What's going on everyone, it's that time of year again where school is in session and its back to the college grind. I'm an outdoor education major at Chico State and just started my more advanced classes to get my way to a degree. Ideally I would like to work someplace like Outward Bound where I can use the unique combination of the woods and counseling to help at risk youth turn their lives around.
For my Foundations of Outdoor Education class we were just informed that we have to write a 12 page research paper on any number of topics involving Outdoor Ed. Sorry for the poor grammar and haphazard writing by the, way, I'm strapped for time as I'm typing this.What might this have to do with MMA you ask?
First off, a little background info. I've been training jiu jitsu for about 4 years now, and recently took up MMA last January. I've been training nonstop at Standalone MMA in Chico and Darkhorse Gym/Norcal Fight Factory in San Jose, and am nearly ready for my first amateur fight. MMA has been a huge part of my life for years now and I would definitely like to make it into a career if I am that fortunate. We shall see =]
Anyways, about a month ago I was brainstorming with a friend about what the best way to reach at risk individuals. This is a tricky situation because their guard is naturally up all the time. (Anyone who has seen Season 4 of the Wire knows what I am talking about) They are so used to having this "me against the world" mentality that it is often impossible to let them give you a chance, let you give them ideas of their own potential and the possibilities of their life.
A proven method of getting them to let their guard down is bringing them into an unfamiliar environment. Better yet, somewhere with a naturally positive backdrop and no distractions. Somewhere without the outside influence of technology, society, or even family. Someplace where they can completely reboot their bodies, their diet, their sleep cycle, and basically shed all the negativity that surrounds them in their daily lives. The best place to do this? Outdoors.
Outdoor education has long had an great success rate because of the above details. Imagine the most extreme youth, a gangbanger that has never seen anywhere besides the 5 square blocks he has grown up all his life, a sad reality for many of today's inner city youths. Simply by never expanding his world he has greatly limited his imagination and thoughts of his own potential being trapped by the death and poverty around him. Take him to the woods, to see the natural beauty and serenity of the forest or a lake and it is a jarring break in reality for him.
But again, most of these individuals are so hard to crack open and get inside that a week or a month is simply not enough time to work with them. There needs to be another catalyst in this revitalization of their character. This is where I proposed MMA come into the mix.
The inner city has long had great success with boxing in terms of helping violent youth. It helps take up their time and tire them out with hard work. It builds work ethic, self esteem, self confidence, character, physical fitness, the list goes on. What it also does is develop a trusting relationship with their coach, and provides them a mentor in which to confide in and take advice from. That same trust works great from an athletic/role model perspective, but also opens up the possibility of truly making them their friend.
Who are you going to listen to more? Some counselor in the woods you don't know or a coach who is willing to put in the time and effort to help you in a tangible way? Why not both?
My end goal was to create a team gym out in the wilderness. Somewhere not immediately near any type of town or settlement, somewhere in isolation but set in a pristine nature area. While I am still brainstorming ideas, ideally the camp would consist of two main elements.
-A fully functional MMA gym with athletes and coaches specially chosen for their ability to work with at risk youth with little to no MMA experience.
-Outdoor Education counselors to facilitate the day hiking/backpacking/camping half of the gym
By splitting time between training MMA and a more reflective, outdoors approach to rehabilitation I believe that troubled kids would be able to take down that mental block much sooner than later. There is no bullshit in the cage. Any preconceived ideas you may have about yourself, how badass you think you are, how much you think everyone is against you, it all goes away once that gate locks. You are truly in your most vulnerable state, and having someone to push you and guide you through that fear and panic forges a bond that only a fighter can truly understand. This is what I want to give to the world, someplace where people can go and literally change their lives for the better.
The course would ideally be about a month long, but after their session is over they are more than happy to stay and keep training, or hopefully at least go back home and keep training there. Again, this is all still just an idea I've been cooking up in my head over the last month or so, but I truly believe in it's potential.
What I need from YOU, my fellow BE brethren, is the evidence to substantiate this crazy idea. I need your words, your descriptions of that indescribable feeling this sport gives us. I need articles that serve to back up the idea that MMA can be a force for good. The recent CNN article on how training MMA has helped rehabilitate terrorists http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/20/world/europe/uk-caging-terror-main/index.html
is a perfect example of what I am trying to emulate. I need feedback, positive or negative, to help me flesh out this project and find what works and what doesn't. I'm counting on you all, I know I'll get tons of help with what I need. Links, quotations, personal stories or insights, they all help.
Any studies comparing boxing/traditional martial arts to its positive effects on youth will work just as well. Really, if you think anything is relevant to what im writing about just post it on this page.
This is mainly a paper delving into the idea of combining MMA and Outdoor Education, so a business proposal wont be necessary for this particular assignment. However feedback or ideas in that area are also helpful for future planning.
Im beginning to realize just how much effort and work this is going to take, so ill probably make a few more fanposts and keep everyone updated on how the paper is coming. I’d love to make BE as much of a part of this possible and show you guys how everything you give me is helping. Hopefully by November ill have the full 12 page paper all done and I can show it to everyone here.