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Stand Against Bullying Part I: One Teens Story of How MMA Changed Her Life

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By Chelsie Dessingue

My name is Chelsie Dessingue and beginning in grade school (4th exact) I began having to deal with bullying. The bullying I experienced was not what I would consider reasons to ‘bully’ someone. Although I feel that you should not bully anyone some of the main reasons I see kids being bullied is for the way they look (not as attractive as other kids), for the way they dress (they don’t wear name brand clothes) or for the way they act (unpopular, weird, shy).When people would make fun of me or would not talk to me I would wonder why. I would say to myself, I try to be nice to everyone, I dress nice, I think I am at least decent looking, so why do people not like me. I went through a couple of years of
feeling ‘out of place.’ As I moved on into 6ththe bullying on my own. Everyday I went to school I would hear, “Why can’t you look ugly, why can’t you dress like a scumbag, why can’t you be mean?” This did not make sense to me. Why would people want me to be mean, not dress nice and not care aboutthe way I look? My parents knew what I was going through and they wanted to help me but I just kept telling them that I could handle it.

In the beginning of Fall 2011 we were at a family function. My Dad has a cousin, Renee, and her husband, Ron, runs a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) school, Team Tigon. I noticed my Mom talking to Ron most of the night but did not know about what. When we got home she said to me, “How do you feel about MMA?” I said, “I don’t know, why?” She said, “I think I may have an answer to what you are going through.”On November 7, 2011 we went to Team Tigon to see what MMA was all about. I
was not sure what to expect when I walked in but figured I would give it a try. It may be
strange to say this but I literally ‘fell in love.’ I was hooked from the first time I bowed
and stepped on that mat. This was it, this was where I needed to be. Master Ron showed
me from day one what a positive environment should be and that I am worth more to myself than anyone could ever tell me. I showed up for my trial two weeks of MMA and told my Mom I wanted to sign up. She noticed a change in me for the better and said I was making the right choice.

About 6 months into doing MMA my vision of bullying took a turn.

“I realized that people were not bullying me for what I did not have but rather for what I DID have, a positive outlook on life which many people are not privileged to have. “

As the years went by and I continued to train, test to earn belts to move up in rank
and advance my skills I started to learn about competitions that were available to me. I
told Master Ron that I wanted to compete. He said, “Okay.” And so it begins…

The first time I competed was in the Summer of 2012. When we arrived at the place I noticed that there were not many girls there. When my turn came up they put me against a boy that was bigger than me and I have to admit I was intimidated. I looked at my Mom and shook my head. She looked at me, put her thumb up and mouthed “you got this.” I walked out there very nervous but felt I could do this. We started our match and then I eventually got him in a Kimura I was pulling so hard and waiting for him to tap out. My teammates and family just kept yelling “pull, pull, pull.” I did not let go and just kept pulling as hard as I could. He finally tapped out and everyone started cheeringfor me. It was the greatest feeling ever! Personally, I don’t think he was happy to betapped out by a GIRL!

My next competition was Liberty Games in July 2013. This is an event that allows competitors ages 5 – 16 to show their talent in grappling, kickboxing and MMA.It gives them a sense of what it is like to be up against different skill levels and talent. I was put up against a competitor I have been with before and won 2 out of 3 of our matches. I competed another two times and won 1 of those. I felt great about my performances but I knew there were things I could have done differently and that needed to be improved upon.

Over the last year I have been training hard and am looking forward to this years upcoming events, Liberty Games 2014, and possibly some other competitions Master
Ron is looking into for me.

“The sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has given me the self-confidence I so desperately needed during my ‘out of place’ years and my present years to be and remain the positive person I love to be.”

There are still many days I go to school and know what I am going to have to deal with, no not much has changed, but now it is just another day until the final school bell rings and I know I will be going to my real school, Team Tigon. Back in December 2013 I thanked my Mom for finding the answer to what I was
going through. I don’t know where I would be without it.

My future plans include going to school for Cosmetology – I really enjoy the art of hair and makeup, going to school to be a Personal Trainer in the hopes of someday owning my own MMA school but my biggest and most sought after dream is to become a Professional UFC Fighter! At a previous Kaged Kombat event they had a fundraiser
and you had to go up in the cage to donate the money to the guy and get your picture
taken. In the car on the way home I said to my parents, “It was an amazing feeling to
step into the cage, I did not want to leave.” I believe with all my heart I will be there someday!

“I know for a fact that I would NOT be the person I am today without MMA.”

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Autumn Ziemba
Autumn’s interest in Martial Arts began in her early teens through her father and brother. They trained together for several years. During those years she was also active in Sports. Autumn took a break from Martial Arts and athletics to pursue her education. She completed her Undergraduate Degree at Oneonta State College in Sociology with a concentration in Pre-professional Human Services. She then studied Social Sciences at Binghamton University receiving her Masters in Social Science in 2009. Her passion lies in Gender equality for sports and facets of Mixed Martial Arts. She currently works as a Criminal Justice Professional. Writing is a passion of hers and she enjoys engaging with people of various backgrounds to gain an understanding of different perspectives in the world of MMA.
  • Miles New

    Bullying is a longest running issue which affects and ruin the life of every child. If there something that should be stopped it would be this issue. I would like to share this link, about a service on how to protect your children: Check it out it’s interesting: http://safekidzone.com/?a_aid=514ae252c9f64