Muay Thai School To Hold Fundraiser For A Grrreat Cause

Sarah Pacheco
Wednesday - February 03, 2010
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Tiger Muay Thai kru (instructor) Doug Owens supervises a friendly fight between siblings Nicole and Nate Molina. Photo by Byron Lee, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Doug and Naomi Owens are on a mission to prove the tough-guy persona associated with Muay Thai fighters stays in the ring at their upcoming Spar-A-Thon fundraiser this Saturday at their Aiea gym, Tiger Muay Thai.

“This sport is not violent,” said Doug, who also is trained in Isshen Ryu Karate and American kickboxing. “People think this sport is so bad because they saw such-and-such a movie. A movie is a movie, real life is real life.”

Some of those movies the Maui-born kru (instructor) is referring to are Ong-Bak and Tom-Yum-Goong, where martial artist Tony Jaa constantly delivers kicks and blows to any adversary who crosses his path. But Doug, who began studying Muay Thai more than 18 years ago, notes that at Tiger Muay Thai, the first lessons he and wife Naomi teach are all mental.


“The first thing is the discipline: how they gonna act, how they gonna react, what they gonna do, how they gonna do it,“said Doug.“A lot of students do have the mental discipline to do it, but it’s easy for a lot of people to grasp that you’re going to do 5,000, 10,000 kicks before you do it right. It’s not one of things you can start it on Monday and pick it up by Tuesday or Wednesday.”

Doug founded Tiger Muay Thai three years ago after returning to the Islands from New York, where he had previously worked as a chef.

“The restaurant business was good, but I wanted to get back to doing something I really love doing, so I stopped the restaurant business, got back into shape and started coaching again,“he explained. “Muay Thai was not that big in the United States when I first started doing it. But now because of UFC and everything else, all of a sudden everyone wants to start doing Muay Thai, and when they start training, they realize it’s a little bit more than throwing a kick and a punch.”

It also was during this time that Naomi decided to give the sport a try herself, having watched her husband successfully coach others.

“I never though I’d ever take any kind of martial arts. I had no clue what Muay Thai was!“said Naomi, who played softball, basketball and volleyball while growing up in Kalihi.“But I was a student for about a year and a half, and I was just in the class dying with everybody else and just learning everything.”

Under the advice of Kru Arjarn Tong and Doug, Naomi became certified to train the beginner class while Doug instructs the more advanced fighters.

“We don’t push anybody to go faster than their body can go, ‘cuz I’ve been there where your calves are sore and you can’t pick up your legs,” she said, adding that she’s gearing up to start a 45-minute circuit training class next month for people wanting to get an efficient, effective workout.

“I’ve had a ton of people who have said their life has been better since learning Muay Thai,” Doug added.“It focuses your energy to where it needs to be.”

Right now the Tiger Muay Thai owners are focused on the Spar-A-Thon to benefit national children’s charity Hopeful Tomorrow Inc., which provides scholarship opportunities in physical, cultural and fine-arts programs to at-risk and disadvantaged youth. Naomi says that all proceeds stay in Hawaii so that local kids can find a positive outlet for their energy at Tiger Muay Thai or any of Oahu’s other martial arts gyms.

“We’re trying to help raise money to help the parents be able to keep the kids in (Muay Thai) school so they’re not taken out of school and have nothing to do at home,” she said, explaining that scholarship requirements include maintaining a 2.0 GPA and completing an essay.

“We’ve got some good students in here. Hopefully we can have more than one of our students get to benefit.”

The event is free, but the Owens ask that attendees donate as much as they’d like at the door. Those who give more than $5 will receive two free raffle tickets for gift baskets/certificates from nearby businesses.

Masseuses from Aiea Massage Supply also will provide free massages during the event. Tips will be donated to the fundraiser.

“It’s to get people out to see that everyone participates in Muay Thai (even MidWeek‘s publisher and Tiger Muay Thai regular, Ron Nagasawa!), everyone can be involved in it and help the kids,” said Doug.

The Spar-A-Thon begins with a Muay Thai demo at 5 p.m. before the main event at 5:30. Closing ceremonies are at 7.

(Tiger Muay Tai, located at 98-023 Hekaha St. Unit 4 in Aiea, is the only gym in Hawaii that can hold sanctioned Muay Thai fights under the United States Muay Thai Association.)

For more information on the Spar-A-Thon or class schedules and costs, call 489-7440 or visit

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