Six months ago, MMA was something I hardly even knew existed. I assumed every type of fighting was the same and was confident that I myself would never attempt any kind of training that was built on combat. Me? A fighter? No thanks.
Three months ago, MMA was a sport I was starting to hear people talk about, mostly associated with Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm, to be honest. But I still felt confident that MMA would never be anything more to me than just a Pay Per View special that I watched with my boyfriend and his friends.
One month ago, MMA finally poked its head up into my life. I got the chance to e-interview Xavier Pagan, a trainer at the UFC Gym in the Financial District. Our goal: to "de-mystify" MMA, so that I could learn (and then share with others) what the technique is really all about.
Read on to hear why MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is an awesome way to work out - regardless of how you usually train - and why it's not as scary as you may think.
My first question for Xavier was to soften the blow (no pun intended) of jumping into a new workout routine. I assume many people would ask this question first, as well: Will I get banged up and bruised? Xavier's answer surprised me. "Yes," he said. GASP! "Of course bruises come along with it, just like any other competitive sport. But that shouldn't stop you from trying it out. And what you can learn from this technique is worth a few bumps and bruises along the way." Plus, he says the hardest part is the cardio aspect - not the fighting itself. Consider the blow softened.
MMA is often the suggested training technique for those looking to learn self-defense and self-discipline. "MMA teaches you how to defend yourself against all types of danger, from how to avoid a punch to how to throw a punch effectively." Xavier shared. "You'll learn how to defend yourself not only against a striker, but also from someone who is much bigger and stronger than you, someone whose only goal is to grab you and bring you to the ground. MMA, specifically Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, teaches you how to use leverage to your benefit." The technique is very detailed and focuses on knowing when and where to execute force against your opponents. Essentially, it's more than just throwing punches, where you'd expected the larger, stronger fighter to win. Mind over matter.
The same way boxing has grown rapidly in popularity when it comes to new ways to workout, MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu have elements that can be added to your current workout regimen, as well. First and foremost, there is serious cardio involved in MMA training. "Plus, you can always incorporate shadowboxing pretty much anywhere - at home or at the gym, as a good warm-up exercise." Xavier told us. "You can also incorporate 'Animal Flow.'" By Animal Flow, Xavier means moves like bear crawls, frog jumps, crab walks, and various squats and lunges. Some wild workout moves indeed.
But what are the benefits of incorporating techniques like this? Xavier told us, "You will see all types of results, both cardiovascular and strength-based. But there is not only the physical aspect. You'll feel different mentally and emotionally, too. MMA helps build self-confidence for men and women of all shapes, sizes and ages, since it's not just about size and power." When asked his favorite part of MMA training, Xavier shared: "You'll grow in so many ways - and learn new things about yourself every day."
What about the future of MMA? Xavier says that it's no longer just a men's activity. "It's still a new sport for females, but it is definitely on the rise. Give it a year and MMA is going to be exploding with amazing female fighters."
Will you be the next one?! Either way, forget about all preconceived notions you had about MMA or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and embrace its novelty and unique qualities. You may discover it's less outside-the-box (pun intended, this time) than you would have thought.
Join us, Coach Xavier and the rest of the Ketanga family this Saturday, February 27 at the UCF Gym in FiDi and learn something new about yourself, and get a great workout while you do it.
By Kristen Chuber