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“Dear Diary…” Fight or Fit-West Side Academy. Week 3

June 26, 2011

When you think of an MMA fighter, you might think of a short tempered, muscle bound, hot-head. Or maybe even someone who takes joy in inflicting pain on other people.  That image, however, was not the one that was in my head after I left West Side Academy.  The image I had was that the people who teach and attend West Side Academy belong to a family and are dedicated to the art and discipline of MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  I felt like the instructors cared about what I wanted to learn and not just a set curriculum for the day.  I also felt like the instructors taught WHY certain moves and techniques are used instead of simply showing a takedown and then saying “Okay, now you try it”.

It must be tough to stay consistent while teaching students who are at different levels.  Since I am a beginner, I felt a little behind the first few times I attended West Side.  I was a little confused when I arrived on a Friday and the only other people there were my counterpart Noel, and the instructor Jarrett.  Luckily, this turned out to be a great opportunity to learn some basic techniques that most others already knew.

Jarrett wanted to gauge our fitness and skill levels so the first twenty minutes was a pretty intense warm up.  We moved through three different stations consisting of side jumps, box jumps, and weighted sit ups with a minute rest afterwards.  Then we went through the cycle three more times.  The sit ups were to mimic how a fighter might return to his feet quickly after falling to the ground.  I thought I could prove that I was in decent shape but I had to dramatically slow my pace after the first cycle.

Jarrett taught us some basic techniques like how to roll out and get up when you are knocked to the floor.  He also showed us one way to switch positions with your opponent when they have a dominant position on top.  The basic concept is to use your opponents leverage against him and quickly flip him to the ground and roll yourself on top.

I think my experience at West Side Academy was a good opportunity to dabble in a sport that I have always been interested in trying.  The instructors were all friendly and knowledgeable and the owner Mark Johnson was great to work with.  I was able to observe one of his High School Jiu-Jitsu classes and it was apparent why the class was so full.  He has a certain charisma and likeability that only a few people have.

If you do decide to take some sort of martial arts, I recommend asking as many questions as possible when you are first learning so you don’t feel behind or left out.  Everyone is at a different level and it is difficult for an instructor to know what everyone needs to learn.  At West Side I even had other students pointing out what I was or wasn’t doing to help me improve my technique.  I felt like everyone wanted to help and that everyone was considered equal even when they are at different levels.

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