Ring of Fire

Triton MMA helps South Bay locals get in fighting shape.

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  • Written by
    Stefan Slater

Triton MMA in Redondo Beach has a different approach to teaching martial arts. “It’s not a fighting gym, but every person is in fighting shape,” says owner John Marsh. 

A Torrance local, John gravitated to martial arts—and in particular wrestling—from an early age. He notes that he wrestled extensively during high school and college, and he eventually transitioned into boxing. By his early 20s, he says, he’d moved up from the amateur level and was beginning to box professionally. 

He then made an unexpected jump into fighting in some of the first MMA tournaments. “It was a long road of fighting all over the place, just for myself,” he says. “There wasn’t much money in it.” 

He traveled extensively for these fights, sometimes flying as far as Japan. “It was an adventure,” he says. 

But John reached a point in his fighting career where he wanted something different. Instead of focusing on fighting in the ring, he decided to start pursuing teaching opportunities here in Southern California. His goal, he decided, was to teach others not only the basics of this MMA fighting style but to also help others get into fighting shape. 

“I was doing this far before there was a UFC gym,” he says. “When I started Triton, I was in good shape because of what my coaches made me do. It wasn’t the ‘getting beat up’ that got me fit; it was all the things I did to train to get into the ring.” 

The cross-training, bodyweight exercises and the blending of multiple martial arts disciplines all helped get him into peak physical condition. So when John started Triton MMA here in the South Bay, he aimed to create a gym that would help its members get into ultimate fighting shape—almost as if they were going to step in the ring professionally. 

“I try to make sure that everyone who walks through this door hits that level of fitness,” he says. While members work hard to get into fighting shape, they aren’t pushed to fight—that isn’t the point of Triton. 

Jody Brink, a trainer with Triton, points out that the gym teaches multiple martial arts disciplines and offers classes that blend cross-training exercises with basic martial arts techniques. In a single class, for instance, a member might learn the basics of jiu-jitsu or kickboxing while also working on several different strength and endurance exercises. 

John and the other trainers designed these training sessions to push members to the absolute edge. Each member trains as if they’re aiming to master each discipline and get into the best “ring-shape” possible. 

“We cater each class to fit all of the individuals that are in the class’ specific fitness level,” she says, adding that the gym’s members come from all walks of life. “We have moms that don’t know how to put gloves on, and we have people who’ve been in pro fights and everything in between.” 

Each member works to get to that ideal fighting shape, and many professional athletes (NFL and NBA players often stop by for training sessions) find the sessions to be extremely beneficial—even if they don’t have any plans to fight competitively whatsoever. 

And, as Jody notes, learning a martial art can be a healthy, confidence-boosting experience. Jody, who moved from New York to the South Bay roughly 15 years ago, owns a chauffeured transportation company that specializes in transporting A-list talent and music industry professionals. The job, as can be expected, is stressful. 

Jody notes that she’s had an interest in martial arts since she was young, and after meeting and training with John, she discovered that she had a natural passion and talent for a variety of martial arts disciplines, such as kickboxing. “It was a good release,” she says. “Especially since I work in such a demanding industry. I’m a single mom, and this is a time to just be me.”  

Though Triton members aren’t expected to fight, the classes do teach basic aspects of self-defense. Triton also offers seminars—some of which are led by local law enforcement officials—that teach other, more specialized aspects of self-defense, such as a dedicated seminar on women’s self-defense. Jody notes that local South Bay women find the women-oriented seminars to be extremely useful. 

“Their self-esteem is increased,” she says. “I feel that they feel like they could take care of a situation more effectively after training with us and our academy.”

Triton has an integral connection with the South Bay. “There’s a real strong sense of community. We’re a real family,” says Jody, adding jokingly that Triton is often referred to as “the prison yard.” 

But John is often eager to help his fellow South Bay locals get into shape. Because he’s from the area and because many local MMA athletes—such as the Gracies—helped train him when he was a professional fighter, he feels the need to teach and give back to the town that helped him master MMA. 

“I’ve made Triton my home to where I can branch off and I can do all the things that other people did to help me,” he says. “It’s about making people feel the same way that I do when I do these things. I want people to hit these same goals.” 

Ultimately, John and Triton aim to help local South Bay residents improve their fitness through martial arts—and the entire team is excited to teach others about the disciplines they love so much. “This community has put me where I am, and I’m working to give back,” he says. 

Jody’s tips on self-defense for women:


What are some of the basic rules a woman should know when it comes to self-defense?
Carry yourself with confidence. Keep your body posture erect and look forward. Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. When alone, take the most public, direct route to your destination. If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, remove yourself from the situation or area immediately.


What should a person do to avoid potentially dangerous confrontations or situations?
Again, always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. It is always best to take well-lit routes (as well as the most public routes too). If you are walking toward your car, always look in and around your car before approaching it. You should carry your keys in your hand while walking. 


If a situation arises, should a person try to defuse it? Avoid it?
If you can avoid it, that is the best-case scenario. Every situation is different, so trying to defuse it really depends on the situation and the level of training the potential victim has. It is always best to notify the local authorities if you encounter a potentially dangerous situation. You may have avoided it, but there are other folks that could fall victim.


If an aggressive person—let’s say a mugger or someone who’s looking for a fight—confronts you, what should you do?
Best-case scenario is to walk away and avoid it. If you cannot walk away, be loud and try to get the attention of others. Act confident. If the attacker senses that you are not alarmed, they will most likely back down. Again, notify local authorities to report the incident immediately.


If the person can’t avoid conflict, what should they do?
This really depends on the level of self-defense training the potential victim has. It is critical to effectively access the situation and do so quickly. What is the level of the threat? Is it life-threatening? Do you have time and space to evade the potential attacker? Once you have established the threat level, you need to quickly plan on how you will most effectively protect yourself. If there is a physical altercation, your actions need to be swift and you need to commit to your plan for your defense. You need to be aggressive. Your goal is to end the altercation as quickly as possible with the least amount of damage to yourself. Again, always try to get the attention of others for assistance by being loud. 


Should they contact the authorities?
Absolutely. By doing so you are protecting other potential victims. Try to take mental photos of the attacker.


Lastly, why does self-defense matter for a woman?
It drastically improves your chances of survival. Most females that are trained have a higher level of confidence and project that in the way they walk and communicate.