People call me the God-father of Pakistan MMA. Here is a short story about how it all started in Pakistan…
In the fall of ’07 I was speaking to a cousin of mine who lives in California. During our conversation we discovered that we both had plans of giving back to our home country of Pakistan. I was born in Pakistan and then moved to the United States at the age of three. My cousin was born in the United States.
I can speak pretty good Urdu, I would honestly assess myself at like a 12 year old level while my cousin is probably at a 5 (sorry dude, but you know its true). We’re both Americans through and through.
In fact we realize this every time we come to Pakistan that our mannerisms, style and habits are all 100% American. Our outlooks on life and attitudes towards people and events are all American. That is not to say the foundation of what we became in America wasn’t molded via the fact that we were brought up in our homes in a Pakistani cultural home life. We are just one of the many millions of American youth you are straddling two identities.
I am giving you all this background so you can get a clearer picture of the process that went on and will go on when this Pakistani MMA things starts to really get itself off the ground.
So back to our conversation.
While talking to my cousin we both discovered we wanted to give back to our country. I told him about my plan to set up an MMA camp there that would be more than just a camp but a community center with a gym for training, a small school maybe a skills learning center that taught kids how to use computers etc… He thought it was a good idea and he had some ideas of his own for what he wanted to do over here.
Anyway, after this conversation we decided that on our next trip to Pakistan (Dec 07) we were gonna set the stage for bringing the sport of MMA to the country. So on on December of ’07 me and my cousin went to Pakistan. Being Pakistani and having a family numbering around 5,000 people we return often, about once every two years to visit our grandparents, multitudes of aunts and uncles and loads and loads of cousins.
This trip however had a very special meaning. We were going to lay the first brick in creating the foundation for Mixed Martial Arts in Pakistan. We had high hopes for the trip; I would dare say it felt like a part of our destiny. By chance we even boarded the same flight on a stopover in London that would go onwards to Islamabad.
We didn’t really have much to start with. Our plan was to go to some dusty cricket field where kids gathered to play sports and start hitting some pads, doing some light sparring and rolling. We hoped that this would attract some attention with which to get a group of guys together. What happened was even better. A cousin of mine told me that there was a TKD teacher in our hometown. I decided to go check him out and talk to him and see what he might know about the sport of MMA. The guy had no clue but was open in letting me train with his class. I went to his class later that evening and once again the next day. On day number three he said he had some work to do and that I should start warming up the class and he would return in a bit. Well, he didn’t return and I decided to start teaching MMA.
I think the first day I did some basic boxing and ended the class with ground fighting. The kids became very interested. The next day the TKD instructor told me that I could teach the class for the rest of the time I was there. This was perfect. I didn’t have to stand in some dusty cricket ground next to a landfill trying to get garbage scavengers to become my new students. I had a core group of two dozen kids who were already interested in Martial Arts to work with. From that day on and for the next three weeks I would bring in video clips of great MMA fighters, Sakuraba, Rampage, Silva etc… I explained to the kids the philosophy of MMA that its not about the style but the fighter. That the best way in the words of Bruce Lee was “NO WAY.” Take what works for you and put the rest to the side. After three weeks I had a core group of a dozen or so kids who had become convinced that MMA was the premier way to fight and to train. It just made such logical sense to them and there was now no other style that they could train in and in my opinion these kids are going to become the first MMA fighters in Pakistan.
To be continued……..
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