Tuesday, April 23, 2013

More to Martial Arts than Meets the Eye

Martial arts have been integrated into modern culture by movies, television shows and even novels. Po, the Kung Fu panda, and Jackie Chan come to mind as masters of martial arts.

Hollywood theatrics make mastering martial arts look cool and fun, and also time consuming. Fortunately for many Utahns, it is not necessary to climb a snow-covered mountain thousands of feet high to find a sensei or teacher.

Martial arts can be studied right here in the Top of Utah and are available for people of all ages. There are many dojos that are only a car ride away, depending on the style of martial art that you want to learn.

Local teens find plenty of incentive to try out a form of martial arts.

“They are cool. ... They are useful for self-defense and confidence,” said Kyle Yardley, a senior at Clearfield High School.

Or Landon Call, a senior at Davis High, said he finds the martial arts great when used to defend himself.

Rachel Henriod, a Davis High sophomore, said she would also use martial arts as a defense “if people wanted to attack me. I’d use it as intimidation.”

“You get to hit people, and it’s a good physical activity,” said Damian Fullmer, a Northridge High student who has studied martial arts for nine years.

Judo to jujitsu

There are hundreds of different styles of martial arts. Martial arts were originally used as a means of defense and offense while fighting. Some styles use weapons, like the staff used in kendo

Some of the more widely known styles include taekwondo, judo and jujitsu. According to the webpage www.taekwondoanimal.com, taekwondo originated in Korea. Taekwondo is an Olympic sport. It takes approximately 14 years to get the black belt.

Tiger Crane Martial Arts, a Farmington dojo, has 10 belts from white to black for taekwondo students to earn. The style incorporates “punches, blocks, strikes and kicks.”

Judo, on the other hand, involves grappling, joint locks and throws, with punches and kicks not the general focus. Judo is from Japan, but worlds away, this style led to the creation of jujitsu in Brazil.

Jujitsu is a long, hard martial art to master, taking 15-16 years to become proficient. Most jujitsu students are 20 to 30 years old when they are able to earn the black belt. It takes commitment and sacrifice to learn this martial art, but the benefits outweigh the losses. The student learns respect, honor and honesty.

MMA — mixed martial arts — is a sport involving different styles of martial arts.

Yardley said he would like to learn MMA because, “(it) would be awesome.”

MMA has rules to keep people safe. One is that you must be 18 years old to fight in competitions. Like all sports and activities, practicing martial arts comes with risks.

“(It’s) like soccer and baseball. It’s not really dangerous, they don’t have safety stuff,” said master Oliver Vernon of Tiger Crane Martial Arts.

Emily Bouwhiuis, a senior at Davis High, said “(Martial arts) are cool if they are used in the right way. If they’re not, they shouldn’t be taught.”

Goals, friendship

Martial arts are not all about physical strength but mental strength as well.

“Judo, (and) jujitsu is a thinking man’s martial art. Different than force on force, head on head,” said Master Mike Hermosillo, of Hidden Valley Mixed Martial Arts in Sandy.

Alex Hyer, a Clearfield High School senior and martial arts student, said, “You don’t get into a special frame of mind you just do it, and trust your partner.”

Vernon said martial arts are “great for goals, learning, responsibility. I could just yell, but they actually have to do work.”

“Training (for competitions) is the hardest part, but you make a lot of friends,” said Fullmer, at Northridge High.

Micheal Gheller, a NUAMES student who has studied martial arts for four years, said, “It’s a good family sport.”

Studying with others also creates a bond.

“We’re all really close,” said Michelle Sims, a junior at NUAMES who has been studying a mix of taekwondo, shotokan and other arts for 14 years.

Learning a martial art is a very personal process. It is about the student being focused and willing to practice that can change an average teen into a martial arts expert.

There are many more martial arts to learn in Utah. The activity is a fantastic way to exercise both body and mind. Plus there’s always a few bonuses, as Hyer explains.

“Kicking butt and manipulation of human bodies — learning how to defend myself and learning about the human body,” he said. “Surprisingly there are anatomy classes when learning martial arts.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Jack Grant Delaying Pro Dream to Face top European Amateurs

HUMBERSTON mixed martial arts fighter Jack Grant will benefit from holding off turning professional as he continues to attract top European opposition, says coach Neal Lofts.

Grant has crammed a record of 13 wins, two defeats and one draw into two years, lifting five championship belts along the way.

The 20-year-old's latest outing saw him challenge France's Arnold Quero for the 10th Legion European under-70kg lightweight belt.

Grant lost the showdown fight in London, but his Humberston-based Fight Ministry camp are upbeat about his potential for the future.

Lofts, coach, said: "Jack has exhausted most of the opposition outside of the pro ranks domestically – most of which, in my opinion, have turned professional too early and is a decision taken far too lightly in MMA.

"At the highest level, MMA is dominated by Olympic-standard wrestlers, who the British are struggling against.

"Frankie Edgar, Chael Sonnen and Josh Koscheck are examples of fighters that have benefited from a college wrestling scholarship, and the largest promotions in MMA are drawing from this pool.

"I don't think it's unrealistic to think that Jack could be facing this ilk of opponent in the future, but I believe it'll take at least another two years of building.

"Matching our fighters with European opponents will help prolong the whole process, giving him time to develop before turning professional."

Grant's title fight against Quero, fought to Nevada amateur rules, was over by the end of the first of three scheduled three-minute rounds.

The Humberston man measured the shorter Quero with jab and far leg round kick early on.

Quero managed to catch two of those kicks and threatened both times with the takedown, only to be out wrestled on the ground.

Grant took control and found the target with some well-placed punches.

An arm bar attempt from Quero had to be defended.

But Quero managed to wrap his legs about the Humberston man's body and throw a guillotine choke that led to Grant tapping in the dying seconds of the first round.

Lofts said: "It was another great test for Jack, against a quality opponent who is arguably one of the biggest prospects in Europe outside the professional ranks.

"Getting caught with an arm bar against a talented grappler in Sam Boult earlier in the year, and now the guillotine with Quero, shows that Jack needs to put in some technical work.

"But bearing in mind that Jack has only been on the mat for two years, at the age of twenty he's progressing nicely.

"His record, against quality opponents, speaks for itself."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mixed Martial Arts Champions Fight to Legalize Sport in New York

Forty-five states would welcome the upcoming mixed martial arts title fight between Jon Jones and Rashad Evans. Their home state of New York still isn't one of them.

Both light heavyweight champion Jones and ex-champ Evans have personally lobbied New York lawmakers to legalize the sport, and they say they have a lot of family, friends and fans who would pack the house here. Instead, they'll fight April 21 in Atlanta.

"I think it would be a huge reward for the people of New York to be able to watch their champion compete in their backyard," Jones said. The Ultimate Fighting Championship title holder at 205 pounds, who lives in Ithaca, said putting the event in Madison Square Garden would generate money and jobs. "We both have huge fan bases. It would sell out so fast."

Evans, a Niagara Falls native who now lives in Boca Raton, Fla., agreed.

"Being able to fight at home, it would mean the world," he said.

Each fighter visited Albany last year to meet legislators in the effort by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the sport's major brand, to make New York the 46th state to legalize and regulate it. The bill passed the Senate but died in the Assembly, where some legislators said MMA is too violent and sets a bad example for children.

Backers counter that the popular televised sport, with elements of boxing, judo, grappling and kickboxing, has evolved from its rough early days with rules and protections for fighters that would be enforced by the New York State Athletic Commission, the agency that regulates boxing. They point out that the contests sell out big venues in other cities while some bouts have topped a million pay-per-view customers.

The debate came around again this year. New York's Republican-controlled Senate, which passed the bill last year, included legalization in its budget bill this year. Opponents in the state Assembly refused to approve it. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not taken a position, spokesman Josh Vlasto said.

Assemblyman Steven Englebright, a Long Island Democrat and sponsor of legislation to legalize MMA, said it sometimes takes a few years to pass a bill in New York. He noted that Assemblyman Robert Reilly, an Albany Democrat and outspoken critic of the sport, is retiring after this year.

Reilly said opposition will continue, noting several other Assembly opponents who helped defeat it for the past seven years who are sticking around. He also pointed to large cash bonuses the UFC pays for the best knockouts as evidence of a bad emphasis.

"We find that, especially the UFC, but all of mixed martial arts, is going in exactly the opposite direction of the other sports, primarily football and hockey, in that they literally promote concussions where other sports are working to eradicate concussions," Reilly said.

UFC spokesman Steven Greenberg said fast-growing MMA is one of the safest contact sports for its athletes. That group uses rules established by New Jersey Athletic Control Board that include stoppages by referees and ringside doctors and prohibit fighters from head butting, biting, gouging, stomping a downed opponent, groin attacks, throat strikes and several other potentially injurious moves.

"It's absurd that New York is just one of two states where it is illegal," Greenberg said. There are three states, Alaska, Vermont and Montana, where it's unregulated and where UFC won't go. Only New York and Connecticut outlaw it, though professional fights are held at Indian-owned casinos within those states, he said.

Fights are on mats in octagonal cages and end in knockouts, submissions from choking or limb twisting, referee stoppages and judges' decisions. Fighters wear only shorts and small gloves.

So, how do two guys from a state where it's illegal make it to the top of their sport?

Jones, 24, who grew up in Endicott, won a state high school wrestling championship then wrestled at college powerhouse Iowa. His older brother Arthur played football for the Baltimore Ravens last year while his younger brother, Chandler, played for Syracuse University.

The 32-year-old Evans won his high school sectional wrestling tournament and finished fourth in the state twice for Niagara-Wheatfield High School. He went on to wrestle at Michigan State. He says New York's competitive scholastic sports provide an advantage because athletes have to be tough to get beyond their sectional tournaments.

Neither worries about getting hurt, including during their upcoming fight that will be broadcast on pay per view.

"I've been fighting for five years now and I've never had a concussion, never a bloody lip, never a black eye ... I've been completely healthy and I fight every day," Jones said. His professional record is 15-1. Becoming a martial artist has made him more centered and laid-back, and less confrontational, he said.

"The reason I do this is because it's fun," said Evans, with a 17-1-1 record. He had to postpone a tentatively set fight with Jones last year because of a dislocated thumb. "I'm from the school that if you worry about it, you're inviting that bad energy."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Brainerd's Larson to Host Card at Armory Saturday

Brock Larson understands the point of view of those that oppose his occupation.

The Brainerd High School graduate is aware of recent events that have given Mixed Martial Arts fighting, especially in the Brainerd lakes area, a black eye.

But Larson, who owns the Warriors Alliance in Brainerd and is part of CFX promotions, will continue with his Saturday card at the Brainerd Armory that was scheduled before an alleged assault on March 18 that involved a member of another local MMA group.

Larson contemplated canceling the event because of the alleged assault that made front page headlines. But the former UFC veteran felt the incident shouldn’t affect his business or the card.

“We have some of the local guys and a lot of guys that are in my St. Cloud gym,” said Larson. “It should be a good show.

“We’re back at the armory. The first show we ever did was at the armory and it was super energetic. It was a lot of fun.”

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. The cost is $30 for front row seats, $25 for second row and $20 for general admission.

The main event will feature Carey Vanier vs. Bobby Ferrier.

Others on the card include Matt Lagou of Little Falls. He’ll battle Derek Smith.

While the event business is going well, Larson’s fighting career is slow going.

His last fight was March 4 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he submitted to Brazil’s Antonio Braga Neto in the first round because of a kneebar. According to both Larson and Neto, Larson had it wrapped up until a costly decision.

“I chucked him and I actually blew his knee out, which I didn’t know at the time,” said Larson. “He went down on his back and had a panicked look on his face and I knew it was on from there. I went after him and threw a couple of punches and somehow he got underneath me and got at my leg and knee barred me.

“He told me afterward that he got lucky because if I would have just stood back and had him stand up he was ready to tap. He said he couldn’t stand. He had to be carried out of the cage.”

The fight was part of the MMA Against Dengue 2 and was hosted by the Brazilian government to promote awareness of Dengue Fever. Larson said people who brought in old tires, in which mosquitoes lay their eggs and transmit the disease, were given free tickets to the event.

“They had truckloads of tires,” he said. “It was basically a free show for people to get rid of tires.”

Larson has lost his last two, and three of his last four, bouts. The 34-year-old 170-pounder owns a 33-7 career record and has some things brewing in Russia and possibly Japan.

“The U.S. is just so hard to get a fight,” said Larson. “The problem is I haven’t fought out of my own organization in more than two years. And, I don’t pay very well.

“It’s really hard to get a fight. Ring rust and age is kind of a problem. Basically for me I have to find something out of the U.S.”

Larson started his MMA career in 2002 and rattled off 15 straight victories. He didn’t immediately want to become a fighter, but was talked into it by a few friends. The places he’s been, the people he’s met and the business ventures that have opened up for him have made his decision a good one.

“The CFX, that’s where I started, but nobody would come to Brainerd,” Larson. “My first CFX was in 2004 and that was in Brainerd. The sport has just gotten crazy the last two years.

“I’m just looking at finishing my career out on top. I don’t want to get too many more of these losses and start becoming a stepping stone for guys. I’m not a good loser. I can’t handle losing very well. I have a hard time sleeping afterward.

“I have to get back to winning, but I don’t want to fight hacks either. I don’t want to beat up on guys that aren’t good. I want to keep fighting at a high level.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Croton Martial Arts Instructor Found Guilty of Sexually Abusing Students

A Westchester County jury today found an internationally known kung fu instructor with a studio in Croton guilty of felony sex abuse toward four female victims.

Frank DeMaria, 68, of Van Cortlandt Avenue in Ossining, faces up to seven years in state prison when sentenced on May 8.

His victims told police he "instructed them, on more than one occasion, to grab his penis and to squeeze and pull repeatedly," Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore said in a release.

He was taken into custody after the verdict. 

DeMaria, a former county police officer, was convicted of three counts of second-degree "course of sexual conduct against a child," two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, felonies, and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

The victims, all girls, were abused in incidents that took place between Nov. 1, 2009 and Jan. 6, 2011. DeMaria was arrested Jan. 14 and the studio is no longer open.

"Adults who were observing at the studio initially reported to Croton Police that they saw the defendant take young female students into a corner and observed the defendant’s hips make a gyrating motion," the release said. 

Three additional victims also came forward.

Assistant District Attorney Christine Cervasio and Assistant District Attorney Courtney Johnson of the Special Prosecutions Division prosecuted the case.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Several Baseball Players are Incorporating Fighting Methods into their Training Routines.

Mixed martial arts may be illegal as a competitive sport in some states, but several baseball players are incorporating its fighting methods into their training routines. 

Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox, Brad Penny of the Detroit Tigers and Russell Martin of the Yankees have used the sport’s punches and kicks to improve their throwing and swinging. In addition to improving overall fitness, Martin said, mixed martial arts can make an athlete mentally tougher. 

“You tolerate the pain and get through it,” he said. “Mentally, I know I’m in a good place because I worked hard.” 

Mixed martial arts is a combination of karate, judo, jujitsu, boxing, wrestling and tae kwon do. The sport is also popular in Brazil and Japan. Pay-per-view telecasts in the United States began in 1993, with the Ultimate Fighting Championship staging the most lucrative matches. 

Unlike Martin, Dunn and Penny guard the secrets of their workouts as if they were team signs. 

Penny acknowledged training with Dan Henderson, a star M.M.A. competitor, but he declined through a Tigers spokesman to discuss his training. Dunn declined through the White Sox media-relations office. 

Henderson said that he had had Penny practice the kicks and punches used in M.M.A., but there was no sparring. 

“We use focus mitts,” Henderson said, referring to the oversize padded gloves that he wears while athletes kick and punch them. “Physically, it works different muscles than players tend to use in their own sport. The training gives them something different to push themselves through.” 

Henderson said the workouts could indirectly help Penny’s strategy on the mound. 

“It might give Brad a little more confidence when he’s pitching inside,” Henderson said. “And he’s prepared in case anyone rushes the mound.” 

Jay Glazer, a football analyst for Fox Sports who runs MMAthletics with Randy Couture, a mixed martial arts star, has trained N.F.L. players in the sport. Glazer said his clients included Ryan Grant, Jared Allen, Clay Matthews and the Atlanta Falcons team. 

While the workouts for the football players emphasize wrestling and hand-fighting techniques, Glazer said the routine for baseball players concentrated on emulating the movements of their sport. 

Ryan Rowland-Smith, a left-handed pitcher in the Houston Astros organization who battled arm and back injuries the last couple of years with the Seattle Mariners, worked with Glazer in the winter. “I’m in the best shape of my life, for sure,” said Rowland-Smith, a surfer while growing up in Australia. 

Glazer said: “In the case of Ryan, we look at film and break it down frame by frame and come up with a combination that mirrors his pitching delivery. A knee, a punch, followed by a kick. We have him do a ton of that for his hips. Power comes from his core, his hips and his legs, even though he uses his arm to pitch.”
Mentally, Glazer said, the mantra is the same for baseball players as it is for N.F.L. players. 

“Own your space,” Glazer said several times. “We get the players thinking like a cage fighter. When the door shuts, it’s time to break that man’s will across from you. For Ryan, as a pitcher, it’s that 60 feet 6 inches that you own.” 

Rowland-Smith said the rigors of M.M.A. training made it easier to tolerate physical and mental challenges on the mound. 

“If you have some small injuries or you’re not feeling 100 percent, nothing can compare with what you go through with the training, so you can fight through it,” he said. 

Martin, a catcher, worked with Jonathan Chaimberg, who trains Georges St.-Pierre, the U.F.C.’s welterweight champion. Martin said he was searching for a way to regain his All-Star form after two injury-marred seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

After a few months of six-days-a-week M.M.A.-style training sessions with Chaimberg in Montreal, where he lives, Martin increased his endurance and explosiveness and lost body fat. He said his upper-body routine was called the big rope. 

“It’s a thick rope that you attach to a base of a wall and has a loop,” he said. “You create waves with the rope, and it’s like a 20-second sprint, a 10-second rest. You don’t do it for a long period of time. You do it for five minutes, get a good workout in and work on your conditioning.” 

It seems to be helping. Martin is hitting .300 with three homers and eight runs batted in. 

Bobby Valentine, an ESPN baseball analyst, has managed in the major leagues and in Japan, where one would think mixed martial arts training is popular among players. But that is not the case, he said. 

“It’s more prominent in the States,” said Valentine, who said he believes the training is beneficial. 

He added: “Most mixed martial arts instructors teach balance, quickness and awareness of your surroundings. There are a few cases in Japan, but most players just play baseball over there.” 

The Yankees’ scheduled game Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium was postponed because of rain and was not immediately rescheduled. Manager Joe Girardi said that A. J. Burnett (2-0), Tuesday’s scheduled starter, would pitch Wednesday, and Phil Hughes (0-1) would start Thursday. Girardi said he planned to start Freddy Garcia for the first time later this week; Girardi added that the date had yet to be determined. ... Reliever Pedro Feliciano, who has been sidelined with tightness in his left triceps, played catch, but Girardi said the session “did not go well.” Feliciano will have another test Wednesday. “It’s a concern,” Girardi said of Feliciano, who had to cut short a similar throwing session March 27. “We were hoping after these two weeks that he’d be able to take the next step.” DAVE CALDWELL

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Latest Picks from the USA TODAY Network

Bellator and Strikeforce champions, regional shows, female fighters and a Yamma recollection — they're all in the latest selections from USA TODAY's blog network:

On same level? (MMA Diehards): Bellator bantamweight beltholder Zach Makovsky says his promotion's champion can compete with the Ultimate Fighting Championship's Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber. Makovsky also touches on his humble background, Bellator's tournament format and the challenges of weight cutting.

Out of Obscurity (MMA Diehards): A look ahead to what's on tap this week at smaller regional and international events, with a focus on UFC and Pride Fighting Championships veterans and fighters that are consensus ranked.

Memory lane (The Fight Nerd): Comprehensive, interactive look back on the three-year anniversary of Yamma Pit Fighting, possibly one of the worst mixed martial arts events ever.

Ready for more (MMA Torch): Gilbert Melendez and Nick Diaz belong in the UFC after clearing out their divisions in Strikeforce.

Staff rankings (MMA Torch): Panel picks top 10 in all seven weight classes.

Grizzled vets (MMAValor): Facing possible pink slips, Vladimir Matyushenko and Jason Brilz look to make a statement at UFC 129.

'The Jewel' (MMA Rising): Strikeforce's Julia Budd to face Anna Barone in first professional women's MMA bout in Ontario at MMA Live 1 on May 19.

Case to move down (Pro MMA Now): Why Strikeforce light heavyweight Gegard Mousasi should permanently return to the middleweight division.

Things to take away (Pro MMA Now): What we learned from Saturday night's Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley event.