When you think of an academy of martial arts, things like jabs, hooks, and bobs-and-weaves come to mind. Or maybe just the concept of dazzling ’em with footwork.
American Boxing, located at 1735 Garnet Ave., encourages a serious approach to teaching the true principles of ring combat for sport, fitness and self-defense.
Dave Nielsen is owner and trainer of this gym, which boasts as many women as men, who each work on Muay Thai kickboxing, jiu jitsu grappling and cross-fit training.
“I’ve had the school since 2003, and it’s been just over a year in this location,” he said. “We offe training experience for any student who wants to be better at fitness, self-defense, self-confidence or fight competition. Of course, 80 to 90 percent of the people come here for fitness and they may use those martial arts tools for fitness.”
Nielsen said although there are other gyms around like his, American Boxing’s bigger gym is a major factor for instruction.
“Instead of a class of 30 or 40 people, we can give them more attention in smaller groups,” he said. “Never more than 12. So we can actually train people much better. One instructor alone can’t teach them proper technique.”
He said he received three degrees from Mesa College but decided not to go to UCLA.
“My mother is still unhappy about that,” he said.
“I got the money to open a gym, maybe not nearly enough, so to speak, for anyone in his right mind who wanted to start a business. But it worked out for me,” he said.
• BOXING CAREER — Nielsen is a Muay Thai kickboxing and submission wrestling champion whose ring engagements can be few and far between. Muay Thai is a style of kickboxing without the use of customary padding.
“Sometimes I’ll have four or five (bouts) a year, then only one the next year,” he said. His fighting weight is between 180 and 185 pounds.
For 11 years, he’s been in major competitions in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, the Friday Night Fights in New York and a World Cup tournament in Bangkok, Thailand, which involved 180 nations.
He’s originally from Seattle, but said his entire Muay Thai fight career has been in San Diego.
• CLUB LOCATIONS — Nielsen said he and his team compete in casinos where the size is ideal for good crowds. It’s a contrast to the early years of professional fighting that generated special clubs in Southern California. One of the last was San Diego’s Federal Athletic Club (Coliseum), located at 15th and E. It was closed in the mid-1970s.
• WOMEN COMBATANTS — “It’s about a 50-50 split among men and women training for boxing,” said Nielsen. “Interestingly, they are more in demand by promoters. We have some pretty good prospects.”
• GET OUT THE WATERWINGS — The 86-year-old Mission Beach Plunge pool should fill back up with swimmers next month. But the question remains, for how long? The Plunge is owned by the city of San Diego and has been run by a company called Wave House.
Major issues with the building need to be resolved over the long haul. Tom Lochtefeld, who owns Wave House, has turned over the keys of Belmont Park and the Plunge to the city after a bitter lease dispute.
— Johnny McDonald is a longtime writer and columnist for the San Diego Community Newspaper Group. He can be reached at Johnny23@cox.net.