As the name suggests, Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, is a combination of many techniques of martial arts. Until the 1990s, MMA could not boast of great popularity in the world. In spite of this, modern MMA is one of the fastest growing sports and has even become popular among women as a form of self-defense.
Rachel Stock, a South sophomore, started training in November of her eighth grade year, and she does not plan on stopping any time soon.
“I started it because I always had an interest in martial arts, and I was looking for a new way to exercise,” said Stock. “I also was interested in learning how to defend myself.”
She said that it is more of a hobby for her than a professional interest. “At Tiger Schulmann’s, my MMA school, there are different formats every week,” she said. “On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, I take grappling classes, where I learn traditional Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, and some takedowns.”
If that wasn’t enough, “on Monday through Saturday, I take kickboxing classes,” continued Stock. “In kickboxing, we switch between Muay Thai and sparring, actual fighting, focusing on different skills each week.”
She has not competed yet, but “it is in the nearest future.” She wants to compete in the Challenge of Champions, and she said that it sounds really fun, especially because the competition is only through Tiger Schulmann’s.
“That means that every person you compete against knows the same kind of techniques as you, rather than competing in public tournaments where your opponent might have an advantage because they learned something in a different way,” said Stock.
“If I compete in the Challenge of Champions, I would want to compete in the kickboxing part because I prefer kickboxing to grappling and jiu-jitsu,” she added.
After that, she explained the difference between all the types of MMA that she takes. “Kickboxing is when you are standing up and punching and kicking,” she said.
“Grappling and jiu-jitsu is on the ground, like wrestling. It is very close range, and in grappling, we deal with things like arm bars, chokeholds, and other submissions. You are not allowed to punch or kick in that class.”
“In tournaments, the martial arts are mixed, and you are then allowed to continue to hit when your opponent is on the ground.”
Stock also said that she often gets injured, but she continues training every day.
“The best part of training is definitely the feeling you get after a class. You feel very accomplished that you could do that. The worst thing is when you are training with someone who hits too hard,” said Stock.
Her best memory is when she “was demonstrating in front of the class and got a perfect submission of ‘guillotine choke,'” she said.
“That was during jiu-jitsu, and I got experience because I have never done that before,” she said. “It was the first time I ever demonstrated it in front of the class, and I did it perfectly. I just felt so good because everyone was applauding.”
Stock has remained dedicated to this sport for two full years. She said, “My goal is to get my black belt, and I’m about halfway now.”