Matt Lindland's "SportFight" Promotion At Spirit Mountain Casino (1/28/11)
By REES LLOYD
If you missed the free self-defense seminar held by Team Quest MMA and Fitness in Portland on Saturday (Jan. 22, 2011), you missed something good – good for you, good for your family and good for the community.
But the success of the effort may lead to more opportunities, according to Matt Lindland, Oregon’s Olympic Silver Medalist and Mixed Martial Arts Super-Star who co-founded Team Quest in Portland along with MMA legends Dan Henderson and Randy Couture.
“We are pleased at the response to our offer of a free self-defense seminar for the community, which we put on as a way of giving back to the community, and to raise funds for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital,” Lindland said. “People who participated are asking for more. We may now schedule more free seminars like this, or maybe shorter, focused self-defense training in half-hour sessions, maybe weekly.”
MMA is the fastest growing sport in America, and Team Quest has earned a national and international reputation as one of the best, most famed mixed martial arts training centers in the world. Created in the Gresham area of Portland, Team Quest now has training centers in Portland, Tualatin, and West Linn in Oregon; and, in California, Redding, Oceanside, and Temecula, CA, which is led by Team Quest co-founder Dan Henderson. [For more details, log on to www.teamquestmma.net.]
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Matt Lindland has brought honor to the sport, to himself, and to Oregon, not only by bringing home his Olympic Silver Medal (in greco roman wrestling), but by his status as an MMA super-star competitor, MMA trainer, and entrepreneurial co-founder of Team Quest, which has produced many MMA champions and stars.
Lindland is also an MMA match-maker, founder of “Sport Fight,” which provides the opportunity for up-and-coming athletes to compete and develop their talents in the demanding sport of MMA before growing crowds at MMA events, including one set for January 28, 2011, at Spirit Mountain Casino. (See, http://sportfight.tv/ )
Yet another aspect is Team Quest’s special recognition and support of veterans. Among other things, Team Quest provides a special discount for military veterans, i.e., the first month free and twenty-percent off the normal fee thereafter. (See, www.teamquestmma.net.)
Team Quest is also a primary sponsor of “No Soldier Left Behind,” an Oregon non-profit organization created by Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans who assist veterans coming home to readjust, especially those vets who need help with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) traumatic brain injury (TBI) or other wounds or injuries, and need help in obtaining Veterans Administration medical care or benefits. (www.nosoldierleftbehind.org)
The free self defense seminar was intended for those with no self-defense experience, others with some MMA or other martial arts training, and even those with advanced training.
Scott McKendry, General Manager at Team Quest MMA & Fitness, said, “Team Quest is involved in, and contributing to the community. The free self-defense seminar concept is one way of giving back. We will be looking at doing it more often. All those who participated seem very pleased.”
McKendry said that while Team Quest was pleased with the turn out, and would definitely consider more free self-defense seminars, “generally, we still have to get over the hurdle of the misperception of what MMA is all about.” He explained:
“I think many in the community still have the perception that an MMA training center like Team Quest is full of a bunch of mean, scary, street fighter-types engaged in what the media long ago branded a ‘blood support.’ That’s not the realty at all.
“The professional Team Quest fighters training here are dedicated, decent world-class athletes, and people. So are those on our amateur team and others who are hoping to become professional. We have a program to train people to become instructors. The skilled trainers we have, not only in MMA but in fitness, weight-loss, or basic defense skills, are educators who really care about those they are teaching, not scary imitations of intimidating DI’s.
“But, I believe that once people venture into Team Quest, they realize it is really a family friendly place at which they can learn skills for themselves, and their kids in a safe environment, from really decent athletes and trainers, who are also parents, community members, and decent people just like them.”
McKenry’s perception was in abundant evidence at the free self defense seminar held at Team Quest’s facility at 18206 SE Stark, Portland, OR 97233 (503-661-4134; www.teamquestmma.net.).
Indeed, it was a full house. In one large training room, the free self-dense seminar was going on; in another, bikes and other devices for weight loss and fitness were busy; in another, weight lifting rather than weight loss was ongoing; the very large, glassed training area which faces the street was filled with young children competing in a mini-MMA tournament, with a hundred or more parents and relatives cheering them on.
The participants in the self-defense training all expressed praise for the instructors and gratitude to Team Quest for providing the free seminar. Mike Mincles of Portland, who said he has trained in MMA, stated: “It was good. Very good. Good, solid concrete instruction.”
Leah Preble, of Troutdale, who said she had some martial arts experience, described the seminar as “Awesome. I would definitely encourage people to participate if Team Quest offers it again. There was great feedback from the instructors. They were very good in patiently helping us get the details right.”
And, among the beginners with no martial arts or self-defense training, there was, among others, the daughter-mother team of Blair and Victoria Taft, the former a teenage student and the latter Oregon’s “Radio Personality of the Year” as host of the Victoria Taft Show, “The Tea Party of the Air,” on KPAM-860 (11-3pm., M-F).
“It was outstanding,” said Victoria Taft. ”We are very lucky to have Matt Lindland and the whole Team Quest team in our community.”
The trainers handling the self-defense training also provide evidence in support of McKenry’s comments on those instructing at Team Quest, and on the misperception that many have about MMA.
Those assisting in the self-defense training were Scott McQuary, owner and head trainer at Team Quest in Tualatin; Julian Carroll, a Portland Police Department officer who lost 100 pounds at Team Quest and is now an MMA amateur competitor; Hillary Van Ormun, a Texas Christian University Graduate who is the only female on Team Quest’s amateur fighting team; Vladimir Novikov, in training to be an instructor; and Matt Lindland.
Scott McQuary led off the seminar by discussing the importance of “remembering that your greatest defense is your own mind. Keeping alert to conditions around you to avoid danger. Keeping confident and using your knowledge if you are in danger. And remembering that the most important thing is not to overcome an aggressor, but to get you out of danger…. Use everything available to you – your voice, your demeanor, and your self-defense skills – and overcome inhibitions about appearing rude to avoid danger -- like failing to cross the street if someone is following too close to you because you don’t want to appear rude, implying that person is a danger. Overcome inhibitions against fighting back with whatever it takes to get free of danger if you cannot run to safety.”
Throughout the two-and-one-half hour seminar, McQuary made himself available at one time or another to all those participating, helping them to get a move right. In every instance, although he was instructing about violent moves in violent circumstances, he was soft-spoken, even gentle, in helping those at the seminar to get the moves right that might save their lives.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize that Team Quest is a very friendly place full of very friendly people who really want to help. Many people have the wrong conception of MMA. That would probably include me, I guess.
“When I walked into Team Quest the first time, I was 5’ 9” and weighed 260 pounds. I had no martial arts experience. I didn’t even dream that one day I would be fighting, and instructing, in MMA. I really didn’t know what Team Quest was all about, but I found a really good group of people, and started training. I lost just about 100 pounds training here. As I lost weight, I became more and more serious about the sport. Now, I am on the Team Quest amateur fight team and hope to be fighting professionally. I’m also training to be an instructor, and hope I can help other people as Team Quest has helped me. It is very satisfying.”
“I was really nervous when I first came in to Team Quest. I knew they had all these great professional fighters here, like Matt Lindland. I didn’t know what to expect. But they’ve been very welcoming and helpful to me. It’s been great. Now, I’m the only woman on the Team Quest amateur fight team, and they are looking for a fight for me. I’m also on the instructor training program. I never thought I would be so involved, but I am, and it’s great. My husband is not involved in MMA, but he is very supportive,” she said.
“I would encourage women to really consider becoming part of this. It’s empowering,” she said. “Like today, helping others to learn in the free self-defense seminar. Helping the community. Helping people be a little more confident. It’s great.”
Jason “Pepsi” Novelli, passing by on his way to a sparring match, complimented amateur fighter Hillary: “She’s the nicest person who ever punched me in the mouth,” he said
“When I knew we were moving to Portland, I was very happy because Portland is where Team Quest was created. I was overjoyed. Team Quest has an awesome reputation, nationally and internationally. I couldn’t wait to be able to join up with Team Quest,” he said.
Vladimir, who hobbled around the mats and instructed on crutches from a non-MMA injury, said that his only experience in martial arts had been in Russian Sambo, “which is a very violent, combat sport,” which he had been taught by an immigrant former captain in the Soviet army.
“MMA requires skill in many forms, not just boxing, not just wrestling, or grappling, but all the forms. It is a great sport and Team Quest is a wonderful place to learn. I am very grateful,” he said. “I love to teach. This is like a dream.”
He disappeared from the seminar before its conclusion. When I looked for him at the conclusion of the seminar for a quote, I was told he was in the other, larger training area in the front of the facility where a kids’ MMA tournament was going on.
These were little kids. When I walked in, the kids engaged in MMA competition appeared to be under seven or eight years old. The room was packed with parents and kids sitting around the room against the walls while the match was taking place on the mats. I didn’t see Lindland, and watched the match. The kids were good. Trained. Using MMA techniques. Disciplined. Confident. Coaches were coaching both at the same time; not helping one against the other, but helping both to get their techniques right. The parents were cheering the kids on – but cheering both kids, and in a cheerful spirit.
If there was a need of evidence that Team Quest is a “family friendly place,” here was the existential not rhetorical proof : There had to be at least a hundred adults in that room, maybe as many kids. And the atmosphere was one of support for all the kids, nothing mean-spirited.
Hard to believe that those kids, gaining the discipline, self-confidence, and respect for their adult MMA instructors that they achieve at Team Quest, with the help of supportive parents, will descend one day into delinquency.
It is true that some of the toughest men in the world train and compete in MMA, and many train at Team Quest in Portland and at Team Quest’s other facilities. And it is true the MMA may be the most demanding sport involving single, unarmed combat.
It is also true that Matt Lindland is one of those “toughest men in the world.”
But the reality of MMA at Team Quest is not that it is about ‘blood sport.”
The reality is that Team Quest is a friendly place, a place of traditional American values, a place where families and kids can be safe, a place of personal discipline, effort, athleticism, challenges physical, mental, and spiritual, and, for adults as well as for kids, a place of dreams.
I gave up on finding Lindland in the crowd and turned to leave, which is when I spotted him. He was sitting of the mat, his back against the wall, one adult among the many, seeking no special notice, one of the toughest men in the world, with little kids surrounding him, a very tough man gently and protectively helping those kids to make their dreams come true. Maybe one day one them, too, would represent our country at the Olympics, and come up with Gold or Silver or Bronze Olympic Medal as their teacher, Matt Lindland, did. Maybe not, but they will all be better for the experience.
I asked Lindland, who has been honored so much for his achievements in MMA, nationally and internationally, if there was any particular way I should describe him in reporting on the free defense seminar, Team Quest, and him. He said simply, “Just say I’m a patriot.”
[For more information on Team Quest, see www.teamquestmma.net.]