Payson Martial Arts Training Pays Off In Competition

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Martial arts heavyweight fighter Chad "Gravedigger" Griggs rode his three days of Rim Country training to a third round TKO win Feb. 2 over John Marsh.

While in the Rim Country in mid-January, Griggs trained at instructor Wyatt Shepherd's Panktration Martial Arts studio on Red Baron Road.

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Randy Steinke, back row, left to right, Mike Bonnette, Ryan Sundra, Pankration head instructor Wyatt Shepherd, front row, strength and conditioning coach Heath Bebout, Tyler Stern and Tim Marx competed in the NAGA World Championships in Las Vegas, Nev. Feb. 10.

The 265-pound Griggs, who now is 7-0 in International Fight League (IFL) competition, is a member of the Scorpions team, coached by Don "The Predator" Frye.

Shepherd said Griggs trained in Payson "because the IFL has authorized Fry to use the Rim Country as its last training spot for 2007 fights."

On a Scorpions' Web site, Frye, an Arizona native and former Arizona State University wrestler, said he requires all his fighters to move to Arizona to train regularly with the team, "where he imparts the lessons of determination and fortitude" that he learned through many hours on the wrestling mat.

Shepherd said Scorpion fighters "come to the Rim Country for the high elevation training, clean air and seclusion of the mountains."

Payson athletes at NAGA

In addition to the performance of Griggs, the martial arts cause in the Rim Country received a boost from the efforts of Payson Panktration team members who attended the North American Grappling Association Championships Feb. 10 in Las Vegas.

Among those participating in adult divisions were Randy Steinke, Mike Bonette, Ryan Sundra, Heath Bebot, Tyler Stern, Tim Marx and Shepherd.

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Wyatt Shepherd visits the Legend's Gym owned by Randy Couture during a training trip to Hollywood, Calif. in January.

"Seinke won first in his division, submitting all three of his opponents by triangle chokes," Shepherd said. "Mike placed first in his division, submitting his first opponent with an arm bar and his second by a rear naked choke."

Stern was also first, winning on points and a scissor choke.

Shepherd and Sundra took second.

Bebout and Marx did not place, but "had great showings, losing very close matches," Shepherd said.

In the Kids Divisions, Toni and Krystle Root were second and Danny Root lost two "very close matches to much bigger opponents," Shepherd said.

The three Root children specialize in Jiu-Jitsu and have shown well in several prestigious competitions, including the Arizona State Brazilian championships held last summer in Mesa.

Next on the Payson Panktration Martial Arts calendar is a guest appearance by two-time world champion, Gustavo Dantas.

"He will be coming back to the Rim Country March 17 for a three-hour seminar open to the public," Shepherd said.

Dantos, a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, now lives in Tempe, where he is a member of Team Nova Uniao and is a coach of Jiu-Jitsu and other martial arts at Arizona Combat Sports.

Previous Dantas-hosted seminars were held April 30 and Sept. 16, 2006 in Payson.

For more information on his appearance or about the Payson-based mixed martial arts school, call Shepherd at (928) 978-0631.

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