KnuckleUp Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Instructor Quentin Rosenzweig says Ronaldo Souza’s success in MMA shows the evolution of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Quentin Rosenzweig

Quentin Rosenzweig Credit: Melanie Lynne Klaer


It was a sad day for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu when Mat Hughes dismantled Royce Gracie in front of the entire MMA world at UFC 60. Hughes’ crushing first round victory seemed to settle the argument once and for all as to which was better for the UFC, wrestling or fighting. Never mind that Hughes at 32 was 7 years younger than Royce and at the peak of his career. The aging Royce, on the other hand, had only fought sporadically since his glory days a decade earlier in UFCs 1-3. BJJ purists also made the point, as they had for years, that the rules of the UFC were changed to favor wrestlers over BJJ stylists. BJJ in its essence is a real world self defense system based on the idea that a smaller person can defend themselves against someone larger and stronger until their opponent makes a mistake that will allow them to end the fight with strikes from either a dominant position or a submission. Originally points, activity, and aggression did not come into the equation. So, when the rules of MMA were changed to include things like time limits, gloves, and standing the fighters up when a referee deems them inactive on the ground it made pure Brazilian Jiu Jitsu less effective in the UFC. Despite these arguments, it was hard to argue with the results of the main event at UFC 60 and BJJ was now viewed as less effective than wrestling.

One of the great things about MMA and combat sports in general is how quickly things evolve and so too did Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Rather than go into decline, as some predicted, BJJ under went a powerful renaissance and a new, more active style better suited for success inside the Octagon emerged. KnuckleUp Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Instructor Quentin Rosenzweig recently described what this evolution entailed.

“Today it’s the fighters that are good at applying top pressure, actively seeking to pass their opponent’s guard, and always looking to submit their opponent who are the most successful in MMA.” KnuckleUp Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Instructor Quentin Rosenzweig

Quentin, a Brown Belt under KnuckleUp Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Head Instructor Ricardo Murgel, exemplifies this new style in his own career. He has become a submission machine on the local grappling circuit and looks to move to the next level soon. He brought up names like Demian Maia, Jose Aldo, and Roger Gracie as good examples of the new breed of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu stylists that are currently successful in MMA on a global scale. Most notable of all, he says, is Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Souza is the multi-time world BJJ champion who burst onto the scene in 2004 with his classic match vs. Roger Gracie. Souza’s aggressive style of BJJ has made mincemeat of a who’s who of wrestling standouts over his MMA career. Want to see how far BJJ has come since UFC 60? You’ll get the chance tomorrow night when Souza faces Chris Camozzi at UFC Fight Night 15 Machida vs. Rockhold.


If you would like to learn more about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu here at KnuckleUp, check out our schedule of classes.

Posted in Atlanta BJJ

KnuckleUp Member Spotlight – Catie Murray



Catie Murray trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing at KnuckleUp in Alpharetta. Catie’s father, Sean Murray, says he first got Catie into martial arts to channel his daughter’s abundance of energy. Mom lobbied for Ballet while Catie and Dad wanted to try wrestling which then to Judo then Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Since beginning training Catie’s competitive success has been remarkable. A two times Georgia State Wrestling Champion and victor in multiple Judo tournaments she’s also one of the brightest young Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitors in Georgia.


Favorite Class at KnuckleUp –  Kids Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


Highlights- Two Times State Wrestling Champion


Coaches Quote – “Catie is one of the toughest kids I’ve ever seen.  She’s a super hard worker and a pleasure to coach. If she keeps it up she can be as good as she wants to be.” Instructor Quentin Rosenzweig


Posted in Atlanta BJJ, Knuckleup Fitness News, Uncategorized

KnuckleUp Remembers Hagler vs Hearns

If you’re a boxing fan of a certain age then you remember where you were when you saw Marvelous Marvin Hagler knock out Thomas “The Hit Man” Hearns. The fight, which took place thirty years ago today, is so iconic people forget that before the fight it was Hagler who was considered the technician. Hearns was thought to have the better chance to knock his man out.  Plus, anyone looking at their one common opponent would favor Hearns as well.   Roberto Duran fought Hagler to a standstill over 15 rounds but Hearns later obliterated the Panamanian legend in two. So going in many actually considered Hagler, the long time champion, to be the underdog.

That’s not the way the fight played out. Hagler, making his 11th defense of the middleweight crown, unexpectedly waded into Hearns from the outset. This strategy nearly proved disastrous when Hearns caught the Champion flush only seconds into the first.  Hagler, who had one of the best chins in boxing history, was wobbled for one of the few times in his career. But he fought through the fire in what is widely considered the best first round in boxing history.


Posted in Uncategorized

DON’T QUIT: Resilience in and out of the ring helps KnuckleUp trainer Dave Vitkay reignite his fighting career

In March 2012 Knuckle Up Fitness Trainer Dave Vitkay had a gut check. After ten years fighting in Mixed Martial Arts he suffered his second knockout loss in a row and had to reassess his career. “It devastated me and I was going to quit. I was going to retire from fighting and become a full-time trainer,” he said recently in an interview. In spite of the long odds of coming back from two such crushing losses, Vitkay says there was something inside him that wouldn’t let him give up. “There was this itch that said, ‘let me give it one more shot,’ because I just hate being a quitter at anything.”

So, instead of retiring, Vitkay doubled down on his fighting career. He began training harder and smarter, focusing on nutrition and plugging holes in his fighting style.

“Three years ago, I started switching up and going

Southpaw during training to practice. It worked so well

that now I fight that way. I’ll switch up. I’ll go southpaw

a little bit, I’ll go conventional, and actually I can see the

confusion in my opponent’s eyes because they don’t know

what to expect. It gives me a half second and just creates

a little bit of advantage for me.”

Vitkay’s renewed focus and stylistic refinements worked out. He’s currently on a three-year win streak (5-0 with four submissions). Incredibly this MMA veteran is peaking 13 years into his career.

It hasn’t all be clear sailing though. In his last fight Vitkay had to dig down against a wild brawler named Tommy Jones. Jones had him in trouble at least once in the fight. Vitkay, who is nothing if not resilient, showed his trademark toughness and eventually fought through and submitted his tough opponent. “I was really impressed with him,” Vitkay says of Jones.

“He was strong and athletic and could really scramble

better than I expected so he kept surprising me and catching

me off guard. He had me in some bad positions. The first

round he had me side-mounted, and at one point I think he

got on top of me again in the second round. Then in the

third round, I rushed him and got a hold of his legs and took

him down. From there I worked from guard to half guard and

once I got half guard I got a hold of his arm like a kimura lock

and he wasn’t giving up the kimura, he was straightening his

arm and then I just straightened it into a straight arm lock and

finished him.”

The victory was televised nationally on AXS TV and built on Vitkay’s already impressive momentum. He hopes to ride the wave to an appearance on the UFC’s flagship television show The Ultimate Fighter. “They only want to know your last three fights and the last time I tried out I had a loss on my record,” he notes. “But this time, I’ve got three wins in a row and they’re all in bigger promotions like Bellator and Legacy. Plus I just look different now, I’m a lot more athletic and I’m training like a professional athlete,” he pauses before continuing, “and I know this is my my last chance. I’m 34 and the cutoff is 34, so I really feel like it’s my time right now.” Judging by his success over last three years he could very well be right.


Vitkay at Legacy

Photo Credit: Camille Butler



Posted in Knuckleup Fitness News

KnuckleUp Trainer Stephen UpChurch Follows the Dream

Stephen Upchurch by Eric Langley


Stephen UpChurch began training and competing in martial arts as a student at the University of Georgia in Athens. He flirted with Boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu but it was Muay Thai that really got him hooked.

“I started training Muay Thai and I had a fight and that was really the beginning of it. I totally fell in love with it, so much that I moved to Sarat Thani Thailand and lived there for a year. I taught school to pay the bills and just trained all the time with the local guys and had a couple of fights on the island out there in Ko Samuit and Ko Suwan. It was amazing; one of the most memorable years of my life. I got totally into the culture and was in awe of it.”

Upchurch’s experience in Thailand made him rethink his career path.

“My degrees from UGA are in Advertising and English so I used to coordinate print advertising for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, then I moved into television advertising, so that’s what was paying the bills. When I got back [from Thailand], I just really didn’t want to go back to the office. I knew I wanted to keep training so I went up to KnuckleUp Sandy Springs and we’re kind of hanging around essentially and I was like, you know, ‘I want to train, are you guys hiring?”

Today Stephen is a ubiquitous presence around the gym, teaching numerous classes and personal training clients, continuing his own training in Muay Thai, Boxing, Kickboxing, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as well as competing on the local MMA circuit and even cornering the other members of KnuckleUp’s fight team when they have matches. I asked him if he’s still glad he took the leap and pursued his dream after he came back from Thailand. “Absolutely,” he says with conviction. “If I wasn’t, then I’d be sitting in an office somewhere.”

Stephen is available for both group classes and individual private training sessions.




Posted in Knuckleup Fitness News

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Ace Gui Cury says the striking he’s developing at KnuckleUp makes him a more dangerous fighter.


Originally from Curitiba Brazil (hometown of MMA legend Wanderlei Silva), Gui Cury is a 28-year-old Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Brown Belt under KnuckleUp Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Head Instructor, Master Ricardo Murgel. Already an accomplished grappler, Gui told me recently that he’s working hard with his teammates at KnuckleUp to add a slick striking game to his arsenal.


“When I first started competing as an amateur mixed martial artist I was strictly a

grappler. So in my head when I was going into my fights, I always felt like I had to

get a takedown. If I wasn’t able to get the fight to the ground, I didn’t know what else

to do. In MMA if you’re a one-trick pony, eventually your opponent will start to

prepare for that.


“But because I had good background in grappling it allowed me to spend a good bit

of time at KnuckleUp focusing solely on my striking and I’ve been getting more and

more comfortable with it. It makes the fight easier for me because I still like to go to

the ground and get a takedown and take my opponent to where my strengths are, but

if I don’t get the takedown the first time, if the guy escapes or something, I don’t have

to panic and feel that I have to get a takedown at all costs. I’ll be ok. I have enough

stand up ability to where I’ll be fine until I get him where I want him.”


This strategy paid dividends in Gui’s last match when he defeated Rusty Crowder on a nationally televised card. Gui explained how his newfound comfort with striking, plus his opponent’s tendency to get drawn into brawls opened the door for the high profile win.


“ …going into the fight with him, we knew that he had a tendency to brawl. He’s

one of those guys that if you hit him, he wants to hit you back and then you end up

brawling with him. This makes him open for takedowns, so I knew that he was

going to be expecting me to try and take him down so I didn’t want to do it too soon.

The whole game plan was to stand with him long enough to get him thinking that

we were striking, then when he started getting into his head that we were going to

brawl, I would take him down. So in the fight I would strike with him long enough

to get him concentrated on his striking and not as aware of his takedown defense and

whenever I saw him squaring up, I’d take him down. That’s basically the story of

the fight. We were able to do that for all three rounds.”


In addition to fighting, Gui is an instructor and personal trainer at KnuckleUp Fitness. He is available for both group classes and individual sessions.

Posted in Atlanta BJJ, Knuckleup Fitness News

Sandy Springs Fire Update 04/06

So it’s been a while since we’ve made an update regarding the fire. This is because, unfortunately,  there is not a lot to tell, but because we have had so many questions as to why there seems to be no work going on at the gym we figured that we would let you know why that is.

When the fire happened it not only damaged the interior of the men’s and women’s lockers room, it also caused some fairly significant damage to the roof structure in those rooms. The roof is built with steel joists and a couple of them were warped from the heat, which weakened the roof so it is now leaking, sagging and is potentially dangerous.  Those joist are a special order item, which needs to be made for each application. They were ordered by the landlord a few days after the fire and should be in production now.

So since the repairs (replacement) of the roof cannot be completed until those joists arrive there has been no work yet on demolition in those damaged areas. We cannot start demolition until we are actually ready for construction. We cannot start the repair of the locker rooms until the roof is replaced and so for now we are in a holding pattern until they arrive.

So what does this mean for you, the member? Well obviously this means that the locker room repair is on a little longer timeline than any of us would like, so in the meantime we are working with the insurance company to locate a temporary location for us to move to until the repairs are complete. We have located a facility very close by that we think everyone will love and we hope to have some further news regarding this later this week.

I know that it’s not what we all want to hear, but it’s all we have for now. Thank you all for your continued patience and support during this incredibly tough time. We cannot tell you how much we appreciate it.


#cantstopwontstop  #123KnuckleUp!!!




Posted in Knuckleup Fitness News

KnuckleUP BJJ Head Coach Ricardo Murgel talks about Omni Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Logo Knuckle Up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Can you explain why you developed the Omni Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Curriculum for your classes here at KnuckleUp Fitness?

The martial art that is today known as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is based on Gracie Jiu Jitsu as developed by the Great Grand Master Helio Gracie. Originally Gracie Jiu Jitsu was for Self Protection and was focused on real life situations. It emphasized techniques and tactics that are most effective at extreme close distance, hand to hand combat, with also some defenses against edged weapons and firearms. The sporting element came much later.  So, among other things, Omni Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will reclaim this original heritage of Jiu Jitsu as conceived in the early days in Brazil. To put it another way, we’re going back to the founding principles of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and rescuing its essence while also updating it for the modern world.

How will Omni Jiu Jitsu achieve this?

By featuring a variety of classes designed to help anyone who wants to learn, from the merely curious to high level competitors. Instead of a one size fits all approach to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Omni Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s specialized approach will make sure that you get the most out of your class. Classes are always tailored to your specific needs and goals and everyone is welcome. We will have our normal sport oriented classes,which have produced so many Champions, for those who want to compete. Then also,a techniques only class, which will focus much more on specific techniques and offer NO Sparring.

Are classes with no sparring less effective than the ones with Sparring?

No, they are not less effective. It is the student’s choice and depends on what they are looking for.

If a student is older, out of shape, or not physically strong which of your classes will fit him or her?

Remember that, Brazilian, Jiu Jitsu in its essence is a way for a smaller, weaker person to overcome a larger, stronger person through the use of leverage and technique. So, if you are not strong, Jiu Jitsu will make you skillful and if you are not in shape you will get in shape through the training. It’s all geared towards you.  Additionally the environment is cooperative and friendly. We are like a family here at KnuckleUp and everybody roots everybody else on.

If I just practice the classes with no sparring, can I still progress in Belts over time?

 Absolutely. The difference is that the sparring and competition students will have their evaluation more toward their performance on the mat, so to speak. While the students of the No Sparring classes only will be evaluated by tests of their knowledge of the techniques and drills required for each belt level.

 What if I can only train once or twice a week? Will it still be worthwhile for me to train Omni Jiu Jitsu?

In short: YES! Remember, Omni Jiu Jitsu will be here waiting for you.  You determine how much you will get and how much you will be able to commit, is solely up to you! Even if you’re just training from time to time you will still get many more benefits than if you don’t train at all. A little bit of our amazing martial art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, is by far better than none.


Posted in Atlanta BJJ

Introducing Omni Jiu Jitsu – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu For Everyone- Now at KnuckleUp

Logo Knuckle Up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Master Ricardo Murgel is introducing a better way to learn the world’s most effective martial art through Omni Jiu Jitsu at Knuckle Up. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was originally intended to offer something for everyone, and Murgel’s Omni Jiu Jitsu reclaims that tradition by featuring a variety of classes designed to help anyone who wants to learn, from the merely curious to high level competitors. Instead of a one size fits all approach to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Omni Jiu Jitsu ’s specialized approach will make sure that you get the most out of your class. Classes are always tailored to your specific needs and goals and everyone is welcome.

Omni Jiu Jitsu Classes

  • Essential Techniques of Jiu Jitsu – This is a  class that features no sparring and will focus on self protection in real life situations. This class  will feature
  • Functional Conditioning
  • Drills
  • Technique
  • NO sparring
  • Submissions Only – This class will focus on the most effective BJJ submission and related techniques for the street and self protection. This class will feature
  • Functional Conditioning
  • Drills
  • Techniques
  • NO Sparring
  • Sport Jiu Jitsu – This class is focused on sports oriented, competitive Jiu Jitsu. This class will  feature
  • Functional Training
  • Drills
  • Techniques
  • Sparring
  • Private Classes- One hour classes where the instructor customizes the class just for you.

About Ricardo Murgel.

Ricardo Murgel is an 8th degree Master, one of the highest ranking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu authorities in the world with over 50 years of experience. He earned his Judo Black Belt in 1974 and is a highly successful MMA coach. Master Murgel is also the first BJJ Master to be certified by the Peace Officer Standards Training Council- POST as a guest instructor of Defensive Tactics and Firearms. He has instructed Law enforcement agencies worldwide in extreme close quarters combat for over four decades.

Throughout his career as a coach Master Murgel has led BJJ and MMA competitors in worldwide appearances in with exceptional results. During his last six years as head coach of BJJ and MMA at KnuckleUp, Master Murgel has helped the KnuckleUp Team achieve a remarkable record of victories in both amateur and professional competitions.



Posted in Atlanta BJJ

KnuckleUp Fitness Trainer Peter Alexander Says Unconventional Training is The Key To UFC 189 Main Event.


KnuckleUp Fitness Instructor Peter Alexander


On July 11th, UFC 189 will feature one of the biggest marquee matchups in recent memory when the notorious Conor McGregor faces long time featherweight Champion Jose Aldo. Aldo is the most dominant champion in UFC history and is a master of the basic fundamentals of MMA. Undefeated for a decade, he is a precise striker with crushing leg kicks who is also a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Despite Aldo’s technical proficiency, it’s his challenger’s unorthodox movements that could be the key to the fight, KnuckleUp Instructor Peter Alexander said recently. McGregor, who, like Aldo, has never lost in the UFC, is redefining the striking game with a quirky set of body movements and unorthodox strikes which has so far mystified all of his opponents inside the Octagon.

McGregor’s training consists of a lot of non-traditional movement

patterns from not just the traditional striking martial arts like

Boxing and kickboxing but from styles like Capoeira and even

Gymnastics. There’s a lot of value in using these types of interesting

movements to keep your opponent off balance.

Alexander continued that he thinks McGregor’s fighting style is due in large part to his innovative training regimen.

Instead of just doing squats, push-ups, bicep curls and just those

traditional kind of exercises Connor augments his training with

exercises that concentrate on total body control like handstands,

Gymnastic techniques on the rings, Tae Kwon Do, also some Capoeira. He

brings in a big, broad sub-spectrum of movement capabilities and I

think that’s what makes him stand out as a fighter.

Alexander, a diligent student of martial arts and human physiology incorporates many such full body movement drills into his own training and that of his students at KnuckleUp. He is available for both group classes and personal training sessions.

Posted in Atlanta BJJ, Knuckleup Fitness News, personal Training