Hawkersmith: Turning Controversy Into Opportunity
By Ian Skotte
In a recent episode of CBS’s Inside Edition, a local mixed martial arts (MMA) class was featured. This rough and tumble type of activity has grown to be accepted by a majority in this country.
However, replace the adults with children and then there’s controversy.
People soon began ripping Bunny Hawkersmith and his children’s MMA class. But, instead of cowering to the criticism, Hawkersmith is turning controversy into opportunity.
An experienced martial arts specialist, Hawkersmith teaches students of all backgrounds, young and old, male and female. He instills the art of fighting while preaching restraint.
It’s this Yin and Yang mentality that’s lost on the critics, Hawkersmith says.
“We teach these kids self-control,” he said. “This is the fastest growing sport in the world. Maybe some of these kids don’t have the same type of hand-eye coordination to make them great baseball players, or ability to put a ball through a hoop.”
Instead, these youngsters are given the tools to attack—but in the appropriate setting.
“This is a violent sport,” Hawkersmith said. “But, at the same time, you have kids younger than the ones I teach hitting each other in the heads like Billy Goats in pee wee football.”
Bunny’s MMA class, for kids, allows some hitting, but not to the face and with full body gear. There’s plenty of grappling though, and the only kicking and punching occurs when an adult is holding an eight-inch thick bag.
In a time when America’s youth is accused of laziness, and being overweight, Bunny’s Gym gives these youngsters an outlet to perform without a video game controller in their hands.
“The only controversy comes from ignorance of the issue,” Hawkersmith said. “I’m hoping to use the negativity and turn it into a positive.”
By taking the opportunity to use the negative coverage he’s garnered, Hawkersmith is using it as a tool to educate. Recently, Nashville television stations came to Winchester to see what all the fuss is about.
The news outlets allow Hawkersmith to point, by taking his MMA class, kids do more than just grapple and punch body bags.
“These kids are learning discipline, getting exercise,” he said.
Leading to healthier children and better students in the classroom.
“By being learning discipline [the kids] pay better attention in class,” Hawkersmith said. “The only controversy is why aren’t more kids doing MMA?”
RESPONDING TO CRITICISM—Bunny Hawkersmith received criticism after CBS’s Inside Edition aired a segment on his kids’ mixed martial class. Hawkersmith says he’s turning the controversy into opportunity by educating folks on the positives of MMA—despite its negative stigma.
–H-C-Photo by Ian Skotte