MMA Gym Pushes For Self-Defense Classes To Be Labeled 'Essential'

In the course of human events, the right to defend yourself is an essential right. Few would argue against it and even fewer could do so persuasively. It’s not right to expect people to become victims because you’ve hamstrung their ability to protect themselves. It’s not just un-American, it’s inhuman.


However, does training in self-defense come under the category of an essential activity in the era of COVID-19?

To be sure, people will likely come down on various sides of the issue. Some will argue that it doesn’t matter; we should be free to do whatever we want regardless. Others will argue that no, it doesn’t. Still, others will fall somewhere in between.

For a Florida MMA gym, though, the answer is clear.

An Orlando MMA gym is appealing to be made part of the essential business list, citing how the stay-at-home orders mandated by the state of Florida has apparently caused a spike in domestic violence incidents.

The concern was raised by The Jungle MMA and Fitness owner Mike Lee.

“People have different ideas about martial arts and gyms but staying healthy and being able to defend yourself is a great empowering feeling, both physically and mentally,” Lee said told WESH, Orlando’s NBC-affiliated network.

“Self-defense is paramount, yeah. It’s just, no matter what you believe in self-defense or different levels of it, you need to protect yourself, you need to defend your loved ones,” Lee told the station. He also argued that social distancing would be observed along with other precautions like temperature checks at the door and using dummies instead of grappling with a human opponent.

The question is, though, is Lee right?

The health concerns are outside my wheelhouse. While I was a Navy corpsman, that was almost a quarter of a century ago and I don’t feel qualified anymore to make commentary on that.

However, self-defense is a human right, and learning how to defend yourself should be as well. However, if Lee’s school and other martial arts schools are free to open up, then there should be no limit to self-defense learning. After all, unlike something like MMA, firearms training can be conducted from six feet away without any real issue most of the time.


If martial arts schools are going to get the all-clear, then we’d best not hear anything about a firearms training course not being able to hold a class due to the coronavirus or concerns about its spread.

Of course, we also have to acknowledge that at least part of this push stems from people being sick of being cooped up and looking for any reason to get out and do something. While no one wants to get sick and possibly endanger other lives, the truth is that many are willing to take other steps to mitigate the risks to get outside and interact with other people.

Make no mistake, that’s legitimate, too. Man is a social animal. We need interaction with others and it’s not good for us to be so isolated.

So the truth is that there’s still a lot of discussion to be had about whether this is wise or not, but it’s time to at least have the conversation, especially regarding firearm training.

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