Martial Arts School Combines Best Practices

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Rim country residents now have access to martial arts training that incorporates the best practices of many different disciplines.

Wyatt Shepherd opened Pankration Martial Arts about six months ago and is offering classes for both children and adults.

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Student Kyle Hoover and head instructor Wyatt Shepherd show one of the ground moves taught in Pankration Martial Arts, a discipline that takes different skills from various techniques.

"This is my first experience as an instructor on my own," Shepherd said. "But I taught at the schools where I trained."

Shepherd has studied the mixed martial arts for eight years and has black belts in both Jujitsu and Judo.

"Jujitsu and Judo form the core of the program," he said. In addition to these two disciplines, mixed martial arts in Pankration include Muay Thai kickboxing and grappling. There are also techniques integrated from Karate, Tae Kwondo and Kung Fu.

"It is a hybrid martial arts system that has take the techniques that actually work from all martial arts system and put them into one," Shepherd said. He said there are only a few moves that work and the rest is

meditating in most other disciplines.

Pankration Martial Arts covers all facets of fighting and explores every possible scenario that could occur in a real life fight -- from standing to clinching to take downs, and finally ground moves.

Shepherd said about 90 percent of fights end up on the ground, so the main focus of self-defense should be ground moves.

He said both men and women can learn the techniques, and in fact, experts believe Pankration is the most effective system of self-defense for women.

"It is now being taught to our armed forces as the preferred means of hand-to-hand combat," he said.

It can also be learned by all ages.

The focus of Pankration Martial Arts is to promote a sense of balance, respect, hard work, self-discipline and friendship, Shepherd said. The results are a healthier body and mind, heightened self-esteem, improved character and the ability to defend yourself.

Self-defense, however, should only be used as a last resort in solving problems, disagreements or conflicts, he said.

The training can also be applied to competitions like "The Ultimate Fighting Championship," but on local, district, state and regional levels, he said.

"We use the same techniques exhibited in ‘The Ultimate Fighting Championship,'" Shepherd said.

Pankration is the form of martial arts practiced by the Greeks as far back as 800 B.C. and was part of the earliest Olympic Games. It was brought to India by Alexander the Great, and is believed to be the origin of Asian martial arts.

Currently about 10 children and 15 adults are enrolled in Shepherd's classes, but there is room for more. The classes for children are from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday. Adult classes are 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The fee is $30 per month for the building rent, utilities and equipment needed for training.

Shepherd is also certified emergency medical technician, so he can handle any accident that might occur.

Anyone interested in learning more about Pankration Martial Arts can visit the classes, which are held a 1505 W. Red Baron Road, Suite B, Payson. For more information, call (928) 468-1675 or (928) 978-0631.

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