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FRA Spotlight: Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)


FRA Spotlight: Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)


Photo by Chloe Lu.

By Sherlyn Ong

One of the interesting and unique FRAs that Southwestern offers is martial arts. Currently, it is taught by a new instructor, Mr. Bertling, who also has an external position at Victory Martial Arts.

The class is made up of students of varying levels of experience with martial arts.

The class follows a routine of lining up according to height and forming rows to begin. Next is warm up by doing light workouts like crunches, sit-ups, pushups and jogging. These are incorporated throughout the class to keep the students moving and warm. Stretches are incorporated in class because flexibility is an important component of martial arts. It allows an individual to kick higher and move more fluidly.

In martial arts, students learn a variety of moves but most of the forms are Taekwondo-based, which is the primary style that Bertling teaches. Due to the stylistic characteristic of Taekwondo, many of the moves are very kick-orientated, such as jump kicks and roundhouse kicks.  Learning to block and how to punch are also important.

After learning these moves, students proceed to practice them with partners. However, in this class, there is no actual sparring. Instead, contact is made with partners lightly, just to feel how to proceed with the move if applied to a person, rather than thin air.

Another exciting challenge is breaking boards. In this class, the boards that are used are not actual wooden boards. Instead, plastic boards that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle are used to recreate the amount of tension of a real wooden board. This is a brilliant invention because it effectively reduces the amount of wood that has to be used, which is environmentally friendly. The boards have various degrees of intensities which are indicated by color; for example, orange is equivalent to one board, blue is equivalent to a femur bone and black is equivalent to about three and a half boards. Every single one of the students in the class has broken at least the orange board. Impressively, some of the students in class can already successfully break the black board!

Martial arts is a great experience because it provides a good environment to keep fit and learn new skills. Students stay active in class but it is not overwhelmingly intense. The new skillsets learned are also applicable in life as self-defense. Encouragement of  fellow classmates and cheering each other on are promoted. Since martial arts also includes the honing of the mind, students are taught about discipline and the proper mindset to have, which applies to life in general.