Martial artists all over the world are currently stuck at home. Not being able to visit their Muay Thai gyms, BJJ schools, and boxing gyms is the equivalent of cruel and unusual punishment for these passionate athletes. Martial artists absolutely crave training, and life is not the same without it. However, being unable to go to the martial arts gym shouldn’t be an excuse to stop working on your skills. Whether you’re working out at home, studying instructional materials, participating in Evolve MMA’s live zoom classes, or doing BJJ drills, you can continue to improve during the circuit breaker period if you put your mind to it. An additional fun and easy way to stay motivated while stuck at home is to follow your favorite martial artists on social media. Some martial artists, like famed BJJ coach John Danaher, post detailed technical and philosophical martial arts discussions for students to study and digest. Others, like Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao from the Evolve Fight Team, grant fans a sneak peek into the life of a martial arts superstar. Below are 5 martial artists to follow on Instagram during this lockdown period. While some are instructional and others are simply entertaining, all of them can be used for training motivation!
1) Nong-O Gaiyanghadao (@nongogaiyanghadao)
Multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao from the Evolve Fight Team is regarded as one of the best Muay Thai fighters of all time. Having competed in Muay Thai since the age of 10, Nong-O has won all there is to win in the world of Muay Thai. He is a five-division multiple-time World Champion, 4x Lumpinee Muay Thai World Champion, 1x Rajadamnern Muay Thai World Champion, 2x Thailand National Champion, 3x Fighter of the Year, and more. He is also the first-ever ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion. He is well known for his defense, ring IQ, ability to kick equally well off both legs. Nong-O frequently shares footage of him training, teaching Muay Thai, and light-hearted moments with friends and family.
2) John Danaher (@danaherjohn)
John Danaher was once considered BJJ’s best-kept secret. A BJJ black belt under Renzo Gracie (also included on this list), Danaher first captured the attention of the martial arts world as UFC Champion Georges St-Pierre’s BJJ coach. Since then, Danaher has developed several world-class grapplers, including Gordon Ryan, Garry Tonon, and Eddie Cummings. His team of elite grapplers, known as the Danaher Death Squad, are well known for their effective use of leg locks in high-level, no-gi BJJ competition. Danaher is widely praised by many of the top names in the MMA and BJJ communities, and he recently began releasing immensely popular instructional videos to the delight of BJJ students worldwide. If you are looking for an Instagram page that you can really learn from, Danaher’s is one of the best. He posts often, and nearly every post contains valuable insight into one of the greatest minds in BJJ.
3) Ritu Phogat (@rituphogat48)
Wrestling Champion Ritu Phogat from the Evolve Fight Team is one of India’s top sporting stars and an up-and-coming mixed martial artist. Having wrestled since the age of 8, Ritu grew up in a family of wrestlers. Her father coached her and her 3 sisters to become some of India’s top wrestlers. The family garnered so much interest that in 2016 a big-budget Bollywood film, Dangal, was made about them. Powered by the family’s inspiring story, Dangal went on to become the highest-grossing film in Indian history.
Ritu is a Commonwealth Wrestling Championships Gold Medalist, U23 Wrestling World Championships Silver Medalist, Asian Wrestling Championships Bronze Medalist, and 3x Indian National Wrestling Champion. In 2019, Ritu moved to Singapore to join the Evolve Fight Team and pursue a career as a mixed martial artist. She currently has a 2-0 record in ONE Championship, and is one of the atomweight division’s brightest prospects. On her Instagram page, Ritu loves to share photos and videos of her life in Singapore, her intense training regimen, and her dance moves.
4) Tom DeBlass (@tomdeblass)
Tom DeBlass is a highly respected coach in the BJJ community. A black belt under Ricardo Almeida, DeBlass has an impressive BJJ competition and MMA record, and he was one of the original coaches of BJJ and MMA star Garry Tonon. Like John Danaher, DeBlass has released several popular BJJ instructional videos. Also, like John Danaher, Deblass’s Instagram page is a great follow for martial artists. Where Danaher’s posts tend to focus on conceptual martial arts issues, the majority of DeBlass’s posts are highly motivational and inspiring.
5) Renzo Gracie (@renzograciebjj)
Renzo Gracie is a BJJ black belt, former MMA fighter, and the owner of one of the top BJJ academies in the world — the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York. Renzo is the grandson of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu founder Carlos Gracie and the son of 9th Dan BJJ black belt Robson Gracie. Growing up in the famed Gracie family, Renzo started training BJJ as a child. As an MMA fighter, Renzo got his start participating in Vale Tudo, which is a no-holds-barred style of MMA that originated in Brazil. Renzo competed in MMA into his 50s, taking his last fight (a victory) in ONE Championship at age 51. Renzo’s Instagram page is a mix of humor, techniques, and other content that should be of interest to students of the martial arts.
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