MMARAP was established in 2012 by its founder – Jonathan Buffong – and is an organisation seeking to empower young deaf, visually impaired, disabled and disadvantaged individuals to achieve their full potential through the delivery of MMA (such as boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, karate and wrestling) as well as other, softer, disciplines: such as meditation; educational, inspirational and empowerment talks; many of our instructors can use British Sign Language (BSL).
We deliver our services via a number of different mechanisms including: one-to-one tuition; a series of weekly group lessons (group sizes vary depending on the needs of the participants) - duration between 8 to 12 weeks, with participants progressively learning new techniques; and intensive one and two week, full day courses - often as part of larger events. Our sessions are inexpensive as we keep our costs to a minimum: benefiting from support by volunteers/pro bono staff and directors (apart from the instructors), but we do need some funding.
MMARAP creates a safe platform that allows people in these groups to be empowered; keep physically active; and also, to engage with other people with different disabilities (ADHD, autism, blindness, deafness, cerebral palsy, and wheelchair users) as well as the abled. Our work is designed to help participants improve their confidence, encourage teamwork, and promote inclusivity by creating a sense of community ‘belonging’: thus, removing perceived barriers and reducing the feeling of social isolation.
We also work with many youngsters who have been, or might be, involved in crime and violence: to help them turn their lives around by, for example, learning to control and channel aggression through the disciplines of MMA. All of our sessions offer enrichment to those taking part – and we are unique in offering this particular form of activity.
MMARAP is committed to supporting, training and mentoring young people using MMA as a tool to develop essential life skills such: as confidence, focus, discipline and respect. MMARAP provides young people with strong social foundations, whilst at the same time instilling in them the belief that they can pursue and achieve their life goals and ambitions.
Our work benefits both the participants and society and we have an excellent track record in this area (testimonials can be seen on our website www.MMARAP.co.uk) and we are keen to expand this very successful concept into the wider community and we are, thus, reaching out to a number of institutions and funding bodies across the UK. I have had many very positive responses already which we shall be able to exploit once the lockdown is at an end, although that might not be for some time of course.
We pride ourselves on the ability to combat social exclusion and physical inactivity through our ability to deliver face-to-face MMA and self-defence sessions to sectors of our community that face the above challenges. This is also of increasing importance in the current social climate and our work supports the aims of the diversity initiatives as our students are drawn disproportionally from the BAME community.