DOWNEY – Isaias Mambo squares up with his fellow instructor at King Cobra MMA, and assumes a fighting stance. He turns to his pupil.
“If you drop your hands here, look,” says Mambo. Mambo’s sparring partner takes a soft simulated swing at his head. “Boom, K.O.”
While this advice is likely invaluable for anyone entering the fighting world, it may be even more important for Mambo’s current class: a handful of individuals in The Arc.
Mambo has held several free classes for The Arc Los Angeles & Orange Counties, a nonprofit organization that offers programs and services for over 200 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.
He’s not paid for it, however Mambo says that he does it “just because I want to.”
Arc officials first saw the need for the training when they discovered that some of their participants were being bullied and harassed out in their local community, especially while using public transit to get to work like the Arc trains them to do. There has even been at least one case of a robbery.
“Out in the community, they’re going to come across different kinds of people,” said Carol Bejarano, a Career Development Trainer with Arc. “So we want to prepare them for in the event if they ever come across someone that is harassing them, how to deal with that individual. We want them to be safe, we want them to know ‘stranger danger,’ and the procedure of how to go about a situation – a bad situation.”
Mambo describes the techniques being taught as “hundreds of years of knowledge being passed down.” During the one hour session, each individual was taught a handful of basic strikes and combos, as well as participated in physical training and abdominal exercises.
Despite the ultimate goal of each individual being able to defend his or herself when needed, Mambo closed the class with an important instruction – only fight when you absolutely have to.
According to Bejarano, no one has – and hopefully will not – had to use their training since first receiving it. However, until a time comes where such action is needed, Mambo’s teaching has had a different positive effect.
“They feel more confident going out on their own, taking the bus,” said Bejarano. “It makes them feel that if they do come across someone, that they’re able to defend themselves.”