John Maguire is Martial Arts coach from the North Antrim Fight Academy in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.
It is a pleasure to share John's story of how he got into martial arts, what it has done for him and hear the fantastic work he does over in Northern Ireland.
We've been Instagram friends for a few years and John has always supported us, so it fills us with pride to be able to share John's journey.
" I got into martial arts about 15 years ago, after seeing an ad for a local kickboxing club in Coleraine. Normal gym training just wasn’t for me, and I wanted to be part of a club again, having given up football a few years previous.
After a couple of years at that, I wanted to give MMA a try. So I joined Jonny Shiels club, “rapid fire MMA”, in Kilrea, as a few boys I know were training there.
I loved it from day one, and competed in a few local grappling tournaments, and a couple of novice MMA events. When the club closed, I went around a few boxing, MMA and grappling clubs locally, but never really felt like any of them were a fit for me.
My son was born prematurely in 2016, and spent a long period in intensive care. We were to find out a year or two later, that he also had autism, and my training took a back seat.
Once things had settled down with my home life, I decided to pursue my personal training certs, and began fight training again.
That’s when NAFA was born
I’m very proud of my local area, and the people within it. So I decided to put a club together, with a few of my pals, and it’s blossomed from there. Within a year we have gone from a wee shed, to a full unit, with classes running almost every day.
I run the club as a community based project, and not for profit. Realising that my fighting days are probably behind me, I’m using the wee bit of knowledge I have, to give the local youth an opportunity to express themselves, and keep them off the streets . "