The world of MMA can be a very scary and intimidating one for the average Joe or the beginner looking to start out. People are scared of walking into the sweat pit of ‘meatheads’ and testosterone, they fear upon arrival they will get gloved up and made to fight. While this might be the case in some instances, it need not be like that, and your fears will often be gone by session 2. The world of mixed martial arts is an evergreen area we recommend that everyone tries at least once, and try all aspects of the ground and the stand-up games. In this section, we will look to review gyms so you don’t have to and perhaps help make up your mind on when and where to attend.
In the 3rd edition of the gym review section, I made my way to Valhalla MMA in Alberton. Driving there my mind had begun to wonder as it does, what awaits me at the proverbial doors of Valhalla. What madness awaited me in the land of the Vikings, if I am honest I knew very little about Shane Carr and his team. I looked online but struggled to paint a picture of what i could expect. I soon realized that my lack of knowledge of this man was a great injustice to him and the sport of MMA, as it became quickly apparent that Shane Carr is a wealth of knowledge and a Grandmaster of all things Martial Arts. I often believe you know when you are among greatness, these people just have a way about them, it’s hard to explain, but Shane is definitely one of them. He has a very high moral compass and a strong code of ethics which is easy to see and all his students are benefitting from this.
Shane started out in Martial arts as a youngster in a Rec center in Bez Valley where he took advantage of the free Karate lessons offered. His love for martial arts saw him venture and as he grew, trying different disciplines like Kung fu at the Songshan Kung-Fu Academy in Edenvale. He also trained at the infamous street tough gym with Rodney King and the Macnolis gym in Hillbrow . Shane was also involved with pro wrestling and even had his own organization wich is still running in KZN. He spent some time training and Coaching with Nolan Swanepoel and later on Morne Swanepoel, all of which laid the path to him owning his own gym. Shane said that he started coaching as trainers would not arrive for classes so he would take over as it came naturally to him and so through this path eventually Valhalla MMA and fitness was born. Shane is also registered and qualified Judge through MMA SA and the
IMMAF, and is a regular judge at amateur tournaments and at the EFC. Valhalla is also a registered Amateur martial arts school with MMA SA.
I arrived at the gym as kids and parents were arriving for the Little Vikings class, and it became quickly apparent that the gym was a big player in the community, “we don’t have members, we have family”. I did the customary walk around the gym and really got the sense of warmth and welcoming from the gym and everyone that was there. The gym in itself is littered with awards and certificates of all its achievements. The walls are decorated with inspirational sayings of Viking origin some of humor as well. Every gym I go to seems to have a theme and vibe about it, the Vikings of Valhalla was one I truly enjoyed. The kids all sporting their awesome Valhalla kit as they trained, followed By the MMA class, who also wore their Valhalla clothing proudly, which really highlights the team and family vibe that Shane has created. The gym is like the cupboards that lead to Narnia or the cupboards of Alberton if you will, as from the front door you can’t really see much. You walk into a nice reception area and then the gym kind of expands massively and is a lot bigger than you expect from the outside.
First up was the Little Vikings class, the kids all rambled around the Mats as their parents got comfy to watch. Soon after the magic began. The kid’s classes are always a lot of fun and give a great indication to the gym itself. The class was seemingly designed to burn off some excess energy, create confidence and learn a skill. After a warm up, they got on their gloves and each had a turn and some technical striking drills and ended off with some grappling basics. I always commend people teaching kids these lessons, as people often see these kids as doing some Karate or whatever it may be. However there is so much more to it, the kids are being taught life lessons whether they know it or not, they are gaining inter-personnel and social confidence, at the same time developing a skill and learning how to defend themselves.Shane gives a great emphasis to instilling confidence into the kids in his class, he even made them do a drill where they had to speak loudly and confidently. It is easy to see the passion Shane has with regard to teaching these classes and he said something that really stuck with me “We are building leaders, not sheep” and how right he is. I couldn’t help wondering how many leaders will one day be giving thanks to Shane and all that he has taught them.
Next up was the MMA class and it was that time where I stopped observing and started training. The class was a 2-hour class, which was a format I had never done, and it had my mind a buzz about would I even be able to walk after 2 hours? At the end of the class, I felt extremely inspired for many reasons. Firstly the class was well structured with a valiant warm up and some cool drills I had never done. Once the gloves and shin guards were on I realized that I was in a class being given by a True master. The knowledge he gifted the class was truly inspiring, and Shane really reminded me why I started on this venture. In 2 hours we had warmed up, done some drills, did some technical striking stuff and a bit of grappling. In terms of MMA classes, this was the best one I had experienced to date. The structure of the class was really fun and for two hours even a true beginner will do just fine, and high-level fighters will also learn some valuable lessons.Secondly, Shane also showed me what I always believed about MMA Gyms, the “slobber knocker” sparring days are long gone, and true students of Mixed Martial arts are being created by people like Shane. All the classes end in a team circle were Shane shares some last words of Wisdom and a Viking chant which really solidifies the family feeling.
Valhalla is a mini mecca of MMA based classes and fitness classes, with action happening from Monday to Sunday. The classes range from MMA, Submission grappling, CoreFit and Corefit Strike, Sparring and open mat, Zumba classes and a team Park Run on Saturday Mornings.They also have an open bag option every day From 10am-5pm, where you can pay a subscription and use the facilities during that time.Additionally to that, they host Box and Braai, which is boxing sparring followed by some social beers They are well entrenched in the community and that community is very fortunate to have such great Role-models and leaders like those of Valhalla.They are often giving back to charities and animal shelters. They have a good amateur program and are doing good work in growing the amateur scene and I look forward to seeing their amateur fighters on the scene.
As I was driving home I couldn’t help but think about the amazing situation I am in, I truly love MMA and to see the passion of other people is very inspiring. Shane reminded me of why I set out on this mission, simply for people to realize that People like Shane are amongst your community doing amazing things.Teaching people skills and giving kids and adult’s confidence to take on everyday life. As I drove home I realized I was very privileged that I got to experience a class given by Shane Carr and I can’t encourage people enough to go join an MMA gym as soon as possible, “oh the places you will Go”. Shane is another great example of how MMA is thriving in South Africa, MMA fans need to realize that we have our own versions of Winklejohn and Jackson, our own Mark Henry’s and our own John Cavanagh. We have amazingly talented and passionate coaches with amazing MMA knowledge.Shane is a rare commodity with an amzing gym, i would encourage anyone who can to join them immediately. Valhalla MMA was a truly amazing experience that I will treasure for a long time and hopefully will be back there someday soon.
Thank you, Shane, for welcoming me with warm hospitality and for Inspiring me even further, you are doing truly amazing work at Valhalla.
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Total Score – 26 out of 30
‘Meathead meter’ – 0
Facebook: – Valhalla MMA and Fitness
Or get in touch with Shane Carr firstname.lastname@example.org