MMA center finds good fit in Niles
Marla Agulo, of Skokie, works out during a "Krav Maga" self-defense class at the Top Level Mixed Martial Arts Training Center in Niles. The center opened in May. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 14, 2013 4:47PM
NILES — When the bumpy economy left him without a job, Paul Ambubuyog took a rough situation and turned it into an opportunity to pursue his dreams.
Ambubuyog opened Top Level MMA, or mixed martial arts, training center at 7038 Milwaukee Ave. in Niles this May.
Top Level MMA offers a variety of classes, such as self-defense, Kombat fitness, boxing, and martial arts classes that are used around the globe, such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Eskrima, Krav Maga and Muay Thai.
When he was 12 years old, Ambubuyog started out with Tae Kwon Do and since then he has taken various martial arts classes and developed a passion for mixed martial arts.
Although most classes offered at Top Level are group classes, there are some private and semi-private classes offered. About 60 students are currently enrolled in classes at the mixed martial arts center.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a modern combative art that has recently gained popularity in the Chicago area.
Muay Thai is a combat sports from Thailand that is referred to as the science of eight limbs. It features punches, kicks, knees, elbows, standing grappling and headbutts and is safe as a result of sophisticated pad training.
Krav Maga is a combat system used by the Israeli Military, and it is a hand-to-hand system. Eskrima is a traditional Filipino form of martial arts that involves fighting with sticks, knives and other weapons.
Top Level’s Kombat Fitness class offers a total body workout while using the basic combative moves from boxing and kickboxing.
Ambubuyog said the center has students ranging in age from 4 ½ to 60 years old and students range in skill level as well. He said they give beginners the basic fundamental skills in order to learn more advanced skills.
Top Level offers Tae Kwon Do for kids. Instructors teach the kids much more than just martial arts moves.
“We teach them self-control and discipline,” said Ambubuyog, who said the kids also learn about respect and being focused. He said they also emphasize the importance of anti-bullying.
“We’re kind of unique to the area,” said Ambubuyog, about their location in Niles.
As the center continues to grow, Ambubuyog said he is adding more classes, such as jiu-jitsu and boxing for kids.