Teenager coaches champions
By Matt Reinig | Hernando TodaySPRING HILL - There's been some doubt in the mixed martial arts world whether 15-year-old Brandon Lewis, the lead instructor of Superman MMA in Spring Hill, has what it takes to crank champions out at his dojo.
Published: December 22, 2012
Published: December 22, 2012
"I'm 40," said Mike Oliviera, a six-month student of Lewis' that placed first in a recent North American Grappling Association competition.
"In this type of world people look up to Brandon, but they also look at him as being a 15-year-old without the skills needed, and I completely disagree with that."
"He's showed us."
Lewis showed them by training first and second-place winners this year at the Pan-American Grappling Championship in Lakeland, Oliviera said: a fiercely-competitive championship some don't seem to think a teenager has any business training fighters for. But if the samurai swords, belts and medals awarded aren't proof enough of their team's successes and the potential of their dojo, then Lewis would be glad to show how they won them.
"You should let him do a strangle-hold on you."
Only Oliviera wasn't joking. Especially not on a Saturday afternoon at Superman MMA, where 14 students already stood bare-footed on the mats, prepared for the four-hour training session ahead of them. Joking is meandering into a dojo of national champions with no expectation of meeting the mat.
Oliviera's son, Austin, who has been training with Lewis for seven months, had learned in that timeframe how to lock his arms around an opponent's head until they're flared red in the face.
But Lewis is quick to point out that Austin's technique is lacking. Austin stepped aside and observed Lewis' hand-to-arm placement, and the strong hull backward in combination with elevating the head.
"Tap out anytime," Lewis said.
There was a noticeable difference from Austin's technique to Lewis' — stars, lots of them. Lewis and Austin then gave a demonstration on what a person can do to avoid that problem, and allow themselves more options other than to tap out, or pass out.
"When I first started karate and everything, they had me teach," Lewis said, adding that there is a 100-hour minimum teaching requirement, depending on the school. "I always loved helping people, so I opened my own place."
"Here, we're a part of a team," Lewis said.
Lewis' father, Bill, owns Superman MMA and leases the building space.
"A lot of people started seeing him at tournaments and realized he was very talented, and wanted to learn under him," he said. "I do the financing part of it, and he does all the teaching and coaching."
"It's a lot of learning," said Superman MMA fighter Quentin D'Alessandro, who also is one of Lewis' students. "A lot of learning and technique, and very hands on."
Bill said his son can teach adults and children alike because he has that knowledge of technique in mixed martial arts.
"That's what people don't realize: technique is technique," Bill said. "Adults are forced to use pure technique instead of muscle while working with somebody smaller. If you have a weak person with a lot of technique, they can beat a person with a lot of strength and no technique."
It's called "flowing," Oliviera said: gauging your strength to match your student's, in order to teach them technique. Oliviera credits "flowing" with Lewis at Superman MMA for why he placed first in the master's middle-weight division.
"Being in my first one I thought I was going to be really nervous, but I wasn't," Oliviera said. "I was ready to go, rolling on a mat with somebody for five minutes. But it was over before I knew it."
"It means more to me to compete together for a memory more than anything else."
Oliviera's son, Austin, placed first in the teen beginner feather-weight division; Lewis placed first in the advanced-division, William Noe Jr. placed first in the beginner's division, Taylor Kearby placed second in the kid's expert division, D'Alessandro placed second in the novice light-weight division, according to the North American Grappling Association's website.