IMPE Combat Room Tribute

The IMPE Combat Room is just a piece of under used real estate in the eyes of the University administration. It is a 25' x 75' dark, smelly, dilapidated room with two-thirds of it filled by an old, beaten wrestling mat. What possible good could it be? It is neither elegant, trendy, or pretty and doesn't have anything to do with the latest fitness or recreation craze.
They couldn't be more wrong as they fall into the trap of form over function. The administration sees waste and uselessness in the face of an amazing training facility. I've invited world champions in multiple combat sports from muay thai to sport jiu-jitsu to train and teach here. UFC veterans have given seminars here. Leading experts in self-defense have transmitted life saving information within its hallowed stained walls. And they've all said the same thing, "What a great room. You guys are lucky to have such a great facility." Combat sports professionals like Ryan Blackorby, Shonie Carter, Wellington "Megaton" Dias, Brian Gassaway, Jeremy Harminson, Dean Lessei, Raul Llopis, Jack McVicker, Derrick Noble, Erik Paulson, and staff from Blauer Tactical.
And yet the end of January 2006 spells the end of the Combat Room. A place where martial artists and fighters have spilled blood, sweat, and tears (as well as occasional vomit) for over twenty years. A place where club instructors have donated their time and expertise for free in the hopes of spreading the interest and love of the arts and skills they practice. It is a place sanctified by painful and bloody sacrifice on the altar of martial perfection as well as a place where the closest bonds can be formed between training partners, making them my brothers and sisters. Some of my best memories and best times have been in this room with no furniture, no art, no multimedia, and poor environmental control. It's the only place on campus accessible by all who want to use a heavy bag or a speed bag platform. Highly trained combat athletes can meet and train between classes or work just as easily as the newest neophyte and his friends.
With the loss of this exceptional space I feel as if I'm not only being evicted from what we have, as dedicated martial artists and combat athletes, earned as our own, but I feel as if I'm losing a friend.

Mike Aref
December 30, 2005