Students looking to try something new, step outside of their comfort zone, get in shape, gain useful life skills and meet new people should consider practicing the martial arts. While it may seem daunting at first, Troy Scheer, a martial artist with over 30 years of experience, is convinced that it may not be as scary as commonly believed and that the benefits are worth taking the plunge.
Scheer’s passion for martial arts began at a young age. Born into a family of martial artists, his father was a martial arts instructor who taught him the fundamentals before he was old enough to attend regular classes with adults. His mother holds a brown belt in karate and his sister is also a high-ranking black belt in karate who has competed internationally.
“I was a mat rat. My dad opened his first club in Saskatoon in 1967, so I didn’t really have much of an option,” Scheer joked. “My dad wouldn’t teach me how to kick — he taught me how to box at first. Once I could box, then he started teaching me the karate system.”
And so began his passion which has continued to this day. Scheer is now an accomplished martial artist himself and owns Scheer’s Martial Arts gym in Saskatoon. He offers classes to children and adults that teach martial arts and self-defence skills.
“It’s always kind of scary walking into a place because you think that everyone is kind of a walking death machine, but when you walk through the door you go, ‘Oh, hey! I work with that guy!’ Or, ‘oh, that guy walks his dog in the park where I play with my kids!’” Scheer said. “It’s the biggest mingling of people from all walks of life on the floor.”
Scheer eventually began to practice the art of Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu — two of the most commonly practiced fighting systems in the modern mixed martial arts world and some of the most popular classes that he teaches at his gym.
Muay Thai is a striking art that originated in Thailand that focuses on using all limbs of the body to inflict damage on an opponent.
“Muay Thai is the art of eight limbs that includes striking with the hands, feet, knees and elbows. It’s using all the tools. North American kickboxing is just kicking with your feet and punching with your hands.” Scheer said. “You’re not allowed to knee or use elbows and you’re not allowed to clinch or wrestle with your opponent. Thai boxing, because of its use of more tools, it’s a more functional form of self defence.”
According to Scheer, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is an especially effective style that can be used to defend against an attacker that is of greater size and strength, enabling the defender to overcome the disparity with superior grappling technique and fighting strategy.
Despite his enthusiasm, Scheer emphasized that practicing only one style of martial arts is not adequate for self-defence purposes — students need to learn to grapple strike in order to handle a multitude of dangerous situations. He also offers classes that are focused solely on self-defence techniques.
“When my father started teaching, he always taught classes that emphasized the self-defence aspects of martial arts. If you’re on the street in a fight where there are no rules and someone pulls out a knife, I don’t care what you know, but if you don’t know how to deal with that knife, you’re going to get stabbed. Or, if halfway through a fight someone pulls out a bat and starts swinging at you — well, mixed martial arts doesn’t really train you for that.”
To Scheer, the practical skills gained in the gym are only one part of the incredible martial arts experience.
“My biggest benefit from the martial arts, aside from the physical and confidence-building aspects, has been the people and the relationships that you build. It gave me a chance to rub elbows with people from different walks of life that I otherwise might not have had the chance to meet. You build amazing friendships because you get together with other people and push yourself in ways that are outside of the norm.”
Brenden Palmer / Sports & Health Editor
Photo: Anita Dutka / Supplied