One way local youngsters were beating the heat was attending the Kickboxing class the Oakdale Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Academy offered at their Last Stand Training Center. The summer classes began on Monday, June 1 and will conclude on Friday, July 31. This unique class offers kickboxing, submission wrestling and anti-bullying tactics.
“Each part of the class teaches the kids technique, timing and self-defense. The most important thing for the kids to learn is the self-defense,” shared Professor Tom Theofanopoulos.
The kids are trained by three qualified students at the academy. Head instructor, Bill Theofanopoulos, who has been training since age three; Brooke Cannedy, a black belt in Kajukembo; and assistant instructor Kurtis Obispo, who all supervise classes and have taken time to help mold these aspiring students.
“My favorite thing is seeing them get into it and watch their progress and hard work pay off,” Cannedy stated.
Each class is two hours, running from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday. Prior to the beginning of each session, the kids warm up by doing various stretches and running exercises. The first part of class focuses on the art of kickboxing. The youngsters, ranging in age from seven to 13, participated in “shadow boxing” at the initial class on June 1. Shadow boxing is when the kids throw both punches and kicks into the air, effectively boxing their own shadow rather than an opponent. Once warmed up, the kids pair up and spar with each other, doing light kicks and punches using gloves. During this portion of the class, the kids also learn the importance of protecting themselves by covering up their chin and face, and also blocking with their forearms.
Conditioning and endurance is key to any sport, and the trio of instructors stressed the importance to the kids of keeping their heart rate up and breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth during conditioning. Cardiovascular exercises included three sets of rope climbing, jump roping, shoulder and neck rolls, and more.
In the submission wrestling part of the class, the kids learned various maneuvers. Instructor Bill Theofanopoulos pointed out to the class that 80 percent of all fights end up on the ground.
“Sometimes the best place to be in a fight is on the ground. If you are on top, you can pin your opponent or a bully just by leaning back on the mount position and blocking their hands,” the instructor pointed out to the young observers.
If interested in getting involved in the class this summer, the Oakdale MMA is still enrolling students who want to learn the art of kickboxing and martial arts. For more information contact Professor Tom or Lori Theofanopoulos at (209) 847-9406.