How a small city packs a punch

A Small City that Packs a Punch

By Luke B

(Local Boxer Brandon Brewer faces Quebec Opponent Emmanuel Guezman – Photo Credit : Tanya Everett & Oliver Wassef Throwing an opponent during his black belt test – Photo Credit: Chris McCormick)

As soon as I opened the door of the Synergy Training Centre the sound of leather gloves being beaten into heavy canvas bags, skipping ropes skimming the hard wood floor while feet bounce rapidly in place and loud upbeat music flooded my ears. I stepped in, closed the door and turned to the right and laced up my shoes at the nearest bench which ran along the wall. I then threw down my cloth bag and wrapped my hands tightly while looking around the spacious gym. In one corner thick mats lined the walls and floors, in the centre stood a large boxing ring, along the side ran a track which contained various cardio exercises and towards the back wall sat all the weights, heavy lifting and workout machines. Dedicated athletes filled the floor mats and boxing ring and you could almost feel the passion they held for their martial art in the air. I knew then that this was the place to be and immediately made the decision to train at this gym, it just felt right. I truly felt like I belonged there the first time I stepped in the door and the other fighters, members of the Synergy Fight Team, welcomed me warmly and with open arms.

Martial arts play a large role in many people’s lives including several students at Fredericton High School. Students such as Devon Pattle, Luke Beirne, Oliver Wassef and Kaiden Hiew participate in various combat sports and feel that it is not only an enjoyable sport but also a key part of their lives which has helped to shape them as people and fighters. While all of these students participate in various martial arts throughout the city none of the martial arts integrate or come in contact with their school lives at all.

Fredericton High School is home to many successful sports teams and has a large physical education department yet the many students who are very active in the martial arts community outside of school do not participate in martial arts in the school itself. This is due to the huge variety of martial arts which students participate in and the commitment which must be put into them on a mental, physical and time basis. The school does not have the facilities which would be necessary to create or hold a martial art club/team.  Martial artists such as Kaiden Hiew, who holds a black belt in Taikwan do and practices jiu jitsu, would not like to be involved in school martial arts.

Kaiden Hiew said “Martial arts are such a time consuming and intensive activity which means only a certain kind of person can fight. I do not feel that the martial art club at school would be able to uphold the necessary standards while still being an inclusive club. School sports must be open to all students and Martial Arts are very selective sports which are not made for everyone. They are strenuous both mentally and physically on a level most sports cannot compare to. There are also just so many styles which the students participate in that it would be impossible to encompass them all in one program, they are better off leaving martial arts to the professional trainers.”


Devon Pattle, who practices Mauy Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Evolution Fight and Fitness several times a week as well as with his friends at any possible opportunity, said “I just love fighting, it helps teach us discipline and hard work as well as allowing us to focus our energy and aggression into a positive outlet. I would not give it up for anything and I hope I can continue it after I leave high school and move on.”

Mauy Thai is a martial art which was created and developed in Thailand through striking with the fist, elbow, knee, shin and foot and is a full contact martial art. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art which, as the name suggests was created and developed in Brazil and focuses on grappling and ground fighting. BJJ was based heavily on sports such as judo and Japanese jiu jitsu.

Another student at Fredericton High School, Oliver Wassef, trains in Japanese Jiu Jitsu which is a Japanese martial art which uses throws, strikes, holds, kicks and locks as well as grappling and groundwork. Oliver trains regularly at Master Tracy’s dojo and recently attended provincials for jiu jitsu in New Brunswick. Oliver beat his opponent and hopes to go to nationals in the upcoming spring to compete with people all across the country.

Oliver said “It isn’t even about hurting anybody, there is no room for anger or malice in the sport. I fight my friends and come out at the end of the round still friends with them all. If you are angry you cannot tactically or strategically focus on the sport and it clouds your mind. There is great technique involved and if you don’t do it properly and train hard you won’t be successful.”

Martial Arts do not only effect students attending Fredericton High but also affect a huge amount of people in the city of Fredericton itself.  Fredericton has some extremely successful gyms and fighters who own and run their own facilities spreading their respective sports or practice regularly themselves.

Brandon Brewer ,who trains several times a day and coaches competitive boxing several times a week at the Synergy Training Centre,  is the number one middleweight boxer in Canada, has an undefeated professional record and one of his fights in 2012 won Canadian Fight of the Year. Brewer has also performed speeches to schools across the province and shares his wisdom and talent with up and coming boxers and youth in general across the province predominantly in the city of Fredericton.

Martial arts can be taught to young children in simpler forms which we see in Taikwando schools, karate strip mall classes etc. yet a real dojo or training centre focuses on much more complex and detailed skill, form and technique which is hard for children to master yet can be much more easily developed once you are older if you start young. For this reason many dojos teach a children’s class along with adult classes on certain days of the week.

Kaiden Hiew said “My younger sister attends the same dojo as me and takes classes twice a week earlier in the day, while the kids may not be excellent they are at least being taught the skills, forms, dedication and ideals at a young age. This will easily translate into much more skilled fighters in the coming years. I enjoy seeing the young children grow and progress within their martial art.”

Martial arts are extremely beneficial both mentally and physically, we are very lucky to live in a city which is host to such great martial artists and martial art schools. We are also extremely lucky to attend a school with so many great and talented martial artists attending class alongside us every day. These people deserve immense respect for their achievements, commitment and dedication in and to their respective combat sport.


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