Train With the Best

Self-Defense Studio Relocates to Cypress Creek Road


Courtesy of Ally JohnPress

Catching a shovel hook, Instructor Noach Sertuche practices martial arts moves at The Mat Martial Arts & Fitness. The Mat teaches students to train, learn, and live. The Mat has recently relocated on Cypress Creek road near the High School, and they teach students how to face potential dangers and real life challenges. “The Mat Martial Arts & Fitness is more than just a place where I go to work, to train, or to teach,” Sertuche said. “The Mat is a place I can go and feel like everyone is treated like a family every time I walk in.”

Penny Moreno, Reporter

As her roundhouse kick flies through the air toward the target, a loud snap can be heard vibrating off the studio walls. As her kick circles back, she strikes with a left jab at her opponents nose, narrowly missing. She parries a cross and counters her attacker with a hook to the kidney. She feels a sense of freedom as she finishes her combination, effectively ending the dangerous scenario. 

At The Mat Martial Arts & Fitness, a self-defense studio, students from ages three and a half to adults can train self-defense and Krav Maga, a martial art taught worldwide known for its focus on real-life scenarios and skill application. In addition to training the physical aspects of self-defense, the studio specializes in improving mentality. The studio has recently relocated to Cypress Creek Road next to CP Social and Yaghi’s Pizza. 

“Self-defense can mean many things,” studio owner and instructor Alec Rains said. “It is not simply punching and kicking. In fact, it is a great deal more awareness of surroundings and how we interact with other people and the world around us. It sounds cheesy, but being a good person goes a long way, but by using these life skills consistently we decrease the likelihood of needing the physical skill sets martial arts is often equated to.”

The main goal of the studio is to train students to avoid interactions and altercations. Adult classes consist of high-engaging self-defense, which includes drills, wrestling and grappling tactics. For kids classes, Mat instructors utilize martial arts games with competitive challenges rather than conventional line drills and kata: detailed martial arts movements done alone. 

“Moving up the groups, we train more partner drills in training,” Rains said. “We believe it’s important to get “hands-on” as soon as possible to build confidence and comfort in the ranges that often are intimidating for most people.”

The Mat offers training for all ages, from kids to teen and adult classes. The kid’s martial arts classes are more about introducing them to “playground safety” and having them learn how to acknowledge potential dangers. Skills that are taught are a combination of karate, jujitsu and Muay Thai. For adults, there are Muay Thai, Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing and Bags, and Krav Maga, or Defensive Options courses. 

“The Mat specializes in age-appropriate functional self-defense,” Rains said. “Not only do we separate programs by age, but we also teach according to the physical and emotional stages of the student. Skills are learned in a context that matches the setting and situations most likely found in a daily routine. For example, playground, school, park and parking lot.”

 For those who are unable to train in studio, there are online training programs as well. COVID-19 has affected people globally, The Mat offers training online training and pre-recorded courses that people can complete from the comfort of their own home. The Mat strives for everyone to make the safe decision for themselves and their family whether it is staying home or coming into the studio.

“I hope that people gain knowledge about self-defense and at least some fundamentals to defend themselves,” Senior and assistant Ally JohnPress said. “Besides the physical aspect of it, I hope students and prospects have a little fun and enjoy themselves through each learning stop, and know what it means to be confident in yourself.”

According to Rains, in any class the prime objective is to prepare people for challenges in life to help make the world a better place and provide a safe environment for training. The improvement of mind, spirit and body can be gained through martial arts classes, Rains said. 

“I know when I started back in eighth grade, and having come from a background of strict martial arts, I was always nervous and on high alert,” JohnPress said. “It took years to gain the confidence to do certain skills in front of the class or even help out a partner. Whenever I greet people at the door, I want them to feel welcomed and have a sense of “home” and security, much like I did when I first started training.”