LENOX -- When 12-year-old Noah Farevaag saw UFC fighter Demian Maia on pay-per-view a few weeks ago, Maia took down his opponent in under a minute using a quick jab to the ribs.
"He’s a beast," Farevaag joked.
It was an odd juxtaposition to see a gentler Maia at Zenquest Martial Arts Friday evening, taking pictures, signing autographs and even educating aspiring fighters.
Zenquest Martial Arts is one of only about a half-dozen affiliates of Demian Maia Jiu Jitsu. Maia, a Sáo Paulo, Brazil native, has had an interest in the sport his whole life. After years of hard work, Maia is now a renowned five-time Jiu Jitsu world champion and winner of the 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club.
In the cage, Maia said it’s "very intense," just like the training that leads up to it. Maia trains for each fight for about three weeks, he told The Eagle.
"The process begins with the training, before the fight even begins," Maia said with a thick accent. "That way, you learn a lot about yourself and how to overcome a situation. In my profession, I’m not afraid to get hurt."
Maia hosted a seminar after the meet-and-greet, showing off techniques to about 40 aspiring Jiu Jitsu students and UFC hopefuls. They all huddled around, sporting their blue Demian Maia Jiu Jitsu kimonos.
Mark Flynn, who has co-owned the business under several different names and practices since 1972, served as the example as Maia showed off moves like take-downs and blocks that pairs would then practice on each other.
"He explains everything, like when you’re putting your arm in a certain place, he explains why you’re doing it," Mark Flynn said. "He also talks about principles a lot."
Zenquest became affiliated with the Demian Maia Jiu Jitsu teaching style back in January after dropping their previous affiliate, mixed martial arts expert Royce Grace.
"[Maia’s] picky when he chooses the gyms, which is good," said Connie Flynn, Mark’s wife and co-owner of the martial arts stuido. "He looks for gyms that are similar to what he uses and what represents him."
Maia said he didn’t start out as "the best athlete," but worked toward it, just like Farevaag is doing now. He’s been doing Jiu Jitsu for about three years, but various other forms of martial arts since he was three.
"I want to be a UFC fighter, too," Farevaag said. "He’s still fighting, and he’s still winning."
Thinking of the people, like Farevaag, that are starting out where he did, Maia said perseverance is key to success.
"I’ve seen lots of people that are very talented, then suddenly stop," Maia said. "If you’re serious about something, than you work at it, and get better and better."
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