A police officer plans to attract members from all over Butler County to a fitness/mixed martial arts school he has opened in downtown Augusta.
F5 Mixed Martial Arts is the brainchild of Mathew Meckel, a 14-year police veteran and second-degree back belt, who as a boy studied under Grandmaster Roger Carpenter at the Kansas Karate Institute.
Meckel said Carpenter installed in him the values he holds dear today – discipline, respect and confidence – and wants to pass those along to others in his classes.
“I was very skinny as a kid, and I was nervous about being bullied,” Meckel said. “I knew if I had to fight, I wasn’t going to be able to win unless I knew something. So I started really dedicating myself to studying martial arts. That’s what made my character what it is today. And I just loved it.”
F5 is located at 530 School St. (the former Augusta First Church of the Nazarene). It holds nightly classes for men and women, incorporating martial arts learning with the physical training that goes with it. Those classes are led by Meckel and Jimmy Beckley, an Augusta native with a wrestling and boxing background who fought in the MMA circuit.
“One of the toughest guys I know,” Meckel said of Beckley.
The most popular class right now, Meckel said, is the woman-dominated cardio kickboxing group.
Starting Jan. 7, Meckel will teach a youth class from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. Tuesday and Thursdays.
He said each kid will wear a gi, the traditional karate training uniform, and will have the opportunity to earn belts.
“We will always go over the basics first,” Meckel said. “We slowly go over the things like how to fall down, how to stand up – protecting yourself in those ways. We do a lot of basics before we get into specific techniques.”
Kids don’t have to sign up right away to be part of a class, Meckel said. Neither do adults, for that matter. Anyone who thinks they might be interested in F5 is encouraged to come try it out first. F5 also has a Facebook page, which includes some testimonials.
It costs $30 a month to be a member of F5. That includes access to a weight and fitness room and any class. It also has a pair of basketball goals and will have table tennis, pool and foosball.
Meckel said he expects his younger students to keep their grades high, which is what his mentor expected of him. He wants to create a family environment at F5 while pushing its members toward their goals – whether it’s earning a black belt, getting in the best shape of their lives or to simply learn something new each week.