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Mixed Martial Arts Master Duke Roufus

Jun. 1, 2010
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Duke Roufus has been immersed in the world of martial arts since birth. Roufus’ father owned a gym, so he entered the scene at a very young age. Now he runs his own gym, the Duke Roufus Academy, and is training some of the top martial arts athletes in the world. As Roufus explains, there is much more to the sport than what you see on television.

Tell me the history of how you went from a 4-year-old beginner to a four-time heavyweight kickboxing champion?

Martial arts is a way of life for my family. It’s something I pursued just growing up around it. If Peyton Manning’s family did a lot of football, I did a lot of martial arts with my family. When I was 6 years old, I started competing in open tournaments. I just wanted to follow in the footsteps of my family. The sport has taken me to every continent except Africa and Antarctica. I’ve met some incredible people along the way. I spent a lot of time training in Thailand and competing in Europe and Asia. It’s been a wonderful ride, and now I’m trying to mentor people who want to train in martial arts.

Would you say there is a mixed martial arts scene in Milwaukee?

There is definitely among athletes that are up and coming. Right now we have a club, and have eight who compete or have competed in the UFC. But that’s not what our club is only about. We teach kids martial arts and life-building skills. A lot of people come in to kickbox or get fit. I feel that I’m blessed because I get the reward of getting both aspects of the sport—from the recreational person who loves martial arts to the elite athlete.

What would you say to a person who wants to get into martial arts but may be too scared or apprehensive to check it out?

We’re not a tough-guy gym. One thing about people who are actually good at this, they’re not all about trying to be an ass-kicker. It’s all about skills, and it’s about respect. There’s a code of ethics in martial arts. When you come here it’s about learning skills. It’s not just two guys fighting each other. There are many different aspects to learning martial arts. Sometimes you want to only get good at jiu-jitsu or you only want to get good at kickboxing. It’s fun. It’s fulfilling. We’re not trying to dismember each other. We’re just learning techniques and the theory of the sport.


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