Students should consider mixed martial arts for sport

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An ancient sport is returning to prominence through the United States and around the world, a competition that has taken uncountable forms since the dawn of mankind. Ever-evolving, simple and yet intricately complex, mixed martial arts is steadily gaining popularity at the expense of boxing and other sports.

MMA competition allows for maximum freedom and variety of attacks within some limits of safety, opening its doors to practitioners of all the martial arts of the world. Although all are welcome, there is one form of martial arts that tends to dominate all others, a grappling art known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu .

Studies conducted by John Hopkins University and other institutions have shown that MMA involves fewer concussions, serious injuries and deaths than comparable sports. For example, many NFL players end up with life-long pain in their knees, backs, elbows and hips, while professional boxers often suffer damage to motor skills, cognitive abilities and emotional intelligence.

Compared to boxing, MMA allows a greater variety of strikes, including more dangerous strikes such as knees and elbows, which carry an increased chance of concussion.

However, MMA is associated with a significantly lower risk of brain damage because the number of strikes landed is much lower. Although professional boxers often take hundreds of blows to the head in single bout, it’s not uncommon for an MMA fight to end with only a few strikes landed.

As with boxing, kickboxing, Judo, karate, taekwondo and other fighting arts, BJJ develops particularly strong friendships, healthy eating habits, self-control and work ethic. Because of the substantial positive effects gained as a result of training in combat sports, there are many medical doctors who support the activities in spite of the risk of injuries.

Support for MMA comes not only from medical doctors, but even from ministries such as the Canyon Creek Church outside of Seattle. Pastors like Brandon Beals understand that they can draw in young men to the ministry by emphasizing the importance of strength and responsibility and spreading an understanding of the links between spiritual and worldly strength.

Eighteen months ago, I was at a MMA competition watching a friend from high school compete in his second amateur event. There was a guy from Salina who had the amateur title belt for his weight class and was very cocky. He got submitted in the first round by an opponent with obviously superior skill and technique. When I was asking who the new belt holder was and where he was from, they said, “That’s Eric Dietrich, from Manhattan.”

A couple months later I saw Eric mop up another champion in the first round, and after the fights were over I was lucky enough to have a chance to talk to him in the crowd. I mentioned that I also live in Manhattan, and Eric invited me to train at his gym.

After a little jaw drop/eye pop, I decided I would give it a try. Today the invitation extends to other K-State students interested in competition or simply in learning one of the most effective methods of self-defense in the world.

Joe “The Nose” Wilk operates the Combative Sports Center, located at 2048B Tuttle Creek Blvd., below the International Foods Store. In addition to weekday BJJ classes from 6-8 pm, Wilk occasionally holds weekend seminars and brings in world-class instructors, such as three-time BJJ black belt world champion Léo Peçanha. Back in February, the CSC team traveled to Omaha and became the 12th Best of the Best ProAms BJJ Adult Team Champions.

A few weeks ago the team returned to the Omaha area to watch Wilk and Peçanha win professional MMA fights in the Victory Fighting Championships. Unsurprisingly, the CSC team has a similarly impressive record in amateur MMA, although no one has sat down to figure it out precisely. The reason for the astonishing dominance echoes from wherever CSC gathers: JIU-JITSU OR DIE!

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