Anyone who watched the Oxygen network’s Fight Girls reality-TV series remembers Felice Herrig. She fared well training under Master Toddy and actually defeated her opponent, a Thai champion. Soon afterward, she made the jump from muay Thai to MMA.

Anyone who watched the second season of the Oxygen network’s Fight Girls reality-TV series no doubt remembers Felice Herrig. Now 28 years old, she was 23 when it was filmed and had a mere five years of martial arts under her belt. Nevertheless, she fared well training under Master Toddy and actually defeated her opponent, a Thai champion. When Black Belt caught up with Herrig for this profile, she’d just become the “female starter” on the St. Louis Enforcers team in Chuck NorrisWorld Combat League. Soon afterward, she made the jump from muay Thai to MMA, where she’s garnered a pro record of 8-4.


Train with Felice Herrig's instructor, Master Toddy, in this FREE download! Master Toddy's MMA-Tested Muay Thai Techniques

Athletic background: “I was a gymnast and a track-and-field athlete. Then I broke my arm twice in gymnastics. I’m all about power and aggressiveness. My dad has been into martial arts since he was 17, so I grew up watching him do it. When I was 18, I went to the gym, Zee’s Martial Arts in Lake Zurich, Illinois, and started. From day one, I was like, ‘I’m going to be a fighter.’ I had my first fight a couple of months later.” First fight: “I held my own. I fought the whole fight, and it went to a decision. So it wasn’t like I got punked. I lost my first two fights, and then I won 19 after that.” Knockouts: Never been KO’d and never received a standing count. “I’ve got a tough jaw. I’m not saying that it couldn’t happen, but …” Rank: None. “I didn’t come from a karate background, so I never got a rank. But I have earned four belts in kickboxing — 2005 IKF national champion, 2006 IKF North American champion, 2006 WAKO national champion and 2007 WAKO national champion.” Check out the Greg Jackson Mixed Martial Arts Core Curriculum from Black Belt! Stream lessons to your digital device and start learning how to incorporate MMA tactics and techniques into your current art. | | Styles: First came kickboxing. “Then about three years later, I started boxing. One year after that, I got into the muay Thai on Fight Girls.” Path to Fight Girls: “The producers were calling a bunch of martial arts schools in the area, and they called my coach and said, ‘We’re having tryouts for Fight Girls — do you have any girls?’ I sent in a videotape of myself training and fighting, along with a résumé, a 10-page questionnaire and pictures. It was a long process. They’d call me back and ask for more pictures and more tapes. Finally, they picked me.” Best memory from the series: “The whole experience was unforgettable. The best part was that I made lasting friends. Since the show, I’ve kept in contact with a lot of the girls, and I get together with them quite often.” Worst memory: “The worst thing was being on someone else's schedule. As a disciplined athlete, I like to keep a strict eating and training regimen. It was hard to do that with the whole reality-TV thing.” Opinion of Thailand, where she traveled for the Fight Girls finale: “I loved Thailand. It’s beautiful. They’re so nice there.” Opinion of Thailand’s female fighters: “I didn’t feel that they were as good as they were built up to be. They are pretty stuck in their ways of doing only muay Thai. Don’t get me wrong: I love muay Thai, but I love being able to incorporate different fighting styles into my style. I have the boxing, kickboxing and muay Thai. Diversity is a huge advantage.” Teaching schedule: “I would love to teach, but unfortunately my time doesn’t allow it right now. One day, I will teach and create a mini me!” Training regimen: Heavy bag up to six days a week, weight training three days a week, cardio three days a week. “Basically, I start off on the jump-rope, then do shadowboxing, rounds on the heavy bag and mitt training. At the end of the workout, I do sprints on the treadmill. I train for two to three hours, five or six days a week all year-round. I also eat healthy, every two or three hours — clean food, lean protein, all natural stuff.”

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Training focus: Technique. “Instead of just going out there and throwing 20 punches, I want to throw 20 punches correctly. Keeping my hands up is probably the main thing. When I was an amateur, I wore headgear and never cared about getting hit. Now that I’m pro and there’s no headgear and I’ve been fighting girls a lot bigger than me, I’ve really got to keep my hands up. I’m also trying to make my punches more powerful by putting my legs into each one.” Current instructor: “I’ve been training at Clay Guida’s gym, the Midwest Training Center. I finally feel like I’ve found the perfect fit. I have the best boxing coach in the whole world. His name is Shannon States. I’m constantly learning something new from him.” Favorite martial artist: “I hate that this is so cliché, but I really have to give it up to Bruce Lee. It’s hard to top him. And it’s not just because of his skill as a martial artist; he took the arts so much deeper than that. He was big into philosophy, and he knew the body and mind so well.”

Learn more about Bruce Lee's philosophies in this FREE download! Bruce Lee Quotes: 10 Jeet Kune Do Masters Examine Bruce Lee's Philosophy

Favorite kickboxer: “I’ll go with a female on this one. I really like Kathy Long. A lot of people say I remind them of her. It’s nice being compared to someone who’s done so much for the sport — especially because it’s really hard for the females in kickboxing to get the recognition they deserve.” Favorite mixed martial artist: “I absolutely love Georges St-Pierre. He’s so diverse. He’s everything a fighter should be. He is well-rounded with his stand-up game and his ground game. He’s in great physical condition and is exciting to watch. He always goes in there and puts his heart on the line. Not to mention he’s hot. But that’s just a bonus.” Prospects for fighting in an MMA match: “Of course, but not until I’m ready. I had my first kickboxing fight before I was ready, and I lost. I’m a fighter, and I’m willing to step out of my comfort zone and fight any fighting style. I want to be a well-rounded fighter who’s good at everything. MMA is just the next step in my career.” Preferred kickboxing techniques: “I throw my front-leg front kick like a jab. It’s one of my favorites. It keeps my opponent away and is very strong. I perfected my left hook when I broke my right arm — I’m not one to sit around and do nothing, so when I was in a cast, I worked this technique a lot. And the side kick. Not a lot of people throw the side kick anymore, but thrown properly, it’s devastating.” Best self-defense techniques for women who have to fight a man: “That’s easy. When it comes to self-defense, there are no rules. If your life is in danger, you have to be ruthless. Go for the groin, eyes and throat. Wow … that makes me sound mean.”

Learn more about hitting vital points in this FREE download! Self-Defense Moves for Women: How to Fight Someone Bigger Than You By Exploiting Vital Targets

Recommendations for building endurance for fighting: Continuous exercise. “I do 20 rounds minimum and don’t stop punching and kicking. Even when I’m tired, I keep my hands going. When fighters step into the ring, they fight in rounds, so it’s very important to train round after round. I go from one exercise to the next and keep my heart rate up. I’ll shadowbox for a good 20 minutes and immediately go into jump-roping for 20 minutes, followed by floor exercises and bag work. But I never stop.” Advice for up-and-coming fighters: “Make sure your heart is always in it. Heart will win the fight every time. When I started fighting, I had no technique whatsoever, and I’m sure a lot of people wondered what the heck I was doing in the ring. But I had heart, and I never quit. And my heart won most of my fights. I think that’s the biggest piece of advice I can give because the heart is the strongest muscle.” Can't Get Enough of Felice Herrig? Watch this exclusive video for a behind-the-scenes look at Felice Herrig's photo shoot for Black Belt.
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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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