Once I got to work with Master Murgel, I was able to train a little bit of self-defense, but more so competitive BJJ techniques and instruction from the competitive side.

Have you always trained in the gi?

I actually started in no-gi Jiu Jitsu and then once Master Murgel came, I started to train in the gi.  I prefer training in the gi now.

How many times a year do you compete?

I compete about 10 to 12 times per year.

 Why do you compete that frequently?

I compete to stay sharp, but also as another way to see where my weaknesses are and to see what other people do.  I like to compete against others to see where I am compared to everyone else, and whether I am improving.

Tell me about the trip you recently took with Master Murgel.

We traveled to Porto Alegre, Brazil, and started training right away when we got down there.  A couple of days later, we went to the BJJ seminar and that was really cool.  It was the 30th anniversary of the Union Team.  It was pretty big. I think there were more than 170 participants.

What techniques did you cover during the seminar?

We covered a lot, actually.  We covered different variations of ankle lock attacks, guard passes and different back takes—a whole bunch of different moves.

Did you notice a difference between rolling with the guys in Brazil versus the talented guys you train with here in the United States?

There was a lot of really talented people down there and a lot more people down there to do Jiu-Jitsu with.

And you participated in the competition there?

Yes, there was competition there.  It was a lot like an IBJJF tournament in that you would weigh in right before your match in your gi, you would go with people with the same level belt as you, the same weight and age and you know exactly what time your matches are.  It was run very well.

I understand you were the first American to compete in that tournament?

With Union, yes.  I did well.  I took first in my weight class (69 kilos and under) and second place in the Absolute division for juveniles.

What is it about Jiu-Jitsu that struck a chord with you at such a young age that you’ve been so devoted to it for so long?

I think it’s just something I’ve been doing since I was young and I just keep going with it.  I’ve learned to really like Jiu Jitsu a lot.  I think a lot of it is also because it’s for any type of person.  It’s not like football where you have to have a certain kind of build to play a certain position.  You can have any kind of body type and have a game for Jiu-Jitsu.

If you had to analyze yourself, what would you say your style is?

A lot of people in lower weight classes are more guard players and the heavier classes are more guard and pressure players.  I’m kind of in the middle area for weight, so I like both. I like being able to play guard as well as pass guard.

What’s your favorite guard pass?

My top three are the Knee Slide then the Leg Drag and Torreando/X-pass.

And your favorite submission?

Probably the Triangle Choke.

What is one of your most memorable competition stories from a BJJ Tournament?

Probably my most recent competition, because it’s the first time I’ve been able to do a true Absolute Division.  My second or third match in, I had a really big guy, who was about 200 lbs. or so, and Master Murgel said I should be really quick with him because he was so much bigger.  I pulled guard right off the bat and I just tried to keep moving so it would be harder for him to grab or control me with his weight.  I kept trying to sweep him but I couldn’t.  I was able to break his posture down.  He left his arm hanging out and I grabbed the arm, threw my legs up and got the Oomplata on him and he tapped. It was really cool because he was so much bigger than me.  Light Absolutes for juveniles is about 150 pounds and under.  I’ve always done the lighter Absolutes, so this was true Absolutes for me.

Another interesting thing that happened was when my first opponent’s coach asked my opponent who he was going against he pointed to me and said, “gringo” and his coach said, “you’ve got this.”  I defeated him handily and advanced.

BJJ Instructor Ricardo Murfel and Members of His Team


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Posted in Atlanta BJJ

New Gym in Buckhead Opens October 1st

KnuckleUp Logo for FB

KnuckleUp Fitness announced Monday that the company’s new Buckhead gym located at 4540 Roswell Rd will officially open to the public Thursday October 1st 2015.   The new martial arts and fitness center, one of the best of its type in the country, features over 13,000 square feet of training space, over 50 heavy bags to accommodate the best kickboxing classes in the industry, 5,000 square feet of mats, and for the first time ever, KnuckleUp is happy to bring you KU CrossFit which provides members with over 2700 square feet of dedicated CrossFit training space.

Said KnuckleUp Fitness Owner CJ Wilson about the new flagship facility for the historic Atlanta Fitness franchise, “ We’ve all been working very hard to bring this phenomenal new gym to the city of Atlanta and couldn’t be more excited that the opening is right around the corner. “

To celebrate during the grand opening month of October, new members who register for the Buckhead location will get three months of training for only one dollar. During the three-month promotional period (Oct – Dec) we will include unlimited classes in all KnuckleUp programs including the new gym when it opens. For more information on how to take advantage of this offer contact Andy Stroud.






Posted in Knuckleup Fitness News, KU CrossFit

MMA Prospect Chazz Walton Thrives Under Pressure

MMA Prospect Chazz_Walton Jumping Rope

Photo by Melanie Klaer


Kickboxing instructor, personal trainer, martial artist and professional fighter, Chazz “The Hybrid” Walton wears many hats around the gym.  The undefeated prospect is currently riding a wave of momentum in his life and fighting career.  One of the school’s most popular instructors, Chazz recently introduced a popular new circuit training class called HybridFit at our Alpharetta location. In addition, he’s training for the biggest match of his young career when he fights in front of a nationally televised audience for Legacy FC on October 16th.  I recently spoke to Chazz about the fight, his training and burgeoning career at KnuckleUp Fitness.


When is your next fight and who is your opponent?

It’s on October 16 for Legacy FC and I will be fighting against Josh Millwood.  He’s a 145-er who is coming off an injury, so he’s coming up to 155 for this fight. His pro record is 1-1 and I’m 2-0 so we both have the same pro experience.


What’s his fighting style?

He’s kind of a brawler.  He has some technique and likes to go to the ground.  He tries to smother his opponents, but me being the bigger guy, I don’t plan on letting that happen.


Have you been working on your takedown defense or your movement?

I’m a mixed martial artist so I work on everything.  I work on my takedown defense, my striking defense.  If I know someone’s going to be coming with a specific approach, then I try to cater to that, but my training camps are pretty well rounded.


Who are your main training partners at KnuckleUp?

Dave Vitkay, Luke Neyland, Gui Curry are my main guys.  Luke gives me a good speed, a good pace.  Dave gives me a lot of strength to deal with and Gui is about the same size as my opponent.  I also train with Nick Sprayberry who recently joined the KnuckleUp team.  I’ve been training with guys with similar reach, some stronger and some faster, so no matter what my opponent brings to the table, I’m 100 percent prepared.


Some of those guys are much bigger or more experienced than you.  How do you hang in there with them?

Not to discredit them in any way, but I hold my own for sure.  It used to be me getting dominated but I’ve been sharpening my skills over time and evolving as a fighter.  I’m definitely capable of holding my own against them and I feel against anybody in Georgia—or the world for that matter!


Do you feel that training against bigger guys helps you in a fight against someone your own size? Dave is coming down to 170, but he’s fought at 185 most of his career.

Dave is a grinder.  He brings it every time we train and he’ll smother you every second of training if you give him a chance.  I know that his style and my opponent’s style are very similar except Dave’s better all around and a lot bigger and a lot stronger, so holding my own with Dave definitely boosts my confidence going into this fight.


You had a little talk with Dana White where he said he kind of has his eye on you now, and that a string of four or five more wins could give you a good shot at The Ultimate Fighter.  Do you put that stuff out of your mind or does it create more pressure for you to remain undefeated?

I don’t put it out of my mind because I believe that pressure creates diamonds or it bursts pipes.  I feel that I’m destined to be a diamond.  I thrive under pressure, I fight better under pressure, I train harder under pressure.  In all honesty, the more pressure that’s on me, the better. I’m just trying to become that diamond that I want to be.


Is your wife going to be in your corner again for your upcoming fight?

Of course.  She’s always in my corner.  She does tons for me when it comes to fight camps and just supporting me in general.  She’ll always have a spot in my corner and I feel she deserves that.


As well as training for your upcoming fight at KnuckleUp, you’re also an instructor and personal trainer there.  Tell us a little bit more about the classes you teach.

I teach kickboxing and do mainly MMA-based private lessons.  As in instructor, I’ve come to realize that teaching students proper technique and having to break down movements has made me a better fighter.  This is the best I’ve ever been and I attribute that to being able to train full-time and being an instructor of techniques and deconstructed movements. I truly believe that you find success in making other people successful in achieving their goals.


Tell us about the new HybridFit class you’re teaching with Mark.

It’s intense cardio strength and conditioning circuit that includes all the things I do when I’m conditioning for a fight.  Mixed martial arts is probably the toughest sport in the world.  You have to be in the best shape of almost any athlete out there and make sure your cardio and endurance are good.  The class is structured to do that for other people who are interested in taking their workout up a few notches.


Where and how can people take those classes?

The class is currently being offered at KnuckleUp Alpharetta on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm.  Right now Marc Davis is teaching and helping me out with it as I prepare for my upcoming fight.


Any final shout-outs to those who have helped you during this fight camp?

I definitely want to mention American Top Team Gwinnett, Amir Dotovic and Diego Lima and the guys out there.  I come out there and cross-train with them.  They’re always welcoming me with open arms so I definitely want to thank them.  Johnny Dunn is also back in my corner.  I feel he has made me ten times better than before and as long as he’s working with me, I’m going to continue to grow.  And my wife, as usual, and CJ and KnuckleUp for giving me a place to sharpen my tools.


MMA Prospect Chazz Walton vs Millwood Legacy FC


Posted in Knuckleup Fitness News

KnuckleUp’s 16-year-old BJJ Prodigy Alex Enriquez Submits Olympic Wrestling Silver Medalist Sara Mcmann at Kakuta Submission Challenge 6

Kakuto Alex Enriquez earlier opponent 1

Kakuto Enriquez McMann 10

Alex Enriquez, a sixteen-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blue belt and kids’ BJJ trainer at KnuckleUp Fitness scored one of the biggest upsets in recent memory when she submitted an Olympic Wrestler last weekend at the Kakuto Submission Challenge. Alex spoke to me recently about her big win.


I heard you had a really big upset victory at the tournament this weekend.

 Yeah, I’m still kind of speechless about it.

Well let’s start by telling us a little about your preparation for the Kakuto Submission Challenge 6 Tournament and how you felt going into it.

The whole month [coming up to this tournament], I was basically preparing for leg locks. This past year I got submitted with heel hooks a lot so I definitely made it a point coming back that I would definitely get more into leg techniques. Kakuto is always a hard tournament for me because all the girls are very experienced, so I’m very excited for this tournament every time I compete in it.

Tell us about some of your earlier matches in that tournament.

Coming into the Absolutes Divisions,  in one of my first matches, I actually almost got submitted with a D’Arce at the beginning of the match but I ended up escaping.

What did you do to get out of that, because escaping from a D’Arce is pretty hard?

I was on bottom half-guard, she tried to pull me into a D’Arce out of my half-guard and I swung my top hand over for an under hook and it ended up elevating the sweep to get out of that and come up on top out of half-guard I turned to the back and I tried to sneak my hooks from the back. I’ve been trying to work on my flow, trying to make it more of a Jiu-Jitsu game and not a wrestling game where I’m just banging into my move.  Now, I’ll let my opponent move into a bad situation and that’s how that worked out for me and I ended up submitting her in an arm bar.

 It was the fastest submission in round one so I was in a bye in the following round for the Absolute. I got a bye my following round and my next match was against a very tough purple belt.  I ended up getting a flying triangle to finish her.  I was pretty excited about that. By the time my second match was going on, I felt like my Jiu-Jitsu was flowing.  I was feeling a lot more comfortable with the atmosphere. I was kind of sinking into my game and just everything was flowing really magically thanks to my coach Steve Mitchell.

 The flying triangle is a risky move.

A lot of the female grapplers in Absolute were very experienced wrestlers so they would always tie up they had very good hand fighting with their standup. So this was a Jiu-Jitsu tournament where the fighters were experienced both on their feet and on the ground.  In this particular match she would tie up a lot and the first time I tried to go to a flying arm bar, I missed and we both ended up scrambling back up to our feet again and she tied up again and I got control of her left arm and her left wrist. I shoved it down toward her stomach and I just tried to jump higher to see if I could go for a flying triangle and it ended up working. She defended my triangle up in the air when I jumped and I was securing the triangle by the time she was in the air.  All that was left was to break her down and adjust my angle and finish.

Was Sara McMann the next person you faced?

Yes, sir. She’s very well known, she’s a professional UFC fighter, she’s faced Ronda Rousey. Her even greater accomplishment is that in 2004, she was the first American female to win a silver medal in [Olympic] wrestling. She’s always been a big idol of mine for the last year or two.  The first time I faced her, she definitely rocked my world. The last time I was just trying to survive 20 minutes [with her.}

So this was the second time you faced her and the first time she beat you, correct?

We took a draw the first time after 20 minutes because it’s a submission only tournament.

Did you learn anything from that first fight that helped you during the second fight?         Alex Enriquez vs  Sara Mcmann

Facing her the first time, her pressure was incomparable. It was definitely that next-level Olympic status. I couldn’t even move from my bottom—I ended up staying turtle the whole time. She was very dominant the first match.  It taught me that I need to not make this a wrestling match. I need to do Jiu-Jitsu more. I didn’t know if she was training a lot of legs this time around, so that’s why I thought I’ve got to add a new dimension to my game.

This time, instead of letting her pressure get to me, I tried to keep her shoulders and her hips away and what happened during the match was that we were on our feet and she snapped my head down.  She had a great snap down to the guillotine and I was kind of stuck in the guillotine from standup. She was trying to secure her grip, and so I sat back with my hands on her hips trying to pull guard or throw her over me. She was hovering her hips above me and so I kept her hips forward so she couldn’t finish the guillotine. I took my bottom leg with my right leg still in between her, like an elevator or a block, and I took my bottom, my left leg, from the outside and posted my heel on her hips like I was getting ready to [reach] and I was trying to drive. Then, I pulled her hips to keep them above me so she couldn’t put the pressure on the guillotine and I was finally able to slide my foot over her hip and pop my head out of there to escape the choke.  I went for a heel hook right away. She turned her leg over, switched her leg over pretty fast and I grabbed the heel again and switched to a knee bar and that’s where I finished the move and made her tap out.

You must have reacted pretty quickly because you don’t have very much time with somebody that good. You can’t stay in a guillotine very long if it’s placed correctly.

I was definitely moving on automatic  because a lot of things I learned in Jiu-Jitsu. Like, if you make a mistake, you can’t just sit back and let it happen. You’ve got to react right away and put your counter on or your defense on or your going to end up five or ten moves behind. I wasn’t 100 percent comfortable with my leg lock game but I decided I had nothing to lose.  I ended up trying to go for it and it worked outreally well.

You teach the kids classes at KnuckleUp Alpharetta right now, correct? Tell me a little bit about that.

On Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. I teach the kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program over at Alpharetta and I’ve been doing that for a few months now. I began as an assistant to CJ (Wilson) but now I’ve been on my own and I’ve been able to build and teach the program by myself and sometimes with assistance from other students. I love it. I’m really lucky and privileged to be able to do something  I love to do, which is teach. A lot of the things I teach are basics and fundamentals but I’m very nit-picky about them. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to technique and I think that really helps. I won’t half-ass the techniques. It has to be 100 percent.

From your experiences why would you recommend to a parent that a kid take your Kid’s Jiu-Jitsu class?

Definitely a lot of the kids I get coming into Jiu-Jitsu at first, it’s their parents trying to get their kids into doing something over the summer or whether it be year-round. It often starts off as a hobby at first, but a lot develop a passion for it like I did.  We take kids from as early as five years old to like 12 or 13. We’ll play games and have fun but when it comes down to doing hard work and preparing for competitions for those kids who want to compete we work hard on the fundamentals. I’m very proud of all the kids in my class.

There’s a big epidemic in schools of kids bullying each other, and a lot of people say Jiu-Jitsu is a really good anti-bullying thing to learn.  Not so much that it teaches the kids to go out and beat everybody up, but it just sort of gives them confidence to not be targets. What do you think about that?

I definitely agree with that.  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a great way to build kids’ self-esteem and confidence.  Honestly, growing up in this sport, I feel like I learned so many life lessons and morals that I still carry with me to this day and I think I will carry them with me through life. Jiu-Jitsu has taught me a lot about hardships and friendships and just overcoming things. It’s definitely aided me in so many ways.

 Do you have any parting words about your big win at the tournament?

This past weekend wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my team and how great KnuckleUp is that everyone’s very supportive of each other. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, my training partners—they always push me every practice. They’re always like, ‘come on, let’s do another roll.’ They’re just very supportive and that’s what I love about this team is that we push each other to get better. They don’t just let you get away with half-assing things. They’ll push you to show up to practice and everyone’s here—the professors, Master Murgel, Quentin, CJ, Steve. They’ve always been here for me, so I couldn’t have done it without our team.

Alex Enriquez Defeats Sara Mcmann


Posted in Atlanta BJJ

Moe Travis Explains KU Crossfit

New Location


CrossFit has been the buzz of fitness training for the past 15 years, increasing its affiliates from 13 in 2005 to over 10,000 in 2015.  It’s a dynamic fitness movement and a community that KU CrossFit trainer Moe Travis is proud to be a part of.

CrossFit: A Little History

Greg Glassman opened his first gym in Santa Cruz, CA in 1995. In 2000, CrossFit Inc. was founded by Glassman and Lauren Jenai. The first CrossFit affiliate gym or “box” as they are known, was in Seattle, with the company growing from 13 affiliates in 2005 to more than 10,000 worldwide today.

Prior to 2000, Glassman, a former gymnast, was looking for a workout that would give him the same euphoric, exhausted feeling he would achieve following a full-on gymnastics performance, where he would give everything to an event and come out the other side exhausted and ready to collapse, all the while still having to smile through the dismount.

After developing sets of high-intensity, repetitive exercise, Glassman was on his way to creating CrossFit. Working as a personal trainer for several gyms, Glassman opened his first gym in 1995. That year, he was tapped to provide training to the Santa Cruz Police Department, and in the decade that followed, CrossFit became a household name.

CrossFit Today

Today, CrossFit is practiced by thousands of private affiliated gyms, fire departments, law enforcement agencies, and military organizations around the world. It is also utilized by some high school physical education teachers in the United States and Canada, college sports teams and the Miami Marlins baseball team. Appealing to both men and women, statistically, CrossFit was shown to be practiced by men and women almost equally.

 A Global Philosophy

CrossFit prides itself in not being a specialized fitness program, but rather a concerted effort to assist its members to optimize their own physical competences in ten recognized fitness domains, which include:  cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.

Explaining further, KU Crossfit trainer, mom and world champion kickboxer Moe Travis states, “CrossFit is a strength, conditioning, and movement philosophy that takes functional movements and groups them in a mixed modal manner, does them at a relative high intensity, and injects variance into how they are delivered. The outcome is participants become well-rounded and improve in all areas of fitness.”

 What to Expect From Your KU CrossFit Workout:

Expect to learn and know the term “WOD.” It stands for Workout of the Day—typically a one-hour class featuring a warm-up, a skill development segment and a high-intensity workout that is scored and measured to encourage competition and a way to track individual benchmarks and progress.

Moe Travis gives a closer glimpse into what participants can look forward to at KU CrossFit, stating,“CrossFit practices and trains major lifts such as the deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J (clean and jerk), and snatch. We also try to master the basics of gymnastics such as pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. We also bike, run, swim, and row—hard and fast!”

 What’s in a Name? The CrossFit WOD:

It’s pronounced “wad,” and CrossFit’s Workout of the Day is posted daily on the CrossFit headquarters’s website for all affiliates to incorporate that day. With a goal of explaining a WOD once and then giving it a name to reference it in the future, Glassman has named well over 100 WODs after fallen servicemen and servicewomen, as well as the much-talked-about naming of workouts after women. Glassman once explained that, “I thought that anything that left you flat on your back, looking up at the sky asking, ‘what just happened to me,’ deserved a female’s name. Workouts are just like storms; they wreak havoc on towns.” Popular WODs named for women include: Fran, Amanda, Lynn, Mary and Nicole.

 The “Fight Gone Bad” WOD:

The first Fight Gone Bad WOD appeared on the CrossFit headquarters website Dec. 1, 2004 and was created to simulate the timing of a mixed martial arts fight and therefore, can be done in three-minute or five-minute timed versions. The WOD sets rotate between five elements (20 lbs. Wallball shots, 75 lbs. Sumo Deadlift High-Pull, 20-inch box jumps, 75 lbs. Push-Press and rowing) switching each element after one minute with a one-minute rest between sets.

When asked how it compared to being in a fight, former UFC champion B.J. Penn remarked, it was “like a fight gone bad,” and the legendary WOD name was born.

 How CrossFit Applies to MMA, Kickboxing and Other Disciplines:

As no two fights are alike, no two CrossFit training sessions are alike. It benefits the competitive athlete to improve his or her speed, accuracy, explosiveness, core strength and endurance for the multitude of situations that can occur during competition. In a sense, CrossFit mimics unpredictable competitions.

 Is CrossFit for You? Can anyone do it?

“Absolutely!,” says Travis. “CrossFit is a program that is asking people to move using functional patterns, doing so with high relative intensity, and to vary the types of movements executed regularly. Movements are often scaled, substituted, and/or altered in some way in order to attain the prescribed dose response of whatever is being asked that day. [For example] That means a “heavy” back squat day is very relative to each member participating. Many members will lift what they perceive as heavy while some may just need help doing an air squat with no load other than their own body’s weight.”

 The Added Bonus: CrossFit Community

Some say that being part of the CrossFit community, both online as well as at your local CrossFit facility is the best part of CrossFit.

“This is the best part of Crossfit,” agrees Travis. “CrossFit community is like family. As a coach and owner, you see all these people’s lives changing. You see their body composition changing and they are becoming healthier able bodies. You see these people who were so timid at first become these confident people ready to tackle whatever obstacle or task you give them. You meet all walks of life in a CrossFit gym. Everyone has one task at hand and everyone works hard when they come in. Everyone waits for the last person to finish, cheering them on to complete their task. We encourage each other. We help each other. We go to each other’s birthday parties and celebrate promotions together. I have personally met very cool people and lifelong friends from my CrossFit gym and KnuckleUp!”

 What CrossFit Can Do for Moe,  it Can Do for You:

“Once I started doing CrossFit, I started working on my strength and conditioning by following programs, learning Olympic lifts, and playing around with gymnastic stuff,” explains Travis. “Today, I feel stronger mentally and physically and it is fun.  The workouts are always different and challenging. I  feel like I’m in better shape now then when I was in my 20’s.”

To get started on your KU CrossFit journey,  signup for a free week.



Moe Travis has parlayed her experience as a world champion fighter into her career as a top Crossfit trainer.

Moe Travis has parlayed her experience as a world champion fighter into her career as a top CrossFit trainer.

Posted in Knuckleup Fitness News, KU CrossFit

KnuckleUp Fitness is happy to bring you KU CrossFit!

New Location

KnuckleUp Logo for FB 504w

KnuckleUp Fitness is happy to bring you KU CrossFit!  We will begin offering CrossFit to members at the new training facility located at  4540 Roswell Rd. in Sandy Springs.  Owner and CEO CJ Wilson said

” KnuckleUp Fitness became the best gym of our type in the country by combining the qualities of a top tier martial arts school with those of a world class fitness training facility. The addition of CrossFit to the other classes and services we’re offering our members will raise the bar even higher. Additionally, we have great a history of competition here at KU, we like to win, and we have been using training principles similar to those of CrossFit for quite some time, so it made sense to become a CrossFit affiliate and start competing in that arena as well. KU CrossFit is going to be a huge addition to not just our fitness programs, but eventually to our competition team also.”

About CrossFit

Founded in 2000, CrossFit is a competitive fitness activity that incorporates elements of high intensity interval training, Olympic Weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, calisthenics, and other exercises. It is currently practiced in over 10,000 affiliated gyms around the world.

About KnuckleUp

KnuckleUp Fitness is one of the leading Martial Arts and Fitness Training Facilities in the South Eastern United States. With three metro area Atlanta locations, KnuckleUp uses the power of world class martial arts instruction to make fitness classes exciting, fun and effective. For more information contact the gym.

Posted in KU CrossFit

Fitness Instructor Peter Alexander Comes Back Stronger Than Ever


After a training injury sidelined KnuckleUp Fitness instructor Peter Alexander with a nasty ruptured pectoral tendon, getting back to business in the gym was only a matter of time. Three months following surgery to, as Alexander says, “bolt [the tendon] back on,” I sat down with him to discuss how he’s doing and some of the ways he’s used exercise to get himself back to the training classroom.

“I’ve got range of motion back; now I’m just starting to work on strength of all the supporting structures around it.”

Alexander has been doing resistance band routines to increase the strength of the connective tissue and range of motion with the end goal being more functional tissue. He will need it as he returns to full body movements in his training classes, which include: boxing, kickboxing and Capoeira.

Working with trainer Alex Roman on the special challenge of having a severely reduced range of motion helped to facilitate Alexander’s recovery as well as improve in other areas.

“It was tough. I did lose a lot of strength and flexibility, but it did allow me to get much better at my kicks. I spent a month-and-a-half just working at, not even a full kick, but just different chambering drills for like a traditional Tae Kwon Do standpoint.”

 I asked Alexander to explain, in layman’s terms, the practice of chambering.

“When you break down a kick, it’s one of the steps to throw a kick or essentially like a cocked position with your leg. For instance with a sidekick, you don’t throw the sidekick from the ground in a straight line up to your opponent. You bring the sidekick up to your hip height and you chamber it, so that way whenever you throw it, you throw it straight from your hip to your opponent and then bring it right back to that chambered position like a piston. You bring it up, right out and right back in and it allows you to set up multiple kicks that way with a good amount of power, too. From that chamber you can throw a sidekick, a roundhouse, a hook kick…it’s really hard to figure out where the kick’s coming once it gets to that same position every time.”

Aside from improving his range of motion with resistance band training and his kicks with chambering drills, Alexander also continued practicing yoga as best he could through the physical limitations of recovery.

“Just the physical practice of yoga in general [has been disconnected], but I’ve still been really trying to work on the mind-body development. Yoga gives me a better understanding of my body, my mind…I feel more in tune with my everyday life from school…to practicing martial arts. It really brings a lot of great benefits.”

 With the injury now behind him and recovery an active work in progress, I asked Alexander how it feels to be back to teaching and training and if there are any lessons he has learned that he can now pass along to his students.

I’m definitely excited to come back and teach. The biggest thing I’ve learned from coming back from this injury is the value of being patient with my training. You don’t have to be in any rush or concern yourself with the length of plateaus in your training. It’s ok to sit back and enjoy the process of learning new skills and making your body and mind stronger.


Peter and Anna Cononge

Peter and Anna Cononge – Credit Melanie Klaer



Posted in Knuckleup Fitness News

KnuckleUp Fitness- New Gym Opening Update

New Location

The best Martial Arts Gym in Atlanta enters the final stages of preparation this week. The new gym, located at 4540 Roswell Rd. Sandy Springs, GA 30342 features over 13,000 square feet of gym space, 50 heavy bags to accommodate the best kickboxing classes in the industry, 5,000 square feet of mats and 2,400 square feet of Crossfit training space.

KnuckleUp Fitness Owner CJ Wilson said recently about his historic fitness franchise’s new flagship facility,   “We’d hoped to open by the 15th and now it looks to be slightly later than that because we’re waiting on our mats and showers to be delivered. Nevertheless this new gym will be one of the main focal points for martial arts and fitness training for the entire Southeast United States and there’ll certainly be nothing else like it in the city of Atlanta. It will enrich the fitness lifestyle of the city for decades to come and we’re all incredibly excited to get rolling with the new facility. We’ll be making an announcement very soon about the official grand opening.”

To celebrate the opening of the new gym and for a limited time only, new members who preregister for the Buckhead location will get three months of training for only one dollar. During the three-month promotional period (September – November) we will include unlimited classes in all KnuckleUp programs including the new gym when it opens. For more information on how to take advantage of this offer contact Andy Stroud.

Pre Register Today

Posted in Knuckleup Fitness News