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By Stephane Smarth
The older I get the more I reminisce about what it was like to be a kid. No responsibilities (other than daily chores), paying rent, or any other bill for that matter, buying and cooking food or having to go to work. The only thing that ever really mattered to me was how much playtime I would get on the weekends, video games, playing sports, eating all the candy in the world and getting as dirty as I can. Although life does get a little more exciting when you get older, there are certainly many things I miss as a child. Oh to be a kid again! Luckily for me, I get to re-live my childhood every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday when we have our kids classes because I’m really just a big kid myself.
Since the inception of the kids program a couple of years ago, I have watched a program with just a few kids in the BJJ program under head trainer, Cesar Pereira, flourish into a full, blown-out, kids martial arts program that has about 30 active students. The age ranges from 5 years old to 12 and because the program is so large we’ve also incorporated boxing with Joey Valle and myself heading the Muay Thai program. It may seem like a lot to handle for the kids to partake in three disciplines, but it is working out really well. They are all little sponges and understand how to differentiate between disciplines so it’s an easy transition for them.
Many of the basic techniques that we teach in the adult classes we teach in the kids’ classes, but more importantly, we also continue to strengthen many of the core values that are instilled in them at home. We provide them with structure, create a fun and exciting learning environment, and we also challenge them mentally and physically. Many of them have gained a great amount of confidence in themselves and in their abilities since they first started and it’s been an absolute pleasure to watch their transformation.
Being around and working with children since I was in high school, it has always a challenge working with kids of different ages and abilities, but the C3 kids are different. Everyone brings their own little personality to the table of course, but when it’s time to train, they train. There is a different level of respect in martial arts then let’s say soccer and the students understand that. They bow before stepping onto the mats for BJJ and shake hands with the instructors and their peers in all three disciplines at the end of class.
The kids are great, but what’s a kids a program without the parents, right? After all, these are the people who bring their children to us to get beat up, so it is only appropriate that we acknowledge them. The program is not only filled with awesome kids, but also the amazing parents that dedicate their time to them. Many of them sit and watch as their sons and daughters excel in their disciplines, but what’s even greater is that some of them are members themselves.
The Kim’s, the Murray’s, The Pastor’s, are a few of the families where every family member partakes in a discipline at C3. I’m sure this is awesome for family unity and maybe a little off the mats rough housing at home, but it also strengthens the very core of our existence. They validate that family atmosphere that we promote because C3 Athletics truly is a family gym. Whether directly related or not, when you step foot in the gym you automatically become apart of the family.
Without the kids program and how well it has evolved over the years we would just be another gym. I love my little Nak Muay’s (Thai Fighters) as they really bring an element to C3 that had been missing from when we first opened. We will continue to grow in numbers and push for our students to be the best they can be. We will continue instilling morals, values and discipline in their lives, challenge them, and provide that playful atmosphere they love so much because after all, kids just want to have fun.
By Stephane Smarth
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to try something new? Something that was completely out of your realm or your comfort zone, but were too afraid to do so? Whether the reason is fear, lack of confidence, limited time or not knowing what to expect, I am a firm believer in trying new things now and here is why:
Fear is okay because it’s a primitive instinct. It provokes our fight or flight response, which is essential for our survival, but even in a less threatening atmosphere I think you need fear to appreciate new adventures and to test your own limits.
Confidence will grow as you immerse yourself in whatever it is you want to do. The more you get involved the more you start looking at yourself differently in the mirror.
Time is usually everyone’s biggest problem, but I feel like people always make time for what is important to them. If you really want to try something new make it a priority and you never know what will happen from there.
Expectations can be tricky because if you already know what to expect then trying new things may not be as exciting. At the same time, if you already know what to expect then making the decision to try new things should be relatively easily; either yes or no. Don’t limit yourself based on expectations.
Humans are creatures of habit, which is not necessarily a bad thing, because after all we do have responsibilities i.e., going to work, paying bills, and providing for our families or ourselves. In most cases it is important that we maintain certain habits for daily survival, but by the same token, living a lifestyle driven by our habits potentially leaves us at risk of limiting ourselves from trying new things. I believe that the more you try-whether it be a new language, a new dance, or new foods-the less you surrender yourself to social “norms” and living a bland and boring life.
If you would have asked me years ago “what do you see yourself doing 5 years from now?” I guarantee you that my answer would not have been “I see myself fighting.” Since my life has been driven by competition, it almost seemed appropriate that I fell into this discipline; still, however, there were a lot of doubts and fears going in. After all, fighting is a whole new beast and it takes more than the desire to try something new to step into a ring. Taking that first step was hard, but once I got my foot in the door I discovered a lot about myself and whole new world that I am most grateful for today.
It’s been an absolute thrill ride since day one and there are many firsts that I’ve experienced along the way. It is because of Muay Thai that I have been able to do so. More importantly, it was because I broke certain habits, stopped being scared and took a chance on trying something new.
From my first Muay Thai bout, to my second trip to Thailand, life seemed to be all about trying new things. I ate a scorpion “it was actually pretty good,” I got a traditional style Thai tattoo on my back, learned to speak a little Thai. Well, really only how to say “hello,” “thank you” and “fat,” but I tried nonetheless. I’ve fought in several different weight classes, did a tournament in Florida, and have won two championship titles.
Although the rewards I’ve experienced through taking that plunge into martial arts gave me more motivation and confidence in myself, those same tools also allowed me to explore other things outside of the fight world. I tried out for the step team in college and ultimately became the stepmaster, put on performances for my school, and started youth programs working with inner city high school kids through my fraternity.
While it seems like I am boasting about myself, I’m really not. I have done a lot, but only because making that initial decision to try martial arts has not only opened up the doors for many of those opportunities, but it also gave me a new found confidence in myself to try something new. I became less fearful of attempting something I haven’t done before and it’s opened up my eyes to a world much bigger than the one I was living in before.
Whatever it is that is holding you back there’s always going to be a counterargument. Break free from your daily habits and you’ll be surprised by what you’ll find. Unless you suffer from Neophobia, there should be no reason why you don’t try something new at least once; you never know what doors it will open up for you next. Last blog I proposed the “60 second challenge.” This time I’m challenging you to try at least one new thing this week. Take a picture of whatever it is and tag me on Facebook or Instagram @theonlyshowtime.
By Stephane Smarth:
The best thing about the summer is being able to throw on a pair of shorts, flip flops and a nice comfortable t. There are plenty of barbeques where you get to spend time with friends and family, weddings to attend as love fills the air, and it seems like every weekend we’re celebrating someone’s birthday. We share ice cold drinks at the beach, hangout by the pool and, if we’re lucky, we get take a little vacation time—if we’re lucky. Whether we’re having fun in the sun or partying hard all weekend, there is one common interest we all share at C3 Athletics…fight nights!
Fighting has no seasons, we do this 24/7 365, and while most of you guys have enjoyed some of the summer’s greatest pleasures, C3’s Fight Teams have been hitting it hard in training. From the mats to the ring, we have continued to push each other to the next level in preparation for our next matches or bouts.
Beginning with Muay Thai instructor, Omar Estevez, who has certainly experienced more time spent in the gym than on the beach as he recently competed in back-to-back fights. Starting with his June 14th bout at Warriors Cup in New Jersey, Estevez was not only looking to win in a re-match versus a formidable opponent, Greg Rowe, but he was also looking to regain his title that he lost to Rowe two years ago. It’s safe to say there was a lot at stake for Omar and much like the first time when these two met they both put on a great display of good, clean, and technical Muay Thai. Estevez and Rowe duked it out for 5 great rounds of action and in the end Omar became the new Warriors Cup Welterweight Champ. Following his June 14th bout, Estevez and Team Sitan took a trip down to Washington D.C. to compete in the American Muay Thai league as he faced Jovan Davis out of Seapeanong Gym in Virginia. It was another 5 round bout that went to the judges decision, which favored Davis, but coming off a fight just two weeks prior, and fighting in someone else’s backyard is always a tough mountain to climb. He dominated the clinch landing more significant knees, but it was not enough to secure him a victory.
Next, Team Nomad/C3 Athletics Alex Combs and Chanon Kuldraree both stepped into the ring for their Muay Thai debuts at BattleRock II in Far Rockaway, NY June 28th. Alex was one of the first few fights of the night and despite a loss in his first bout, I have to say I was rather impressed with how calm he was for his first go around. I remember being a nervous wreck going into my first bout, but Combs showed great poise, calmness and control all three rounds landing a lot of solid shots with his hands and moving well defensively. Chanon won his first bout in dramatic fashion with an impressive 47-second knockout in the first round—a body shot that was so crippling that it took his opponent nearly 5 minutes to get up. Fighting a much taller opponent with a little more experience, Kuldraree proved that size and ring time didn’t matter. He plowed through his opponent landing a few devastating blows and a powerful leg kick until he finally finished him. Great outing by both guys, but the summertime fun does not end there.
My plan was to take the summer off, focus on myself and other ventures as well as continue my training in BJJ and explore MMA a little more, but plans are meant to be broken. With the Lion Fight Promotion making their return to the East Coast it only seemed right to try and get on this fight card once again. So from summer fun to summer bum I quickly turned in my flip-flops and cargo pants for Nationman ankle supports and my black FBT thai shorts. It’s really not a bad exchange though. I get to continue doing what I love, continue growing and learning as a fighter and push myself to the next level. Plus it’s summertime so having a nice tight six-pack isn’t a bad tradeoff if you ask me.
It’s going to be great fighting for this awesome promotion again and this time Chanon Kuldraree will be fighting alongside me as he makes Lion Fight 17 debut. We’re both winding down the last few weeks and last few pounds of fight camp as we get set to take the stage August 1st at Foxwoods Casino so we can definitely use all of your support. With that said be sure to pick up your tickets as soon as possible! Only two weeks left to sell them so don’t wait until last minute!!
This sport is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days out of the year. When you love what you do you do it year round anyway.