Pulling all the punches: Students get on the mat and exchange blows for new MMA club on campus


Mixed Martial Arts Club founders Roman Sanchez and Samuel Castorena work punching combination drills during a kickboxing class in the P building. Photo credit: Joe Kendall

Cherelle Roberts

For the past four weeks, sophomore Samuel Castorena and senior Roman Sanchez have had one goal in mind—to start an MMA fight club at San Diego City College, which they hope will eventually lead to the school’s own competitive wrestling team.

Both Castorena and Sanchez, two very passionate martial arts students, who share a Jiu Jitsu class, are pairing up in an attempt to broaden the campus horizons. The pair decided to take their idea to student affairs after being advised to do so by their Jiu Jitsu instructor, Alan Rivera.

They intend to create an official club to achieve their goals – to teach students self-defense and for City College to gain a new athletic team.

“…To get a new athletic team going for City College to be able to compete and gain recognition, as well as teach people self-defense because downtown San Diego isn’t always the safest place,” Castorena said.

When Sanchez was asked why he thought the club was a positive addition to the campus, he stated “I believe athleticism helps you feel more confident about yourself and makes it easier to interact with other people.”

Ideally the MMA fight club would meet 2-3 times a week, possibly in the P building, so new and experienced martial arts students can wrestle, spar, and practice mixed martial arts.

Castorena and Sanchez both wanted to stress, however, that “it doesn’t always have to be about fighting. We can also watch boxing matches and MMA and UFC fights together,” Sanchez said.

Rivera also expressed how the P building would be a great place for the club.

“I would love to have the club here in P-101 in the ‘Room Of Encouragement,’ I want to provide as much as possible, with the support of the school, where students can build friendships and also utilize this room and all of the equipment to their to their advantage,” Rivera said.

The club seems to be off to a promising start and could possibly begin before spring break as several students have already expressed interest—there is just one main issue.

“The biggest problem we’ve run into is getting a full-time instructor to sign for it,” Sanchez said.

Rivera, a part-time Jiu Jitsu instructor showed interest in signing for the club. The only issue remains that he is a part-time instructor and not full-time.

“I would probably, if all the philosophical and cultural aspects were met as well as a program, I would for sure sign for it. The self defense motto would have to be the headliner,” Rivera said.

“We practice here in the room of encouragement our motto is Run, Hide, Fight. Fighting is always the last resort and it’s all about safety, safety is the key,” Rivera continued to say.

An MMA club would provide a new and interesting outlet for many students who are already involved with athletics on campus.

“There are a lot of students who play several sports and on competitive teams, but not for MMA fighting,” Castorena said.

The two are optimistic about their prospects to bring more diversity to the school and will continue to pursue the club with administration until it can be approved. They recognize that this is a previously unexplored idea, but believe that success is possible.

“We don’t have a wrestling team here at City College, but if we could spark that interest through mixed martial arts, I think it could happen.” Sanchez said.

They hope students will be eager to participate and will provide more information once it is available.