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Gym review: Dungeon MMA
Last week I was invited to attend a workshop put on by Sifu Arthur Peraza Jr. at the Dungeon MMA. The three-day seminar offered a quick sampling of what Peraza teaches at the school, which opened in the Iron Bird Lofts last month. I was thankful for the experience.
Here is a review:
Note: I came in with some martial arts experience. I have studied Aikido for several years.
Day one: We started with some traditional MMA type stuffs: kicking and punching. A little bit of the old one-two, a jab and a cross, followed by a one-two-three and working up to four blows. Hands by the sides of the head, coiled and ready to strike like a cobra. Then, it was another one-two combo and a solid round kick to the leg (use your shins, not your feet). This is what they refer to as conditioning, and it's important, because after an hour I felt it, and continued to feel it for the next day or so. Thoughts: Tiring, but super fun.
Day two: The second day was an introduction to Kajukenbo, a style created in Hawaii in the late 1940s that combines elements of karate, judo, jujitsu, Chinese and Western boxing, etc. We ran through several techniques (or forms) that included blocks, strikes and throws. At the end of class each student demonstrated what they'd learned. Thoughts: There is an intimidation factor with any beginner, and the forms here might seem complicated (there are several strikes/kicks etc.). But, they were taught in a way (and in an environment) where everyone (even those with little or no formal training) were able to retain some knowledge by the end of the hour.
Day three: The hour started with a warm-up (some running, jumping jacks, crunches, etc.) followed by some knee/kick and jab-kick/round-kick combinations, followed by some knife drills. Don't worry, they were training knives. Thoughts: Martial artists love to claim their style is "street" applicable, meaning it prepares you for what might happen out on the streets (fights, muggings, random attacks). Sometimes that comes with false bravado. Not here. This was not a build-a-hero class. The instructor's advice when dealing with someone with a knife: run away. If that's not an option (if you're pinned against a fence let's say), get control of the weapon and then find a way to run away (that could involve a smash to the face and impaling the attacker on their own knife). While you may know the how and where of breaking a guy's arms or knee or ribs, and it should be available to you, it's not the goal. Trained or not, fighting a guy with a knife isn't smart (at least that was my takeway).
Overall: The thing I liked most about the workshop has to do with the philosophy of the art and the instructor and the atmosphere of the studio. It was intense, and a bit bit rough-and-tumble (and that may not work for everyone), but Peraza seems sincere in wanting to create martial artists. This isn't about just mimicking the teacher because he's the teacher. It's about using the forms and techniques as blocks on which to build your own "expression" of the art.
The Dungeon MMA also offers kids classes and classes in yoga, Tai Chi and Aiki-budo.