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front&center: Abby Malone

Martial arts champion teaches health and confidence

By BY WAYNE BRYAN Staff Writer

Sunday, May 2, 2010

— Abby Malone is a small, soft-spoken woman who looks far younger than her 28 years. Even when you know her occupation, it is a surprise when she starts throwing men twice her size across the floor.

Malone is a martial arts instructor, and she and husband, Jory, operate Revolution MMA, teaching mixed martial arts to students in Benton and Hot Springs.

Abby said she is probably the only woman in Arkansas to have earned a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu and is one of only a few women in the United States to have reached that level of expertise in the popular sport. She also has a fourth-degree Black Belt in tae kwon do.

In her career, Abby has won two state championships in karate and has been a medalist at national and international competitions, as well taking part in the Junior Olympics in 1998. She was twice a national champion in the U.S. Tae Kwan-Do Federation. This year she was a bronze medal winner at the 2010 European championships in Brazilian jiu jitsu in Lisbon, Portugal.

Abby first saw martial arts at age 7, when heryounger brother was given karate instruction as a present for his fifth birthday.

“My parents thought I was bored and enrolled me as well,” she said. “I liked it, so I stayed with it. I stick with what I like. Over the years, I quit softball and dance. I played volleyball for a year in high school but stopped, and I used to play saxophone and bassoon in the band.”

Within two years, she defeated her younger brother in her first tournament. She won her first state championship at 14 and her first national championship at 15.

She studied tae kwan do while attending Cabot High School and was soon in international competition.

“I guess my favorite competition was my first in Scotland in 1996,” Abby said. “It was exciting, and I had worked hard for it.”

She has just earned her black belt status after passing a series of tests.

“You have to show physical ability and demonstrate that you know the techniques,” she said. “I also learned a lot about Korean culture, and I had to be able to recite things about Korean history.”

At the contest in Scotland, she won two gold medals and a silver medal. A year later, she took home three golds and a silver at the Global Tae Kwan-Do Federation World championships in St. Louis.

“In high school I had more time to train for the competitions,” Abby said.

While she was in college, she continued to compete in the highest levels.

In 2003, she quit competing in tae kwan do while at the top of her game and found new challenges in Brazilian jiu jitsu.

“I had accomplished all I wanted to with tae kwan do,” Abby said. “This is so different. It is on theground, and it is more like wrestling.”

Jory, who is also a black belt in the sport and an international competitor, said that form of combat was made for someone like Abby.

“Brazilian jiu jitsu promotes the principle that a smaller, weaker person, using leverage and proper technique, can successfully defend themselves against a larger, stronger attacker,” he said. “It is being adapted by the police and the military because it helps if you are on the ground.”

According to Jor y, real fights seldom look the way they do in the movies with people t hrow ing punches while standing.

“Most fights end up on the ground,” he said.

One of the couple’s students has already found his training in Brazilian jiu jitsu to be a lifesaver.

“It is perfect for where I work,” said Richard Jackson, a Pulaski County deputy sheriff who works at the county’s regional detention center. “Here, all altercations will go to the ground.”

Jackson said he has had to use the techniques he haslearned from the Malones three times at the jail. The first was after only three months of training.

“It is a decisive factor in subduing inmates without ha r m i ng t hem,” Jack son said.

At age 54, Jackson said, he had to be in good shape to learn to use Brazilian jiu jitsu. He marvels at the skills of his two teachers.

“For them it is like a ballet,” he said. “I enjoy watching them. For Abby to earn a black belt in that is nothing but phenomenal.”

The Brazilian style of the Japanese discipline is very popular today because it is featured in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Jory said.

The art, derived from Japanese judo in the early 20th century, was started by Mitsuyo Maeda, who traveled the world challenging champions in all sports.

In Brazil in 1914, Maeda met a businessman named Gastão Gracie who helped him set up a school that was attended by Gracie’s sons. A younger son, Helio, was thought to be too small andsickly to learn, but he saw how a smaller, weaker person could overcome an adversary. Helio and his brothers then developed what became the Brazilian style.

The Ma lones teach t he method for self-defense but are more involved in the sport and art of it.

Today in their two schools, they teach about 200 students; most are adults.

“Most are involved to stay in shape, and the focus is on overcoming an obstacle,” Abby said. “It can be learning the skills you need or getting in better physicalshape. Everyone has something to overcome.”

For themselves, Abby and Jory travel all across the country training and learning from other masters in the sport.

“The worst thing you can do as a teacher is to quit learning,”Abby said. “It is all about being well rounded, with strength, knowledge and health.”

Abby wants to keep teaching and participating in the martial arts for a long time.

- wbryan@ arkansasonline.commatter of fact Name: Abby Brooke Ziemer-Malone Birth date: Dec. 30, 1981 Birthplace: Lancaster, Pa.

Occupation: Teaching jiu jitsu and kickboxing Biggest influence: Martial arts First job: Baby-sitting at an aerobics studio in Cabot As a child I wanted to be: A zoologist One thing not many people know about me: I am scared of escalators One thing I want to accomplish in my life: Being a parent

Tri-Lakes, Pages 136 on 05/02/2010