Terry Rea, MMA instructor (right), explains the fundamentals of MMA along with Raffi Yacoubian (center left).

Some Algonquin College students are fighting off the winter blues this term with mixed martial arts classes.

Classes are being offered every Wednesday and Friday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Jack Doyle Athletics Center until Apr. 24.

“I think it’s had a positive impact on my schooling,” said Joanna Schraa, an early childhood education student at the college. “I can actually calm down and focus on my school work.”

Mixed martial arts, sometimes referred to as MMA, is a combat sport involving the combination of multiple striking, grappling and wrestling techniques into a single discipline.

The classes, welcome to people of all skill levels, are being instructed by Terry Rea, a former fighter and longtime martial arts practitioner.

“It’s a good way to get in shape,” said Rea. “It takes discipline to get good at this. It instills discipline. It has its own reward system. Whatever you put in, you get back out of it and I like that.”

With the MMA classes now being offered at the college, Algonquin students are quickly discovering the benefits of practicing such an intense sport, especially when it comes to their studies.

“Being active really helps, like you know,” said Schraa. “I’m not just chilling at home watching movies, and I don’t want to chill more to do school work, so when I get off you know, move around, you’re like ‘Oh, now I can really settle down and actually pay attention to my school work.”

“What I think is fun is the learning aspect,” said Raffi Yacoubian, a second-year culinary management student who has been practicing MMA for over a year. “I come in and I enjoy the learning aspect, learning how my body works… You see yourself doing these things and it opens your eyes to what’s possible.”

MMA began its rise to fame in 1993 with the inception of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), a cage fighting event where people come to watch the best fighters around the world compete to determine which martial art was the best. Now, MMA is a recognized sport practiced by millions throughout the world.

“The first few UFC events were crazy,” said Rea. “It was more style versus style versus what it’s become now, which is kind of turned into its own martial art. Back then it was more like Sumo versus Karate, Jiu Jitsu versus wrestling and all that type of stuff.”