On July 8, 2016, Mike Catala was promoted to 1st degree black belt in Muay Thai Kickboxing by Kru Julio Anta at Anta’s Fitness and Self Defense in Doral, Florida. Previously to pass his test Mike had to go through a 3 day test. On day 1 he had to survive 12, 3 minute rounds, with 1 minute rest. On the 1st 3 rounds he had to spar 3 different sparring partners, then 3 rounds on the Thai pads, followed by 3 rounds on the heavy bag and finally 3 rounds of shadow boxing. On the second day he had to test on all his Muay Thai techniques, and on day 3 he had to pass the Wai Kru Ram Muay. The Wai Kru is the traditional entrance dance of the Muay Thai fighter. Before testing for black belt he had to teach a certain amount of hours.
This video is an overview of Mike’s Black Belt Ceremony. In the last 5 minutes of the video you will see make performing the traditional warrior dance the Wai Kru Ram Muay. At Anta’s Fitness and Self Defense students do Kru Anta’s instructors Master Hung Tran’s Wai Kru. This is done in honor of Mr. Anta’s Muay Thai instructor. Anta and Tran are both Christians so all the eastern religion was taken out of the Wai Kru.
Congratulations to Mike Catala, Anta’s first black belt in Muay Thai Kickboxing. Anta’s Fitness and Self Defense has been changing lives in Doral since 1998.
Here is instructor's Julio Anta's speech for Mike's promotion. "Today lets celebrate the life changing experience of Mike who came to our training center having extra-ordinary successful in the corporate world yet was totally out of shape. Since then he has accomplish a lot at our school. He was the Muay Thai student of the year, has taught classes for us, has been on TV shows with us and done numerous demonstrations. Mike also was featured in my 2014 book “Anta’s Ageless Warrior.” He has proven to truly be an ageless warrior earning his black belt right before his 50th birthday. Most men only dream of wearing a black belt. By 50 most people have lost their dream of achieving the rank of Black Belt and those that have earned it are out of shape or quit by now.
Yet, Mike doesn’t see age as burden or reasons not to achieve his dreams. He was persistence, trained hard and didn’t give up when the going got tough. Since Mike’s first day here thousands have quit. Yet, Mike always said failure is not an option.
Most people dream of being black belts. Some never start for fear of failing. Most start and quit. Some take the easy route and get a black belt in an easy water down system. Yet, Mike turn his dream to a reality through vision and good ole American hard work.
Every civilization has a “Right of Passage” Samurai, knights to name a few. America being a new country America doesn’t have one. Every day I see the weakness of our country we are losing the Art of Manliness in America. Everyone gets a trophy just for showing up, college kids need time out periods due to stress, kids wear pink ribbons to stop bullying, men tell me that they have to quit training because of their wife and kids. A true black belt is an Alpha Male, fit, fearless and successful in their career or business. It’s an attitude, it’s being on beast mode even when the going gets tough.
In these 3 days of testing but especially day 1 with the 12 rounds from hell Mike went through a right of passage to earn the title of black belt.
I did not make it easy for Mike. He had to prove that he could go through hell and not give up. A true black belt leads by example as Mike did.
They say that the Samurai sword arguably is the greatest sword in the world. It is put through fire and beat until it is strong and unbreakable. Mike symbolically went through fire and did not break. He proved to me that he was truly an Ageless Warrior and on Beast Mode.
It is said that only 3 in 1000 students become Black Belts. Today Mike is a 1 degree Black Belt and starting a new journey to continue to improve his Muay Thai and earn his 2nd degree."