Lions Den Martial Arts On Tap At Payson Athletic Club

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Payson Athletic Club will play host tomorrow (Saturday) to one of the most unusual self-defense and martial arts demonstrations to appear in the Rim country.

From noon until 1 p.m in the aerobics room at PAC, martial arts Instructor Eric Nyenhuis, will showcase his skills in what he calls "no rules fighting." He's calls his presentation "Arizona Lions Den."

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Martial arts instructor Eric Nyenhuis (on his back) practiced his self defense and fighting skills Tuesday at Payson Athletic Club against Donnie Brenner. At noon tomorrow at PAC, Nyenhuis will host a free orientation about his sport.

As menacing as no rules fighting and Lions Den might sound, Nyenhuis claims his style of martial arts is a hybrid variety designed for self-defense.

The self-defense program, he says, can be used by flight attendants, pilots, air marshals, law enforcement officers, the military and in rape and kidnap prevention.

During Nyenhuis' orientation, he will provide a free demonstration of his program that includes styles of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, Greco-Roman wrestling, kickboxing, submission wrestling and ultimate fighting.

Nyenhuis' claims his fighting style is different than many others in that it teaches self defense when combatants are on the ground.

"Most (martial arts) are about fighting standing up," he said. "But that rarely happens, most of the time you are on the ground."

In studying various fighting styles for the past 20 years, Nyenhuis says he was able to obtain "three or four black belts."

One of the biggest influences in Nyenhuis' fighting philosophy has been the founder of the Gracie Jiu-jitsu Academy -- Helio Gracie.

After being taught traditional jiu-jitsu during his childhood years in Brazil, Gracie broke away from the norm to begin a unique style of martial arts that depends on leverage more than raw power.

"Size and strength have nothing to do with it," Nyenhuis said. "It's all about perfecting techniques."

According to the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy website, Gracie -- who was 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighed 90 pounds -- was the first sports hero in Brazilian history. He is said to have challenged boxing icons Primo Carnera, Joe Louis and Ezzard Charles to fights. They all declined, the site says.

He also fought world wrestling champion Wladek Zbyszko and the No. 2 Jiu-jitsu fighter in the world -- Kato.

Former ultimate fighting champion Ken Shamrock and martial arts expert Joe Hurley also played a role in developing the Lions Den fighting and self-defense style.

Payson Athletic Club owner Keven Rush says he has reviewed the martial arts program and is convinced it has real benefits.

At tomorrow's demonstration, Nyenhuis anticipates spectators from California, Washington and the Valley will be on hand to observe the proceedings.

Nyenhuis and Rush are both hoping the Payson community turns out in force.

Nyenhuis also expects the seminar to be professionally video taped for showing on national cable television.

For those interested in learning the self-defense techniques, weekly classes at PAC will begin May 3. For more information, call Nyenhuis at 468-5466 or Rush at 474-0916.

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