Monday, October 23, 2017 
Jon Cleveland
Madison, WI
Muay Thai Kickboxing

Joining The Blast was a great decision! I worked out at a health club for almost two years with little results. It was hard for me to motivate myself to go, and even when I did go, I wasn't motivated to work myself ver...

Michael D. Vaughn – Head Instructor/Owner

  • At the age of 6, Mike began training Tae Kwon Do (TKD) with his father in a small town near Wausau, WI
  • Mike received his first Black Belt in TKD when he was 12 years old
  • Two years later, at age 14, Mike earned his Second Degree Black Belt in TKD
  • Also at 14, Mike and his dad began training Ninjitsu under Instructor Tim Peterson
  • Mike began teaching when he was 15 years old when he and his father opened a TKD club in an elementary school
  • At 17 years old, Mike earned his third Black Belt under the World Tae Kwon Do Federation; he also began training for the TKD Olympic tryouts 
  • Mike and his father discovered Jeet Kune Do (JKD) shortly after earning his third Black Belt. They contacted legendary JKD instructor Paul Vunak about training his Progressive Fighting Systems
  • Immediately after contacting Vunak, Mike and his dad began training with one of Vunak’s instructors, Jim Miller, in his Innovative Fighting Arts in Northern Minnesota.
  • In 1999, Mike developed the Personal Protection Program for Women, which he has taught in fitness centers, rape crises centers, hospitals, and at corporations and universities across the state of Wisconsin
  • In April of 2001, Jim Miller certified Mike as an Apprentice Instructor in JKD Concepts and Filipino Martial Arts
  • Later that year, in August, Mike met Paul Vunak at a training session in Northern MN where Vunak certified Mike as an Apprentice Instructor in the Progressive Fighting Systems
  • In 2002, Mike was in a car accident that almost ended his martial arts career and changed his outlook on life
  • In September, 2002, Mike moved to Madison in pursuit of spreading the word of JKD and opening his own martial arts school
  • Mike competed in his first MMA match in 2003
  • In February 2003, Mike started working at Heroes’ Health and Fitness as a front desk employee and began teaching JKD, Muay Thai Kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
  • Later that year, in September, Mike became a Supervisor at Heroes’ and started working with a personal trainer to learn the ins and outs of the trade
  • Abruptly, in March 2004, Heroes’ Health and Fitness closed its doors forcing Mike to teach his students at a local community center
  • April of 2004 brought another major life change for Mike – he opened up his first storefront martial arts academy on Monona Dr, calling it Functional Martial Arts Academy
  • Later that year, Mike received his Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and joined the Marcello C. Monteiro Brazilian Jiu Jitsu association, starting a great path and friendship with Marcello
  • Also in 2004, Mike began more seriously training Muay Thai Kickboxing with a local instructor who later become his training partner
  • In the spring of 2005, Mike began competing Muay Thai Kickboxing bouts. He ended his limited career undefeated
  • Mike also began fighting MMA in 2005. His MMA record is 500 with his biggest fight being against UFC fighter, Marcus Davis, in Atlanta, GA.
  • Mike also began his BJJ career in 2005, winning local and national tournaments throughout the years
  • In September 2005, Mike moved the academy to Cottage Grove Rd in Madison, and changed the name to THE BLAST Functional Martial Arts and Fitness
  • Starting in the Fall of 2005, Mike began traveling to Milwaukee to train with Champion Duke Roufus to improve his Muay Thai skills
  • Mike’s first trip to Las Vegas to train with World Renowned Muay Thai Kickboxing Instructor, Master Toddy, was in October 2005; Mike was certified as a Kru (instructor) in the Muay Thai International Association
  • Mike returned to Madison with Master Toddy’s Muay Thai curriculum and completely reorganized THE BLAST programs to incorporate the Kickboxing curriculum into his classes
  • In 2006, Mike moved THE BLAST to Helgesen Drive on the eastside of Madison into a larger facility
  • Marcello C Monteiro awarded Mike his BJJ Purple Belt in 2007
  • In 2007 and 2008 Mike made various trips to Master Toddy’s Muay Thai Center in Las Vegas to continue his training. On one particular trip, Mike was chosen to help Master Toddy reorganize his curriculum  
  • In 2008, Mike developed his own Muay Thai Kickboxing Association called the American Muay Thai Association (AMTA). His association combines techniques from Master Toddy’s Muay Thai International Association (MTIA), Chai Sirsuite’s Thaiboxing Association of USA (TBA), and Erik Paulson’s Savate/Thai Cross Training Kickboxing (STX). 
  • In September 2008, Mike attended Paul Vunak’s annual California Training Retreat and was certified as a Full Instructor in the PFS and became Enigma Qualified in Paul’s newest curriculum 
  • In April 2009, Mike earned his BJJ Brown Belt from Marcello C Monterio.During one of Mike’s many trips to Indianapolis to train with Marcello, he helped write Marcello’s association booklet
  • Mike began training Erik Paulson’s Combat Submission Wrestling (CSW) system in May 2010 when he traveled to Fullerton,CA for a 4 day, 40 hour, annual training camp. Mike is a CSW Instructor candidate, to teach and train 100 hours under Erik before certification 
  • In November 2010, Mike was honored with the prestigious Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt from Marcello C Monterio – one of his biggest accomplishments to date

Mike now strictly focuses on three programs and simplify his class schedule: Muay Thai Kickboxing (Mike’s favorite art), Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA. In private lesson format, Mike teaches all the above arts plus the authentic art of Jeet Kune Do founded by Bruce Lee. As a JKD instructor, Mike is the highest level instructor, next to his dad, in the state of Wisconsin under 2nd generation JKD Instructor, Paul Vunak. Mike is available for Muay Thai Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts and PFS JKD seminars. He enjoys traveling to schools across the Midwest to teach at schools in his AMTA association and other academies who invite him. Call now to book Mike for your next seminar  (608)445-6176

When not teaching or training martial arts, Mike spends time training or hunting with his Labrador Retrievers. Besides training his own dogs, Mike works as professional Gundog trainer for Labrador Retrievers, Springer Spaniels and all Pointing breeds. These trained dogs compete in AKC Hunt Tests and Bird Dog Challenge Tournaments throughout the year. In addition to training, Mike guides for the premier bird hunting facility in the state, Milford Hills Hunt Club near Johnson Creek, WI. If you are interested in having your dog trained or purchasing puppy/finished dog, contact Mike at 


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