Mixed Martial Arts: Affordable Approach A Key Target For Carrick

by James Hendicott

BALLYFERMOT’S Ryoshin mixed martial arts club is pushing its community-driven, “for everyone” agenda by adding an affordable Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition to its training regime, with the tournament set to take place in July.
Run by Tony Carrick, the successful gym has taken home a number of major belts in recent years, and is part of a largely “for the love of it” empire that Carrick has built across the UK, Germany and Ireland – with a second gym in Kerry in the offing – having spent a decade training in Japan.
The latest tournament endeavour has twin aims: to counter the prohibitive costs of most tournaments by pricing entry in the €10-15 range, and to bring in additional funds that will help keep gym membership costs down.
For a gym kitted out with its own cage, boxing ring and padded floor for other martial arts, Ryoshin’s membership is very affordable, starting at €55 a month, and incorporating up to six days a week of training within that price but hosting in their own building and the relative lack of additional costs enables the affordable tournaments.
“The tournaments will start at age ten because we’ve found from travelling to tournaments that a lot of our younger kids will see the older lads go off and come back with belts.
“They’re asking themselves ‘what am I training for?” gym manager Joanna Morgan explains of the plan. “There’s a lot of attrition in teenagers with sport, and stuff like this can keep them going, and off the streets.”
Carrick outlines a bit of the history of the gym, explaining that since opening in Dublin in late 2009, they’ve taken home 13 MMA belts and a K1 (kickboxing) title. Having said that, he’s keen to emphasise that the top-end competition is not the overall focus.
“We’ve won tournaments that very professional gyms, like Conor McGregor’s gym [Straight Blast in Walkinstown], have never won,” he explains, highlighting their EFC Africa title won through Henry Fadipe.
“But we get a lot of youngsters coming in because they felt like the more pro-focused gyms don’t consider them a priority.
“That’s how we want it, we don’t do this for the titles. We’re not making any money from it, really, either, we’re down here six days a week because it’s what we want to do. We all have day jobs,” he explains.
Morgan is keen to invite newcomers down, emphasising the social benefits of the disciplined training regimes.
“I think there are a lot of people who don’t realise we’re here, though we get an influx after every McGregor fight,” she explains. “Mixed martial arts is for all kinds of people. We get mothers bringing in kids who are getting bullied, not to learn to fight, but to learn some confidence and self-belief.
“Then we get the bullies, and they learn discipline. A lot of what we do in MMA is about discipline and self-control.”
Carrick concludes: “We take it very seriously. This isn’t swimming lessons, you know? Safety is really important, and we can spend a lot of time reassuring parents, which I understand. But it can absolutely transform people.”

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