Build the Fighter, Build the Character

Build the Fighter, Build the Character

Persistence, Respect, Sincerity, Self-Control, and Character

When you take the Somerville exit off I-93 south, at the end of the off-ramp directly in front of you is a white building with lots of martial arts banners. In this building is the Brazilian Martial Arts Center, which provides classes for all ages.

The owner, Marcelo Siqueira, is a former “World Karate champion as well as a South American Kickboxing champion, Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, Judo and Karate.” Besides being an immigration success story, he is also someone every parent would want as a teacher, mentor, and Sensie (先生)(an honorific term in martial arts meaning teacher) for their children.

The discipline of martial arts is more than getting exercise and learning to fight. As Siqueira states, “Build the fighter, build the character.” For his students, the character building fundamentals are five words he incorporates into their education: Persistence, Respect, Sincerity, Self-Control, and Character.

As America descends into another period of anti-immigration sentiment, it is time to point out that the benefits of immigration aren’t just people like Siqueira, who is originally from Brazil and has become a respected business owner, who makes a lasting and positive mark on the community, but in the societal accoutrements that accompany immigrants.

Best example, pizza. I bet most racists love pizza. But do modern day racists know that, “The largest mass lynching in U.S. history took place in New Orleans in 1891 — and it wasn't African-Americans who were lynched, as many of us might assume. It was Italian-Americans.” But thanks to the Italians that we used to hate, we have since the early 1900s, pizza in America.

But I digress - back to the martial arts, which also immigrated to America via immigrants.
My friend, Dave Sullivan teaches Muay Thai at BMAC and I asked him, “What exactly is Muay Thai?”
He wrote an exquisite reply, which I must share.

“The thing I love the most about Muay Thai is its practicality. The techniques are very easy to learn and are also very straight to the point.

I also love its history. These techniques have been passed down over the centuries from the days when the Thai people battled with the Burmese on elephants using swords and weapons. I take a lot of pride in knowing that Muay Thai was incorporated in defending a kingdom. That says something!

Most importantly, I've learned that the Thai people have no ego what so ever. They are the best “strikers” in the world and welcome anyone outside of Thailand to fight them and/or train with them. They are humble and grateful and I never take Muay Thai for granted. Everyday that I teach, I give respect to the fighters and trainers that came before me, and to the ones that are giving it their all today.

Muay Thai is the only way to make a living for some people in Thailand and they don’t get paid a lot, unless they are one of the better fighters. These fighters start their careers in the ring as young as 9 years old and fight until their 30's, accumulating about 300 fights. How many sports do you know where a 9-year-old has a professional record?

Muay Thai fighters have so much pride and respect towards one another. At the end of a fight, which ends in a knockout, the winner will ask the loser for forgiveness and bow to him in respect. It is such a powerful and loving culture, even during the most brutal times.

I would also like to mention that most people are attracted to the martial arts for the way that they look: fancy arm waving, spinning, whirling kicks, and other showy body movements, but Muay Thai doesn't have that. What makes it so beautiful is it's precision, and again, it's simplicity. Muay Thai fighters get results without any wasted movement, and that is beautiful. This is why it is the chosen “striking art” for one of the most popular sports, MMA.”