Fight club: Kline enjoying sharing his passion for Muay Thai with others

Provided photo Nathan Kline poses with practice mitts that he uses both in sparring sessions and in the lessons he teaches about the discipline of Muay Thai. The photo was taken at Keweenaw Jiu Jitsu Academy.

When it comes to cage fighting, the style most people think of these days is mixed-martial arts, better known by its wildly popular acronym, MMA. However, there are other forms that are still in existence today, including one that sounds more like a drink than a style of fighting.

Muay Thai, sometimes known as Thai boxing and is known as the art of eight limbs, is a discipline that has been around since the middle of the 18th century. It has a lot of folklore to it, along with its incredible history. In 1993, the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur (IMFA) was inaugurated to help govern competitions.

Muay Thai has techniques that are divided into two groups, mae mai, or major techniques, and luk mai, minor techniques. Almost all techniques use entire body movement, rotating the hip with each kick, punch, elbow and block.

“It’s Thailand’s national sport,” said Nathan Kline, local fighter and coach. “We have NFL,they have Muay Thai.

“It’s similar to kickboxing. In Muay Thai, you are allowed to clinch, and throw elbows, and dumping and sweeping. You get a lot more points off the technicality of it, so the more technical you are (the better you off you are).”

The scoring system rewards skill while it works hard to protect combatants.

“You get more points if you land more body kicks than punching somebody in the head,” Kline said. “In some ways, it is safer than boxing.”

Given the fact that fighters use both of their fists, elbows, shins and knees, injuries are a part of life for a Muay Thai fighter.

That is something Kline knows all too well. Shortly after getting married, Kline and his wife traveled to Thailand, where, on the first day of training, he suffered an injury to his ribs.

“We sparred the first time and I got my ribs broken the first day,” said Kline. “I was like, ‘Oh no.’ But we paid all that money to be there. I trained every single day and I paid attention. We were in the gym like six hours a day.

“I was frustrated because I couldn’t sleep half the time. That is the nature of the sport if you want to compete.”

That original injury did not discourage him for both learning the discipline, and then working to hone his skill set until the opportunity came along to share it with others.

“It really changed my life, so I like to spread that,” said Kline, “to show that discipline to the kids.”

Kline found out about Muay Thai after spending time on the military.

“When I got done, I just needed something else to do,” he said. “That adrenaline isn’t there anymore, so we decided to take our honeymoon to Thailand and go to Muay Thai basic training. That’s what I called it.”

Kline easily developed a passion for Muay Thai and has embraced that passion ever since his initiation.

“I’ve tried a lot of stuff and nothing has really taken hold,” Kline said. “I feel Muay Thai in my heart.”

Kline, who fights unde r the nickname “Nathan Danger,” said that, two fights back, he was knocked down very quickly, and in the time it took him to get back up, he discovered that he had a real passion for what he was doing. Just 10 seconds after that realization, he defeated his opponent by knockout.

“I really feel like I am on my path now,” he said. “That is what made me keep going.”

With an amateur title fight on the horizon on Aug. 3, Kline is just beginning his training cycle, which includes two training sessions, cardio in the morning and then strength and conditioning in the afternoon, before a sparring session at night.

He has already fought twice in 2019. Kline says that his training schedule could be as short as a week if he needed it to be so that he could fight more often. He has a team of fighters that take part in competitions that is made up of fighters from his classes that he has named “Kick’em and Stick’em.” Among his team are his wife, Michelle, Rob Skalitski and Ty Timmerman.

While he loves the competitive aspect of Muay Thai, he also enjoys teaching young children some of what it can offer them in terms of discipline and confidence.

“That is why I love teaching kids,” said Kline. “It teaches you respect, discipline and confidence. It shows you not to judge people. That’s really what I am all about.”

He also loves teaching young children, in part, because learning Muay Thai can come in handy against a bully. Kline does not teach kids to use what they learn in an aggressive manner, but rather in such a way as to give the youngster the confidence to take a stand against a bully.

Kline teaches classes at Michigan Tech’s Multipurpose Room in the Student Development Complex.

When teaching private lessons, he charges a nominal fee of $15 an hour in the summer. He wants people to know that he really wants them to stop by and at least give Muay Thai a chance.

For more information, feel free to contact him at (715) 616-1812, or find him on Facebook under his fighting nickname, “Nathan Danger.”

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