Monday, 8 September 2008

Martial Arts and Crime Prevention: OMAA's role in Oxford

An Interview with the Oxford Martial Arts Academy's Director, Tim Lalic.

1) What is OMAA?

OMAA is an academy which provides the main forms of contact martial arts, such as boxing, Muay thai, brazilian jiu jitsu, M.M.A. However, we believe that martial arts is for everyone, whether you consider yourself strong or weak –because at OMAA we believe that strength stems from dedication, courage, and discipline, not physical strength. So I think that OMAA offers a new approach to martial arts training.

2) Some people associate martial arts to violence. What is OMAA’s “new approach”?

Well, our fundamental values are respect, humility, patience and innovation. Our teaching doesn’t focus merely on the “how to fight” – or the physical side – but perhaps more importantly, we provide psychological training: how to stay calm and disciplined in dangerous situations. Our educational philosophy strives to form not only champions in the ring, but also champions in the community. Most martial art academies in the country are doing a good job at providing training, but the great thing about OMAA is that we instil our fundamental values in everything we do and we remain committed to being accessible to all our members regardless of ability, gender or age.

3) Why did you decide to create such an academy?

Well, I think that the decision initially came from my personal passion for martial arts: I’ve been practising Kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the past 10 years or so. But the OMAA project was really about passing on that passion to the community in Oxford. Unfortunately, martial arts training in Oxford is pretty unreliable and scattered. There is no fixed place for training, instructor standards vary, and people don’t usually get value for money. OMAA therefore serves the entirety of the martial arts community by providing professional training with professional equipment at affordable prices.

But OMAA is also about making our communities a safer place to live. Oxford’s crime rate has been increasing over the past few years and that is quite disconcerting. By providing professional training, not just physical, but also psychological (or philosophical, if you like), we therefore see ourselves as educators and contributors in preventing crime in Oxford.

4) How does OMAA help the community in the everlasting fight against increased teenage
crime?

Well, by giving kids an opportunity to stay off the streets and being involved in team-building activities. We teach people how to control themselves, and in the eventuality of danger, how to respond in reasonable ways. Our competitions also give teenagers the opportunity to compete at national levels and reach their full potential. A person who is confidently trained in martial arts will be less likely to be the aggressor and will usually try to resolve a dangerous situation without the use of force. But we must make one thing clear: we don’t train fighters, we train champions – and champions lead by example: you don’t see world champions knocking people out in the streets.

5) Where do you see OMAA in the next 5 years?

I would like to see our “new approach” in different cities, where martial arts training is underprovided. Most importantly, I hope the OMAA philosophy will become a strong ally in the prevention of national crime. As Rick English put it, “a black belt is nothing more than a belt that goes around your waist. Being a black belt is a state of mind and attitude.” Here at OMAA we will continuously concentrate our efforts into nurturing a culture where that state of mind and attitude can be fully developed.

1 comment:

J_London said...

I think that the work OMAA is leading is absolutely fantastic. I work for the probation service in London and we need more things this in the area!

Keep up the good work!
J