Some people are pretty serious about their sport. But for some people ‘passionate’ doesn’t even accurately describe their dedication to an activity.
Grand Falls-Windsor Matt King has been practicing martial arts for nearly two decades, he started when he was just six years old.
Even after getting his black belt in Tae Kwon Do at a young age, the highest level of training for the sport, King wasn’t happy with stopping there. When he went to St. John’s to start his university degree, he decided to conquer another art in the form of competitive kickboxing.
After training for several years under a teacher in St. John’s, King had excelled, and decided to take his training to the next level.
“In October of last year, I decided to move to Thailand to teach English,” said King. But teaching English was only a means to end for the young fighter, he was really there to get experience in Thai kickboxing.
After five months of teaching and part time kickboxing, King immersed himself in the sport, head first.
“I actually lived at one of the gyms up there,” explained King. “I had two three-hour sessions a day, so I had six hours of training a day for six days a week.”
During his time in Thailand, King trained in both Bangkok and Phuket under some of the most well known names in Thai kickboxing, (or Muay Thai).
After his training, King competed in and won his debut Muay Thai match in Thailand, something he is proud of.
King, who had previously owned both a Brazilian Jujitsu and a kickboxing school in Grand Falls-Windsor, came back earlier this summer to take on more students using his newly learned Muay Thai method. King will be teaching for the rest of the summer, until he returns to St. John’s to complete his masters degree in the fall.
“We’ve never had Muay Thai kickboxing here in Grand Falls before, not that I know of.”
Although the Muay Thai method has similarities to regular kickboxing, there are some major differences.
King said he was originally drawn to kickboxing over other martial arts because it was less restrictive in terms of the strikes that can be used during fights, and Muay Thai is even less restrictive.
“I’m not a very aggressive person,” said the soft-spoken King. “But I do like to challenge myself and put myself in uncomfortable situations to see if I can pull through.”
King said because he is able to use more body parts and more strikes in Muay Thai, it was a natural progression for him when trying to expand his horizons in the world of martial arts.
Right now, King said he has only a handful of dedicated students, but hopes to see more people throughout the summer.
“Anyone is welcome to try it out,” he said. “It’s something new.”
The group meets twice a week, on Wednesdays and Sundays at 6:30 p.m., and after a short group jog, classes take place at the old “Extreme Body Bootcamp” building on Bond Street in Grand Falls-Windsor.
Although Kind will only be teaching the class himself until the end of the summer, he hopes to pass on the school to one of his students when he returns to St. John’s, and said he hopes Muay Thai continues to grow in the region.
When asked if King will be back to teach in Grand Falls-Windsor again, King said it’s likely.
“I’ll always be back and forth,” he said.
Anyone interested in trying kickboxing can attend one of the two weekly classes, or get in contact with King at email@example.com.