BUSINESS August 22nd, 2012

By Ann Ruppenstein

MMA gym fights myths of the sport

Grant Brothers gym even expands to include kids classes

Grant Brothers MMA and Boxing Gym co-owners Neil Forester and Ryan “RG” Grant believe what happens at their gym warrants a television show.

“We kind of joke about it but it’s not even a joke,” says Forester. “We can probably set up cameras in here and it would be a reality TV show.”

Of many entertaining moments, they are often privy to people who believe they could quickly rise up to challenge professional fighters like UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

“Once a week we have a guy come in off the street who has decided he wants to be a fighter but without any experience, any skill set, any understanding of what he’s got to have,” he says. “By the end of the first class they’re literally throwing up — never mind they have no skill — but their cardio is so bad that they don’t realize the cardio involved in it.”

Grant, a former amateur fighter and the gym’s boxing trainer, says his goal is for everyone to realize it’s not a game but a professional combat sport that can hurt not their opponents, but also themselves.

“This is not days, not months, not weeks, this is years and years and years and years of practice and dedication and discipline,” he says. “I want these guys to take the understanding of what they’re doing and I make a lot of references to real life situations. Are you going to cross the street without you looking both sides? That’s like you punching a guy and you’re not looking at your opponent.”

The gym, located on Dufferin Street at Dolomite Drive, offers Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing, judo, Shotokan karate, Muay Thai, Sambo, Olympic wrestling and mixed martial arts training for beginners to advanced by trainers such as pro mixed martial arts and UFC fighter Sean Pierson. They also offer private lessons, lunch hour boxercise classes and recently launched programming for kids from four to 12 years old called mini-me MMA.

“That’s the new program so it focuses a bit on anti-bullying, staying in shape as well as self defence techniques and we try and also teach them some of the benefits of doing martial arts,” Forester says. “We just felt like it was a component that we were missing.”

As for the future, they plan to build on what they’re doing and continue to work with the school board, at risk youth and the Toronto police.

“If you really look further in depth as to what we do, what we offer and some of the things involved in it I think you’ll kind of look past two guys just trying to punch each other in the face and hurt each other because that’s not what it is,” says Forester. “We’re going to be fighting these misconceptions for a while to come but we’re breaking ground and we worked to help get the sport legitimized and sanctioned in the province and we’re just going to continue doing things for the benefit of the sport.”