Former VJ and stand-up comedian Cary Edwards is now teaching women to fight back at his new mixed martial arts gym

“If you and me were walking down the road and if someone wants to pick a fight with either one of us, who would they pick,” he asks as I check out First Contact Mixed Martial Arts, his new gym above Lloyds Tea House, Gopalapuram.

“Obviously you,” says the former VJ and stand-up comedian Cary Edwards when I try to figure out what he means. “Because nobody wants to mess with those who look strong and huge. People who want to attack always pick the slim, the skinny, the women… the soft targets. Which is why we have Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.”

Cary who holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a black belt in Karate and also teaches Muay Thai says that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu requires very little strength, is designed to be easy, uses natural body movement, leverage instead of strength and is ideally suited for women because build and strength are not prerequisites.

Over the last 18 months, Cary has been training women in self-defence using Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques, from his garage in Adyar for free. “Now, of course, I have overheads and may not be able to do it for free but the plan is to charge thousand bucks for four two-hour classes a month.”

“Pepper spray or chilli powder is a great solution if you are being attacked by a curry. If you are being attacked by an actual human being, chilli powder is not an answer.

After the Delhi rape, there was a lot of maelstrom of emotions throughout the country and people started spending on garbage. Most of those are not real solutions. That’s why I started training women. You come in once a week, learn as much as you want and try it again next week,” says Cary.

Though he has always been into martial arts and wanted to start his own gym, Cary wasn’t really pro-active about it until a back injury made him enrol in Gold’s Gym and he bumped into 21-year-old Prashant Kotta. “They had kickboxing classes there and I met PK, this 21-year-old huge muscle-y gym freak who said: ‘Let’s do some sparring.’ After a few kicks and punches, I grabbed him, put him on the ground and wrenched his arm and he was like ‘Whoa! How did you do that? Teach me’.”

From then on, Prashant kept checking with Cary on when he could come and learn, literally forcing him to start teaching from his garage.

“That’s how it started. Through word of mouth, I had 15 students because that’s how much space we had,” says Cary. He went easy on the fees and focused on working with people who loved to train.

Prashant now assists Cary at First Contact Mixed Martial Arts that teaches Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. “Conventional gyms only give you the ability to lift objects provided they are balanced and perfectly symmetrical. Fitness has come to mean a particular look. We are about the ability to be fit and not about the look.”