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Got interviewed before Christmas

Here it is. It never got printed as the article was canned apprently so the guy sent it back to me yesterday. Anyway, I’m sticking it here for posterity. Enjoy.

Most people’s experience of martial arts is from Jackie Chan or The Karate Kid! Tell us a bit about the type of martial arts you do:

I train and coach Mixed Martial Arts. Essentially it’s a no limits style of unarmed combat where opponents are allowed to use anything they can to win the fight. They can box and kickbox, a range we call stand-up fighting, they can grab each other and wrestle which is what we call clinch, and if one of them takes the other down they can continue to fight on the ground. It’s a pretty far cry from the Karate Kid but I wish my coaching style was more like Mr. Miagi’s. At least my car would always be clean.

It sounds tough. People will be aware of it from the popular Ultimate Fighting television shows. Is your training like that?

If you mean the UFC fighting, then yes, they’d be the professional athletes to our amateurs. Sort of the Premiership to our League of Ireland. If you mean the reality show ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ then no, because we don’t lock our people up in a house with lots of alcohol. Although I think the gym would be a lot more popular if we did! There’s a sporting side and a non-competitive side to our gym. Some people compete and some people train to be fit, some for self defence and some just for fun. That’s the non-sport side.

It seems as though everyone now knows about this style of martial arts now, whereas a year ago nobody had heard of it.

Yeah it does, and to be honest it doesn’t seem like that long since there was only one club in the whole of Dublin that was training in it and anyone who wanted to do it had to go there. But lately yeah, there has been an explosion in the popularity.

Is that due to the UFC? Even some of my female friends seem to know the names of the fighters involved!

Just the handsome ones though right? I think yes, that is mostly to do with the way the UFC has marketed itself. It’s been pretty big in the states for quite a while and because of the TV channels over here catching onto that it’s become popular here too. My father in law who’s a pensioner watches it now!

The popularity must be a good thing?

Well, of course. It’s nice to see more and more people involved and there’s a much greater understanding of the sport in general. I used to just tell people I did kickboxing but now I can tell them I do MMA and they don’t need explanations. But like everything, popularity has its drawbacks.

Well that’s an answer that’s begging for another question! What do you think those drawbacks are?

Various things I suppose. I’ll probably come across as a grumpy old timer or something. I’m only 30 for the record! But I’m not the biggest fan of the way the sporting side is marketed. Now of course who am I to complain as some very intelligent people have made the thing go huge in a very short space of time but I have some problems with it.

What way would you market it?

Well I’m in the great position of being able to complain without having to come up with any ideas of my own of how to do it. But seriously I think the sport has much to recommend it and the raw grit and bravery, and yes the blood too I suppose, is a lot of that too. And having been on the other side of the promotions game recently I understand why people market certain things the way they do. It’s about bums on seats and on a greater scale, pay-per-views purchased. Whatever brings the crowd in I suppose and in the future maybe we’ll be able to advertise “gentlemanly sport fighting” but I won’t be holding my breath.

So you don’t enjoy the sporting side?

No I love it! I really do but the way I talk about it you’d swear I hated it! I didn’t start out doing MMA for the sport, that’s just been a great bonus. I started it because it was, for me, the ultimate expression of what I was doing, which was other types of martial arts. Everything else was limited but MMA had everything. The fact that it was a sport made me love it more.

What about the non-sport side as you call it?

Well, non-sport is probably a bad term, I meant non-competitive. That’s the bit that’s most people I think. I like the way you can do it, especially grappling (the wrestling part of mixed martial arts) without having to compete. About 90% of people who train will probably never compete although they’ll prove me wrong I’m sure. It’s great that there are lots of levels. We have a few golden oldies in the gym although I’m sure they won’t appreciate me calling them that. Everyone just does what they can and tries to push themselves on.

Have you ever had to use the skills you know outside of the gym?

Not right outside, I park my car there and I don’t want it dented. Seriously though I think that the best thing that doing this type of training and competition has ever taught me is the restraint and confidence to walk away from a confrontation. I’d say that goes for most people in my situation.

That’s not a no! Go on, any good stories?

Loads. But I’m saving them for my grandkids.

Thank you for your time Barry.

No problem!

Barry Oglesby Runs KO Martial Arts Gym in Glasnevin, Dublin. He is currently promoting The Fight Before Christmas, a Mixed Martial Arts fight night on December 12th. More information can be found at http://www.ko-martialarts.com


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