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Atreyu Frontman Doesn’t Practice Thai Boxing to Be a Tough Guy

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Mixed martial arts is a contact sport favored by several metal musicians nowadays, and it really has nothing to do with the increasing popularity of UFC, either! “I’m a big MMA fan,” Atreyu vocalist Alex Varkatzas told Noisecreep. “I follow all the fights, and I have trained muay thai, which is thai boxing with your elbows, knees and wrestling. Then I trained Brazilian jujitsu, which is standard Western boxing and grappling on the floor. I am not training to fight MMA, though.”

Varkatzas, whose band just released ‘Congregation of the Damned,’ competed in a single thai boxing fight and “that was it. I do it for fun and to stay fit, and this is a way that you can take care of yourself, or think that you can.” The 180-pound singer trains to stay in shape, in more ways than one. “Other dudes f— off during the day,” Varkatzas said. “I train to beat dudes up and to get beat up all day.”

But the hand-to-hand combat isn’t about violence or the testosterone that it may or may not encourage. In fact, it’s had the opposite effect on the singer. “It has calmed me down in every way,” Varkatzas admits. “You can’t squirm around when a bigger dude is on top of you. It’s fruitless. You can’t flounder and make stupid movements. You have to stay on your path.”

He applies this same methodology and strategy to his relationships, saying, “Me and my fiancée may not be getting along, and instead of freaking out, I realize I am used to having grown men lay on top of me during my training, and this is easier to deal with. Training in thai boxing is hard on your cardiovascular system. You are doing a workout, going in the ring, getting exhausted, getting punched, punching back. I apply that thinking to my band, too. If I am working on a song and I just want to quit, I go to myself, ‘This is not hard. Keeping your heart rate at 180 for two minutes? That is hard. Stepping into the ring is hard, as well.”

Again, his bouts and training aren’t about being that guy: the toughest, meanest dude in the room. “People think training makes them a tough guy,” Varkatzas said. “But I don’t want to fight anyone. I like the science of it, and physicality brings me peace.”

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