FISHERS, IN — From June 22-26, nine members of Fisher’s KruFit gym competed in the Thai Boxing Association (TBA) Muay Thai World Expo Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. The TBA tournament is the largest Muay Thai tournament in the country. Four of the fighters took their first-ever sanctioned fight. KruFit is one of only five woman-owned Muay Thai gyms in the country.
Muay Thai is a martial art from Thailand often called “The Art of Eight Limbs” because fighters can use their fists, elbows, knees, and legs (eight weapons) to strike and defend. Muay Thai stands apart from other martial arts practices thanks to its use of clinching (standing, close-quarters grappling) and elbows.
KruFit’s fighters included: four adult females – Isis St. James (one win), Giana Bender, Jocelyn Byrd, and Mari Ramirez Reyes; two adult males – Adam Johnson II (one win) and Jared Loper; two teen males – Jayden Stafford and Geovanni Calderon; and one youth male – Jackson Smith. KruFit’s coaching staff comprised the only all-female corner in the tournament led by Head Coach and Gym Owner Jamie Bradley and Assistant Coaches Julie Rutan and Jess Wehby-Rauch.
“I am so proud of all of our KruFit fighters for stepping in the ring during the TBA Tournament. They dedicated six weeks of their lives to the goal of facing their fears and testing their skills on a national level. They did something most people only ever dream of doing,” said Bradley.
Bradley began teaching Muay Thai in 2013 & officially established KruFit in 2016. The name is a combination of the Thai word for teacher (“Kru”) and fitness. Bradley has trained in Muay Thai since 2005 and is a 2007 International Kickboxing Federation World Champion and 2008 IKF Runner-Up. Bradley has traveled to, trained with, and learned from some of the most accomplished coaches and fighters in the world including multiple trips to the birthplace of Muay Thai: Thailand.
Despite the pandemic, Bradley has grown the gym exceptionally over the last few years even while working full-time in education. KruFit now also offers a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a Boxing program, each led by certified coaches. Bradley was even able to recently make the career shift to fulfill her dream of coaching full-time.
This isn’t the first TBA Tournament KruFit has competed in, but this year set the gym’s record for most fighters competing in a single event. Each fight consisted of three rounds, each round lasting two minutes. Match winners were decided by a panel of judges based on Muay Thai scoring (namely damage and response times as well as TKOs, or KOs).
The fighters completed a rigorous six-week fight camp program designed by Bradley and her coaches. It involved an increasing number of practice rounds each week, focusing on offensive combos, defense, conditioning to take strikes, clinching, and footwork under pressure. The plan also includes rigorous daily workouts, nutrition, and mental and emotional support so fighters were well-rounded fighters and ready to step into the ring.
“The people at KruFit, coaches and members alike, are some of the most supportive and encouraging people I have ever met. Fight camp was one of the most physically and emotionally challenging things I have ever done. Our gym is like a second family to a lot of us, myself included, and I truly feel lucky to be part of KruFit,” said Giana Bender, KruFit member, and first-time fighter.
Most of these fighters took on the challenges of fight camp and the tournament while balancing their jobs or schooling. Each of them exhibited extraordinary commitment and grit and each reported experiencing life-changing growth, no matter the official outcome of their matches. Bradley was excited to report that the majority of these fighters are already working towards their next tournament.
In particular, KruFit fighter Jayden Stafford, 17, was recently invited to join the World Boxing Council (WBC) Muay Thai’s US Team. He and Coaches Bradley and Rutan will compete in the WBC Muay Thai World Youth Games in Calvary, Canada from August 12 to 14. Stafford is a multiple-time Muay Thai National Champion who in September 2021 became the first-ever fighter from Indiana named to the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) Junior Team USA. In August 2021, Muay Thai was added to the Olympics for the first time in history. WAKO and WBC are the next steps for Stafford from KruFit to (potentially) the Olympics.
“I’m very proud to get to represent my country in Canada at the WBC World Games! It will be an honor to test my skills on an international level. I’m thankful to have such supportive teammates and a gym culture and community that pushes me to be my best,” said Stafford.
In October, Stafford will travel to Italy to compete in the WAKO Junior World Championship Tournament. To raise money for this trip, on September 10 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. he will offer a self-defense seminar for kids aged 6-12 at KruFit. Anyone interested in registering their children for this seminar can email email@example.com.
KruFit is a Muay Thai gym offering classes and programs for fitness, fighting, and self-defense training in central Indiana. The gym also offers programs in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Boxing and is one of five woman-owned Muay Thai gyms in the US. Its programs are great for all ages and skill levels, with kid’s classes and teen/adult programs for everyone from beginners to advanced fighters. The gym is known for training central Indiana martial arts competitors, offering unique and applicable fitness and self-defense training, and for its strong community of diverse and supportive members.