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The Cellar Gym hosts the first youth Muaythai tournament in Minnesota – event was a huge success!

“Are you having fun?” was the question of the day at The Cellar Gym’s first youth Muaythai tournament.

Youth competitors from 10 different gyms made their way to The Cellar Gym to compete in the  USA Muay Thai Federation (USMF) Youth Development League (YDL) tournament on February 1, 2020. The purpose of the YDL is to provide a safe and fun environment for athletes ages 4 through 17 to showcase their skills, meet other kids who share their interest in Muaythai, and gain valuable life lessons through competition.

The YDL was created to help develop youth Muaythai in the United States. The YDL is helping to grow the sport of Muaythai in America through:

  • Education! After each bout, kids receive a score report from a USMF trained official. The report assesses their Balance, Position, Accuracy, Composure, and Power. Kids also get notes about what they did well, and what they can work on.
  • Safety! There is no head contact allowed in YDL bouts. In addition, kids wear shinguards, gloves, head gear, and chest protectors to keep injuries to a minimum. Referees also monitor power levels, so that everyone can learn without the fear of getting hurt. In addition, removing head contact and using full safety gear forces kids to focus on using solid Muaythai technique.
  • Experience! Many of the world’s best Muaythai athletes come from countries that have very strong Youth Muaythai programs. Athletes from these countries may have 100-200 bouts by the time they are competing as adults! The YDL gives kids in the United States the opportunity to get the same experience as kids in other countries.

37 young athletes traveled to The Cellar Gym from Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Manitoba, Canada to participate in the event. Almost all the kids got 2-3 matches in one day. We were so impressed with their technique, sportsmanship, and determination!

Events like the YDL tournament can teach kids valuable lessons about how competition works in a supportive, fun, and friendly environment. As they get older, kids will face competition in school, at work, and in other areas of life. Martial arts events like these give kids the opportunity to learn that if they work hard, they can feel proud of themselves for trying their best. For example, 8 year-old Aurelia found herself a little overwhelmed when her second match was with a more experienced child. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to continue. After a little extra encouragement between rounds, her coach asked if she wanted to keep going. A look of determination crossed her face as Aurelia took a deep breath and said, “Yes, I want to keep going. I can do it.” Aurelia finished the match strong and was beaming with pride as she walked off the mat to high-five her coach. We are so proud of Aurelia and all the kids who dug deep and gave their very best!

As the day continued, we saw lots of incredible punches and kicks, but we also saw kids having fun, making new friends, and becoming more self-confident. We want to give a HUGE shoutout to all the teams and parents that traveled to participate and support youth Muaythai, as well as our fantastic officials that made this event possible: Pete Peterson, Ryan Blackorby, Kenn Glenn, Pam Sorenson, Pat Kelly, December Htoo, Pom Lieng, and Ken Tran. Thank you all so much! We are very excited to see Youth Muaythai continue to grow in Minnesota and the Midwest and we can’t wait until the next one!

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