My Martial Arts Journey by Rachel Seltzer

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