MIXED MARTIAL MANIA: CHS students participate in growing trend of mixed martial arts athletic training

George Nae, mixed martial arts instructor and owner of the House of Martial Art, demonstrates a choke hold on a member of his class. Nae said he believes that MMA can be safer than other fighting disciplines if done correctly. KELSEY ATCHESON // PHOTO

SOLEMN SUBMISSION: George Nae, mixed martial arts instructor and owner of the House of Martial Art, demonstrates a choke hold on a member of his class. Nae said he believes that MMA can be safer than other fighting disciplines if done correctly. KELSEY ATCHESON // PHOTO


Tyler poulson, mixed martial arts (MMA)  student and sophomore, started doing MMA this past July at the House of Martial Arts and has since come to love the sport.

“I just got into it because I was bored, and I had read some books that talked about martial arts, and I thought it was really cool so I went to check it out,” Tyler said. “Because I’m an only child, it’s really nice to go and hang out with people and get some physical contact, so it’s like I have brothers, and you get to mess around and wrestle with them.”

But, according to Tyler, although she enjoys MMA and would encourage others to do it, she is the only student from CHS who regularly attends classes at the House of Martial Arts, one of the few MMA studios in Carmel. Tyler said she believes many people are afraid to try out MMA, and the cause of their fears range from safety to the environment of an MMA studio, to an uncertainty about what to expect, and part of that fear stems from the fact that MMA is so new.

Created only 26 years ago, MMA is one of the youngest sports around. Because of how new MMA is, there are still a number of misconceptions about what the sport is, and its safety.

George Nae, owner of the House of Martial Arts and MMA instructor said, “When you say mixed martial arts, it is exactly that; it’s a bunch of martial arts mixed together. If you say jiu jitsu or boxing or taekwondo or karate, they’re only specific to a certain criteria of fighting. Boxing, obviously, is punches only, then you go a little further and you can do kickboxing, which is punching and kicking. Brazilian jiu jitsu is the art of fighting on the ground, and it’s all groundwork. So, they’re all totally different, and MMA just puts them all together and gets a little bit of everything.”

Nae said MMA, if done correctly, is not only safe, but it is significantly safer than boxing or other styles of fighting. Due to the nature of MMA, he said much of the fighting is done on the ground, allowing less room for athletes to fall or get knocked out. Additionally, many of the concerns people have about the safety of MMA are centered around concussions, which Nae said are few and far between.

Not only does the nature of MMA make it much safer than most people would expect, but according to Tyler Poulson’s father Mark Poulson, the atmosphere at the MMA studio actually makes him feel more assured about his daughter doing MMA, not the other way around.

“MMA could be a little rough, but I have seen that she is learning at a pace that is appropriate for her, and she enjoys the classes,” Mr. Poulson said via email. “I would encourage other parents to allow their children into MMA lessons, at least at this facility, because it doesn’t appear to push too much toward the more violent cage fighting.”

Tyler said she agrees with her father and loves the studio that she attends. Tyler said she feels like the people with whom she trains have become like a family to her. According to Nae, one of his goals is to make his studio as welcoming as possible, in contrast to the common stereotype of all MMA gyms being tough environments.

Nae said, “I get many people, and usually with a martial arts studio, what I’ve found is that people are afraid to come in. They’re intimidated, not necessarily afraid, but intimidated because they don’t know what to expect, but if someone’s on the edge, I tell them it’s very friendly. The camaraderie of it is awesome, I have a family atmosphere here. WeScreen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.36.26 PM all love each other, we all work with each other, it’s like a big family here.”

Both Tyler and Nae said the benefits of MMA strongly outweigh the negatives. According to Tyler, not only does she love MMA as a sport, but she also feels that it doubles as a self-defense class.

Poulson said, “I’m a girl and I’m going to college in two years, so it’s good to know how to defend yourself.”

Poulson is not alone in seeing MMA as a great way for girls to stay safe on the streets. Although MMA is still a male-dominated sport, according to Nae, who has taught many MMA based self-defense classes, girls would find many benefits to learning MMA.

“Unfortunately (MMA) is still not a girl’s sport. More and more girls are interested in it, but it’s a combat sport, it’s a rough sport, and let’s face it girls really don’t want to get (rough). We have the other part of it where you can just do grappling and no striking, and that’s a little bit more appealing to girls, for the self-defense aspect of it. I always tell everybody, if I had a girl, she must learn Brazilian jiujitsu,” Nae said.

Tyler said participating in MMA has not only increased her strength, but it has also served as an outlet for her to release all of her emotions. Even more than that, Tyler said she has found a second family at her MMA studio and would push anyone who is interested to give it a try.

Tyler said, “I would totally tell anybody to do it. You don’t need to be an athlete for it, you just go and have fun, and they teach you how to do the technique.”