Mixed martial arts is now on the to-do list of every fitness enthusiast. Vipasha Sinha
A ‘combat camp’ is underway at what is largely an open space, next to the Apollo Cancer Hospital in Teynampet. A battalion of men and women punch and kick in the air.
They are trying out moves drawn from an array of martial arts. Welcome to the world of fitness defined by mixed martial arts (MMA). A demand for this form of workout is reflected in the rapid and impressive growth of a few establishments that offer it.
One of them is Combat Kinetics. In less than two years, this combat sports academy has set up three centres – at Teynampet, Chetpet and Porur – and getting ready a fourth one in Anna Nagar. Chennai MMA Training Academy is another. It opened in Perambur a year ago and now has a branch in Ayanavaram.
And then, there is Krav Maga Chennai. Based on the Israeli combat system of Krav Maga, built with elements of many other martial arts, Krav Maga Chennai offers its self-defence and fitness courses at Mylapore, Kilpauk and Velachery.
Let us head back to the workout zone at Teynampet, powered by a team from Combat Kinetics. None of the luxuries associated today with fitness is to be found here. No air-conditioning. No high-tech gym equipments. All you see is a rope tied to a tree, two rooms covered with mattress, and people wearing gloves and safety gear on the ready for a high-intensity schedule.
“What we do here is performance fitness – a programme that does away with fitness machines and climate control, and teaches MMA as well as Varma Kalai. The package is offered as a full-contact combat sport. And then, those higher up on the scale of experience practice urban combat, a hardcore combat system,” says Ajit Sigamani, founder of Combat Kinetics.
Ajit set up the enterprise a year and half ago, when the absence of any facility in the city for both Indian and international combat forms struck him as odd.
“Our first class was conducted on an open-air terrace. Now, we are all set to start our fourth branch,” says Ajit, trained in a range of martial art forms.
While designing packages for his academy, Ajit was aiming to promote various aspects of fitness. “Our workouts help promote agility, speed, balance, coordination, flexibility and strength.”
Similar ideals are pursued at the Krav Maga Chennai camp. “Krav Maga is geared to develop and enhance cardiovascular efficiency, power, flexibility and mental fitness. It helps achieve holistic well-being. It is a combat form that can be learnt in a short span of time by anyone with an average fitness level,” says Sreeram, founder of Krav Maga Chennai.
Any MMA programme that is designed for fitness and self-defence has many takers because of the way they are structured.
“Most people have misconceptions about martial arts. They relate it to street fights, but in reality, they are part of a combat sport with a set of rules,” says 30-year-old Santosh T., who started Chennai MMA Training Academy, following four years of training in MMA in Canada.
Santosh says MMA training calls for dedication and it takes many months before a student develops stamina. “The rigours of training helps keep the body fit. MMA defies the logic that a six-pack or a lean body is a sign of a healthy system,” he says.
Students take up MMA as much for picking up self-defence skills as for developing their physique. And they are not disappointed, regular MMA practice equips them to handle any assault, says Ajit. “We cover four major aspects of martial arts – take-downs, grappling and striking. We teach Muay Thai and boxing for striking, Judo and wrestling for takedowns and Brazilian jiu jitsu for grappling,” he explains.
The self-defense element ensures that women enroll for mixed martial arts programmes in large numbers. “After a spate of rapes reported from across the country, inquiries from women have increased considerably. I would earlier hardly get 3 to 4 calls in a week. Now, I get 3 to 4 calls in a day.”
Contact Combat Kinetics at 09791158888, Chennai Mixed Martial Arts Training Academy at 9962112666 and Krav Maga Chennai at 9340006600.
Keywords: mixed martial arts