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The Freedom Found in Martial Arts


What is that "something more" that practicing martial arts can provide? Isn't martial arts just about getting in shape and learning to fight? If you're one of those people that writes martial arts off as people just learning how to fight, you're missing the most important thing there is in martial arts. The latest thing in martial arts doesn't help the perception of martial arts either. What you see on TV with the Ultimate Fighting Championships can be entertaining, it is really a combat sport. The distinction between that and the "something more" in martial arts I am referring to is important to understand.

Although having the ability to handle yourself when you get into a real life situation is important, martial arts goes way beyond that. The most important part is that 'something more' that martial arts offers. And you don't find it many other places. Its really a world unknown to most of people that aren't familiar with the eastern arts. 

Many of these eastern martial arts are intertwined with centuries of asian philosophy. These same martial arts follow ideas found within the fabric of the eastern way of life. Asian principles of energy and medicine go hand-in-hand with the principles of many martial arts. True martial arts are really about connecting with yourself. Studying martial arts takes you to a higher level of awareness about yourself and the world around you. That "something more" in martial arts opens new windows of understanding as you discover more about yourself. 

Martial arts teaches you to think outside of the box. It shows you that there are no limits other than the ones you place upon yourself. Self-knowledge transcends and you begin to understand that life is best to be lived and not to be conceptualized. Every day there can be a revelation or a new discovery. You learn to treasure the memory of your past misfortunes as they add more to your bank of fortitude.

Martial arts also develops your instinctive urge for expansion and growth. It teaches sincere and honest development of your full potential. By humbling yourself and dedicating yourself to being a student of the martial arts for life you begin to understand that the power of the journey is more important than the destination. These lessons are holistic. They can be directly applied in your work and into your life. After all, its just a path to find out more about yourself.


Baytown Student Highlight— Jennifer McDuff

What is your name and age?

Jennifer McDuff, 37 

When did you join Elite MMA?

I joined last July. I am approaching my one year anniversary with Elite Baytown. 

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts?

I joined Elite for two different reasons. The first reason was because all of my family wanted to join together. My husband and kids wanted to begin jiu-jitsu. I was interested in taking the cardio kickboxing. We were looking forward to spending this time together as a family.   Secondly, I wanted a new, more exciting way to exercise. I was tired of the mundane treadmill or elliptical. Additionally, I did not want to spend more time away from my kids at a gym. 

In the past what had caused you not to take martial arts?

I am very involved with my family, which includes all of their extracurricular activities. With three kids, I have never had time in the past. We’ve been involved in lots of other sports. When my kids took interest in jiu-jitsu that gave me the opening to join the kickboxing class.


Is this your first time taking martial arts and what classes do you take?

This is my first time to take martial arts. I went for my first “trial” class and it was love at first punch! It has become an addiction for me. The workout is intense and each person can push to their own unique levels. We also have great comradery. If you miss a class during the week you can guarantee your coaches and classmates are going to ask about you. Being a teacher, I did not have time for jiu-jitsu. However, I began taking the jiu-jitsu classes once summer started. I have enjoyed them as well. 

If you had any concerns about joining Elite MMA, what helped you with your decision?

As stated before, my decision to join all started because my family decided this was a wonderful activity we could join together. We go to class together, roll together at home, and go to tournaments together. I also knew that martial arts would continue to strengthen moral lessons we try to pass on to our kids: respect, responsibility, discipline, diligence, etc. 

Since you have been part of Elite, please share what you have been able to accomplish?

Since being with Elite I feel more empowered. I have more energy to stay active on a daily basis. I want to be there and to exercise because (even though it is challenging) I have a blast. Sensei Robert and Julian joke that it is a love/hate relationship. They are kicking your butt while you’re there, but you feel so awesome afterwards. I can tell a big difference from what I was first able to do in class, to what I can achieve now. Additionally, I continue to learn more because they know how to change up the class to make it more effective. I enjoy that their class does not become stagnant. You can count on Robert and Julian to find lots more rigorous combos, sweat-drenching cardio workouts, and challenging plyometric exercises. 

Anything else you want to share with someone who is looking to get involved with martial arts or looking to change their current lifestyle?

It is such an encouraging and supportive environment at Elite Baytown. If you are looking for a fun, but challenging way to stay active, look no further. I’ve occasionally heard teammates state that they almost didn’t come because of something that happened during their day. However, they were so happy after class was over that they attended. It made them feel better. Again, it just becomes an addiction because you enjoy it so much. I look forward to what they have new in store for me for each class. Furthermore, you can set your own schedule. They are there Monday through Friday with day and evening classes. You can set something up that works for you and your family. Lastly, it is something that your whole family can get involved with. There are several families of three, four, and like mine, five at Elite Baytown.



Kingwood Instructor Highlight: Jordan Rivas


What is your martial arts teaching history and where do you currently teach?

I was the head instructor at the Baytown location for 5 years and now I am the head instructor and general manager at Elite MMA Kingwood. 

What is your rank in martial arts?

I am a black belt in BJJ

What caused you to start practicing martial arts?

When I first started Jiu Jitsu I was about 30 lbs heavier so I really wanted to lose weight, get back in shape, and learn how to defend myself. I am a competitive person so I needed a way to challenge myself.

What is your educational background?

I have a bachelors degree in accounting from the University of Houston.

Do you have a competitive history in martial arts? 

I earned a silver medal at the Pan Ams as a purple belt and the same year I won bronze medal at The World Championship of Jiu Jitsu. I am currently 5-0 as a mixed martial artist and I was the 170 lb amateur title holder for Legacy Fighting Championships.

What do you see is the main benefit the average individual can receive from martial arts? 

I see martial arts as the vehicle to help individuals achieve their personal potential.  It is a way to better yourself in all areas of your life.

What is your favorite part about practicing martial arts?

Its a great stress reliever! I also love that Jiu Jitsu challenges me physically and mentally.

Where do you hope martial arts will take you later in your life?

I am at home on the mat teaching Jiu Jitsu and that is exactly where I want to be. I hope to teach classes at the Kingwood location until my son is old enough to start helping me teach classes as well.

Stress on Your Adrenal Glands?

The adrenal glands are situated on each of the kidneys and serve as the master glands for the endocrine system. The major function of the adrenal glands is to govern how we react to stress. The adrenal glands produce a number of hormones, particularly cortisol and neurotransmitters like adrenaline. The ability to rapidly produce these hormones provides us the means to escape imminent danger. This “fight or flight” response is a protective mechanism which provides humans with the energy and resources to either defend ourselves or flee from danger.

  All creatures, including humans, are exposed to periodic stress, and have an inherent need to escape that stress. Although we no longer have to flee from the same imminent stresses and dangers as our ancestors, our bodies do not differentiate between the stress of driving in rush hour traffic or fleeing from a saber-toothed tiger. Every stress exposure creates the same reaction in us. This constant barrage of stress created by living in the modern world can exhaust our adrenals, a situation known as hypoadrenalism or more commonly referred to as “adrenal fatigue”.

  Studies indicate that 75-90 percent of patient visits to primary care physicians are due to the adverse effects of stress on our health. Some of the common symptoms seen with adrenal stress are fatigue, non-refreshing sleep, lack of energy, sugar and salt cravings, mild depression, frequent infections, inability to get out of bed in the morning, panic attacks, PMS symptoms, allergies, low libido, feeling overwhelmed, irritability, joint pain, and reduced memory.

The longer the stress continues, the more exhausted our adrenals become. The simplest way to address adrenal exhaustion caused by stress is to remove the stressors. However, few of us can easily change our jobs or the situations and relationships that are creating our stress. But we can address stress management and adrenal support by improving our diet, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, and other lifestyle modifications. Several nutritional supplements have been shown to be helpful in supporting and restoring the adrenals. AdreBoost-NG is specifically formulated to provide support for overstressed adrenal glands. Adrenal Health, Glandular is designed to provide much needed rest and support for adrenals that are exhausted. The two products can be used together for a powerful adrenal support combination. Excessive cortisol created during the day and present at bedtime can make falling asleep and staying asleep difficult. L-Theanine, or Relora 250mg, taken during the day, can help to modulate cortisol production downward so that a restful night’s sleep can be obtained. Finally, Phosphatidyl Serine Complex used at bedtime, has been shown to modulate cortisol down to help induce restful sleep. The usage of these supplements can help complete a total stress management, adrenal support program.

Call Ashley at Zoetic Compounding Pharmacy for more information on how to restore your overworked adrenals.

Ashley Nguyen, PharmD  

Zoetic Compounding Pharmacy


Ashley has been a student at Elite MMA since 2005.  She is currently a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  She founded Girls in Gi’s in 2009, which was a project she took on to empower and enroll women mentally and physically and by using BJJ as the platform for that. She is also a wife, mother, and a pharmacist that loves helping people to feel better, perform better, or just feel as normal as possible.

Westheimer Student Highlight— Phil and Jacob Elbert

What is your name and age?

Phillip Elbert age 44 and my son Jacob age 16 

When did you join Elite MMA?

We have both been training at Elite for about 6 years 

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts?

Predominately started looking into it mainly for self defense for my son as well as because he had started watching MMA and expressed an interest in learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I myself had not intended to start training. 

In the past what had caused you not to take martial arts?

For myself I just felt I was too busy with work and life and quite honestly felt I was too old and out of shape. For my son I didn't know if it was something he would stick to or enjoy and of course worried about him getting injured. 

Is this your first time taking martial arts and what classes do you take?

I took a few years of Tae Kwon Do years ago and Jacob did a year or so of Karate but that training was a completely different experience than what you get at Elite. We currently train kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Elite. 

If you had any concerns about joining elite MMA, What helped you with your decision?

We had probably the same concerns anyone would have. Getting involved in MMA can be intimidating. We had the common stereotypes of the ego driven fighters out to prove something and also had concerns about the type of school and people. Those concerns didn't last long. I was originally just signing my son up so wanted to make sure he would be OK and were not really sure about the quality of instruction or people at the school. We visited a few different schools and came in to Elite and met with David Campbell and Eric Williams who did a private with us and we did a week of classes to check it out and that pretty much sold us on it. Any concerns were gone after that. It was by far the best environment we visited and the instruction was obviously incredible. Everyone was welcoming and friendly and the more experienced people were so incredibly helpful. It truly is like a second family to us now. I had only planned on signing my son up and was so impressed that I went ahead and signed myself up also.



Since you have been part of Elite, please share what you have been able to accomplish? 

I can hardly even express all the benefits we have gotten from training at Elite. In addition to the obvious physical benefits to both of us, the confidence and work ethic it has given my son is incredible. Elite focuses on more than just martial arts for kids. It focus on taking what they learn and translating it to being a better person, achieving goals in life, handling stress in effective ways and building good character. My son's school work immediately improved and his general attitude has really changed. He is calm and confident and carries over the lessons on character and challenges into all aspects of his life. As a teenager now, I truly believe that if we hadn't started he would not have been able to become the person he is. As for myself....I can honestly say that after being hesitant because of time or age it has benefited me in more ways than I could have imagined. I used to relieve stress in not so healthy ways and now it really has trained both of us to deal effectively with situations we might have found stressful before. You're put in situations in class that teach you to just focus on handling the situation through training and control. When you put yourself in those situations on a regular basis that carries over to everything in life. I see it in my son at school and how he deals with people and I see it with myself regarding work and so many other situations outside of Elite. As an added bonus, I can say that without a doubt I am 44 and the healthiest I have ever been in my entire life.  

Anything else you want to share with someone who is looking to get involved with martial arts or looking to change their current lifestyle? 

I would recommend absolutely everyone get involved as soon as they can. It will change your life for the better. It changes your perspective on things, relieves stress and is the most engaging and exciting physical workout you will ever have. My son and I have both trained together since the beginning and it will always be something we do together regularly. It has been a big factor in keeping us close and keeping us both working towards goals. Whatever those goals are...belt tests, entering tournaments, just working on a move together and sharing moves with others. That's not limited to goals in the gym either. Goals in school or work or anything in life. It's has no doubt been one of the best decisions we EVER made. Don't just sign up your children.......its something the whole family can do together and the benefits will be endless. If I had to point out a few decisions that changed my life over the years walking into Elite that first night was one of the best. 


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