Located inside the old Woodson’s Mall, Elite Martial Arts is training true fighters.
John Long and Ed McDonald work together in teaching different sports such as sports jujitsu, sports grappling and kickboxing.
“Martial Arts is not difficult,” Long, the head instructor said. “That doesn’t mean it’s easy. The moves are not difficult, but getting good at the moves is the most difficult part.”
With a class size of 12 to 20 on any given night, Elite Martial Arts isn’t just about martial arts training. One third of the class, according to Long, is heavy cardio.
While they do grapple and do martial arts training during the class, Long says anyone looking to join shouldn’t worry.
Long and McDonald said they take newcomers aside and teach them the basics.
“The first class is free, and we kind of do a tutoring process where we get them up to speed,” Long, a 30-year veteran of the sport, said. “We don’t just throw them to the wolves. We don’t expect them to do a 30 minute workout and all the other moves that we do on top of that.”
To McDonald, the class has been one that he’s been connected to since his first day in 2005.
“After one class, I was hooked,” McDonald said. “It was awesome. I’ve never done anything like it. It’s crazy, because you think this hobby allows you to get sore and beat up on, but there’s something great about it.”
After spending so much time in this class, McDonald said it’s no longer just a martial arts class.
With the members training together every week, it’s become more of a community to the members.
“It gives you a sense of community and a sense of family,” he said. “Everybody in here is like a family. Basically, if you get a couple of people that miss the classes, you’re getting a phone call from somebody in the class, checking on you.”
This coming Saturday, the members of Elite Martial Arts family will be cheering on one of their own as he goes for a belt.
Eight different competitors will be competing in the 153-pound Valor Championship Kickboxing Title Tournament taking places at Knoxville Martial Arts Academy.
Billy White, a member of Elite Martial Arts, will be one of the eight in the tournament.
“I’m very excited,” White said. “This year was actually a rough year, because I had a lot of injuries in the first part of the year. My head wasn’t really in it. I took a fight, and my whole heart wasn’t in it. I got beat because of it. As of now, everything is on point. I’m so excited for this fight.”
On Nov. 24, White had another Valor Championship Kickboxing fight. During the bout, White won by knockout in the first round.
It took him just 47 second to knock Chase Smith out of the match.
According to Long, it’s very rare that a fighter will have fights only 21 days apart.
“I want at least two months off,” Long said. “I think a good training camp is about eight weeks. Take a couple weeks off and then get back to training hard.”
However, since White never really took a shot during the match, he didn’t have to take time to recuperate.
To White, each of his fights have been important. Each one comes down to months of training, according to McDonald. He said that’s the difference between someone that’s just looking for a fight.
“There’s a difference between somebody that wants to come in and train, learn and do this well, and those people that just want to fight,” McDonald said. “People that want to just come in and fight, this isn’t for them.”
While others are just fighting to fight, White’s got a big push to win this belt this weekend. Winning the title belt would mean everything to him.
“That means everything,” he said. “Last year, my dad passed away, and he didn’t get to see me fight for any kind of belt. If I could win this, it would be awesome. I’d be winning it for him. The thought of a belt makes it that much better.”