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Friends gather for version of fight club

Shane Hyde was looking for the right way to vent, to unleash aggression building up during a difficult period for him a year ago. He found exactly what he was looking for through an informal “fight club.” Mr. Hyde, a 39-year-old who works at Bogey’s in downtown Guntersville and some friends use the place for informal mixed martial arts workouts. They punch and kick each other to reduce stress, tension and flush toxins from the body. “It got me out of a bad place I was in,’’ said the 6-foot-5 Mr. Hyde, who weighed 353 pounds when he began the workouts last summer and is now down to 278. “I had my first broken heart, and 6 people who were kin to me or were friends died in 2013.’’

The fight club has Guntersville connections other than Mr. Hyde, but it meets at the Roller Knights skating rink in Arab. On a Thursday afternoon – Roller Knights is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday – beginners and veterans alike honed techniques for boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. They punch and kick not only each other but metal poles to strengthen their bones. It’s all controlled violence. “I’m actually a pacifist,’’ said Daniel Tousey, a 2007 Arab High School graduate who works at the rink as a magician during parties and helps run the MMA gatherings. “I don’t even like violence. I’m just good at it. I used to be violent. The more I learned about doing this, the less violent I got.’’ “Me too,’’ added Mr. Hyde. The other participants at the workouts were brothers Kerry and John Jones. Kerry is something of the ring-leader who is nearing his 13th year of practicing MMA. There’s also Chandler McGowan of Guntersville, who was at his first session, and Ben Cole of Arab. He is 17 and plans to pursue MMA professionally when he turns 18. While Mr. McGowan and Mr. Cole take instruction from Mr. Tousey in the boxing ring, Mr. Hyde and John Jones square off in jiu-jitsu. This style of fighting promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and technique. The idea is to take the fight to the ground and apply joint locks and choke holds to defeat the other person.

John is closer in size to Mr. Hyde than anyone else in the group, but the latter got the better of it when they sparred. “Dropping that elbow into my neck kind of got me,’’ John said. It’s not all-out warfare, though. “The good thing about doing it with friends is we stop and apologize if we hit too hard or give a low blow,’’ said Mr. Tousey, adding that it happens quite often. Kenny Jones and Mr. Tousey have given self-defense demonstrations for girls at Arab High and hope to start teaching self-defense classes in May at Galaxy Tumbling in Guntersville. Until then, the action will continue at Roller Knights. And while they may be friends, the sessions aren’t for the faint of heart. “I once hit him right there and it didn’t hurt him,’’ Mr Hyde said as he pointed to the middle of Mr. Tousey’s stomach. “I think I hurt my hand. I hit hard. At least I think I hit hard. I’ve been told I hit hard. “It’s discouraging as big as I am and it didn’t even hurt him.”




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