MADISONVILLE, Ky. (1/9/2013) - Starting off the year 2013, Eric Myers of Myers Martial Arts (MMA), is offering full-time free self-defense and Martial Arts training for educators and faculty in the Hopkins, Webster, and Muhlenberg County school systems. Myers gave an inspirational interview and brief history lesson to SurfKY News on Saturday, Dec. 5, following a promotional ceremony for 30 of his young students to new ranks.
At MMA, the training style is more focused on self-defense than competitive fighting. There are no trophies in the wide-open building where most of the floor is made of rubber-like material where the training takes place. Myers said that the absence of trophies is “on purpose, so as not to stir competitive natures but to promote personal improvement. The only competitor you need to be concerned about is the one staring back at you in the mirror.”
Myers’ Motivation to start free training for the school systems was the recent tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, N.J. He has children in elementary and middle school and thinks that the faculty should be trained and prepared to defend and protect themselves and the students they’re responsible for.
“Confidence enables people to defend themselves without resorting to fighting,” he said. “Arming them with confidence and skill is better than arming them with guns. I don’t think we should completely change our lifestyle because of people who come in and do evil things. People will always do evil things with guns or knives or bombs. We can educate ourselves and others, and I want to be able to equip, specifically, the school faculty with confidence and skill. Things are changing in the world. Teachers don’t get trained to handle or subdue violent students whether they are fighting each other or the teacher or if there were a riot … They aren’t adequately trained for the environment they’re in. Things aren’t like they used to be in schools.”
Myers is a graded instructor and a 5th-degree black belt in Japanese Jiu Jitsu. He is well educated, experienced, and passionate about the art form he teaches and has been practicing for over 30 years. Myers has trained with UFC champion fighters as well as Brazilian Pedro Sauer, whom Myers said was dubbed “the most technical Jiu Jitsu instructor on the planet” by the founder of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Grandmaster Heilo Gracie, himself.
Gracie Jiu Jitsu is a “re-engineered form of Jiu Jitsu,” explained Myers. It is a Brazilian form of the Japanese art whose name originated in or before the 1600s. The Japanese Jiu Jitsu meaning, “gentle art” or the “art of gentleness,” was modified by Gracie to suit smaller, weaker individuals and to defend and subdue rather than to fight or strike. “Grandmaster Heilo was a frail, 140-pound Brazilian man. He reinvented the concept of Jiu Jitsu fighting—not the art—and he took what the Japanese did with it and turned it into a practical self-defense art. Japanese Samurai warriors were trained to fight other Samurai warriors in the Japanese Jiu Jitsu.”
He continued, “The Japanese style of Jiu Jitsu has a skilled verses skilled concept. It is not so much with Gracie Jiu Jitsu. You had to be of a certain social class in Samurai culture before you were even allowed to learn the Samurai self-defense.”
Jiu Jitsu arrived in Brazil and was taught like it always was. Heilo Gracie’s older brother was taking classes in the art, but Hieilo was too frail to participate, so he watched and learned. Over time, Heilo was allowed to participate and went on to earn his back belt and become an instructor. He reverse-engineered the art so the “smallest of the small and the weakest of weak could survive in the most hostile situations,” Myers said. “There’s an art to finding calmness in chaos.”
Myers appreciates the original form of Japanese Jiu Jitsu, but he prefers to teach Gracie style because of its emphasis on self-defense. Myers applies the art form in every arena of his own life. “It’s a way of life for me—a lifestyle. I apply it in my everyday activities no matter what I’m doing. The concept I apply is: maximum efficiency-minimum effort.” He described Jiu Jitsu as a “Rubik’s Cube wrapped in a riddle, trapped in an enigma. You can never figure it out. You’re constantly perfecting, adjusting, fixing, tightening, learning, and freshening. Perfection is never attainable but you keep practicing.”
MMA is a full service Martial Arts Academy. Along with the Gracie Jiu Jitsu, he teaches the curriculum of Adult Total Defense. He also teaches a Tough Pups program for pre-school to first-grade children, focusing mostly on physical exercise and form, developing dexterity and confidence. Kids’ Total Defense, for ages 7-13, promotes anti-abduction training and bully-proof training. “These are life lessons that kids can take home,” he said.
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