"It's something that I was good at and I just fell into. It started off with me just defending my friends, now its my calling," says Christos Piliafas. A cage fighter for only about a year, Piliafas has been training in the martial arts for over 20 years.
Christos Piliafas helps a student put on a pair of gloves before MMA training at the Great Lakes MMA Center. Piliafas is an instructor at the center in Traverse City and at his own gym in Flint. Certified in Russian Sambo, a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and an all-state wrestler, Piliafas is well rounded in all aspects of MMA.
"I work out with fellow fighters like York Ash and Rhyan Glezman. All of use have pro-debut fights coming up. We teach student's moves but also learn from each other," says Piliafas. During a typical work out with each other they practice holds, sparring, kicking, and blocking techniques.
"I've dislocated a knee, hyper-extended an arm and elbow, pinched nerves, and had tendinitis. My biggest dislike is cardio, but it is necessary, otherwise in the ring you feel like your hands are 35lbs weights," says Piliafas. With Piliafas's pro-debut on April 17th, he has been going full-force at training.
Christos Piliafas circles a 45lb weight around his shoulders during a station workout. Stations included crunches with a medicine ball, lifting weights, hitting a tire, kickboxing, punching, and grappling. Piliafas works out Monday through Friday, 4pm til 10pm and Saturday 9am til 1pm.
"I've got around 6 or 7 seven layers on right now, with a sweatshirt, some t-shirts and thermals, so that my body will feel cooler and lighter during my match," says Piliafas. The extra layers proved difficult Piliafas's sparring partner to get ahold of, and provided a good source of laughs at the end of the round.
"There is nothing greater to me than watching one of my students win a fight using a move that I taught them," says Piliafas. Christos teaches both men and women, and from teenagers to adults. All students go through the same stations and lessons in technique. After showing how to use the move, Piliafas watches each student to make sure they perform it correctly.
"So far as an amateur, I'm 8 and 0. I'm lucky to train with the people I do. We all watch each other and give good advice on what to improve," says Piliafas as he receives instruction on his pivot kicking, the week before his King of the Cage pro-fight.
"People call me The Mad Greek, or the Crazy Greek. They fan get into calling me that," Piliafas says. Fans cheered out Christos's name and nickname and he faced off against Jason Fish in his pro-debut fight at the Leelanau Sands Casino.
Piliafas led the fight the first two rounds, but after the third round officials called the match in Fish's favor.
"You know tomorrow could be my last fight, but as long as I live MMA through my students I'll be happy," Piliafas says. Ties to his students and to his fans keep Christos fighting and loving what he does.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
"When I started snowboarding, pretty much nobody was doing it where I was from. My friends and I just got a couple of crappy board together and tried to figure it out for ourselves," says Joshua Kodis. Kodis, 28, of Mt. Pleasant started off a skier in Alaska but has been snowboarding now for 15 years.
In love with the outdoors, Kodis is always trying new things.
"Here we go Norah!" Joshua Kodis tells his two year-old daughter, Norah, as he helps her skimboard across a puddle outside their Mt. Pleasant apartment. Kodis decided to bring skimboard fun to his backyard after a giant snow hill melted. Norah likes to watch what and try what her dad does, and Kodis hopes she will take on after him.
"I really wanted a kayak and it was on sale, so I had to get it," Kodis says as he carries it on his back toward the Deerfield Park river. Kodis's wife, Patty, and daughter, Norah, hike and play along the trail before meeting him back at their Jeep.
"I just bought this bike a year ago, but I've been riding motorcycles for 9 years," Kodis says while taking a sunny afternoon cruise. His first bike was a Honda CBR 600, his second a Yamaha TW 200, and now he enjoys his Harley Davidson.
Joshua Kodis practices doing kickflips and ollies on a longboard just outside of Mt. Pleasant. Having started off as skateboarder, Kodis is a skilled longboarder, able to not only carve hills but incorporate tricks easier done on a shorter board. After recently purchasing a new skateboard, Kodis looks forward to testing it out at skateparks.
"I've been going boarding just about every weekend this year. It's a pretty big part of my life, and a lot of what I do revolves around it," Kodis says. As a rider of around seven resorts in Michigan and more out West, Kodis says boarding's appeal for him is "just getting away from everything."
Joshua Kodis walks back from a Caberfae Peaks helicopter after shooting aerial photos of the resort. Kodis has been shooting since he was 14, and started his own company, Venture Pictures, four years ago. Kodis has geared its focus toward capturing adventure and nature photography all over the U.S.