Posted Online: May 08, 2010, 7:00 pm

Rusk teaching MMA that starts with fun

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By Tom Johnston,

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Steve Rusk has started classes at Spellious Martial Arts Center inside SouthPark Mall to teach the disciplines of martial arts, not to train people for fighting. The Rusk family, Joan, Cole, 7, and Hanna, 5, are all involved in martial arts as well.
Steve Rusk has coached collegiate wrestling All-Americans as well as Mixed Martial Arts standouts who take pride in pummeling their foes into bloody messes.

In his latest coaching venture, though, he doesn't want his pupils to think about serious competition or worrying about getting into a ring for a fight.

Rusk is now heading up classes at Spellious Martial Arts Center in SouthPark Mall with the intent of teaching the disciplines involved in MMA fighting without the pressure of becoming a champion. The facility is across the mall from VonMaur.

"I'm focusing these classes on discipline and fitness and letting kids and beginners explore the mixed martial arts without having them in the ring,'' said Rusk, whose main MMA training came with mentor Pat Miletich at his Bettendorf gym. "It's geared for all ages. My ideal thing would be for dads and sons to come in together. ... I want people to think of this as a family thing to do.''

While Rusk sees Steve Rusk MMA as a way to get kids off the couch and away from video games, it's going to be more than a walk in the park as he teaches the finer points of wrestling, Ju jitsu and kickboxing.

"What I'm trying to do is bring discipline to the sport of Mixed Martial Arts,'' said Rusk. "All the MMA places are people just coming in and fighting for an hour. ... People will not have to worry about coming in and getting hurt; this will all be in a structured environment.''

Under Rusk's plan, "people will not fight for a long time,'' he said. He is setting it up so everyone starts at square one with the basics and fundamentals – learning moves and techniques. Students advance as they would in a karate class, using a colored-belt system.

"The whole thing is just about having fun and exploring the sport,'' said Rusk, who has his 7-year-old son Cole and 5-year-old Daughter Hanna enrolled along with his wife, Joan. "I've seen kids go into Tae Kwan Do and get burned out doing just the one thing. Here, we'll be doing such different things. From kickboxing to wrestling is such different atmosphere, I don't see the kids getting tired of it. All the new stuff, they really shouldn't get bored with it.''

Rusk said there will be no limit to the number of people in each class. The monthly fee of $40 covers an unlimited number of classes. Sessions are Monday and Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 10 to 11 a.m.

Rusk has recruited MMA standout Jason Louck to help him instruct. Other local fighters may fill in as needed.

"I'm hoping by teaching the sport that people also are able to appreciate it more when they are watching fights on TV,'' he said.

For more information on Steve Rusk MMA, call (309) 738-8056.

About Steve Rusk

The Orion High School state wrestling champ was an NCAA All-American wrestler at the University of Illinois under coach and Alleman High School graduate Mark Johnson.
He then joined the MMA ranks, earning a Miletich Systems Black belt under Pat Miletich and becoming an MMA Amateur National champion.
The deputy for the Rock Island County Sheriff's Department has trained numerous MMA World Champions across the globe.