by: Jack Bratcher
What if when you were in High School they offered an MMA class as an option? There are many of us who were not too interested in team sports and preferred those sports that relied upon your own efforts to win or lose.
Enter Winchester High School in Winchester, Massachusetts where they have a mixed martial arts club. How cool is that? It could very well be the only high school program of it’s kind in the country.
The story goes that In-Goo Kwak, a senior at Winchester, began petitioning school officials for the program when he was a freshman as an outlet for those who were not drawn toward traditional sports.
Winchester High’s MMA Club has about two dozen members between the ages of 14-18.
The club gets to have guest instructors come in such as Marcelo Siqueira, a karate champion and BJJ black belt from the Chute Boxe Academy in Curitiba, Brazil. Siqueira now runs his own gym in nearby Somerville.
It took Kwak two years of lobbying the school administrators before the MMA club received approval. The club has now been operating for two years. They have not had a serious injury during that time. The students practice their striking techniques with pads since they are not allowed to actually hit one another.
The school’s Athletic Director, Brian Carroll spoke about the students’ impressive dedication and has been thoroughly pleased and supportive of the program.
One of the goals of the MMA club is to eventually compete against other clubs. They have already began to reach out in an effort to make this happen.
Winchester High School’s wrestling team has an exceptional program and this also gives some of the students who are wrestling an early start into MMA. Winchester Wrestling has gone undefeated in the last two seasons with a record of 60-0.
Many MMA fighters will tell you that wrestling is the best skill to have as a base. Brendan Cleary, a three-year member of the wrestling team, was one of the first students to sign up for the MMA club and he helps out with instructing.
This is such a great program. Can you imagine if more and more schools start picking up on this? All it takes is more students out there like In-Goo Kwak who are willing to take the time and effort to educate the administration.
A program like this could really change kids’ lives. With so many negative influences in high schools these days, the introduction of Mixed Martial Arts could make a big impact by helping students find something meaningful and beneficial to do with their time. They may even look forward to coming to school.
Imagine MMA in high schools all over the country and in the inner cities and the positive effect it could have. Not to mention the level of talent within the sport would dramatically increase with students starting their training at younger ages. There is a ton of potential here and with the continual rise of MMA’s popularity the next few years are going to be very interesting.
Here’s a video news report about the Winchester High School Mixed Martial Arts program: