This month we are proud to honor Katie Miller, Pentagon MMA member since 2015, in our April Student Spotlight!Read More
Pentagon MMA News and Updates
Updates from Pentagon MMA in Arlington, VA
This month we are proud to honor Jeremy Fletcher, Pentagon MMA member since 2014, in our March Student Spotlight! Proving that age is just a number, Jeremy had his first Muay Thai fight, this past February, at the age of 40. Now 41, Jeremy is looking forward to more competitions! Take some time to get to know one of our Muay Thai mavericks!
Us: “What made you choose to join the Pentagon MMA family?”
Jeremy: “My wife and daughter, who train here, encouraged me to try it out.”
Us: “How is it to have your family training at the same gym?”
Jeremy: "It is a great push. We encourage each other and it is something that we enjoy to do together."
Us: “What makes Pentagon Mixed Martial Arts special to you?”
Jeremy: “The friendships I have made and the constant encouragement to achieve more.”
Us: “What inspired you to join fight team and pursue Muay Thai competition?”
Jeremy: “It was a challenge to push myself. I set a goal and I worked hard to meet it.”
Us: “What does success mean to you?”
Jeremy: “It is a feeling of accomplishment after facing a challenge, knowing you did your absolute best no matter the outcome.”
Us: “What have you taken away from your Martial Arts journey thus far and what advice would you give to new members?”
Jeremy: “Hard work and determination does lead to great things! So, stay relaxed, stay focused, and have fun!”
Get to Know Jeremy
Birthday: March 4, 1977
Profession: Hospital Biomedical Engineer
Spirit Animal: Tiger, they can be calm and fierce!
Favorite Muay Thai Combination: Jab to inside leg kick
Dream travel destination: Anywhere with great beach and surf!
Dream job when he was 5: Police Officer, Fireman, and a Football Player
This month we are proud to honor Richard Brooks, Pentagon MMA member since 2015, in our February Student Spotlight! We had a chance to interview Rich and learn a bit more about him and now you can too. As Rich says, no matter your age, it is never too late to start training Martial Arts! Take some time to get to know one of our fiercest Muay Thai Warriors!
Us: “What made you choose to join the Pentagon MMA family?”
Rich: “I found PMMA through my Physical Therapist, Dr. Shakya. I had never trained in martial arts before nor had I ever heard of Muay Thai. After seeing a few classes, I became interested and asked Dr. Shakya if I could try. As an expert in bio-mechanics, as well as a Muay Thai student, Dr. Shakya worked with me extensively on proper technique to minimize aggravating my bad back.”
Us: “What makes Pentagon Mixed Martial Arts special to you?”
Rich: "The atmosphere Master Vivek has created is awesome! Students are friendly and helpful and there's no macho nonsense. Class is all about working together with your classmates so that everyone improves their skill level and fitness. Whether we plan to enter the ring or not, we are all treated like fighters by the instructors. Master Vivek and Master Chon are champion Muay Thai fighters and students can tell that our instructors are among the elite in the martial art."
Us: “What have you taken away from your Martial Arts journey thus far?”
Rich: “Learning proper technique in Muay Thai is not easy! For me, Muay Thai is challenging and takes a great deal of dedication and a sincere interest to improve. Because of that, in class I am always awed when Master Vivek and Master Chon demonstrate proper technique - they make even challenging moves look so easy. It's like training with Jedi Masters!”
Get to Know Rich
Birthday: July 21, 1961
Spirit animal: A cat!
Favorite Food: Sushi
Profession: Federal bureaucrat
Dream travel destination: It has to be Thailand!
Dream job when he was 5: Policeman, what else!
Advice for New Members: Keep showing up and seek guidance from more experienced students!
Pentagon MMA members raised more than $7,500 for the Arlington Free Clinic this fall through a Train-A-Thon.
Through the Sept. 30 event and fundraiser, 27 Pentagon MMA fighters and dozens of community members helped Arlington women who, in addition to experiencing economic hardship, are struggling with a breast cancer diagnosis.
Funds raised through PMMA’s Train-A-Thon will help ease the financial burden of a breast cancer diagnosis by allowing AFC to provide transportation to and from chemotherapy and radiation appointments, assist with covering childcare expenses during treatment, and provide mastectomy bras which help to restore confidence — an important part of the recovery process.
The Pentagon MMA event included both a Kick-A-Thon and a Grapplethon. Sixteen adults and six children participated in the Kick-a-Thon, raising funds through participant for an amount per kick or a flat donation. The children had 15 minutes to kick, and adults had 30 minutes to kick. Five Grapplethon participants had rounds lasting 3 minutes each continuing for 2 hours, and people were invited to sponsor a participant for an amount per sparring round or a flat donation.
In addition, Lularoe Steph & Mike attended with Lularoe inventory to help raise funds, and Tortas Y Tacos La Chiquita Mexicana provided tacos and quesadillas for participants and supporting community members.
Behind the scenes, Kru Vivek Nakarmi has been working hard to make connections in the international mixed martial arts world — and all that work paid off last month when he received a call inviting him to compete in a Muay Thai fight in Thailand.
It was a moment he had been waiting for, but it was with little notice that he had to pack his bags and go.
“Everyone was surprised I had to leave on such short notice. But I said, ‘I have to seize it,’” Vivek said. “I’m in good shape, and I’ve been training well, so I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Fortunately, Vivek was able to make travel arrangements and arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with a few days to spare. That decision to arrive early turned out to be invaluable, he said, since the travel, change in climate and time difference took a huge toll on his body.
“The first week was hard. I was so tired, and it was so hot,” he recalled.
Where some might take the time to explore and sightsee, Vivek was laser-focused on the fight ahead of him and being in the best shape possible. He was able to train at a friend’s gym in Chiang Mai ahead of the fight.
“I woke up in the morning, trained, went back to sleep, worked out in the afternoon, then trained some more, then ate, and that’s it,” he recalled. “I didn’t go anywhere, because I just wanted to focus on the fight and my training, and rest. That’s why I went out there early—I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be jet-lagged and tired later in the week.”
Vivek said he started to feel himself again by about the fourth day.
“I finally felt like my body was acclimated to the hotter climate, and I felt much better,” he said.
On the day of the fight—August 22—Vivek was motivated and proud as he gave a great weigh-in, coming in at 63 kilos, and feeling ready to give the fight of his life.
All his hard work and dedication paid off, quickly.
“It was a short fight—and I won in the second round,” he said proudly. “I knocked him out mid-second round with a teep kick,” he explained.
In addition to being his first Muay Thai fight in Thailand, Vivek’s victory is incredible because of how challenging his opponent was.
“The guy I fought was way more experienced than me, so I was very excited about that,” Vivek said.
As he gets back into the swing of things here at home and at Pentagon MMA, it’s not just his victory in Chiang Mai that has him excited; Vivek said he is pumped up by all the connections he made in the industry while he was there.
“It was a great experience. I met a lot of people in the Muay Thai circle like promoters and match makers, so it will mean great connections that I can share with all our students at Pentagon MMA,” he said. “It will open doors for everybody; now there are people I can connect them with, that I can say, ‘I trust these guys.’”
Vivek is also excited that Muay Thai promoters in Thailand are already talking about wanting him to come back for another fight, soon.
“They saw me, now they know me, and now they want me to go back. So I’m looking to hopefully go back next year,” Vivek said. “They said I might even be able to do a Northern Thailand championship fight if I can give them another two or three good fights, which is a big deal for a foreigner in Thailand. So it was a good opportunity for me to meet all the promoters and officials there and make the relationships for the future.”
Once his fight was over, Vivek did finally take some time for himself. Instead of heading straight home, Vivek left Thailand for his home country of Nepal, to visit family that still lives there. He said he was excited that it was only a short 2 ½ -hour trip from Bangkok to Kathmandu, where he grew up and lived until he moved to the U.S. at 14 years old.
“I got to see my sisters for the first time in around five or six years,” he said. “It was great to catch up with them. It was a fun overall trip. I got to do some sightseeing, and just spending time with family.”
Treatment and recovery from breast cancer can leave even young, fit women with frequent pain and barely a fraction of the energy they used to have.
That was the case for Nicole Heydt. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 at just 22 years old, Nicole found herself in recovery more often than not.
Nicole had always been an active person, trying lots of different types of workouts to keep herself interested. She was a regular at Down Dog in the hot Vinyasa flow class, running, lifting weights, swimming and more. She even completed a mini Army training camp at Fort Knox in Kentucky the summer before her diagnosis, which left her feeling the most fit she’d ever been.
But all of that changed when she had to begin cancer treatments. She had a total of six surgeries on her chest in just two years.
“I went from being able to do 30 to 40 pushups straight, to barely being able to do 10 or 15 modified pushups, on my knees,” Nicole remembers.
By the beginning of this year, Nicole was starting to feel a little more like herself again, so when a friend invited her to join her for a free trial class at her gym, Pentagon MMA, she agreed. Her friend had been a member for a while, and couldn’t stop raving to Nicole about how much she loved it.
“I saw the difference Muay Thai made in her life,” Nicole recalls. “I wanted to feel healthier and stronger again, and since she had been so happy with the gym, I came in for a few trial classes.”
Right away, Nicole was struck with what a complete workout she got.
“I threw up after the warm-up during my first Muay Thai class,” she said—but she wasn’t going to let it stop her. “I thought it was tough, but definitely what I needed. After I got it out of my system, I finished the rest of class.”
After trying a few trial classes, Nicole eventually fell in love with Pentagon MMA’s Women’s Fitness Kickboxing program. She says, particularly with her health challenges, the program is perfect because of its flexibility, allowing her the ability to customize it depending on how she’s feeling, health-wise.
“I ended up choosing the Women's Kickboxing program because I can make my workout as strenuous or light as I need to depending on my day and my body's needs,” she explains. “I come back as often as I have time because I love the workout and the energy that accompanies it. I also just really enjoy the community—the instructors and members.”
Since joining Pentagon MMA as a member in March of this year, Nicole says she is seeing myriad changes in her body for the better—especially the giant energy boost she gets from the kickboxing workouts, which she says really help her body’s recovery from breast cancer and all the treatments and surgeries that come with it.
“My body has definitely become stronger — I can run two to three miles without getting winded now. That might not be much for most people, but for someone who hates running and has never been great at it, this is definitely a personal accomplishment,” she explains. “Now, not only can I work out comfortably, but I can run, AND I can do around 10 pushups without my knees again.”
“The chest pain is still significant, but it has started to decrease as my strength increases,” she adds.
The changes have been more than just physical, too.
“Mentally I am also stronger. I push myself in ways that I had not before, and I also just feel healthier having a safe way to exert daily frustrations!”
Most amazingly, Nicole says, the workouts have changed from being something she used to have to push herself to do, into something she chooses and gets to do.
“I started out thinking that kickboxing was necessary for a workout and to maintain my strength, but now I see it as a reward after a long day,” she says. “Kickboxing has helped me find my strength again - physically and mentally.”
A lot of people are a bit grumpy first thing in the morning until they have that first (and second, or maybe third) cup of coffee.
For Pentagon MMA student Mark Felipe, Muay Thai is his morning coffee. “I find myself getting cranky if I’m not in the gym at least three times a week.”
It wasn’t always that way. Mark says his first class challenged him harder than he could ever recall being challenged—but it sparked something inside him.
“I thought, ‘Mother of God, what have I gotten myself into?!’” he recalls. “I remember being so worn out that to sign up for further classes, I had to use both hands to hold the pen steady. But I fell in love with Muay Thai.”
Mark says it goes even further than that – he credits Muay Thai and the Pentagon MMA community for keeping his body strong and his spirits up as he recovered from surgery to remove a brain tumor last year.
Despite the challenge, Muay Thai kept him coming back
Mark describes himself as someone who used to fall in love with a particular type of activity quickly, then drop it later when he lost enthusiasm for it.
“I go through periods where I get really into activities,” he says.
First, it was running.
“In the early 2000s, I was a runner. I ran 5k and 10k races, and ran the Marine Corps Marathon twice,” he recalls. “Now, I don’t think I’ve run more than five miles at a time since.”
“I used to lift weights, but a herniated disk and spine surgery put an end to that,” he says. “After that, bodyweight calisthenics were a lot easier on my back. But it just seemed like I was doing pushups, pullups and squats just for the sake of doing pushups, pullups and squats.”
One day, his wife drove by the Pentagon MMA building in Arlington and told him about it.
“I’ve always been interested in martial arts. I studied Isshinryu Karate at various stages of life, first in high school, then in my late 20s to early 30s. Then the kids came along….” he says. “Pentagon MMA is close to our house, so I came in to check the place out—and I’m still here!”
Mark has been at Pentagon MMA for close to three years, and he says he can’t imagine life without it—though his brain tumor diagnosis last year forced him to, for a short while.
Coming back after brain surgery
“The tumor wasn’t cancerous and wasn’t going to kill me, but it had to come out,” Mark explains. “Recovery from the surgery took three months. Having to take a break from training last winter was tough on me, but I didn’t have much choice.”
As eager as he was to get back to Muay Thai, his doctor warned him to take it slow.
“After being cleared for physical activity, my surgeon told me that drills are okay, but that I couldn’t spar. Obviously, getting hit in the head was—and still is—a bad idea. I thought, ‘maybe I’ll give Jiu-Jitsu a try—they don’t hit each other in the head.’” he said. “But not training just isn’t an option.”
These days, Mark’s face is a regular sight around Pentagon MMA again, and he said he loves all the positive ways his workouts and training have changed his body.
“I’ve lost about 15 pounds and three inches off my waist. Most of my pants are loose in the waist and tight in the thighs. And I have more energy,” he says. “But more importantly, it’s improved my state of mind. If I have a rough day, I know I’ll walk out of the gym happy.”
He also credits the friends and mentors he’s made at Pentagon MMA for his new outlook on life.
“Vivek and his staff don’t just run a gym—they’ve built a community,” he says. “It’s a community I’m glad to be a part of.”
When asked what he would say to anyone who may be thinking of giving Muay Thai or Jiu Jitsu a try, Mark says, “Give it a shot! If I can do it after having brain surgery, so can you!”
From Overweight to Lean, Mean Muay Thai Machine with Two Title Belts: Meet Pentagon MMA Student Katrina Combs
Pentagon MMA student and Fight Team member Katrina Combs has a lot to celebrate. In June, she won her second title belt by first-round TKO at Cagezilla 46 in Ashburn, cementing her standing as one of the region’s premier female amateur Muay Thai fighters. Now she wants to go pro.Read More
Kru Vivek Nakarmi has been selected as a 2016 "40 under 40" Honoree by the Leadership Center for ExcellenceRead More
Jovan defeats Alvin Mercer at the American Muay Thai League fight night in Washington, DC.Read More
Members of the Pentagon MMA BJJ Team traveled to NJ for the North American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation tournament.Read More
It's always fun to spend the weekend at the fair! We love getting out, and giving back to our community. Amidst all the delicious fried fair foods, we talked about fitness, nutrition, and exercise as a lifestyle.
We love our family and community. Thanks for making this possible!Read More
Master Sugi brings home a Gold in open class and Silver in his weight class at the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation New York Open! Well done Master Sugi!
A huge congrats to Kelsi, who placed 3rd in her division with only 4 months of training under her belt. Lots of great things to come for Kelsi!
We'd like to send our sincere thanks to everyone in the Pentagon MMA family who helped us over the last four years. Have some cake, and we'll see you at the gym!
Jovan Davis left it all in the ring this past Friday night at #FFC24, going up against FFC's 4th ranked Kickboxing fighter with over 35 pro fightsRead More
Kru Vivek speaks at Arlington Science Focus School about bullying, drugs, and making the right choices.Read More
Coach Sugi brings home the gold again in his division at the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation New York Open! Congrats Coach!
Our Warriors fought their hearts out last night to very strong opponents and left it all in the ring, and we are so proud of them. Coach Ben came away with a well deserved win!
A huge congrats to our grapplers who came home with 3 silver and 2 gold medals from the Copa Nova tournament today!