Giving Thanks- Chazz Walton Says Faith In God Makes Him A Better Fighter.

Chazz_jumping rope web

Chazz “The Hybrid” Walton is an up-and-coming MMA standout training at KnuckleUp Fitness. His current undefeated record of 3-0 speaks to his hard work and dedication.  But just a few years ago, Walton was on a different path—one that ultimately led him back to his Christian faith and a fighting career that was fueled by it.

There was a time in his past when MMA prospect Chazz “The Hybrid” Walton was anything but the dedicated and focused human being who now lives for practice at KnuckleUp Fitness. In fact, he was on a path of self-destruction and destined for failure.

As a child growing up in Douglasville, GA, Walton, his mother and grandmother regularly attended the Douglasville First Baptist Church. “I was raised in a Christian household and it instilled those values in me,” says Walton.

In high school, however, things started to change. “You kind of get sucked away from anything your parents are telling you to do. You go the opposite way and that’s what I did for about three years of my life,” explains Walton.

“I was going down a path in my life that I wasn’t really proud of. I got involved in drugs really bad. I was doing drugs and selling them.”

Walton found himself addicted to Xanax, a Benzodiazipine intended to treat anxiety. “It just gives you like a euphoric, really relaxed feeling, but I can also make you a completely different person. When you’re on it, you don’t seem to care about anything and I started caring about things and noticing things that I didn’t like in my life. I started seeing some clarity. My partner at the time, she wasn’t on the same page as me so we ended up splitting up. I started going back to church more often after that.”

Discussing the changes that were taking place within him, Walton states, “I was hanging out with really bad people and one day I just got sick of it. I felt like I had been lost for a really long time.”

With new-found courage and conviction, Walton was able to refocus and reconnect to his faith and church family at West Ridge Church. “I kind of just came back to it. I started praying and going to church again, kind of going through the motions.”

Once he reconnected to his faith, Walton started thinking about his future away from drugs. “I started training around the same time that I quit taking and selling drugs. I figured my whole life was upside down and I should probably join the military so I started training to get ready for that.  I figured there weren’t too many other things you could do to prepare yourself for boot camp.”

Today “The Hybrid” is laser-focused on his mixed martial arts career and is a clear standout at KnuckleUp Fitness as a highly dedicated member and fighter with an undefeated record and is one of the fastest rising stars in the South East.

Walton says it’s his faith that keeps him humble and that the good Lord helps him to continue to push his body and mind and protect himself and his opponents inside the cage. He is also thankful for the physical gifts he’s been granted which allow him to fight in the first place.

Chazz In Training


Posted in Knuckleup Fitness News

Core Exercise Platforms for CrossFit by Geof Travis

Moe with weights standng

This week Geof Travis explains the basic core exercise platforms that CrossFit is based on.

Olympic Weightlifting: Also referred to as Weightlifting, also called Olympic-style Weightlifting, or Olympic Weightlifting, is an athletic discipline in the modern Olympic program in which the athlete attempts a maximum-weight single lift of a barbell loaded with weight. Olympic Weightlifting is especially useful in the CrossFit world due to its ability to hit on almost all of the ten general physical skills. The two competition lifts in order are the snatch, and the clean and jerk.

CrossFit adopts these lifts and their various accessory exercises – push press, snatch balance, clean pulls. In comparison with other strength sports, which test limit strength (with or without lifting aids), Weightlifting tests aspects of human ballistic limits (explosive strength); the lifts are therefore executed faster and with more mobility and a greater range of motion during their execution than other strength movements.

Properly executed, the snatch, and the clean and jerk are both dynamic and explosive while appearing graceful, especially when viewed from a recording at a slowed speed. While CrossFit does emphasize traditional Olympic Weightlifting tests of one rep maxes once an athlete has exhibited competence, Olympic Weightlifting’s accessory exercises and movements are often used (at a relatively low percentage of the athletes max capability) in higher rep schemes for conditioning workouts. As stated above, the movements satisfy most of the ten general physical skills adopted by CrossFit. While there are relatively few competitive Olympic Weightlifters, the lifts performed in the sport of Weightlifting, and in particular their component lifts (e.g. squats, deadlifts, cleans), are commonly used by elite athletes in other sports to train for both explosive and functional strength.

Plyometrics: Also known as “jump training” or “plyos”, are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing power (speed-strength). This training focuses on learning to move from a muscle extension to a contraction in a rapid or “explosive” manner, such as in specialized repeated jumping. Plyometrics are primarily used by athletes, especially martial artists, sprinters and high jumpers, to improve performance.

Powerlifting: Is a strength sport that consists of three lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift. Powerlifting evolved from a sport known as “odd lifts”, which followed the same three-attempt format but used a wider variety of events, akin to strongman competition. Eventually odd lifts became standardized to the current three and CrossFit has adopted these lifts as one means for gaining strength.

Gymnastics: Is a mastering of bodyweight manipulation in which complex, high-intensity movement patterns and elements of varying difficulty are executed as a sport. In CrossFit, use of pull up bars, gymnastic rings, parallettes, and other various movements using body weight such as burpees and handstands, are utilized for gains found in pursuing the ten general physical skills.

Girevoy Sport: Also known to most as Kettlebell Sport, CrossFit adopts this sport that in many ways mimics Olympic Weightlifting movements, but makes use of Kettlebells and tends to use the more simplified progressions of the sport by way of simple swings.

Calisthenics: Coupled closely with gymnastics, Calisthenics are intended to increase body strength, body fitness and flexibility through movements such as pulling or pushing yourself up, bending, jumping, or swinging, using only one’s body weight for resistance. They are usually conducted in concert with stretches. When performed vigorously and with variety, Calisthenics can provide the benefits of muscular and aerobic conditioning, in addition to improving psychomotor skills such as balance, agility and coordination.

Strongman: An extension and spin off to what is now common Weightlifting and Powerlifting, Strongman as a sport involves training that builds overall explosive strength in the gym, and training with competition implements to gain familiarity. In the gym it is necessary to train the entire body for strength, especially with variants of the squat, deadlift, and overhead press. Also important is explosive power, developed by weightlifting-style lifts, and cardiovascular conditioning. Grip strength must also be developed. Like any sport, it is necessary to train using the equipment one encounters in the sport. In the case of Strongman, these include logs, tires, yokes, farmer’s walk implements, etc.; building strength in the gym alone is insufficient.


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Posted in KU CrossFit

Winning My First IBJJF World Title by Parker Graham

Credit: Todd Graham

Parker Graham Brings IBJJ World Title Back to KnuckleUp

Going out and competing in the IBJJF No-Gi Worlds was a last-minute decision. I hadn’t competed in no-gi in almost a year, and I only train no-gi once a week. I like gi competition a lot more because you have the ability to grab your opponent, and no-gi feels a lot more like wrestling in that you have to rely more on speed. We initially thought the competition was held in New York so we were planning on driving, but when found out it was in Los Angeles, we were able to find some cheap tickets and decided to go.

I lost in the finals match of my weight class by a takedown in the last couple of seconds. I was up by an advantage towards the end, and if I pulled guard I would’ve won. I felt like I missed my opportunity to bring a world championship to KnuckleUp and The Union Team. In the light absolute division (anyone in lightweight and under) I had three matches and won all of them. I felt like I made the right adjustments and really dominated all three of my opponents. In the finals I beat a guy from 10th Planet (a team that only trains no-gi), which I thought was pretty cool.

Winning didn’t feel like a life-changing moment for me, but I was proud to win a title for my team. I try to treat every tournament the same, no matter how big or prestigious, that way each tournament feels like just another tournament to me. That keeps me from getting overwhelmed and keeps me from putting extra pressure on myself. It allows me to focus on my matches and what I need to do. I’m lucky to have a great team with great instructors and teammates at KnuckleUp.

Master Ricardo Murgel is my main Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor, I have been with him for about eight years and he has always been up to date with new moves and positions. He has really taken me under his wing and become an important person in my life. Quentin Rosenzweig is a BJJ black belt under Master Murgel and is also a great instructor who also teaches a lot of modern techniques and is very technical. I also have great teammates  in Sandy Springs and Alpharetta who push me and force me to get better every day. I couldn’t have done it without KnuckleUp and my instructors and teammates who have been there every day, pushing me and making me better.



Posted in Atlanta BJJ

Member Spotlight: Tayler Garapola – Photography by Melanie Klaer

Tayler Garapola

Twenty-three-year-old Tayler Garapola walked into KnuckleUp Fitness just over a year ago and today thinks of KU as her second home, with an extended family who pushes and supports her fitness journey.

Tell us about how you came to walk through the doors at KnuckleUp for the first time.

Honestly, I found it on Groupon after moving back home from Texas. I came in July 2014 and did some free classes for a week. I came back two weeks later after my nephew was born and I’ve been coming ever since.

What was it that made you want to get started here?

I’ve been into boxing and kickboxing for the last three or four years. When I was living in Athens I was at a boxing place and did cardio boxing there. Then I moved to Texas and did a little MMA training down there as well. Then when I moved home, I found KnuckleUp.

How would you describe Knuckle Up to someone who has never been here before?

It’s a great place to walk into and learn things. There’s that little bit of intimidation feeling wherever you go for the first time, but I feel that everyone here is really welcoming and wants you to learn. That was always really nice, coming in and feeling like I was really wanted here and that everyone knows me. It’s very personable here.

You concentrate a lot of your striking and kickboxing here, correct?

I’m usually doing kickboxing and Capoeira here. Read more ›

Posted in Knuckleup Fitness News

CrossFit: Six Amazing Things You Never Knew

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A Strong Military & Law Enforcement Connection

The first CrossFit workouts were done with the Santa Cruz sheriff’s department, who were impressed with founder Greg Glassman’s new exercise program and philosophy, to train law enforcement personnel. Since then, CrossFit training remains strong in many fire, police, EMS and military organizations worldwide.


Owning the Box

There are over 11,000 CrossFit affiliates worldwide and getting in on a piece of CrossFit means going through a process. It takes more than cash to own and operate a CrossFit affiliate gym, known as a “box.” Requirements include: an application, essay, yearly fee and instructors to complete the CrossFit training courses.


Women Dominate Membership

Although CrossFit may have a preconceived notion of being geared toward strong, fit, bulky men, the truth is that women account for 60 percent of CrossFit membership. That equates to a lot of strong, fit, kick-ass women out there living the CrossFit life.


WODs Named for Women

Some popular Workouts of the Day (WODs) are named for women. It is said that founder Glassman stated, “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.” Some popular WODs include: Amanda, Lynn, Mary, Nicole and Fran (which consists of 21 reps of 95-pound barbell thrusters, followed by 21 pull-ups, then 15 thrusters, 15 pull-ups, nine thrusters and nine pull-ups, all as fast as you can). Easy, right?


Honoring Fallen Soldiers with the WOD

Similarly, well over a hundred CrossFit’s Hero Workouts have been named to honor fallen servicemen and servicewomen. “Murph” honors fallen soldier Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who was killed in Afghanistan June 28, 2005. This Hero WOD includes: a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats followed by another one-mile run, all while wearing a 20/40 pound weighted vest or armor.


Finding the Fittest: The CrossFit Games

Hailed as a “grueling test for the world’s toughest athletes and a thrilling experience for spectators,” the CrossFit games, started in 2007, was created to be a true test of fitness. Made up as a broad test of functional movements, moving large loads, long distances quickly (movements which form the basis of the CrossFit exercise program), the CrossFit Games are designed to test, not train, fitness. The CF Games take place over three phases—the Open competition, followed by Regionals and culminating with the CrossFit Games. The top 40 men and top 40 women in the world are taken to task to find the Fittest on Earth. According to Forbes, the CrossFit Games have become “one of the fastest growing sports in America.”



Posted in KU CrossFit

The 10 Physical Skills of CrossFit by Geof Travis

Moe with Weights one

We all come from different athletic backgrounds and we each have our strong points and our weak points. If you are a marathon runner, you may walk into a gym with off the charts endurance, but not be able to squat half your body weight. On the other end of the spectrum, you might be a power-lifter but not able to run a mile. CrossFit exists to correct these imbalances. All-around athletic performance is the goal.

To create balanced athletes, CrossFit identifies 10 basic physical skills to develop. They are:

1.  Cardiovascular / Respiratory Endurance: The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.

2.  Stamina: The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.

3.  Strength:  The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.

4.  Flexibility:  The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.

5.  Power:  The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.

6.  Speed: The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.

7.  Coordination: The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.

8.  Agility:  The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.

9.  Balance:  The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base.

10.  Accuracy: The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

By training all ten physical skills equally, CrossFit creates a broad and inclusive level of fitness in its participants.  The goal is to produce well-rounded athletes equipped to handle anything and excel at whatever is placed in front of them.

Next Time-

The Core Exercise Platforms of CrossFit



Posted in KU CrossFit

KnuckleUp Announces New Location in Cumming

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KnuckleUp Fitness, the premier Martial Arts School in the South, is happy to partner with Georgia Fitness, the leader in total fitness and athletic training in Georgia.

“KnuckleUp is the best brand in Mixed Martial Arts Training so we are very excited to be able to involve them with Georgia Fitness by offering KnuckleUp classes on site,” says Georgia Fitness President Dustin Chovanic.  “We’re introducing the classes at our Cumming Location (5967 Bethelview Road in Cumming Georgia), but expect to roll them out in all our locations in the near future. “

With Kickboxing classes taught by Champion female fighter “Machine Gun” Mary Matia and MMA classes with fast rising star Chazz “The Hybrid” Walton, Georgia Fitness members can now experience firsthand the world class martial arts instruction that made KnuckleUp a byword for excellence and competitive success in the fighting community.

KnuckleUp Owner and CEO CJ Wilson says, “Our company has found the right partner in Georgia Fitness.  KnuckleUp has always set the standard for martial arts and fitness training and we’re excited to have a new partner like Georgia Fitness that’s just as committed to growth and excellence as we are. “


About KnuckleUp Fitness – KnuckleUp Fitness is the premiere martial arts and Fitness Company in the South offering Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Boxing and Capoeira.

About Georgia Fitness  – A locally owned company, Georgia Fitness offers members a comprehensive portfolio of fitness services including personal training, group training, professional and team sport athletic development, kid’s classes and sports specific training.

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Posted in Knuckleup Fitness News

My Martial Arts Journey by Rachel Seltzer

Rachel IV

My journey into mixed martial arts was more of a surprise to me than anything I’ve ever done.  Here is how it happened.  After spending most of my life dealing with Crohn’s disease and being in pain daily, I finally hit a moment of remission and was able to start working out.  All my muscles had totally atrophied and I was basically skin and bone. I’d spent a little time at a traditional gym and wasn’t seeing any results so that’s when I decided to do something different and I chose KnuckleUp to begin my martial arts journey.  I started out taking kickboxing classes and really enjoyed it and picked it up pretty quickly.

Back in the day, KnuckleUp held sparring leagues at the gym, allowing those that had been training to compete in martial arts an opportunity to fight.  I went to watch one Saturday morning and watching the women (Moe Travis) compete and it immediately inspired me.  I think being sick and weak for most of my life gave me that desire and motivation to give it a shot.  Long story short–I trained for my first in-house martial arts fight and won by TKO and Moe Travis became my main training partner.  I definitely wouldn’t have been as successful without the help of Moe and her pushing me so hard each time we trained.

That one win hooked me and then I took it to a bigger show and had my first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight at Center Stage, March of 2010.  KnuckleUp has always had many great female competitors and awesome coaches so it wasn’t hard getting the training and help I needed.  They took me in with open arms and lots of punches to the face.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it never got easier.  But I had a great team/family behind me and that made it all worth it.  For a female, to walk into an MMA gym could seem intimidating but the team at KnuckleUp never made me feel anything other than welcome.  They took my desire to learn seriously and the fact that I had no prior mixed martial arts training was never a factor.

My most memorable martial arts moment is my last fight.  I was coming off a really bad loss and thought I would never fight again.  But with everyone encouraging me at the gym to get back in the ring, I decided to give it another shot and was offered the opportunity to fight for a title.  I wanted a belt so bad.  So I got back in the gym and started training again and won my last fight and now have that shiny belt at home.

After a good run in Thai, 7-2 and a title holder, I decided to make the transition to BJJ.  It wasn’t an easy decision because I love Thai but I’m older now and the girls were just getting younger.  I knew I loved competing and so I had to continue doing something that would allow me that.  After a lot of thought, I moved over to BJJ with the help of Luke Neyland, one of KU’s top instructors and trainers.  He was very supportive and within three months I had my first competition. It’s definitely different competing in Muay Thai vs. BJJ.  You are going to lose/learn a lot in BJJ.  In Muay Thai, you are given an opponent and you try to find out as much as possible about your opponent and then you have weeks to prepare for that one person.  In BJJ, you have multiple opponents in one day and at times your opponent can have more experience or be heavier than you. You don’t know anything about them, and you might lose to one girl in no gi and then have to go against her again in gi.  You have to go in with an open mind and basically brush it off if you lose because you have to jump back on the mat and go again.  Its’ now been a little over a year and a half and 10 tournaments later and I’m hooked.

My most recent NAGA tournament is my most memorable because things finally started to click.  I was comfortable, I was listening to my coaches, and I far exceeded my expectations on that day, winning first place in three divisions.   I am still in deep, deep water with BJJ but I’m finally able to see my hard work pay off.  KU really is the best gym for a female or really anyone looking to get into mixed martial arts.  We have one of the largest female teams, a successful kids team, and the top instructors.  Can’t beat that! We are the BEST OF THE BEST!

Rachel Seltzer NAGA

Rachel wins at NAGA




Posted in Knuckleup Fitness News

Rising Star Alex Enriquez Talks Kids BJJ at KnuckleUp Fitness

Alex Enriquez Kids BJJ

Although Alex Enriquez recently bested one of MMA’s finest female fighters and Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann (yes—that Sara McMann) at Kakuta Submission Challenge 6 in September, she will be the first one to tell you that some of her proudest moments come from serving as an instructor of Kids BJJ classes at KnuckleUp Fitness.

Now 16, Enriquez started taking Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes just five years ago when she was eleven years old. After being coached by Steve Mitchell, Enriquez says she discovered she had a passion for teaching others.

“I enjoy helping others and find happiness watching those I’ve helped succeed,” says Enriquez.

As a young student, Enriquez credits Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for helping her develop many needed skills to help her overcome adversity in both life and at school. Through being a student of learning she was able to find ways to learn to balance schoolwork and sports. She developed perseverance, which helped her get through the tough times all people face.

“The people I am surrounded with in Jiu-Jitsu have taught me to keep pushing and how to make life choices,” Enriquez explains.

In a society where bullying is still a common problem in schools, the KnuckleUp Kids BJJ program offers up the development of character traits that allow kids to stand up for themselves and others in an appropriate and self-confident way.

Kids that come into and stick with the program, explains Enriquez, “have a unique drive that separates them from other martial arts or athletic activities.”  Enriquez says results will include: confidence, early leadership skills, perseverance and an overall healthy physical and mental growth that she has found in herself having grown up with the sport as part of her life.

Enriquez herself loves that being an instructor with Kids BJJ enables her to continue to grow. “The kids at KnuckleUp have a wide range of personalities and I adore each and everyone of them. I find myself learning as much as I teach.”

For those coming into the Kids BJJ program for the first time, Enriquez says they will be hit with a typhoon of movement and noise, but she encourages new students to embrace their environment and stay the course. “The atmosphere here at KnuckleUp is one of the most welcoming, whether you are looking to be competitive or just looking for a hobby.” Enriquez, who calls her trainers her second family and the gym her second home, knows students will find the same connection at KnuckleUp.

The Kids BJJ program is, as Enriquez describes it, “a force to be reckoned with.” In competition, she says, the kids program has always brought home medals and championships from each of their competitors. The spirit of learning and competition is strong at KnuckleUp Fitness.

Enriquez is honored to be such a big part of  Kids BJJ at KnuckleUp. “I can proudly say that I have full faith in every one of the kids and soon enough our program will be number one in Georgia.”


Alex Enriquez Instructs Kids BJJ at KnuckleUp Fitness

Photo Credit: Melanie Klaer



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Posted in KnuckleUp for Kids

The New KnuckleUp – A Phoenix Rising from the Ashes! by Chris Caban

Kali Class at KnuckleUp Fitness

After the fire back in March, I have been anxiously waiting for our new home to be built. I may only teach and train at KnuckleUp one day a week recently, but it is a part of my life like no other gym in my past. Why you may ask? KnuckleUp is the heart and soul of my group.   The positive energy at KnuckleUp is tangible for me and I try to soak up all I can.

After the fire in March of this year, I started to feel like some of that energy was slipping away. But since then I have seen our fighters take on all comers in MMA , BJJ, and Thai. Our BJJ team is stronger than ever, with phenoms like Parker, Forrest, and Alex killing it in BJJ tournaments and setting the pace for the future. In MMA, Vitkay, Chazz Walton  and the rest of the boys are grounding and pounding their way through the competition in the cage. The Thai classes and now the Fitness and Cross Fit programs are also pumping up the amplitude. Energy is flowing.

When I walked into the new location, I had to catch my breath. Even though the club was nearly empty, I could sense the energy it possessed. The mat was a mile long and beautiful. The Kickboxing area was perfect and with CrossFit and the fitness area were stacked. There is nothing a martial artist or fitness nut could want. I am super-proud to be part of the family at KnuckleUp and with the new location under our feet, there will be many more champions forged on those mats.

Time will tell but after seeing the guys training Thai and MMA next to my Kali Class, I understand the reason KnuckleUp is successful as a fighter’s gym. It is the coaches and the trainers that make the gym. If we were in a rundown warehouse, KnuckleUp would still produce top flight fighters, but with this type of facility, we will continue to dominate the Atlanta fight scene for another decade to come.

And we will be pulling out all the stops for this year’s Krampus Stick Fights December 20th. If you have never watched Filipino Stick Fighting this will be an awesome afternoon of beatings.


Lakan Guro, Chris Caban

Chief Instructors of the Atlanta Kali Group



Posted in Knuckleup Fitness News