By Cory Braiterman – THE JERSEY JOURNAL
At 5-foot-3, Louis Gaudinot hardly stands head and shoulders above anyone in the world of mixed martial arts. However, Gaudinot does stand out as one of the very best in his sport, ranked No. 10 in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) 125-pound flyweight class.
Gaudinot, who’s been a martial artist since the age of 6 with the Tiger Schulmann schools, is currently the head instructor at the Hoboken location on Washington Street. An instructor for the past eight years, Gaudinot loves when people asked him what he does for a living.
“I change people’s lives,” he tells them.
“To get a kid to come in here who’s 6 years old, who’s shy, getting bullied, has no confidence and to teach him how to defend himself, how to stand up to bullies and to be more outgoing — the parents come up to me and tell me, ‘You really did change my child’s life,’” Gaudinot said recently.
“And it isn’t just that: you get an adult who comes here and he loses 50, 60 pounds and adds years onto his life. You teach a woman some self-defense and she has more confidence walking down the street, taking the train, knowing she’s a bit safer.”
For those who still think of MMA as the no-holds-barred combat of decades past, Gaudinot points to the rules of the sport that are put in place by the same state athletic commissions that regulate boxing.
“I do not look at it as ‘no-holds-barred’ fighting because there are rules put in place for the safety of the fighter,” Gaudinot said.
It’s been a long journey for the 29-year-old Yonkers, N.Y., native. While the four-stripe black belt received his first at the age of 8 in the old karate system of Tiger Schulmann’s, he started competing as an MMA pro in 2009. He has starred on the reality TV series “The Ultimate Fighter” and has run his record to 6-3, which includes a loss at a higher weight class.
For those unfamiliar with the sport — which is one of the fastest growing in the world — think of it as a combination of boxing, wrestling and Muay Thai. It is a free-flowing combat sport that takes place on both the feet and the ground, in which fights can be stopped by knockout, technical knockout via referee intervention, submission or doctor’s intervention due to a particularly unlucky cut or accumulated damage.
Fights are usually contested with three five-minute rounds with championship fights spanning five rounds. Should the fight not end before the time limit is reached, judges score the bout using the same “10-point must” system that boxing is scored with.
While Gaudinot knows there are still misconceptions about the sport, he feels a closer look into the world of MMA would go a long way in changing those assumptions.
“Some people still feel that it takes no skill whatsoever to be a pro MMA fighter,” Gaudinot said. “But once someone trains or sees what skillset a martial artist has to learn, they quickly change their perception.”