Jiu-Jitsu Practitioner Joseph Solomon reached out to Roots and Leisure to talk about his personal experience with a young and energetic Mixed Martial Arts Academy in Shillong called ‘Happy Red Rooster Academy.’ An encounter with the founder and the students of the academy left him overwhelmed and hence he wanted to share his personal experience and the story of the academy with the R&L community.
Joseph Solomon with the kids at Rooster Academy, Shillong
My name is Joseph Solomon and I was the Team Media Officer for the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017. I travel a lot and yes, I have been to North Korea as well. As a media officer, I handle media related elements for all things football. I played a lot of sports in my youth and that did not assimilate as I would have like in my early 20s, until 2017 when I found jiu-jitsu as a way of growing and becoming a better human being. Jiu-Jitsu saved my life.Recently I participated in the Carlson Gracie International Cup in Bangkok, Thailand and won bronze in my category.
I am now a jiu-jitsu practitioner based out of Delhi (My father’s family is from Israel and my mom’s from India), and while travelling to Shillong for some work, I came across this very young Mixed Martial Arts Academy called the Happy Red Rooster Academy which is empowering young children, women and the unprivileged.
The people who train at the academy are basically people who earn very low wages and martial arts is their way of escaping the world. Some of them cannot even afford to pay one month’s fees i.e around Rs 250. The teach both kids and adults. The experience has left we overwhelmed, which I wanted to share with the Roots and Leisure family.
It was a short walk of about 20 minutes from Police Bazar to Laimukhra,Shillong. A short brisk wall for the locals perhaps, but for someone who is alien to the altitude the walk takes a toll on the respiratory system, especially if you jog all the way up to Jacob’s ladder – a 200-meter incline capable of taxing your glutes to their extremity.
Shillong, is a fusion of chaos and beauty. A fusion of perhaps the yin and yang of life. The crowded streets and the constant honking make it impossible to see the serenity of the place, nestled between the hills, with ease.The next best thing that Shillong has to offer is a small place filled with hopes, aspiration, and toughness – the Happy Red Rooster MMA Academy.
Tell us how you came across Happy Red Rooster Academy in Shillong?
Jiu-Jitsu is something I cannot live without. As soon as I got to know I was going to Shillong, the first thing I did was google ‘jiu-jitsu shillong’ up. Thankfully, they had an MMA Academy which had no-gi grappling as well. That’s when I made my plans to visit the academy on my visit to Shillong. I contacted the owner of the academy Isaiah Kharmawphlang the minute I arrived in Guwahati from Delhi, and he happily invited me over the same day for a jiu-jitsu session. Some of the practitioners over there picked me up from a nearby landmark and took me to the place that would be close to home for the next 15 days.
Over conversations with the founder, I found out that he wanted to create ‘a shed’ where martial arts could be practiced and perhaps people could find themselves through it.
Going to Happy Red Rooster MMA and teaching there was one of the highlights of my 2018. I taught the kids class and gi jiu-jitsu classes to the people over there but what really made me appreciate the Academy was the ‘family vibe’ and the hardwork the people put in despite not being fortunate like many of us in the metropolitans. Everyone over there has a story of their own suffering and everyone over there has found a purpose in martial arts. To me, it served as a motivation to do better.
What are your takeaways from the academy?
Warriors. That was the first word in my mind that entered when I left the academy after a fortnight. In all fairness, the Academy through sheer hardwork and dedication, even with less, has a mental toughness that can challenge the best of competitors out there. Everyone has a story and some stories touch your heart.
At Happy Red Rooster MMA, everyone has a story that touches your heart.I wasn’t surprised that they had an abundance of talent, but what separated them from others was there hard sparring sessions and relentless work ethics. They live and breathe in the place they call ‘the shed’ and even after being less fortunate and not being able to afford all the fancies related with the sport of MMA , the work ethic blows a meter.
15 days of training, teaching an growing together in Shillong is one of my most revered memories of life. Perhaps that is what martial arts does, it unites people of different background, of different stories and different forms of life under one banner and that is the essence of its beauty.
Visit the Happy Red Rooster Academy in Laimukhra,Shillong in Meghalaya, and follow Joseph Solomon on Instagram (@josephbensolomon)