Inside the Cage
Two Competitors, Head to Head, Minimal Rules
Mixed Martial Arts is a sport that takes, takes and takes some more. It takes years of dedication and training. It takes extreme commitment and endurance. And most of all it takes a willingness to get hit in the face on purpose.
"Getting punched in the face isn't fun for anyone," said Lt. Nate Grebb, a Navy Information Operations Command Maryland S3 Sailor and professional MMA fighter. "If someone tells you it is, they are either lying or crazy. I think trying not to get punched in the face is fun."
Grebb, who started Martial Arts training at the age of 9, has always loved MMA. He started at the YMCA training American Kenpo for about a year. When he was 10, he and his dad joined Yi's Martial Arts Institute, a Tang Soo Do school, where he trained until he left for college. He progressed to the rank of 3rd Degree Black Belt under Grandmaster Ki Yun Yi.
Grebb entered the Naval Academy in 2001 after seeing the academy's Karate Team compete at a local tournament. He said he was impressed by both their skill and professionalism. As he grew older he said he realized serving his country was what he wanted to do, and the academy was a good entry point, both in providing a path for his service and his passion, Martial Arts.
Grebb was on the academy's Karate team, a club sport, for four years, and served as the team captain his Junior and Senior year.
It wasn't easy, but it was worth it.
"My Navy training has taught me a lot about the ability to mange my time and maintain the needed discipline to succeed," said Grebb. "And this sport helps me be a better officer. It teaches me a lot about myself. How far I can push, how easily I will quit, how much mental pressure I can handle, how I handle defeat, how I handle victory. Also it gives me self awareness, which without a doubt makes me a better officer and person."
Martial Arts was always in Grebb's plan, but MMA cage fighting, not so much.
"When I was young, training in Martial Arts, MMA was in its infancy. The UFC started in the early 90s and was considered barbaric," said Grebb. "As the sport evolved, so did I. I began cross training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and other styles molding myself into a well-rounded fighter. Once I felt I had the skill level to be successful in MMA, it was of course something I wanted to do."
But it takes a lot more than just wanting it.
"In addition to mastering several styles of Martial Arts, MMA requires an exteme level of physical conditioning and nutrition," said Grebb. "Personally, when I am in training camp for an upcoming fight, I do conditioning work five to six days a week at 6 a.m., and training sport specific Martial Arts in the evening."
Grebb hopes to make it to the UFC. His goal is to become the best fighter and instructor he can be so he can one day run his gym, BJJ Conquest, LLC, which he currently co-owns, full time.
His advice to others seeking out MMA fighting is not to rush into the cage.
"The sport has become very popular, and thus you see younger and younger guys jumping into the cage way before they are ever ready. MMA is exactly that, a mixture of several styles. You need to take the time to learn to those individual styles first, and understand what elements from those styles work for you when faced with adversity. Find a school you can trust, with instructors that will take care of you. And make sure your chain of command knows all about it!"
How often Grebb fights vary from year to year, but four fights a year is what he said is the right amount and part of his goal for 2013.
"MMA is the purest form of sport. Two competitors, head to head, locked in a cage, with minimal rules, and only one can come out victorious," said Grebb. "That challenge is the part I enjoy, and in my opinion it's worth the occasional punch in the face."