I have to admit - not all of our media invites are greeted with enthusiasm when it comes to the boys. Because what is deemed to be interesting in my eyes may not necessarily be so in theirs. Luckily though, this wasn't the case when it came to this invite.
The boys perked up considerably when I told them that they were going to dabble in some Mixed Martial Arts and not even the early class timing - 9am on a Saturday! - could put a damper on their spirits. Well, it was my turn to groan for having to wake up so early on a weekend but that is a different story.
Evolve MMA is Asia’s Top Martial Arts Organisation, with the largest team of World Champions as trainers. Well, it sure sounded rather intimidating at first but after speaking to Almiro Barros - the instructor for Ash's and Ayd's class - I found him to be very approachable and adept at handling kids too!
As you can probably tell, Ayd had pretty much warmed up to Almiro in record time.
Originally from Brazil, Almiro holds a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is a Mundials World Championship Silver Medalist in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with over 15 years of experience. What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? I had the exact same question when I first arrived at the school.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ for short, is a martial art, combat sport, and a self defense system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. More importantly though, BJJ promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage, proper technique and taking the fight to the ground.
The boys got to join in the Little Samurai Children’s Program, which is designed to help a child in all areas of his/her life by instilling confidence, discipline, mental strength and self-defense skills through fun physical activities.
The first session of the day was for kids aged 7 and below, which meant Ayd got to have a go first while Ash had to contain his excitement a wee bit longer.
Because BJJ is most strongly differentiated by its greater emphasis on groundwork compared to other martial arts, the kids were put through various physical exercises like rolling forward, backward, sideways and crawling.
To be honest, I was highly skeptical if Ayd would be able to last through the entire 45-minute session. Primarily because compared to his older brother, Ayd was the less athletic monkie. So it came as a total surprise - and a mightily pleasant one at that - that he gave it his all and thoroughly enjoyed the class!
In fact, he was a little disappointed when his session ended all too soon and it was Ash's turn to work his joints.
Although the older set of kids were put through similar physical activities like the class before them, they had the opportunity to learn some of the grappling and ground fighting techniques as well.
The advantage of a larger and stronger opponent with powerful strikes is often mitigated when the fight is taken to the ground. So it is precisely this very reason that Brazilian jiu-jitsu emphasizes getting an opponent to the ground in order to utilize ground fighting techniques and submission holds involving joint-locks and chokeholds.
Even for me, it was definitely an eye-opener. So I would imagine that Ash would have enjoyed his morning workout as well.
And for added inspiration, we had the opportunity to meet Kinaree Adkins. The 9-year-old started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Evolve MMA in Singapore just two and a half years ago but she is currently a NAGA World Champion, US National Champion, Australian National Champion, and holds countless other regional titles in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. She has dominated on both the Pan-Asian and Pan-American regional circuits, often competing and winning in the boys division!
And to think that she only decided to start studying the sport after happening to glimpse a session walking past Evolve MMA one day. Her dad, Paul, shared that she was fascinated with the athletic abilities of the teachers and students and asked to try a class. And all it took was one session for Kinaree to fall in love with BJJ and the rest is history.
Truly an exceptional young lady and the boys were noticeably impressed... and a tad inspired too if I may add.
For me, I was impressed with the safe, fun, and supportive environment that Evolve MMA provides in its Little Samurai Children's Program. All the kids in the class looked like they were having lots of fun and at the end of the day, that is the most important aspect isn't it? That, and instilling values such as discipline, respect, integrity and work ethic of course.
Little Samurai Children’s Program
The philosophy of the Little Samurai Children’s Program is to help build life skills for a child through the martial arts. A child will inherit confidence, mental strength, discipline, focus, and much more. Of course, the goal is also to bully-proof a child against bullies. During a child's formative years, it is critical for a child not to become a victim of bullying. The scars of bullying can last a lifetime and can destroy self-esteem and confidence. The Little Samurai Children's Program is a 360 degree approach to your child's overall wellness. It is the only Children’s Program in Singapore that is designed by a Harvard University graduate.
For more information, visit http://evolve-mma.com/classes/childrens-program.html