Seychelles Combat Athletics Academy Combat academy to promote health, fitness, self-defence, character building | 15 January 2020
Seychelles Combat Athletics Academy was created in June 2016 as the upgrade of the formerly Team Street Blast Fight club which existed since 2003 to propagate mixed martial arts locally.
Being one of the original founders of Team Street Blast, Denis Cesar left Seychelles for an 11-year journey in March 2005 to June 2016 in the pursuit of extensive knowledge and proficiency within the realm of functional martial arts training, coaching and competition.
Combat Athletics Academy’s mission is to promote functional martial arts as the functional solution for health, fitness, self-defence, character building, harnessing problem-solving skills and instilling a moral code of conduct in guiding individuals to uphold themselves according to the principles of the Bushido Code 7 virtues (integrity, respect, heroic courage, honour, compassion, honesty and sincerity, duty and loyalty).
The academy adopts one virtue per weekday and one virtue over six-week period where academy athletes reflect and apply the virtues in areas of their day-to-day lives.
Furthermore, academy athletes at each training benefit from a 15-minute life coaching session where the message is meant towards finding parallel of individual belt levels syllabus principles application in the modes of their day-to-day lives.
The Bushido Code together with Combat Athletics principles application is meant to create a moral compass first and foremost so as to entice athletes to reflect on the life principles they hold dear and entice them to adopt attributes which will motivate them to grow in the attainment of a greater vision of themselves.
There are two main areas Seychelles Combat Athletics Academy focuses on in terms of programme – striking arts and grappling arts – which cover the three main zones of combat.
These are stand up striking range, clinch wrestling + throwing / take down range and ground grappling / submission range.
In stand up striking range disciplines are boxing and kickboxing; the clinch wrestling + throwing / take down range disciplines include Olympic wrestling + fundamental judo; while the ground grappling / submission range disciplines include Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and submission grappling / No Gi.
The reality of self-defence and un-armed combat dictates that all three ranges are essentials and for proficiency in defending oneself effectively one must primordially study and apply the combative arts individually in a syllabus based on weekly lessons after which stripes and coloured belts are awarded over time.
Neophytes are awarded their first stripe six weeks after successfully post joining and completing Seychelles Combat Athletics Academy basic course, and successful attainment of annual benchmark stripes / belt change is at the annual academy anniversary in July. Athletes have to earn four stripes before ascending to the next belt.
Belt colours are white, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, and coral belt black. The journey from white to black belt is approximately 10 to 15 years, which ensure proficiency on tatami and application growth of Seychelles Combat Athletics Academy principles in the day-to-day lives.
Academy structure and main objective
It was decided early on that for the Seychelles Combat Athletics Academy to function efficiently that it will require a core board members elected every five years and run according to a constitution. The resolution was made to register key combative arts as a federation with the Office of the Registrar so to provide in-depth specialist training, development and local as well as international representation in competition, namely Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The federation was registered with the Office of the Registrar on September 8, 2016 and with the Olympic Wrestling Federation on July 12, 2018.
Seychelles Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Grappling Federation
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an evolving art from Kodokan judo with emphasis on ground game (Newaza).
The art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been proven in efficiency in a myriad of combative arts and has developed as a key discipline in the whole combative game. Hence, why the local academy has over the years invested lots of efforts to have Seychelles’ first group of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blue belts and Seychelles first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt awarded on November 25, 2018 after 14 years of training.
Seychelles (Olympic) Wrestling Federation
Olympic Wrestling being the oldest combative sports since the ancient Olympic Games was introduced in Seychelles around year 2000 with the introduction of mixed martial arts and officially in 2008.
Considering the art plays a vital role in clinch game, it was therefore essential to register an official federation to further develop the sport locally. The official launch was on April 26, 2019.
The federation has said it will continue to formulate plans in 2020 to have more exchanges with regional clubs / academies.
One of the core principles of the Seychelles Combat Athletics Academy is to develop the most efficient empty hands self-defence system which will not only be useful in cases of defence of self but also more importantly self-preservation.
The three basic principles are to avoid entertaining, engaging or participating in/with negative 1) situations, 2) people 3) things. If the three named principles are honoured then the whole physical self-defence repertoire will always be kept as the absolute last resort.
If avoidance is not an option, the individual chooses to engage the situation, and consciously prepared to face the consequence of an altercation then he/she must be trained in the reality of combat, in striking, clinching and ground ranges / zones which need to be successfully navigated.
Being the first Combat Athletics Academy in Seychelles who coaches a full self-defence curriculum under the Vale Tudo/ Freestyle combat programme, the academy is confident that all individuals who take part in this programme over time will be knowledgeable, proficient with increased knowledge based on the nature of various situations. Techniques, scenarios are studied according to Combat Athletics Academy belt system syllabus so as to grant knowledge based on individual needs.
Social responsibility programme and economic freedom initiative
As they learned, reflected on and applied the seven virtues of the Bushido in their daily lives jointly with the principles of combative arts, members of the academy came to the conclusion that Combat Athletics athletes should have a social programme where they give back to the less fortunate, which will help further their individual understanding and journey to become a productive citizen and complete martial arts artist.
Economic Freedom Initiative was founded and registered in 2019. Funds were collected for a period of time and it was decided the academy’s first mission was to help an elderly lady at La Gogue who lives alone. Scope of works was to repaint her living room and kitchen.
2020 will prove to be another year of assisting the neediest of our society as funds and capable hands permits. The academy will welcome proposals which can be sent via its social initiative Facebook page.
Since 2016 from inception the Seychelles Combat Athletics Academy has faced great difficulty where it had to hold sessions under the veranda of the Freedom Square weightlifting gym without changing room or toilets. Its sessions and progress have been greatly affected by the elements and the lack of conducive training environment meant many aspects of the sports such as the wrestling take down range wasn’t able to be coached in depth. Injuries were common which in turn affected athlete retention.
In 2017, the academy approached the Anglican Church through Reverend Daniel Kallee to use existing church hall for the academy programmes and upon presenting its mission and objectives it was granted permission, to use the venue. It is still based there until today.
The training sessions:
Mondays: Olympic wrestling + Brazilian Jiu Jitsu,
Tuesdays: Olympic wrestling + submission grappling,
Wednesdays: Kickboxing/Vale Tudo + Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Fridays: Open mat where athletes get to test their knowledge and understanding of their martial arts in application of techniques.
Daily sessions last 45 minutes. On weekends and off days the academy grants coaching permission to blue belt holders in holding fundamental sessions in their respective districts with the aim of propagating the art.
To date, the Seychelles Combat Athletics Academy has small training groups at Mont Fleuri, Sans Soucis, North East Point and La Digue. It is striving to have more regional training groups in 2020 and for athletes to train in more conducive environment
Future sports hall concept
Employed as project officer by the National Sports Council (NSC), Cesar works with different partners at government level to promote a new concept of regional sports hall that will be run by NSC and will be able to cater for the general population that cannot find suitable places to engage in health and fitness activities.
Presently in Seychelles there is no available halls that can be utilised for all tatami sports, which discourage fitness enthusiasts to engage in fitness activities.
Another setback is that available halls are in a way owned by federations which hold their training sessions, hence members of the general public are not granted access, and location is far from public transport circuit.
The aim of the new regional sports hall concept is to decentralise venues designed primarily for sports and fitness, with possibility to accommodate other community essential services. The scope of specialised centres is to cater for the general population’s need to be active and fit, a positive initiative that will tackle the issue of obesity, weight management, health, fitness and supplementary activities for victims of substance abuse and other social ills at community and national levels.
Mr Cesar hopes that the project will receive all the support so that the first sports hall can be built as early as 2021 in Seychelles as so many health and fitness, plus tatami sports face difficulty in getting a venue on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue.
Compiled by Roland Duval
Photos: Seychelles Combat Athletics Academy