“The Resurgence of the Female Badass” Martial Artist, On-Air Sports Commentator, and Comedian, Phoenix Carnevale talks MMA, Female Super Heroes and Star Wars!

Phoenix Carnevale is an MMA ambassador, amateur fighter and dedicated martial artist with a love for everything Star Wars, Marvel and super heroes!

How did you get into Martial Arts? What do you love about it? 

I feel in love with Martial Arts when I was a kid.  My father would always put on Bruce Lee or action films.  We didn't have much money growing up so it wasn't until I was in my 20s that I bought myself lessons. Most people start martial arts when they are children so I started late in life. 

Side Note: MMA, Martial Arts, and UFC, Defined…

MMA is a sport that mixes several martial arts and has been made into a professional combat sport.   Martial Arts are well...martial arts and that’s a vast definition of multiple styles that include but are not limted to Kung Fu, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Aikido, Karate, TKD, Kali, Capoeira and more.  The UFC is a premiere league (like the NFL) that promotes mixed martial arts competitions between several weight classes of athletes included females.   

Can you give us a glimpse into an average training day?

As an amateur fighter, I was training 3-4 hours a day integrating Martial Arts, running, and strength training.  I did that for several years while competing in Muay Thai. It was very hard on my body and I needed to take a break. Now, I am mostly working on camera so I train to stay in shape and be able to perform the movements for stunts or demonstrations. I am always learning new things about Martial Arts and it helps my career.  Learning is limitless. There are so many styles and techniques.

 Practicing Martial Arts is a way of life and encompasses all things mind and body.  It builds confidence, balance, strength, agility, timing, speed, focus, perseverance, cardio, breathe control and discipline.  

The “Industry”

Mixed Martial Arts is a billion dollar industry and the biggest thing to happen to Martial Arts in pop culture since Bruce Lee. MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world, taking off in 2007 with The Ultimate Fighter reality TV show. The UFC even has its own gym chain. However, until March 2016, it was illegal to fight in New York State. We recently won this battle and our first event will be November 18,, 2016 at Madison Square Garden. 

Women in the UFC

Women have always participated in combat sports but up until recently they didn’t have a big enough stage to showcase their talents.  The UFC is MMA’s most popular organization.  In 2012, the UFC finally created a women’s division and it shot several fighters to stardom and has made the idea of women’s fighting a lot more mainstream and acceptable. 

The Pro’s and Competition to Watch

The next big event is the UFC 200: Cormier vs. Jones 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 9th, which is happening during the UFC's annual International Fight Week. The champs right now are Miesha Tate, Luke Rockhold, Dominick Cruz, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and several others.  

Martial Arts Training Value: Coordination, Focus, Strength, Comradery, Self Defense and Meditation: One of the best things about Martial Arts is that your experience is limitless, there are so many choices and arts. You never get bored. Additionally, practicing any form of Martial Arts builds coordination. Exercise that requires coordination activates the cerebellum, which is located at the back of the brain and enhances thinking, cognitive flexibility, and processing speed. The cerebellum is also linked to the prefrontal cortex, where judgment and decision-making occur. This means that participating in activities that require coordination can make you smarter and give you better self-control. In general, anything that is good for your heart is great for your brain. Aerobic exercise is great for body and brain: not only does it improve brain function, but it also acts as a "first aid kit" on damaged brain cells. Physical exercise also stimulates the brain’s synapses by preserving the number of acetylcholine receptors found at the junction of muscle and nerve. Active people have more receptors in their brains than inactive people.

Martial Arts classes force you to interact with people.  When you take class you have to partner up and interact with people of all walks of life.  You also have to understand rankings and be humbled by listen to a teacher.  You learn to develop trust, comradery and so much more. Martial arts requires practitioners to focus and pay attention to details. It helps you lose yourself and be in the moment.

MMA, the Evolution of Female Superheroes and Rise of Girl Power

One of the first and most popular bad ass super stars was Wonder Woman.  There has always been a collective unconscious of women standing up for themselves, showcasing their beauty, talent and strength. This has been in our DNA for decades. Now with movies like Star Wars, Hunger Games, The Avengers and X-men, the movement is on the forefront of our minds. Martial Arts is a terrific vehicle where we can build our leadership skills both mentally and physically at any age. It’s empowering for girls, boys, men and women.   You do not have to participate in fight sports to enjoy Marital Arts, fighting is a small part of it. 

Why Star Wars?

Star Wars explores the idea that in everyone there is the possibility of both light and darkness and that internal battle needs to be put in check regularly.  It also highlights the idea that every living thing is connected by The Force.  I believe that holds a lot of truth and that we are all connected to everything on the planet.  If we truly believed this we would treat each other and our environment with greater care.  The Force is a very Zen concept and mimics Taoism and several other eastern philosophies. 

Can you recommend a few places in NYC where readers can try a classes? In New York City there is a plethora of schools.  I recommend The Wat NYV for Muay Thai.  For weapons, JKD and kettlebells training try Anderson’s Martial Arts.  For some of the best BJJ and Muay Thai in the city try Renzo Gracie Academy.

What’s your “go-to” workout move?

Single leg dead lift! It's the best for building balance (for kicking) and gives you an overall nice booty!!  Both aesthetically pleasing and functional!

Connect with Phoenix on Social:



instagram: microphonephoen

Watch her on You Tube:

MTV features Phoenix Carnevale on Women Crush Weekend: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFgGTfnyZzQ

Phoenix Carnevale and Frankie Edgar demo MMA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYWZMSuT8js

Equinox Fitness Fight Club features Phoenix Carnevale: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3j0z9oBWVoI