Mixed Martial Arts enthusiasts

Pictured, from left: Wayne Ashford; Gokor, World Champion Mixed Martial Arts coach; and Doug Ashford. Photo by Dave Lichten

Local father-and-son duo Doug and Wayne Ashford are advocating the latest extreme sport, “Mixed Martial Arts,” also known as “No-Holds-Barred” or “Extreme Cage Fighting.”

The sport has gained international momentum and, some say, appears to soon rival the popularity of professional boxing. Mixed Martial Arts was outlawed in the U.S. for many years because of its violent portrayal in the media, but has now become legal and more socially acceptable thanks to strictly enforced rules and weight divisions, and the blessing of the State Athletic Commissions throughout the U.S., the Ashfords said in an e-mail.

“Mixed Martial Arts will surpass professional boxing in the next few years,” Malibu resident Santos Flaniken, a Jiujutsu Combat Grappling specialist, said in an e-mail. “The athletes have a wider range of weaponry, which includes advanced choke holds, leg locks and reverse joint locks that are difficult to defend.”

“I love surfing but during the lulls, this particular style of martial arts is unbeatable,” Doug, said. “It’s technical and incorporates different styles into one complete workout!”

“Boxing is a sport for older guys. Mixed Martial Arts is for my generation,” Wayne Ashford, 18, said.

Wayne, a tournament fighter, will soon achieve a black belt but says completing his college education is his priority. He is majoring in business, but specializes in Judo and grappling. He trains five nights per week.