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Each fortnight, SCAN brings you an exclusive inside peek at one of our fantastic sports clubs. Read about what they get up to, and get the latest on how they are representing Lancaster in competitive sport around the country. This issue, The Mixed Martial Arts Society’s President Bryony Seager tells us all about the society she is so proud to run.
Mixed Martial Arts is enjoying something of an upsurge in popularity at the moment. In bygone times it was known as cage-fighting, a name synonymous with grimy gyms and divey exhibition bouts. This is far from the case now, with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) drawing fans in their hundreds of thousands to flashy venues to see fighters such as Connor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and Luke Rockhold amongst many others. These fighters have almost become household names now as they move across different media to create a presence that MMA fighters just haven’t had in the past.
The MMA society at Lancaster University was re-founded at the end of 2014 and enjoys a relatively large and dynamic membership, whether it’s people from a martial arts background looking to increase their skill or find people of like mind to train with, or if it’s people just looking to keep fit and learn something new and exciting at the same time. I find that people often join for the latter and then segue to the former. I was one of them. I started kickboxing in 2013 thinking it would just be a fun way to keep fit and perhaps learn a little bit about kicking ass (other girls make it look cool, why couldn’t I?). Now I’m completely and utterly addicted. I train between five and seven times a week dependent on other commitments. The society itself trains twice a week, on a Tuesday night and a Sunday afternoon, but we enjoy a partnership with Kaizen Academy, an esteemed Martial Arts academy in the centre of Lancaster, so there are plenty of opportunities to increase training hours. Instructors from Kaizen Academy teach our Tuesday night session, including the current Lion Fighting Championship (LFC) Lightweight champion Adam Gregory, and Kickboxing guru Kieran O’Brien. The Academy itself also fields classes with North-West Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Open champion Michael Wood.
As the name suggests Mixed Martial Arts is a conglomerate of lots of different types of martial arts. Usually this means that a fighter will have a preferred style or art and then use others to compliment that which they are strongest at. For example the former women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey comes from a Judo background, the woman who defeated her – Holly Holm – was a boxing world champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk comes from a Muay Thai background, Ryan Hall – who won the latest series of The Ultimate Fighter – comes from a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background. The list goes on. If one truly wants to become a champion then an understanding of lots of different arts is essential, whilst focusing and honing that which you’re dominant at.
The society tends to concentrate on three main aspects of MMA, which in themselves are a blend of the “purer” disciplines. We train stand-up (Kickboxing), grappling (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) and wrestling. We had a large intake at Freshers Week – over 200 people signed up, but as a general rule we enjoy a revolving training company of about 35. We’re not strict about attendance; you just won’t learn as much if you don’t come to every lesson! If you are interested in joining, come and find us at Refreshers Fair on Tuesday Week 2. Otherwise, join our Facebook page (Lancaster University MMA Society), all our training details go up on there and you can come along to any session, no need to ask first!
One of the key components of Mixed Martial Arts is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), which, like most of the other arts we combine, is a fully-fledged discipline in itself. As the new term gets started the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu society will be restarting with a new exec at the helm and an exciting new training plan. Both societies have got competitions planned for this year including a BJJ competition against Hull in February and a BJJ/MMA competition against York in the spring. We tried to gain a place in Roses this year but LUSU decided not to let us compete because we didn’t have a strong enough competition grounding.
My favourite aspect of MMA, as most members of the society will know, is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The grappling aspect of the game is slightly slower than the stand up, but is amazingly technical if you know what you’re doing, with options in almost every position. The end game in BJJ is to submit your opponent, either through something like an armbar, foot lock or through a choke or strangle. Watch two highly experienced BJJ players attempt to do these things and the result is an incredibly technical masterclass in endurance, thinking whilst engaged, and athleticism.
There is no bones about it; doing a martial art as a sport can be punishing on the body, so the society tries to have socials every so often so we get a chance to relax and wind down. One of our most successful last term was the joint social with the other martial arts societies in which we went out as a group of about fifty. One thing I love about training martial arts is the complete trust you develop with your training partners; the sport is a full contact sport so this level of trust is essential. Second, the in-depth and scholarly approach towards martial arts that is the preferred training style at Lancaster and Kaizen is something I gel extremely well with. If you’re looking for something new and challenging to do this New Year then I encourage you wholeheartedly to get involved – you won’t regret it, and it could be one of the best things you ever do, like it was for me.
If you would like to see your club featured here, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact either Esther Jewitt or Chris Bickley on Facebook.