Boom in mixed martial arts is good news for local training site

Jeff and Rudy Cristel practice moves during a session at Enumclaw’s Combat Sport and Fitness.

With the wave in popularity of mixed martial arts, Jeff Hougland is finding there is quite a bit of interest in his Combat Sport and Fitness business.

“This is a big wrestling community with a lot of athletes out here who are interested in fighting. This gives them a venue to train,” he said.

Hougland, who also works at Enumclaw’s Helac, is owner and trainer. He has been training for 10 years. He began with Muay Thai kick-boxing and moved into cross-training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a martial art and combat sport that focuses on grappling and ground fighting with the goal of gaining a dominant position to force an opponent to submit. A California native, he started fighting professionally in 2001. He moved to Washington a couple years ago and has been training with James Foster Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Kent, an affiliate of the gym he’s opening with his wife Kirsten at 1226 Marshall Ave. in Enumclaw.

Business is brisk. He’s already signed up 30 students. Combat Sport and Fitness offers classes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai kick boxing as well as a 50-minute fighter fit class – a cardiovascular mixture of boxing, kick-boxing and strength training.

“It has everything to get ready for a boxing or kick-boxing match without getting punched,” Hougland said.

There are also classes for kids in Jiu Jitsu and kick-boxing, too.

The evening classes, 4 to 5 p.m. and 5 to 6 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday are geared more toward kids and fighter fit. Mornings, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., those days concentrate more on sport and competitive training.

Hougland encourages those interested to come in and try it out free or find more information on the Web site at www.combatsportsfitness.com or call 360-802-3780.

“It’s a friendly atmosphere,” he said. “We’re competitive and we train hard, but we look out for each other and try to make each other better.”

Reach Brenda Sexton at bsexton@courierherald.com or 360-802-8206.