Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Martial Arts Teach More Than Just Physical Fitness

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Martial Arts Teach More Than Just Physical Fitness

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Boleky

Ben Dostovic and Emir Mulic are a lot different than they were a year ago. For one thing, just look at them. They're bigger, stronger and in better shape. More importantly, since they started fighting mixed martial arts, they're different people.

"I'm in way better shape, and I have more self-confidence and discipline," said Dostovic, a 15-year-old Mandarin High sophomore. "I can focus more on what is important like school work rather than what some other kids are into."

After gaining interest in the Ultimate Fighting Championships in February, Dostovic joined World Martial Arts, a fighting gym on St. Johns Bluff Road. Mulic, also a 15-year-old sophomore at Mandarin, has also joined in the past year.

Success has come quickly to the pair. Each won a gold medal in their weight class at the North American Grappling Association Florida Championships in Miami last month.

While friends, both are very different once on the mat.

"Ben is a technician. He thinks things through. He plays chess with his grappling," said World Martial Arts owner Kenny Barry. "Emir is aggressive. He's more seek and destroy."

Both are good students, and Barry says all of his 20 youth fighters must make honor roll at school. His gym has been in place for 10 years and offers many fighting styles, but MMA is the most popular thanks to the rise of the UFC. World Martial Arts is affiliated with UFC and has had professional fighters like Erik Paulson or Mike Brown come help out at the gym.

"We use a goal-setting model," said Barry. "Maybe they can't do 100 push-ups when they first come, so we set a goal. We move that goal setting to other places in life. Maybe they can't solve for X in algebra class at first, but they set a goal to be able to solve for X. It's a model that's easy to cross over into life."

To learn more about the World Martial Arts gym, visit www. …

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