Martial arts used to heal Wounded Warriors

By CARLOS ARIAS | The Orange County Register | Published: September 13, 2013

Ron Scolesdang said he has seen how some of the disabled fighters at Team Oyama MMA and Fitness in Irvine, Calif., have been able to use their training in mixed martial arts, jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai as a positive outlet.

Scolesdang, an MMA and Muay Thai instructor, said Team Oyama has a number of disabled fighters, including amputees, who compete in grappling tournaments.

“We have guys here that are from the military or aren’t from the military that are disabled and yet they still have found an outlet at our gym through mixed martial arts to help them through life,” Scolesdang said.

Scolesdang said Iraq war veteran Isaac Arroyo was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder when he came to Team Oyama MMA and Fitness looking for a way to focus his energy.

“He was looking for a program that would help rehabilitate him,” Scolesdang said of Arroyo. “He wasn’t doing so well. He was having nightmares and flashbacks from all the things he went through during his service. He was just trying to find something to keep him sane. He was going through a lot.”

Scolesdang and Arroyo decided to try to help other veterans struggling to return to civilian life, so they contacted the Wounded Warrior Project to talk about bringing some veterans to the gym and giving them some training and instruction in MMA. That’s how they put together the Wounded Warriors seminar, led by highly respected MMA coach Colin Oyama and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Giva Santana, on Thursday at Team Oyama MMA and Fitness.

There will be 18-20 veterans at the event. Some suffer from PTSD and others are disabled or have other injuries.

“They are people that are just looking to better their lives,” Scolesdang said. They are in a tough rut. They’ve been hurt in combat or whatever and they are just looking for an outlet to get back on their feet again.

“(Oyama and Santana) will give them some motivational speeches and some technical training on some things they can use. Afterwards we’re going to offer them a chance to train at our gym. We just want to say thank you for everything they’ve done for us.”


The UFC has gone into heavy-promotion mode in advance of UFC 205-pound champion Jon Jones’ title defense against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 on Sept. 21 in Toronto on pay-per-view. The story line being pushed is how Jones, who his 6-foot-4 with an 84.5-inch reach, is finally facing someone of comparable size in Gustafsson, who is 6-foot-5 with an 81.2-inch reach. Jones doesn’t agree with the comparisons.

“I think the only thing me and Gustafsson have in common is that we’re both 26 years old and the fact that we’re both over 6-foot-4 tall,” Jones said. “Outside of that, we are completely different fighters. I’ve been able to study him a lot over the last several months, and I realized there’s absolutely nothing he does that’s like me. We’re just completely different.” …

Reigning UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz has been out since injuring his left knee in May 2012 during filming of “The Ultimate Fighter Live.” He hasn’t defended the UFC 135-pound title since his unanimous decision over Demetrious Johnson in October 2011. Since Cruz has been out, Renan Barao won the interim UFC bantamweight title and his set to make his second title defense against Eddie Wineland at UFC 165.

“Dominick (Cruz) has been out for a while. It’s going to be two years now,” Barao said through a translator. “No disrespect to him, but from the moment I won this belt, and I have defended it once, I considered myself the champion.”

UFC president Dana White said he recently had lunch with Cruz, and Cruz said he was confident he will be able to make his return at the beginning of 2014. ...

Bellator 99 emanates from Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula on Friday. The Bellator main card airs on the West Coast at 9 p.m. PDT (delayed) on Spike TV and features the opening round of Bellator’s Season 9 featherweight tournament. Here are the matchups: Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (17-2) vs. Diego Nunes (18-4); Justin Wilcox (11-5) vs. Akop Stepanyan (13-5); Desmond Green (8-1) vs. Fabricio Guerreiro (17-1); and Joe Taimanglo (18-4) vs. Andrew Fisher (12-4). ...

The Bellator 99 prelims stream live on Spike.com on Friday at 4 p.m. ...

Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski looks to get back on the winning track when he takes on Strikeforce veteran Mike Kyle (20-9-1) in the main event of World Series of Fighting 5 on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Atlantic City, N.J., on NBC Sports Network. The WSOF 5 prelims stream live at 3 p.m. on MMAWeekly.com.


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