BUSHI MMA/ASCA: Strengthening the Community

Located right off of Main Street and the center of small town Americana, Garrett Cox has a dream of uniting Waldron, Arkansas with the core values of MMA. These values include self improvement, loyalty, perseverance, respect, discipline and self-control. This hits home for me because I too am from the same small town inside the jurisdiction of Scott County. I understand the overall plight of anyone wanting to make a difference in a small populated area. Also, I appreciate what the owner of BUSHI MMA/ASCA is trying to accomplish. It’s amazing to see how far they have come from once competing as a successful sport fighter to now teaching the general public their love of mixed martial arts. As well as previously obtaining multiple MMA titles, Garrett Cox currently is a Level 1 in Jeet Kune Do, 2nd degree brown belt in both Street Karate and Combat Jui Jitsu and is ranked #2 in American Scientific Combat. Their plethora of knowledgeable experience intertwined with concrete martial arts fundamentals has no bounds and is continuously learning. The core of BUSHI MMA/ASCA’s mission is to not only make Waldron a better place, but to help the people within the town become better people. This martial arts academy prides themselves on having affordable prices and encourages all age groups to attend their class in hopes of discovering the values that lie beneath what MMA truly is.

Allow yourself to be engaged in a story that goes beyond owning a simple gym, but a social crusade to strengthen a neglected community.

What sparked the creation of BUSHI MMA/ASCA?
"Back when I was fighting, I didn't have a real desire to own and operate my own gym, but I did love teaching. I would teach at my instructor's gym [doing] a women's class and I worked with a couple of fighters to help them out. I stopped fighting at the age of 22 and I got out of martial arts for about 4-5 years. [Eventually] I moved back down to Waldron, Arkansas and was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. [One day I got] asked, 'If you could do anything with your life, what do you want to do?'  I said, 'Teach martial arts.' I thought to myself, 'I'm 29 years old. A fighter usually starts going down hill [at 30-34]. I'm just about at that age and completely out of shape. Do I think I can still fight? Yes. Could I make it big? I don't know. There wouldn't be much time to do it during my prime.' What sparked the start of [BUSHI MMA/ASCA] was for years I had been talking with a buddy about starting a gym, teaching, getting back in shape and fighting again. [After we] started [teaching], me and him split ways. I was faced with the option of giving up or keep going. I see kids in Waldron and think, 'Somebody's gotta give them something to do.' Also, I want to be an option for anyone who wants to do sport fighting, self defense, and [just have] fun."

Is there a reason you decided to build a business in a small town like Waldron, Arkansas?
"I tried the 'get out' method, but everybody knows Waldron, Arkansas is like a black hole. If you stay around it, you're going to get sucked back in. I wasn't able to get completely away from Waldron. I always had something here. I had my daughter and my family here. I was always having to come back.  Over the years, I watched Waldron deteriorate as a town and it broke my heart. At one point in time Waldron wasn't bad. When I was a kid I can remember Waldron being a decent town. We had everybody to hang out with and it was really cool. [After growing up,] everyone thought, 'We gotta get out of here.' and everyone started leaving. People in the community are now [thinking,] 'We need to bring opportunities to our community and for [anyone] who wants to visit.' Waldron is trying. I am not doing this [business] to be rich. This is why my prices are much lower than the other [martial arts place] in town. My reasoning is I can keep my prices low because my overhead is low. I'm not trying to make a bunch of money because I don't need to get rich off martial arts. I want this to be affordable for everybody. [For example:] If the lower class wants to [contribute to a business] to make [their lives better] and they can't afford it, then [is the business] really in it to make everybody a better person? Everybody should have an equal opportunity and that's my thoughts behind it. I want to bring the community back together. I want to rid [Waldron] of its problems so that nobody ever feels like they should have to leave town to have a happy life. I want everyone to be happy with being in Waldron again. That's my ultimate goal."
Talk about your past experiences in MMA and how they shaped you into the instructor that you are today?
"I was a scene kid. Nobody fighting was [considered] a scene kid. [They were] either tough boy rednecks or jocks. There were no scene kids. I had the hair color and piercings. My first fight I walked out to 'I'm Not Okay' by My Chemical Romance. Nobody was doing that kind of stuff. When I started fighting, I was really good at it. I collected multiple titles, trophies and medals. I don't think any of my wins benefited me as an instructor. When you're winning, it doesn't matter. At some point in time, you start getting big headed. [In the beginning] I was very modest, respectful, and never disrespected my opponents. It got to a point where I thought, 'You know what? I'm really good at this. I've won 11 fights in a row. I've never been beat. I got 3 belts. I got these medals and trophies. I think I'm the best in the area.' Instead of continuing to prove why I thought that way, I got cocky and I slacked off. [Soon after,] I dropped 3 [fights] in a row. The defeat humbled me and it made me think, 'Is this something I want to do?' I won't say my losses caused me to quit fighting, but [I did think,] 'Could I take fighting seriously enough to be a fighter?' I didn't think I could. I had all the talent in the world, but I didn't believe I was dedicated enough to be a world class fighter. When I stopped fighting and faded out of martial arts, [I briefly thought] 'I want to teach, but can I do it?' I had the guts to [fight people] so I [must] have the guts to be an instructor. The losing and [having] doubt in myself really benefited me when it finally came down to [becoming an instructor.] I can't give up."

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start a business focused in this type of art?
"My honest opinion is if you are going to start up a martial arts business, it doesn't need to be about money. Martial arts is more than just punches, kicks, submissions and wrestling. It's a way of life and there's a lot of philosophy in martial arts. Use martial arts to build people into better people. People should be doing martial arts for this reason."

The address of BUSHI MMA/ASCA is: 373 S. Main Street in Waldron, AR.

To discover more about BUSHI MMA/ASCA, visit Facebook, Instagram, email at americanscientificcombatacad@gmail.com or call them at 479-227-0994.

BUSHI MMA/ASCA is currently hiring a yoga/kickboxing instructor!

Photo credit: Kendra Cox

4/10/21 - Garrett Cox, creator of BUSHI MMA/American Scientific Combat Academy (ASCA)

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