Sober Living with a Kick

Sober Living with a Kick

On Thursday, February 14, Turnbridge’s Phase I residents took part in one of their weekly recreational activities: Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) at Team Strength Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Milford Conn. Here, the residents enjoyed a cardio and physical workout with an experienced black belt instructor, in a way that helped to alleviate stress and boost the moods of everyone involved. MMA is a contact sport that uses a wide variety of fighting techniques. Students practice both striking and grappling techniques while standing and on the ground. Head instructor and national champion, Chris Watson, has been working with the residents of Turnbridge for about two years, and establishes a good rapport with the group during the exercise. “I think it helps a lot with their recovery,” Chris said. “A lot of these guys come in with high anxiety, and by the time they leave everybody is peaceful, and they’re all shaking hands. It really helps build their camaraderie.” Chris has the guys begin by warming up. First, they jog around the room and practice shuffling in different directions on command (with several stumbles and slight collisions along the way). After the warm up and a few jumping jacks, the group practices “swimming,” a technique used to establish a better grappling position. Once the entire group has sufficiently learned the move, Chris brings out target mitts, and the residents split into pairs for striking drills. Chris calls out what punch combination to throw, “1. 1, 2. 1, 2, 3. 1, 2, 3, 4.” Smiles are on every face and many of the strikers pepper in their own combinations during their down time. After the drill, Chris goes over to a bag in the corner and tosses two pairs of boxing gloves and head gear into the center of the room. It’s time for the boxing matches. e residents cheer and offer (sometimes) good advice to the contestants. They have time for four bouts, and then they’re shaking hands and packing up. Throughout the activity, spirits are incredibly high and jokes are casually tossed amongst the group. “Stay in the ring, Rocky.” “I feel like we’re dancing.” One of the residents, Adam, said that the best thing about mixed martial arts is “confronting the uncertainty and the awkward feelings of growing in a new task.” The residents display no uncertainty, however, and most seem eager to return next week. According to Brady, weekly MMA is a good activity because it lets the residents “vent frustration,” but the group leaves it all behind and they take no grudges back to Turnbridge. “We leave it all there on the floor.”