MHS Junior Diljot Singh is a black belt mixed martial arts (MMA) student from the West Coast Ernie Reyes Martial Arts School. Students go to the school in hopes of learning the physical aspect of martial arts on how to defend themselves, as well as how to develop character, according to Singh.
Like most combat sports, mixed martial arts sparring takes place on a mat; however, mixed martial arts can contain any combination of martial arts techniques, Singh said. West Coast Ernie Martial Arts School is a taekwondo and kickboxing based school, but students also practice self-defense and grappling, according to Singh.
“The best part about MMA is how versatile it is,” Singh said. “Instead of having a narrow point of focus like taekwondo being centered around kicks or boxing revolving around punches, MMA is a combination of all these various martial arts from all over the world, and that’s what makes it so unique and fun.”
According to Singh, he joined mixed martial arts at the age of 12, around late Dec. 2012. His passion for martial arts started to develop when he watched action movies as a young child, which prompted him to pursue mixed martial arts classes, Singh said. Training in mixed martial arts allowed him to gain confidence and faith in himself, Singh continued.
“I remember these movies like the Karate Kid or Ip Man would always have these cool fights scenes with awe-filling choreography and combat,” Singh stated. “I begged my mom to sign me up for some sort of martial arts so I could accomplish my goal of being some 100 year old kung fu master that had a long beard and someone that everyone revered and respected.”
Famous martial artists such as Bruce Lee, Donnie Yen, and Jet Li are his inspiration, Singh said. These martial artists dedicated themselves to martial arts not only as an interest but as a lifestyle, Singh continued.
“MMA to me means being ready for any situation,” Singh stated. “You can defend yourself in a thousand ways, and that’s what makes it so unique.”
Singh practices mixed martial arts about four to five times a week at West Coast Ernie Reyes, and tries to go as much as he can, Singh said. It is critical to practice well, not just mundanely because the latter will get you nowhere, according to Singh.
“Each class is about an hour long and when we’re not perfecting the techniques we’ve already learned, we’re learning new stuff,” Singh explained. “As my instructor likes to say, ‘Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.’”
As a black belt, Singh’s favorite techniques are the wheel kick and the roundhouse kick. Both skills are very fast and can help one win easily if executed properly, according to Singh. Furthermore, through his journey to becoming a black belt, taught him lessons such as determination, honor, and discipline which helped him develop as an individual, he continued.
“Being a black belt to me means always striving for top performance and being a role model to the lower belts,” Singh said. “This puts a constant sense of responsibility on my shoulders.”
As a combat athlete, he does not have plans for mixed martial arts when it comes to career choices, Singh stated. However, he plans to keep practicing because he does not want to lose the valuable lessons he learned, Singh explained. Through mixed martial arts, Singh learned that things never get easier; one just gets better, according to Singh.
“I’m not going to become a UFC fighter or dedicate my entire life to fighting or anything like that, but I will keep practicing whether it be on my own or with others,” Singh said. “Martial arts is not about beating someone up just because you can, it is about being ready to defend yourself if the situation arises and protect the people who cannot protect themselves. Although I’m shifting my areas of interest more towards other sports such as badminton or dolphin-hunting, I will never forget the thousands of lessons I learned and was taught through martial arts.”