Tuesday, February 18, 2014

7 Days in NYC: Tuesday - 2.18.14


There are coaches who make jiu-jitsu competitors and coaches who make MMA fighters. Justin Garcia - whose school, the Jungle Gym, is nestled under the elevated tracks of the 6 train in the Bronx - makes warriors. I know this because I've seen his "tribe" go to war, at Ring of Combat in Atlantic City, N.J., and at nearby amateur MMA shows. The chants, the cheers, the ferocity, the unity - it's not hard to imagine that in another time and another place, the walls of the Jungle Gym would be adorned with the ears and scalps of foes long since vanquished.

Of course, I don't actually expect to see dangling ears or scalps today. Such savagery has no place in the modern world (the gym's Bronx location notwithstanding), and Justin's more about the whole "pressure to power" philosophy than crushing enemies and hearing the lamentations of their women. No, on the short drive across the RFK Bridge and up the Bruckner, I'm anticipating a friendly vibe and a chat with one of the best instructors in the Five Boroughs.

I first met Justin (a.k.a. "Master Chim") in 2005, at a Sportfighting event in Hoboken. Sportfighting was the short-lived MMA venture of Brian Cimins, the man behind Grapplers Quest, and just prior to Justin's dramatic and intense entrance, some kid named Frankie Edgar had choked out a local fan-favorite named Jay Isip. But all that came before on that night and all that came after paled in comparison to the fire Justin brought into the ring with him, and the audience packed into the gymnasium at the Stevens Institute of Technology responded in kind. And if, by some strange miracle, a reporter from the New York Times or ESPN had wandered into the venue and sat through the whole show on that chilly December evening (and it was fucking cold outside, believe me), the sum of the resulting article would've been about the god of war from the Bronx and the devastation he had wrought.

But it's 2014 now, and as I enter the gym and am directed into Justin's office, I'm greeted by the natural evolution of jiu-jitsu black belt and fighting badass-turned wise instructor. Sure, his walls are adorned with weapons - a Spartan spear, a katana, a pair of rapiers, an axe, and even a Klingon bat'leth - but his shelves are thick with books on a wide range of subjects, and the framed picture on his desk of his wife and three young sons in jiu-jitsu gis speaks volumes of just how that erupting volcano of a temperament was cooled.

Welcome to "7 Days in NYC"


It may be the last state to resist sanctioning the sport, but as it is, New York already has a ton of MMA and MMA-related stuff going on within its borders. So much so in fact that stuff can be written about it daily - which is why, for the next seven days, I'm going to be going out and gathering news pertaining to MMA in the Big Apple and posting it here on MMA Journalist. Expect a bunch of interviews, event coverage (there are two MMA shows in New York City this weekend), videos... the works.

Welcome to "7 Days in NYC" (#7DaysInNYC on Twitter).

Go Behind the Scenes at CFFC 25


Last June the Cage Fury Fighting Championship went to Pennsylvania (as they are known to sometimes do) for their 25th show. Since Pennsylvania is a bit far for my driving tastes, I did not go, but thankfully, CFFC did this behind the scenes video. Enjoy!