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Martial Arts Studio Emphasizes Character, Fitness

Meet Sensei Rick Alford, owner of Defensive Edge in Wakefield.

Muay Thai training at Defensive Edge in Wakefield (Courtesy Photo)
Muay Thai training at Defensive Edge in Wakefield (Courtesy Photo)

Sensei Rick Alford, owner of Defensive Edge in Wakefield, has helped many locals meet their fitness and martial arts training goals since opening in 1999, while making additional contributions such as bringing his anti-bullying program to local schools. 

The emphasis on character that Alford brings to Defensive Edge was evident in the unfailingly polite and courteous behavior demonstrated by a couple of his Muay Thai students who were training during a recent visit by Wakefield Patch. 

Alford took his first karate lessons as a junior high student back in the early 1980s, and soon after, he went on to wrestle at Cambridge Rindge and Latin for four years, becoming varsity captain.  

On the way to becoming a martial arts teacher, Alford reports that at one point he studied kickboxing under a legend of the sport, Joe Lewis, who also trained with Bruce Lee. Early in the last decade, the rapidly growing sport of mixed martial arts caught his attention at a time when he was encountering frustration with some aspects of his past training. He would also go on to study Integrated Combative Arts Training and other martial arts styles.

At Defensive Edge, young students will learn how to defend against bullies and also against adult male predators, reported Alford. However, the anti-bullying education isn’t all martial arts. Alford has spoken in local schools on the topic, and in that context, his six years spent working as a police dispatcher (and also as a former EMT) is equally important, with a focus on communications skills that can help defuse a bullying situation. That professional experience also taught him the value of self-defense skills, noted Alford.

Some may have also seen Alford’s appearance last season on the Lifetime Network reality show “Teen Trouble,” when an area youth was brought in to work on his anger issues with help from a boxing trainer.

Students have about 5,000 square feet of training space to work with, stocked with a variety of weights and exercise equipment. Parents can even work out in the gym while waiting for their kids to finish class, reported Alford.

Along with offering classes in martial arts such as Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu (Brazilian and Small Circle) and mixed martial arts, Defensive Edge also offers daily FightFIT high intensity fitness training classes. “It’s pretty amazing how fast you see them improve,” said Alford of newcomers to the program. This writer took up Alford’s offer to try out the two-inch so-called battle ropes that go with the workout, and within 60 seconds it seemed to somehow became more tiring and sweat-inducing than climbing one of New Hampshire's 5,000 footers. 

Overall, Alford emphasized that his students have fun while getting fit and learning self-defense – and also building up good personal attributes in the process. “The kids have a blast here,” said Alford.

“That’s really my vision of the school, having the nicest group of students, the nicest group of teachers who truly know how to protect themselves,” he added.

For more about Defensive Edge, visit their website here

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