SAMBO combo

Airman 1st Class Solomon Cook, 325th Fighter Wing public affairs specialist (Bottom), practices technique and submissions with Senior Airman Trey Cooke, 325th Civil Engineering Squadron fire fighter, April 2 at the Tyndall Fitness Center during a SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya or SAMBO class. The fitness center has various fitness classes including SAMBO available for those with access to the base. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sergio Gamboa/Released)

Airman 1st Class Solomon Cook, 325th Fighter Wing public affairs specialist (Bottom), practices technique and submissions with Senior Airman Trey Cooke, 325th Civil Engineering Squadron fire fighter, April 2 at the Tyndall Fitness Center during a SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya or SAMBO class. The fitness center has various fitness classes including SAMBO available for those with access to the base. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sergio Gamboa/Released)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Ever since I was a child, I have been interested in physical activity, gaining strength, skills and everything in between. As I have grown into a man, nothing has changed.

I've played football, tennis and attempted to play basketball. One sport I have always enjoyed doing is martial arts. Disclaimer: I am not a Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan, but it is something I have done throughout my life.

When I was young I dabbled in karate, and shortly after high school, I got halfway to a black belt in taekwondo.

Being a junior tier Airman in a new place, proximity and cost are two things I think about when selecting things to do in my off time.

Luckily for me I didn't have to look very far. The Tyndall Fitness Center started offering a new SAMBO class about three months ago.

A Russian martial art, SAMBO is an acronym for SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya

The classes are taught by Carlos Cummings, a certified SAMBO instructor with more than 20 years' experience in martial arts. For the price of $70 a month there is there is access to two days of two hour classes on base, and additionally a class located at the instructor's gym off base. Not too pricey, not too far away, so I looked into joining the class.

After getting a bit of gear like mouth pieces, gloves, mixed martial arts shorts, etc., I started this new class. It was a blast. The class has just the right amount of people, enough students to have multiple opponents, but not too many that the individual instruction time is lost.

The easiest way to describe what goes on in SAMBO is to call it a mixed martial art. It has many aspects of different martial arts: Brazilian Jujitsu, Judo, wrestling, boxing and Thai boxing.

Although I have done a couple different types of martial arts previously, SAMBO is another animal all together. With karate and taekwondo, it's all strike based, but no ground game.

I like to think of myself as physically fit, I lift, I run and eat right. With SAMBO, it shows me I may be a little out of shape. It is a whole new type of cardio. I've never been one to back down from a challenge though.

Any given day that I attend class, I end it drenched in sweat, exhausted and starving. But the sense of pride I feel for trying something new and testing my limits far outweighs any fatigue I will ever feel.

Going forward with this class and martial art I am learning, I have a lot of goals and aspirations for it.

Once I hone my skills I would like to compete, train at different places, move up in the ranking structure to become a certified instructor and years down the line, I would love to open a gym.

Currently, I am at step one though, trying make it through class without feeling like falling out. I would personally recommend this sport to anyone. Aside from the health benefits, it has the potential to give much more: opportunities to meet new people, learn how to defend yourself, and build a stronger bond with people in your office, if they are not afraid to attend.