To go along with its boxing and jiujitsu classes, the Ocoee-based gym is now putting on wrestling and capoeira programs.
| 11:40 a.m. October 17, 2019
Each of the dozen-plus kids standing in line have a simple objective — throw a combo, and then take a few swings at the punching bag at the end of the mat.
One by one, the young martial artists approach instructor, Bruno Antunes, their hands placed in boxing gloves ready to go.
While it looks easy enough to do, it couldn’t be more difficult, said 7-year-old MJ Allen — who has done boxing and jiujitsu for the last three years.
“Just trying to learn the technique and do (it) right, and even learning the combos (is hard),” Allen said. “(I’m out) here two times a week.”
Allen is just one of the many local children who call Fusion X-Cel Performance in Ocoee their home gym, and for them things have gotten even better thanks to a new slate of classes being offered up.
While boxing and jiujitsu classes for children have been a staple at owner/fighter Julien Williams’ gym, the addition of wrestling and capoeira adds new dynamics to what young martial artists can learn.
Capoeira itself is a unique martial art that is always taught to music — think of it as dancing mixed with martial arts, Williams said. The sport has its roots in Brazil, where fighters — who weren’t allowed to do fight training — would mask their practice as a dance.
“They throw a lot of kicks — it’s very footwork heavy and has a lot of movement,” Williams said. “I have never personally done that art, but (Alan Patrick) who is teaching that class is one of my fighters at the gym, and he is a current UFC lightweight — he’s a black belt in Brazilian jiujitsu and a master in capoeira.”
While capoeira offers up something totally unique, the Saturday-morning wrestling class goes perfectly hand-in-hand with the jiujitsu classes.
A big part of jiujitsu is ground combat, and nothing helps shape that better than to also learn wrestling techniques. And who better to teach them than Jakob “Bubba” Scheffel — a former captain of the West Virginia University wrestling team and current professional fighter.
“No matter how good you are in Brazilian jiujitsu, a lot of these tournaments — especially for the kids — they start on your feet, so you have to learn how to wrestle a little bit,” Williams said. “It’s hard to pack it all into one class, so we just figured one day a week when the kids aren’t having competitions.”
One of the guys who’s excited about the new wrestling class is Mark Peace, who holds a brown belt in jiujitsu and also teaches the art alongside Antunes.
The hope is that wrestling will help young martial artists with their jiujitsu, while also possibly introducing the sport to more children. The process of children coming in and really developing through the art — whether that be emotionally, mentally or physically — is the thing that Peace gets the most out of teaching.
“What I enjoy most about it is watching them grow,” Peace said. “I have got kids in this generation that I’ve had for three years. I started the program with five kids, and I have over 40 now.”
That feeling is mutual among the coaches at Fusion X-Cel Performance, especially for Williams, who has two children of his own.
Being able to watch a young martial artist grasp technique and utilize it in a tournament is something that coaches and parents can appreciate.
“Seeing them grow in martial arts, academics or whatever is cool,” Williams said. “And the parents love seeing their kids do cool stuff, especially when they compete, because jiujitsu is crazy — those are 5-year-olds and 6-year-olds … they’re in there competing. Win or lose, it’s just cool seeing their kids out there doing their thing.”