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MMA classes: ‘We’re here to have fun’

Technological University Dublin’s mixed martial arts club (TU Dublin MMA) introduced MMA classes for female students who wish to learn self-defence and MMA as a sport.

TU Dublin MMA is currently partnered with Fantom Gym and MMA to provide third-level female students with the necessary skills to defend themselves in case of an attack.

The classes will start tomorrow and take place every week from 5.15pm to 6:30pm at Fantom Gym and MMA, Moore Street, Dublin.

Raquel Gonzalez (26), a member of Fantom Gym and MMA, will be taking charge of the female classes and encourages women to get involved in the world of martial arts. “This is the perfect environment to train in […] We don’t have high expectations, nobody judges, we’re here to have fun,” she said.

Raquel began her journey in MMA when she was a university student travelling abroad to Brazil. She started the sport through the university’s sports association and has been in love with it ever since.

Raquel Gonzalez spoke with Emerald Proctor about MMA for women. Image: Leo Parada Borda

“I started martial arts when I went to Brazil as an exchange student […] I joined though the sports association as a student, same as you guys,” said Gonzalez.

MMA gives women the opportunity to learn skills that will help them defend themselves against attackers of any size. These skills are essential to surviving an attack similar to the recent attacks on Irish women in broad daylight.

A recent study states that nearly 30% of college students in Ireland claimed to be assaulted, according to the National University of Ireland (NUI Galway).

As intimidating as it may sound, everyone starts from scratch in martial arts. Some women find it intimidating, which can repel them from the sport.

Raquel hits the heavy bag. Image: Leo Parada Borda

“In the beginning, I didn’t want to go to MMA because I didn’t want to get punched in the face,” Gonzalez said.

When I train, I don’t think about anything else but the training itself. Nothing else exists.

Rachel gonzalez

As well as having physical benefits, martial arts also teaches respect and discipline. The sport uses pain to represent life’s frustrations and how we can grow and deal with the situation.

“No matter if you’re male or female, beginner or advanced, we all learn the same. Self-value and respect,” Gonzalez said.

Raquel believes that martial arts can “really make a difference” to women who aren’t as confident walking alone, day or night.

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