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*NOTE* If you sign up, you will get an email from us looking to connect via phone for the vetting process. It might end up in your SPAM folder because it comes from Meetups- check there, or you may not be able to call!
Greetings- I'm Peter, one of the co-founders of Lab Rats, and the "gatekeeper"/vetter for our members. Lab Rats is the name for our self-defense/martial arts/combatives/MMA training group, active since 2000. Sometimes it's referred to as "Fight Church", for when we train on Sundays. Simply, we are a training group first, but happy to share our combative ideas (a way, not the way...) in exchange for training partners. Great for exercise/fitness, self-defense training (sport and non-sport), and building community.
If you want to "cut to the chase" and see detailed information about what we do, it can be found here: What the Heck Do Training Sessions "Look Like"?
Below is a description of the group. If you dig it and want to check us out, just apply by answering the 5 questions, and I'll send you an email asking you to give me a call so I can answer questions for you. If that works out, will approve you for the group and you'll get email notices about when we're training, and other related stuff.
Probably the best way to describe what we do, is to explain it FAQ style:
Who are you people?: The existing group are males and females, ages 18-49. The mean age is probably 34. We started as training partners, but have all become friends as well. Lots of nice, smart people, not an ego in the bunch. Some do what we do training for a living in one way or another, but there's also a chef, a librarian (or two), a therapist (or three), service folk, and more. There's about 15-25ish of us (including a couple of people that live far away, but come as they can), usually 8-10ish of us show up most weeks, at this point. Members come from as far as Pomona and El Segundo, with occasional visits from NYC, Boston, Arizona, and Central California.
More specifically, who is right for this group?: Starting from people that want to practice/share/learn "self-defense"/MMA... folk who are over 18, can train safe, don't have egos. Social skills. Definitely, people with social skills. Preferably, people who are dedicated, and want to exercise. Level of experience doesn't matter- we have new folk, and people who... have forgotten a lot of stuff (translation: people that've done so much for so long, they've let go of a lot of information). We have moderately fit people, and really fit people. Males and females. You don't have to be tough... it might help, but isn't necessary. You might get a little tougher doing this. :) It's appropriate for men's and women's self defense, sport and "non-sport" interests.
What "style" do you do?: We don't really believe in such. There's no such thing as an "Aikido fight" or "boxing fight", etc. In terms of who can actually teach/coach stuff, there's Muay Thai, boxing, Jeet Kune Do (Bruce Lee's philosophy), Kali (Filipino styles), Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, judo, Crazy Monkey Defense (not as "Kung Fu Theatre" as it sounds- it's an organized non-traditional system based in part on Muay Thai), military and law enforcement combatives, western wrestling and more. At least 10 of us are essentially lifelong learners of different martial arts. Some partners do ECQC (military/law enforcement extreme close quarters combat work), some do competitive sport martial arts (BJJ, MMA, Muay Thai, boxing), some even do "The Gathering"- the Dog Brothers "Gathering of the Pack", which is a full-contact, no rules, pressure-testing of skills with different kinds of weapons.
That's a terrible description! How am I supposed to know what it "looks like"?: Of course the best answer is to come check it out. But, picture the UFC/MMA/cage fighting as a base. Take away the weight classes, the rules, and occasionally give everyone sticks and training knives. It kinda looks like that. We are training practical combatives for incidents against non-cooperative/fully resisting opponents, in uncontrolled environments, with and without tools (weapons).
That sounds too intense/scary. I wanna learn self-defense and exercise, but...: Couple things about that. First, in the 16 years we've been running this group, there's never been anyone that needed to see a doctor, though we train 1-4 times a week. If we don't train safe, we can't keep training partners! Most of us do full-contact, non-cooperative stuff, with fairly high intensity. However, we're really good about working with people's comfort level, and always agree on what kind/how much contact. We all sweat and work hard, sometimes get bumps and bruises, but everyone can go at their own pace and intensity. People work as they like, rest as they like, at the level of intensity and resistance they like.
Then, what good can it be?: We use a method that might be described as "progressive resistance". We believe strongly in pressure-testing and "aliveness" (hence the name "Lab Rats")... that's what we do to make sure it's useful, against non-cooperative, resisting "opponents". However, we agree on levels of contact, and pay really close attention to levels of intensity, as not to overwhelm someone... unless we specifically ask for that sort of resistance. :)
So, what'll I learn?: We're just looking for training partners, and to build community. As such, we don't really "teach", and certainly don't charge a fee. However, all of us are willing to share/coach what we've been taught, from the ground up so to speak, in exchange for training partners/building community. That means you'll pick up how to fight standing, at "clinch" range, on the ground, with and without weapons. You'll also pick up "pre-fight" material- how to avoid fights, situational awareness, "managing unknown contacts" (people you don't know), "tells" (indicators of assault), and more. We do operate from an organized, progressive, body of material, that works from what's most likely to happen, down to what's less likely.
Who isn't good for this group?: Folk with egos. People that've trained traditional martial arts, who have trouble letting go of some of those ideas. People that want to say they've done martial arts for a resume' of some sort. Someone that is looking for a kickboxing class, ala what one gets in the kind of place they do aerobics and the like.
OK, I'm curious about it, and it's free! What now?: It gets a little sticky here. Because of the nature of what we do, we "vet" everyone for the group. We want people that are nice, without egos, and can train safely. Social skills. Definitely social skills. Sadly, that's a little exclusive, but we intend on maintaining a level of safety, and community. So, what we do is meet to talk/train a few of times individually/maybe in a small group, so you can see if you are into what we do, we can get to know one another, that you can train safe and will fit in. After we train a few times as individuals/a small group and you get some material to feel comfortable, we'd bring you in to train with the larger crew on Sundays.
Where/when, and what do I need?: Where: Pasadena. More details when we email/talk. Depending on weather and other factors, we train in a park, sometimes go "old school" and train in a garage. When: Doing individual/small group as we can arrange, mid-afternoon/early evenings, a couple/few times (which we can arrange by phone or email based on what works for us both) until you have a body of material, and know how to train/train safely. Initially, this happens on Tuesdays from 5-7pm (at the time of this writing). The large group trains in Pasadena on Sunday mornings from 10a-noonish, but note that we wait to invite people to this training (Sundays) after we know they can train safely, and have some fundamental material. As I arrange initial training sessions, will begin posting them here so it'll be easier to figure out when we/you might be available. What: At the beginning? Sweats or shorts and a water bottle. If you wanna really be ready, boxing or MMA gloves and a mouthpiece. Social skills. Definitely social skills. More stuff later.
I can really steal all this stuff from you guys, for free? Do you really know anything? Is this for real?: Unusual, right? Yes to all. Just nice, sane people, sharing what we do for free, in exchange for training partners and community. Imagine that.