By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran IMMAF Director of Development, Andrew Moshanov, visited both Colombia and Mexico in recent months as Latin American nations continue to embrace grass roots development and regulation within the sport of MMA. Mr. Moshanov was hosted by the Colombian MMA Association (OCAMM) and Mexican MMA Federation (FAMM), both government certified bodies enthusiastic to begin implementation of a unified progression system between coaches and students. With experience taken from ties to national government and sport authorities, MMA stakeholders have learnt of and embraced the necessities for building a regulated sport that begins with the recreational and amateur level. “I think that the continuous interest towards coaches’ education reflects the natural desire to excel and succeed,” Mr. Moshanov commented. Established MMA coaches came together under the banner of their national federation and umbrella body, IMMAF, to discuss the MMA Pathway and Development System for participants and the introduction of a recognised, graded coaching syllabus of stage-to-stage techniques from recreational beginner, upwards. “FAMM and OCAMM are already recognised by sport authorities,” Mr. Moshanov added, “and yet continue their endorsement of the IMMAF Coaches Education Program. This proves their commitment to the long term development of the sport. Mexico’s FAMM has recently signed the cooperation agreement with the National College of Education and will be working towards inclusion of the IMMAF qualification to the National Qualification framework. Colombia’s OCAMM is partnered with SENA, the National Learning service and Education Agency.” The IMMAF progression Syllabus is primarily a driver aimed at recreational participants in MMA, adapting a formula and ethos that is proven across martial arts to encourage, monitor and sustain safe sport and participation numbers within a global unified network. While MMA is widely credited as “the world’s fastest growing sport,” the current fitness trend in Central and South America is something that MMA has capitalised on, through the marketing of purely recreational involvement. The coming together of two worlds, that of general fitness and martial arts, have inspired the development of activities such as ‘CrossFighter’ in MMA clubs under OCAMM, a spin on the highly popular ‘CrossFit’. Similar recreational opportunities within the continent open the pathway to further training and eventually competing at a later stage. The end product of which was most recently highlighted in Mexico where over 1000 athletes competed in the FAMM National Amateur Championships. “South America is experiencing a real boom in the fitness industry. ‘To be fit’ is a trend at the moment. Governments are subsidising such ventures and many MMA clubs are linked to the fitness clubs. South and Central America is enjoying close proximity to the USA and as a result they are feeling the benefits of links to the UFC, the main venture in the MMA industry.” Internationally renowned referee Marc Goddard was also hosted recently by OCAMM, delivering the globally established IMMAF progression seminar for officials. Mr. Moshanov summarised, “FAMM and OCAMM have set a great example for the rest of the world. The IMMAF courses have worked as a bonding mechanism which reinforced the national coaching pyramid.” IMMAF’s Director of Development believes that a credible template has been set within Colombia and Mexico, of which the World can follow, with other South American IMMAF members such as Chile already networking with their continental counterparts to discuss the replication of success.