Martial Arts

The Midlands MagazineJanuary 5, 2023

We catch up with Wayne Raman from Mustang Athletic about his journey as a martial artist and he shares two self-defense moves you can learn in just a few steps – grab a partner.


The Midlands is a great place for those who love a good trail run, off-road biking or cycling, some dancing, yoga, or pilates — we are spoilt for choice in leading an active lifestyle. However, other activities are available that you might not be aware of, like MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), which mainly includes kickboxing, wrestling, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Mixed Martial Arts packs quite a punch if you want to be fit. It offers one of the best strength conditioning workouts and gives you the physical confidence to defend yourself if the situation ever arises.


Martial artist, Wayne Raman, is originally from Pietermaritzburg and is currently based in Hilton at KH Engineering Fitness and Velocity Gym. He has been training in martial arts for over 40 years and also trains other amateur and professional MMA fighters — he recently returned from accompanying one of his fighters at a championship in South Korea.

His parents sent him to Karate classes when he was four years old, and he joined the Combat and Development Centre in Pietermaritzburg at 13. Here he trained for a decade under Tony Brown, whom everyone addressed as “commander”, learning various martial arts styles like Gōjū-ryū Karate, wrestling, Aikido, and Kung Fu and earning his brown belt. He was 17 when he had his first MMA fight and competed in several other cage fights and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu grappling tournaments.


Outside the gym, Wayne studied as a nurse and lived in Johannesburg for several years, but he continued his martial arts training. He eventually returned to Pietermaritzburg, joining the PMB Sports Development Centre and later establishing his own martial arts gym, Mustang Athletic. He started training a crew of guys in cage fighting but eventually started classes for everyone who wanted to learn self-defence and fitness, from kiddies to adults.


If the idea of cage fighting or martial arts is putting you off,  Wayne clarified a few misconceptions about it. He explains that there are “levels to martial arts training” and that most clients are students or working professionals, your everyday people “who can’t afford to get hurt”. Their training will be more controlled, emphasising light sparring and physical conditioning. The amateur and professional fighters prepare for at least six to ten weeks in a fighting camp, and their training involves full-contact sparring.


There will never be any force or fighting, but you are allowed to punch out all your frustrations onto a boxing bag, so why not try a class or two? You might enjoy it and learn a few tricks that will leave  feeling empowered.

We asked Wayne about the best moves for total beginners when faced with a dangerous situation. There are two basic self-defence moves you can start learning on your own or with a partner. Just follow these steps:


Stand-up (from Kickboxing):

  1. Start with your basic stance: one leg in front and one leg behind.
  2. Hold your hands up with your palms facing forward.
  3. Ascertain your defensive parameter, the area around your physical body.
  4. Your attacking options: Palm to the face, elbow to the face, knee to the groin while grabbing the head, or knee to the head while grabbing the head.


Ground (from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu):

  1. Get into a full guard (In Jiu-Jitsu terminology, “guard” means both legs wrapped around the opponent’s waist).
  2. Wrap up the opponent’s arm on one side.
  3. Grab the opponent’s wrist with the other fingers facing away (imagine a motorcycle grip).
  4. Release the hand that is wrapped up and sit up towards the shoulder of the hand you are holding.
  5. Thread your hands through the arm and grab your own wrist, called a “C-Grip”.
  6. Lie back and throw your leg over the opponent’s back (the same side leg as the arm you are now holding) and ensure the arm is kept at a 90-degree angle while pulling the arm – gently – close to the body and rotating to the alternate shoulder.
  7. From here, you can either break the arm or simply control the opponent, or in the worst-case scenario, the attacker.


Words by: Alicia du Plessis