Grady Lee Thomas
The University of La Verne played host to Blood Bank Mixed Martial Arts academy, which set up shop in Sneaky Park this week to raise awareness of martial arts and the benefits participation offers.
Attendees watched closely as owner and professional MMA fighter Aaron “Blood Spiller” Miller instructed his own students various techniques, ranging from striking to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
The goal of the demonstration was to show students and faculty that fighting should be used to protect oneself.
“When I opened the gym, it was to bring the community of Hacienda Heights MMA,” Miller said. “I wanted people to see that fighting as a sport is not about violence, but a way to protect yourself.
“Training MMA for fun is not about beating someone up, it is about learning to protecting yourself.”
Located 15 minutes from campus, Blood Bank MMA offers a variety of fighting techniques and styles, including: boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, Muay Thai, submission grappling and kickboxing.
Men, women and children of all ages attend the gym in order to lose weight, learn self-defense and gain more self-esteem.
“I used to get in fights all the time and now I know I have nothing to prove, besides I’m not getting paid for it,” Miller said. “People come to me all the time and tell me that they’ve lost weight, improved at school or work, all because they now have the structure that MMA also provides.”
“When I opened the gym, my hopes were that everyone can come train, I wanted to make it affordable to everyone,” Miller said. “We began with one 800 square-foot building and now we are at 3,000 square feet in just under two years, with over 200 members.”
Whether a fan of MMA or not, people of all ages are beginning to look to MMA cross-fit training to help them reach personal fitness goals.
“I first got involved by watching MMA on television and being a bigger guy, I wanted to build some self-confidence and lose weight, while doing something fun,” Alex Correa, Miller’s assistant said. “One day I decided I wanted to try something different, so I stopped by the gym to workout and have seen drastic changes ever since, not only to my body, but also in my personal life.”
“Everyone needs to learn self-defense, because you never know when something will happen,” Jacob Acevedo, senior business major, said. “Sometimes a fight chooses you, so it is beneficial to know how to defend yourself if anything unsuspected were to ever happen.
“Besides the self-defense, it is a great way to workout and get in shape while having fun.”
Blood Bank features two fight teams and a Jiu-Jitsu competition team.
There are 12 amateur fighters and four professional fighters that attend the gym and train alongside with the regular members.
Grady Lee Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.