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How a local MMA gym is helping to train law enforcement
Ascension MMA
Law enforcement officers learn Brazilian jiu-jitsu techniques from trainers at Ascension MMA. - photo by For the FCN
Ascension MMA

Members of the Cumming Police Department, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, and other agencies train at a local gym, and now, that training could go statewide.

Brandon Bellamy, co-owner of Ascension Mixed Martial Arts at Tri-County Plaza, said he and Ascension founder, head MMA coach and retired professional fighter Junior Assuncao have been among gyms working with the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, or POST, to create statewide standards for Brazilian jiu-jitsu, or BJJ, training. 

“I think a lot of people just don’t understand what it is and how it’s practical, but it’s been really good for all the police officers we have training in it now,” Bellamy recently told Forsyth County News. 

Along with Ascension, several other gyms have given thoughts on the standards, which were discussed at a POST meeting in early September.  

Bellamy said over the past few months, officers have been training while coaches have been tailoring the classes to their needs. 

“Now, it’s just about training the awareness, and also just telling the community that we’re trying to do our best to make sure our officers are safe and the people they are working with are safe, and I think jiu-jitsu is the ultimate practical combat training that you can do,” he said. 

In the training, Bellamy said the plan is to give officers the experience to react to real-life situations, adding “They all will tell you the same thing: They use it, and it’s effective.

“They are in a lot of situational drills that are about as close as you can get in real life, and they now feel comfortable,” he said. “They’ve got someone who is 250 pounds sitting on them, but they’re not in a panic. They know what to do. They’re trained to handle themselves.”

For example, Bellamy said officers being taught chokes and similar holds wasn’t intended for officers to use them on suspects but rather to give the officer experience being in and fighting out of the hold. 

Bellamy said a Sandy Springs officer recently made headlines for taking down a suspect and doing “a really good job of controlling the body all the way down and making the arrest.”

Cumming Police Chief David Marsh is among the local officers who train at the gym and he said he has enjoyed the training and found it useful. 

“On a personal note, the training’s been awesome,” Marsh said. “The idea that we’re able to get our people into some defensive tactics training with instructors like Junior, who are quite literally world-renowned for their skill set is an opportunity we would just be really remiss if we didn’t take advantage of. These guys are doing an unbelievable job for us and for our community. I cannot speak highly enough about the level of training they provide and their level of professionalism.”

Marsh said while there is “no magic button” to prevent police from getting hurt or having to use force in the line of duty, extra training is always a benefit. 

“Our goal is certainly to be more proficient when it comes to being able to subdue the suspect and take people into custody that maybe aren’t quite so willing to go, where higher levels of force are not really appropriate,” he said. “That’s really what we’re looking forward to is just being more capable and confident with our defensive tactics skill set.”

Bellamy said Ascension has been growing and credited the success to the experience of Assuncao, a retired fighter who compiled a 16-7 professional record, including fighting five times in the UFC, and his brothers, Freddy and Raphael Assuncao, who are both co-founders of the business with their own professional fighting experience, including Raphael being currently ranked as the No. 12 UFC bantamweight fighter.

He described the Brazilian-born brothers as “all MMA world-class fighters” and said them providing training to officers was giving back to the community. 

“They’re all US citizens, and they want to give back,” Bellamy said, “and this is one of those situations where we feel like we’re doing that.”

Ascension Mixed Martial Arts is at 2 Tri-County Plaza, Cumming, GA 30040. For more information, visit