Two students in red and black equipment boxing sparring
Precision Boxing and MMA creates a culture where all ages and experience levels are welcomed on the mats

It can be nerve wracking to step on the mats for the first time. Most people consider taking martial arts classes months or sometimes even years before they gather the courage to begin. If you’d like to start training but find yourself hesitant or nervous, you’re not alone. Many think that they have to get in shape before starting classes, or learn how to throw a proper punch before finding a school. Although physical fitness and technique are important, you can learn more about that once you start classes. In reality, the most challenging step can just be getting through the door and stepping on the mats. It may feel like a big step outside of your comfort zone, but once you begin you may be surprised by your own ability and how welcoming the martial arts community can be.

Brian with Pro MMA Fighter
UFC Hall of Famer Jim Miller is one of Brian McLaughlin’s most successful students

I always thought that martial arts would be fun, however it was the desire to be able to protect myself led me to search for local martial arts schools. I had come to terms with my lack of combat knowledge and knew that I had to find somewhere that valued self-defense. After speaking to some friends with martial arts experience and doing my own research of local schools, I found Precision Boxing and MMA in Poughkeepsie. I read on their website all about their head coach Brian McLaughlin; he had been a quarterfinalist on the prestigious television series “The Ultimate Fighter”, had tremendous success in both amateur and professional promotions and was hand selected by the United States Army to train the Fort Hood Combatives team. The list of his accolades went far beyond that, but those were good enough for me. I decided to call and felt a lump in my throat as the phone was ringing. As I was doing my best to muster a “tough” sounding vocal tone, a voice on the other end answered in a cheery tone,

“It’s a great day at Precision Boxing and MMA, how can I help you?”

Relieved by the friendly voice, I express my interest in their classes; ensuring to highlight again and again that I have no experience. The gentleman on the phone couldn’t have been more encouraging. He immediately scheduled me to come in the next day for a tour and brief one on one lesson. To say that I was excited is an understatement.

Student With Precision MMA logo shirt
Precision Boxing and MMA head coach Brian McLaughlin demonstrating a technique in class

The next day I woke up and made sure that I had my gym clothes and a light snack. I was still just as excited, but there were questions flying through my head.

“Am I gonna get beat up?”

“If I don’t know how to do something am I gonna get made fun of?”

“Will I be able to do it?”

Once I walked in, I realized that I had nothing to worry about. I was welcomed by a young man named Andrew who was friendly and well-dressed. He took me on a tour of the facility and showed me some basics. He taught me how to throw a jab and a cross, a double leg takedown and a rear-naked choke. At the time, this was mind-blowing information. Although I had seen all of these performed on television time and time again, I was amazed that I was able to do them myself. I was immediately fascinated and couldn’t wait to start classes.

Two Students BJJ Grappling
Poughkeepsie martial arts practitioners in action

Since that day, my martial arts practice has been the centerpiece of my life. Although it seemed intimidating to start, I’m thankful every day that I pushed past my hesitation to discover what would become the greatest passion that I’ve known in my life. If you live in the Hudson Valley and are thinking about taking martial arts classes, check out Precision Boxing and MMA! Give Precision a call at (845)392-8495 or click HERE!

About the Author:

Oliver Swanson has been a student at Precision Boxing and MMA since 2016. Discovering martial arts was a pivotal moment in his life that led him to become a personal fitness trainer and martial arts blogger. He also teaches adult boxing classes and assists with kids striking and grappling classes at Precision Boxing and MMA.