How Strong Is Your Kru? An Inside Look at Choosing an MMA School

Derek BedellAnalyst ISeptember 9, 2009

With MMA’s popularity at a high right now, there are plenty of "fans" rooting on the fights, fighters, and abilities seen within the cage. 

But aside from the sponsors, t-shirts, and “live fast” attitude, there are those who might want to step into an MMA gym for numerous reasons. Not, solely, for the glitz and glamour of what we all see on TV but for other reasons. 

Whether one may wish to train their mind and body in competition to possibly fight one day, get in shape, or use martial arts to simply grow and develop, there is always a reason for doing so. 

But for whatever the choices someone decides they want to train, they must decide what works best for them and how to decide what they want in a trainer and school.

What are you trying to get out of it all and how does the school fit for you?
Sifu/ Kru John Roderick is the owner/ head trainer at Southern New England Mixed Martial Arts. For over 20 years, JR has been training, teaching, and researching martial arts.

At first, beginning with Boxing and Judo, John's personal evolution eventually brought him to Sifu/Grandmaster Richard Bustillo (an original Bruce Lee student) and Arjarn Kru Phil Nurse.

Having been a devoted student of both legends for over 15 years, John continually strives to improve and research training methods and techniques.
Since 2004, Southern New England MMA, LLC has been continually striving to deliver quality martial arts training and coaching to a variety of people from all walks of life.

Families, professionals, law enforcement personnel and professional athletes have all benefited from the physical conditioning and martial art curriculum at SNE MMA.

I caught up with Kru (teacher in Thai) John Roderick to discuss ways to begin your training and what you should look for..


What do you think are the best ways to begin training in Mixed Martial Arts?

First off, if you think about doing it. Do it. Don't talk about it, mull it over, you have to get off your couch, out from behind the computer and really do it. Then you need to find a place you fit in, where you mesh with the instructor, the school, where everyone's respectful, trains safely and in a clean environment.

Look at the instructor, how they communicate and instruct, and what their background is. Ultimately, you want to fit in and have it feel like home. You should trust everyone you train with, it’s your safety that's involved. 

Bottom line, find a place that's credible based on credentials and where you feel comfortable at.


Should choosing a gym or trainer have to do with how many professional fights they have had? Or is there more to it?

There are a lot of awesome coaches out there who have never fought or fought at a very high level.

I don't feel every coach needs to fight or compete but anyone who is going to have an academy and put their name behind it, they need to train, they need to spar, they need to roll, they need to actually be able to execute what they are teaching their students and show how and that it is effective.

You don't have to be a Paul Vunack, who would go out in the streets of L.A. to test out his JKD concepts and his training, nor at the other end of the spectrum, be like a world champion in Muay Thai like Kru Phil Nurse. 

There are guys like Greg Jackson who wrestled and practiced a more traditional form of martial arts but he never got in a cage and fought. 

Does that make him less reputable? No, he's a great strategist, a great coach; he knows how to get the most out of his guys, he's confident and a great guy.

Kru Mark Della Grotte is another one.  He's only got a few Muay Thai fights himself at an amateur level. But he's trained, he's gone to Thailand, he's gone all over. He's put his time in. He's very similar to myself, he's a JKD guy who found Muay Thai, who found Jiu Jitsu, and incorporated that into what he did and he's tested it.

You don't need to think you need to go to some championship gym or have a trainer who's fought. Eddie Bravo is another. He's on the mats all the time with his students.  He's competed and done very well, but we are all always learning. 

Just because someone hasn't always stepped into a ring or a cage doesn't mean they haven't competed. Bruce Lee was another, he sparred everyone and anyone.


What does Mixed Martial Arts mean to you?

It's all about family. To be honest, I tell all my students and my new ones that I want everyone to feel like we're a family. We have each others' back, there's respect and a family atmosphere. 

Beyond that, it's about self improvement everyday. And to paraphrase Bruce Lee, it's not about what I can add on, but what I can take away that's not effective. 

Whether it be a bad relationship, a lifestyle change, an old way of doing something I need to throw out, so it's about self improvement and helping my students reach their goals. 

That's really what it's about for me. 

It's not about accolades or becoming extremely wealthy. It's really about helping the people that come to me. 

If you want to lose weight, compete in Jiu Jitsu, say I want to be an MMA fighter, or I want to learn so I know what's going on when I watch the UFC...that's what we do.


So when deciding to compete, train, or learn MMA, keep these things in mind.  You should find a trainer that suits you, someone with credibility as a martial artist and as a person. 

Most gyms will offer a free class so you can see how you like the environment and curriculum. 

Martial arts will help you grow as an individual and as a practitioner. Keep both in mind. 

Like in life, the more you put in, the more you will get out of it. Find a family atmosphere, help yourself, and help others. Then it's up to you how far you want to go with it. 

But only you can go out and do it.


SNEMMA is the only MMA Academy in the Connecticut/Northeast region affiliated and certified by Kru Phil Nurse and Master Eddie Bravo.  The school has the most experienced Muay Thai Trainer in CT, and are home to 10th Planet No-Gi Jiu Jitsu.

For more information about SNEMMA and Kru John Roderick, please refer to the following:

Southern New England MMA, LLC

91 Beverly Heights, Building 2

Middletown, CT, 06457

Phone: 860.685.0093

Also, check for upcoming seminars from Master Eddie Bravo, Kru Phil Nurse, and many more knowledgeable martial artists.


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