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Pair of local athletes showcase MMA's rising appeal

Published On: Nov 20 2013 09:36:27 PM CST

Erik Faust and Ricardo Pena have won multiple regional and national championships in a sport that is starting to emerge.

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Both Erik Faust and Ricardo Pena of Berks County Brazilian Jiu Jitsu have experienced massive success in the world of submission grappling and greater mixed martial arts. They've won national and regional tournaments recently, while also showcasing one of America's fastest rising sports at a local level.

Faust is an instructor and competitor at the Berks County Brazilian Jiu Jitsu facility in Sinking Spring. Pena is a student at Kutztown University and helps coach the wrestling team. He also trains at the facility.

These guys have spent hours reaching the level they have now. Their training is much different than a typical "boxer" or "wrestler." Pena describe's MMA as a "puzzle," and the one that can put it together first has an advantage.

It's a dynamic sport, drawing on many different methods and techniques. Even though winning is the central focus, Faust says sportsmanship is a big part of the event.

The sport's basic training also has limitless value when it comes to fitness and self defense.

MMA is not just growing in Berks County, but all over the country. With the rise of UFC, televised fights and the legalization of MMA in some states (including Pennsylvania), the sport has taken off with men like Faust, Pena and others to lead the way.

Both athletes are scheduled to compete in a jiu jitsu tournament on February 1st in Philadelphia.