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Beyond the octagon cages

The anticipation, a rush of enthusiasm, a whiff of fear and an overpowering stench of determination fill the arena as fighters enter the octagon in a sport of mixed martial arts (MMA). Slowly making its way in the city, MMA is increasing in popularity among the youths of today’s generation through infamous competitions like the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Various fight leagues and tournaments have been organised in various parts of Shillong over the recent years.
The most recent championship, the annual “3rd Ground and Pound Fight League 2018” was held in Umsning.
MMA fighter Frankystar Momin, who won the championship, reveals what it takes to play the sport. Frankystar grew up idolising the legendary Bruce Lee. “I have always had an interest in martial arts since I was a child.”
With a background in karate, Momin has competed at many state level as well as national level tournaments. His eagerness to learn more forms of martial arts led him to Happy Red Rooster (HRR) MMA training centre located in Laitumkhrah. He is currently the striking coach at HRR. Speaking on the sport he said, “MMA is an art that helps to bring discipline in one’s life. It helps us become more respectful of the people around us. Being from a karate background, naturally my striking game is stronger than my ground game. However, ever since I joined Happy Red Rooster, I learned Jujitsu from coaches Reuben and Isaiah, which has helped me improve my ground game.”
“For the Umsning championship, I trained really hard along with my coaches and team mates. I went into the competition with the mindset that I should not take anything for granted. I did not underestimate my opponent Renaldius since I already knew how good a fighter he was. It was with the support that I got, both spiritually as well as mentally, from them that I won the fight. There was a time when I was feeling down but with my coaches and teammates’ support I got the determination to succeed. This win is for them,” Momin added.
Addressing the most common misconception that MMA is a violent sport, he said, “Yes, many people may view this sport as violent in comparison to other disciplines such as Karate. This is because they see that in the other disciplines, there is not much contact. However, MMA is a full contact sport which includes grappling so people would naturally think so. This is not the case because mixed martial arts take discipline to master. We are still playing at the amateur level, but one may notice that professional fighters have more skills to make the game entertaining as well after years of training. It is a sport that can be learned by people from all walks of life. It is comparatively more useful in self defense for women as well. Personally, I love this sport and I am hopeful that it will continue to grow in our state and it will get much recognition.”
MMA has more depth than what most people may choose to see. Rueben LalchhuanawmaZadeng, also a fighter at HRR, says that the sport is also an outlet for stress.
Remy Kharshandi turned to MMA because of a bad lifestyle. “It disciplines me, it helps boost my confidence and keeps me on track. You have to sacrifice a lot, it takes courage and training is a must. We sweat, we bleed but the end result is worth it.”
Being a girl fighter at HRR, IohtylinWankhar (in picture) says, “It takes courage. Happy Red Rooster brought out the best in me.” To be a fighter is definitely a challenge as Iohtylin elaborates that “it takes determination to wake up every day with that body ache to train even harder. It is a mental as well as a physical challenge. But I love it.”
She added by encouraging more girls to take up this sport even if it was just for self defence.
Stepping into the octagon definitely takes more than courage. The amount of dedication and hard work it takes is often overlooked. Therefore, these bravehearts should be given their due respect and appreciation for their efforts and skills.
(Contributed by
Donisha S Basaiawmoit)

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