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Learn to put up a good fight at First Contact MMA, the city’s newest mixed martial arts centre

Years of radio jockeying does not instill an interest in martial arts, but a childhood of being on the wrong side of bullying does. “I was a small kid and a smart arse to boot, so I used to get picked on a lot,” says Cary Edwards, remembering how he was introduced to karate and judo as a young boy of seven. Now, at 35, the RJ and entertainer has decided to give his lifelong passion a face and an address: First Contact MMA, a centre that teaches mixed martial arts.

“The idea first sparked a few years ago when a friend asked me to help out with his studio. I liked teaching, so I started my own studio two-and-a-half years ago in my garage,” he laughs. Relocation became a necessity when the students outgrew the space.

Edwards demonstrates a move

Edwards demonstrates a move

Kicking off
Reminiscing about how he got his black belt in karate at the age of 16 (he later cleaned up his technique and re-certified at the Tokugawa University in Japan), Edwards says he left it and judo behind when he got introduced to Brazilian jiu jitsu while attending college in the US. “It is based on Japanese jiu jitsu, but is much more accessible to regular people because it doesn’t come with the prerequisite of a lean, athletic body,” he says, adding that what he learned at the Gracie Academy in California “uses natural body movements and stresses on leverage instead of strength.”

Edwards isn’t too impressed with martial arts centres in India. “Many of them are kooky. I remember one centre that advertised how they’d teach you to protect yourself using chilli powder. Moreover, you can buy a black belt for `10,000,” he reveals. One of the reasons why, when he wanted to add muay thai to his repertoire of skills, he caught a flight to Thailand. “I spent six months there, living at the school run by master Kru Kom, practising 10 hours a day,” he says.

Belts and badges
At First Contact MMA, Edwards plans to teach mixed martial arts not as a sport, but rather as street defence. “I don’t believe in competition. It’s ego driven. If you are trying to centre your mind and your life, then you must release that ego,” he says. Helped by two of his students, he has created classes for people above 16 years. “I am not certified to train children,” he clarifies.
Located in Gopalapuram, the centre, which had its soft launch yesterday, will start its classes—focussing on jiu jitsu and muay thai—today. “We will have a full-fledged launch after the elections, maybe on the 28th,” concludes Edwards.

At Rs. 4,000 a month, classes (6 am, 8 am, 5 pm and 7 pm) are available five days a week. Details: 9840412610

—Surya Praphulla Kumar

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