In the beginning, MMA was two athletes, two styles, no rules, and a cage. Today it is still two athletes and a cage but everything else has changed.
The evolution of MMA has come a long way and shown no sign of slowing. The constant change found within the sport has become the root of the competition.
What once was superior has now become obsolete.
Individually disciplined masters with clashing styles no longer rule the cage, eclectic mosaics now set the tone. The George St. Pierre’s and Jose Aldo’s now set the example of an elite fighter.
The sport will eventually surpass even today’s king by attracting competitors at a younger age. Now through more widespread acceptance, younger people are finding MMA an intriguing alternative.
Very soon true mixed martial arts phenoms will bring the sport into the future, they are watching, learning, and waiting to turn the page.
It is the understanding and appreciation their parents have for the finer points of MMA that allows them to pursue it as a viable athletic aspiration.
Mr. and Mrs. Batara are such parents. They have found the influence of martial arts on their children to be very rewarding. They have seen the unique benefit of what martial arts can do for the character of a person in addition to physical ability.
Their children Dominick and Kyra are Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champions. They are ages seven and sixteen respectively. They are articulate, well mannered, and focused young martial artists.
Hurtsbad.com had the distinct honor of speaking with both the Batara family and Ed Soares of Black House recently. The discussion really gave insight into what is sure to be two young competitors who are destined to put their mark on MMA.
Having the opinion of a man like Ed Soares, who represents some of the best fighters in the world, was very unique as he shared his take on the Batara children. He sees great potential for MMA when comparing the present and the future athletes of the sport.
“I think the best has yet to come. When you look at a kid like Dominick, this kid is seven years old, imagine what this kid is going to be like when he’s twenty one. We are going to see a whole new evolution of athletes.”
Soares also stated, “I think there are some incredible fighters, like the ones we manage, Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, the Nogueira brothers, it goes on and on there is an endless list, and that's just the guys I manage.”
He added, “There are other guys like Georges St. Pierre, B.J. Penn, Frankie Edgar there are so many good fighters. But I think this next generation is going to be a completely different breed.”
At seven Dom finds MMA to be fun and said when he competed to win his world championship that at first he was nervous, but then once things got going he settled in and was quite at home on the mats.
His signature move is the Peruvian necktie.
Dom is an avid collector of MMA figurines and boasts quite an array of his favorite competitors. This young man is a wizard and trains in all aspects of martial arts with his big sister Kyra. If he continues on the path he is on, maybe someday he will have his own figurine.
Kyra holds a great opportunity in her hands. This young women has the desire, ability, and composure to become an asset to the ongoing struggle that is women’s MMA.
The struggle truly is a shame because these women are world class athletes and worthy of genuine appreciation as mixed martial artists. Women like Christiane Santos, Miesha Tate, Sarah Kaufman, and Megumi Fujii are working hard to change uneducated perceptions.
Watching and following their lead is young Kyra Batara. She is being groomed to take the torch when the time is right and prove to everyone that female competitors are the real deal.
Ed Soares thinks she has what it takes. “She is the perfect candidate to help that. It’s still not as popular and not as accessible as men's MMA. I think in time more and more women are going to be getting involved.”
Her father Dean, a Team Quest member, discussed how MMA has influenced both his children.
“It has definitely changed them on a professional and maturity level. I mean they are kids. Dom is only seven. If you pulled him aside and bench marked him against 100 seven-year olds, Dom is extremely mature for his age. And if it wasn't for martial arts I don't know if he would be at that stage.”
He went on to say, “It’s the same with Kyra. It’s so distracting for teenagers these days, staying focused, and all the drama that happens for a teen. They need an avenue to ensure they have the proper support and structure to succeed in life.”
He added, “We use martial arts as a guiding tool also. Their future is in tact, they have goals, they have passion. They learn respect, they learn dedication, and putting in the time to get results. It just teaches them life stories and lessons to carry them through their entire lives.”
Kyra discussed how she feels martial arts has influenced her. “It helps my confidence a lot. It has helped me grow as a person, both physically and mentally. I carry myself a lot better now that I'm in Jiu Jitsu, and competing is just awesome. I love meeting new people, and seeing people from other gyms and their styles. And I love training with my brother and working with him at home and at the gym.”
Certain aspects of training really appeal to Kyra. “I really like just getting everything out and learning new techniques. I love all the different submissions and everything that we can do. I really like doing the Gi throws, those are always my favorite. There are so many controls, it’s just really fun being out there and doing what I love to do.”
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the BJJ champ. Before she won her title she had to overcome deep adversity.
Kyra suffered a very traumatic shoulder injury during a wrestling meet that started with an awkward landing on a take down. She was urged to continue and compete through the injury by a coach, and the injury progressed from there throughout the competition.
She dented bone, tore cartilage, broke ribs, bruised her collar bone, and strained muscles. She wound up going through surgery to rehabilitate.
It was a long road back for this young woman but she persevered and came out on top and is now boring full steam ahead at 100%.
She lit up when asked how it felt to finally compete again. “It was amazing, being out for that long was tearing me up inside. Just seeing my brother roll, and going to all the competitions, I hated being the one sitting on the side lines.”
Kyra added, “When I got back in there, my first competition back was the Oregon Open. I had a full bracket of all boys, I was going to give it my all and prove to them that I deserve to be there and that I'm just as good as they are. I definitely did that. I was so happy to be back from my injury.”
Kyra and her brother Dom had the distinct honor of spending some time at the Team Black House facility. This gym is home to some of the sport’s absolute best champions, legends, and mixed martial artists.
Ed Soares mentioned how he hoped the experience would help motivate the young athletes.
“Being able to train at Black House and walk in and see Anderson Silva getting off the mat and then training on the same mat where Anderson or maybe Lyoto just trained on, hopefully that helps keep them motivated and focused.”
Kyra discussed the experience.
“That was awesome. Being down there was a privilege. While we were down there we were training and Anderson Silva was right there getting his massage. That was really cool. We also saw the Nogueira brothers the next day.”
She went on to say, “It was really cool being invited to a gym where just pro guys go. We felt honored to be down there. I want to thank Ed Soares for that, he has been really helpful with everything.”
Dom lit up when asked about the experience and talked about how proud he was to work out with world champion Anderson Silva standing off to the side watching him roll.
When asked what advice a world class manager would give to the Batara’s or any young people looking at MMA as an option Soares had this to say.
“At this point it’s just to try and instill good morals and worth ethic. And kids should know it’s not easy, if it were easy everyone would want to do it. Everyone wants to be the champ, and when you sacrifice your time and effort and sacrifice things to become what you are that is what makes the difference.”
“Stay focused and train hard.”
As mentioned before Kyra is a world champion Jiu Jitsu player. She was very proud to talk about the experience of earning that title.
“It was a really big privilege, it was an honor that all my hard work and gym time paid off. Me and Dom put in a lot of hours at the gym, my parents too. Got to thank them for bringing us to the gyms, and traveling all over. It was a fifteen hour drive to go down there, so you've got to bring home the medals for that one.”
Dean discussed the pride he and his wife feel with their children's accomplishments through hard work.
“That's probably one of the most rewarding pieces. I see the training time, my wife and I are constantly going to the gym, back and forth investing hours upon hours in wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, boxing, Muay Thai. We are jumping gyms just to get a well rounded training approach for the kids.”
He added, “All the hard work is always done in the gym, and I always tell them, the reward is going to show when you get there on mat day when that competition hits. That’s the easy part. The hard part is putting the hours in the gym and the dedication you have to put forth.”
That type of leadership and guidance is the catalyst for the improvement of both the children’s future and consequently the future of MMA.
Mr. and Mrs. Batara are influencing their children in a way that will guide them to realize their potential both in life and as athletes.
Within that potential lie the roots of the next great evolution of this sport. Dom and Kyra Batara represent that inevitable change.
Kyra made it clear what her intentions are moving forward. When asked if she spends time thinking about how she can excel and influence the sport she had this to say.
“I do think about it all the time. Both me and my brother we want to be pro fighters. Women's MMA isn't that big right now but I think it’s growing a lot. I really want to be a part of that, and be an icon for girls to look up to. Girls can do any sport that guys can do, and it’s really cool getting that out there.”
Women’s MMA couldn't have asked for a better representative of the potential found in the future of their craft. To further that, all of MMA is going to be better for welcoming these youngsters into its ranks.
It should be quite compelling to watch them make her mark on MMA as they continue to become the competitors they intend to be. The future is bright indeed.
This article originally posted at Hurtsbad.com