Irmo, SC (WLTX) - This past weekend, an amateur MMA fighter died in South Carolina.
The death has put the highlight on a sport that has dramtically increased in popularity over the last decade. While you may think the contest are about physically punishing opponents, MMA instructors say the sport is more about discipline than fighting.
"I think a lot of people have the image because the blood, the kicks, and punches," said Guybson Sa.
Sa is a decorated mixed martial arts fighter, and says MMA is not only what you see.
"A lot of times when you get into martial arts you think it's all about fighting but for us its about discipline and respect," said Sa.
With a very contact sport like MMA comes regulations, but Sa says the rules are different in every state. In South Carolina, it's pretty basic: an eye test, blood test and physical are required.
"In New York where I fought before they require brain scans, physicals, tests for blood to check for HIV, so it is more rigid than what it is in South Carolina. "
He says it's important that he teaches his students safety while training for fights.
"I recommend to them to find a doctor, find a nutritionist so you can really know what you are taking. A lot of people see the fighters and watch videos on the internet and they see them get stronger and they want to be just like them so they start taking stuff that is illegal. "
Sa believes there are injuries in every sport but he drills treating your body properly in order to succeed.
"I think it's just safety and know what times you have to rest and know what times you have to train, a lot of people want to train 24/7 then two weeks later you break so you have to learn to take breaks."
When people see MMA they see a fight, but for Sa, he sees an opportunity to help someone.
"I see a lot of people who come to MMA and it makes them a better person you know people who used drugs and had problems with their family and the Martial Arts bring them out of that."