More enrolling for MMA, including kids
More people picking up mixed martial arts, including parents who enrol their children
The sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) is steadily gaining popularity.
And with local personalities such as singer Nathan Hartono and Olympic champion Joseph Schooling each undergoing a crash course with ONE Championship's atomweight world champion Angela Lee recently, the sport could not be trendier.
How is the full-contact sport, once considered "barbaric", beneficial to one's health?
"MMA training is progressive. You will start from basic and advance to the next level only when you are ready," said Mr Richard Wee, an active MMA practitioner, who has a purple belt three stripes in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
"When you spar with each other, you are supposed to learn, not destroy the other person. If you do that, the other person may do the same unto you."
The 63-year-old told TNP that he has been practising MMA for seven years and was first introduced to the sport by his youngest daughter.
A member of Evolve MMA, Mr Wee shared how his daughter got him to join her for a trial lesson.
"I thought since I go to the gym to exercise, I should be able to handle this. But I soon realised it was harder than I thought."
That spurred Mr Wee to take up the challenge to try something new and keep fit. He has been attending muay thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing, yoga and Warrior Fit lessons at Evolve MMA since.
"Now that I've retired, I realised the amount of retirement funds we have cannot keep up with our level of health," he said.
Today, the ex-regional managing director said that after learning MMA, he is less arrogant than before.
"I used to run multi-million dollar companies, and I should be the one teaching. But it was humbling to realise MMA is a sport where I have to keep learning.
Said Mr Wee, who now dedicates more of his time on outreach programmes: "Even if I am a black belt, there is always something to learn.
"I am currently reaching out to teenagers and disabled children through martial arts, and my focus for them is not the fighting part, but to train their level of fitness and self-defence."
When asked if his family is concerned about his safety, he said they are quite supportive.
“I thought since I go to the gym to exercise, I should be able to handle this. But I soon realised it was harder than I thought.”
Mr Richard Wee, 62, on his first MMA trial lesson
"My family is quite okay because they know I can take care of myself and throughout these years, I've never once gone home in an ambulance or broken any parts of my body," said Mr Wee, whose most severe injury was a shin splint.
Despite the common misconception of MMA being a barbaric street fight, ONE Championship chief executive officer Victor Cui, 45, still sees many parents enrolling their children in the sport.
"MMA is not only a heavily regulated sport that has specific rules and safety precautions, it also empowers you with the knowledge and physical conditioning to defend yourself if the need arises," he said."A tough core workout, MMA will force you to dig deeper than you've ever done before - getting your heart rate up, making you more energetic and lively."
“A tough core workout, MMA will force you
to dig deeper than you’ve ever done before.”
ONE Championship chief executive officer Victor Cui
What are some tips to prevent injury?
"MMA is a full-contact sport, if you plan to compete professionally, the threat of injury will always be there," said Mr Cui.
"Follow your coach's instructions, make sure not to push yourself too hard and prioritise proper technique," he said.
"Improper technique increases the risk of injury in sports, it is the same thing in MMA."
"But MMA training as a fitness regimen is generally low risk in terms of injury."
Aspiring fighter Jack Tran, a 17-year-old student, started practising MMA at 15.
Having suffered a sprained ankle and wrist previously, he said one has to take note of the moves performed because some are dangerous.
But otherwise, it is a good form of exercise which helps to condition his body.
"It not only makes me stronger and fitter, it also helps me to think faster as I have to be smarter than my opponent and be one step ahead," said Jack.