MMA is about more than being a cage fighter

A lot of words have negative connotations when spoken out loud. For example, if I said cage fighter you might harken back to the stereotypical, bar-brawling roughneck. Maybe you’re teleported back to 1989 as a 13-year-old watching the movie “Road House” for the first time. Good times and good cinema. Either way a visual enters the mind.


With regards to mixed martial arts, that visual is clearly negative.

However, the idea that MMA is still in the infancy — otherwise known as barbaric — stage is one that I cannot agree with. To be fair, I understand the logic. Many are still unfamiliar with the rules, strategies and a general understanding of the sport. It’s clear that if you say you train MMA, then you’re a fighter. Or does it?

While many have trained MMA to use those transferable skills for the cage, a quiet majority train for another reason. What is that reason? It’s the same principle that karate schools used in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In other words, it boils down to the big three — discipline, physical activity and focus.

To understand MMA’s growing popularity, look no further than our own local community.

The Kenai Peninsula is beginning to gain even more traction within the sport of MMA. Aside from the Peninsula Fighting Championship events and local MMA articles, a surprising demographic is leading the way in growing this sport. A demographic many small-town communities wouldn’t suspect.


Surprised? Maybe, but if you look at the benefits to training in an MMA gym it’s no wonder why parents are signing their little ones up. Their children are learning discipline, focus and participating in physical activity.

This is evident at Redemption Gym where kids classes are seeing steady increases in enrollment. As a gym, Redemption is still growing. However, it’s the kids classes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 4 to 5 p.m. that have many in the community excited.

Take a minute to let that sink in.

So why is this so important? Simply put, it’s growing the sport in our community and providing a positive environment for our youth. At Redemption, head coach Isaac Kolesar teaches respect, hard work, commitment and family values to unify those who train at Redemption and build that family bond.   

MMA can be a unifying sport. Maybe we don’t see it that way but we probably should. Whether you’re a man, woman, older, younger, short or tall, our differences add to the training and the sport. If we can’t change our perspectives and connotations regarding mixed martial arts, the younger generation will.

Whether we like it to or not, MMA is growing. It’s the fasting-growing sport in America, according to a study done by, a research site on MMA and business. My suggestion is that instead of fighting against a sport that many know little about, perhaps we should find time to understand the full extent of said sport.   

Walk into Redemption gym and watch a kids class. I dare you!

If you would like more information regarding kids classes at Redemption gym call Isaac Kolesar at 907-230-5494 or email him at

Scott Levesque writes a weekly column for the Clarion on mixed martial arts. He will cover MMA at the local, state and national levels. His handle on Twitter is @scottlevesque.


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