Students bring mixed martial arts to the Grinnell campus

Ian Warlick '10 spars with David Paige '09 (holding the pad) as Paul Bellora '10 (Left) and Sam Sherwood '12 (Right) look on enthusiastically. - Michelle Fournier

Ian Warlick '10 spars with David Paige '09 (holding the pad) as Paul Bellora '10 (Left) and Sam Sherwood '12 (Right) look on enthusiastically. - Michelle Fournier

This semester, the mats and pads of a dingy, windowless room in the PEC have been getting quite a workout.

Five days weeks, a group of students gather in the mat room to exercise and practice the technical aspects of different martial arts.
“We’re just a couple of guys who work out together and trade what we know about the martial arts,” said Ian Warlick ’10.

Warlick and David Paige ’09, both members of the College’s swim team, started the workout sessions last year. Paige said he tried to start a mixed martial arts club two years ago, but “it really failed pretty terribly” due to differences of opinion over the nature of the club.

The group is mainly focused on fitness, from running to lifting weights. “I don’t want people to get the impression that it’s a fight club, that it’s really violent,” Warlick said. “We do spar but not a lot.”

According to both Paige and Warlick, the group teaches each other using the internet and books and by drawing on the members’ experience in several different martial arts, including Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and forms of wrestling. The group has expanded to seven members, and they have been working out since the end of the swim season.

“There’s a good base of people who actually do martial arts, and if you can find them and get them into the mat room they can teach you a lot,” Paige said. “What I fundamentally believe about martial arts is that you can’t be exclusionary.”

The appeal of the workouts is different for each participant, though the group agrees that the workouts are overall a great experience.
“What I like most is that your really get the chance to compete with other students,” said Anthony Oliveri ’09, a regular participant in the club. “But in a friendly, not antagonist way.”

According to Paige, one of the major problems the group has encountered is the state of the mat room. “It’s abysmal the way that room is treated,” Paige said. “A decent kick will go right through those pads.”

However, Paige and Warlick are overall pleased with the way their workouts are progressing. “What we’ve got going on is a lot of fun,” Warlick said. “I’m very happy with what we’ve got.”

Currently, the group is not an official club and does not receive SGA funding. The members have decided against pursuing official club status because of the obligation implied with it. “I didn’t try asking for money because I remember the fiasco last time,” said Paige.

Despite not being a club, members accomplish a lot and learn from each other. “When I’m in there, I’m student and teacher,” Paige said. “I get a real sense of accomplishment. I really want to be a teacher after I leave Grinnell. Just the act of teaching something to someone and realizing how that makes you feel … that has been invaluable.”