Friday, November 20, 2009

New MMA Gym Is One-Of-A-Kind In Central Jersey

“MMA stands for mixed martial arts, a fusion of striking sports, such as boxing, kickboxing and karate, with the grappling of wrestling, judo and Brazilian jiu jitsu (or BJJ). The sign has been a beacon for nearly 100 warriors inspired by the country’s fastest-growing sport. They have been flocking to the two-month-old Strategic Combat Academy because of its superior equipment and top-notch training. ‘I came by because I saw the sign,’ said Sam Burkhardt, a 20-year-old from Old Bridge. ‘Now I’m here six days a week, three hours a day.’ Inside a padded steel cage -- that is square rather than the octagon shape made famous by the Ultimate Fighting Championship and other MMA promotions -- Burkhardt often is joined by 20 others for two- to three-minute rounds of punching, striking and conditioning in owner John Narleski’s “sick” MMA class. A one-time state champion kickboxer, Narleski retired just before the UFC made MMA mainstream. Now he’s back training everyone from newbies, whose addiction to the sport led them into his gym, to amateur and professional fighters. The lifelong Sayreville resident said he opened a gym to which he wanted to belong, one he couldn’t find anywhere else in Central Jersey, yet are plentiful in the MMA mecca of Las Vegas, as well as such strongholds as California and Florida.”

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