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September 01. 2014 8:38PM

Ex-UFC champ shares wisdom during Londonderry visit to martial arts center

Former UFC welterweight champion Carlos Newton demonstrated a technique with student Murray Barq, of Somerville, Mass., during a seminar at Koryukan Martial Arts in Londonderry on Saturday. (April Guilmet/Union Leader Correspondent)

LONDONDERRY — Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight champion Carlos Newton has worn many impressive titles in his 38 years, but perhaps his favorite spot is in the front of a classroom.

Traveling to the Granite State, Newton, accompanied by his friend and longtime mentor Avi Nardia, led a mixed martial arts seminar at Koryukan Martial Arts, 15 Londonderry Road.

About 25 students, ranging in age from 13 to 60, attended the class.

“Some of them have been doing martial arts for less than a year,” studio owner Ken Akiyama said on Saturday. “We’ve also got people here with 30 years’ worth of experience.”

Nardia, a world-renowned master of self-defense practices used by police, military and civilians around the world, has known Newton for over two decades.

Both men hold multiple black belts in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Japanese Aiki Kenpo Jujutsu.

A resident of Ontario, Canada, Newton found fame as one of the original mixed martial arts pioneers. He has competed worldwide in multiple organizations.

But Saturday’s lessons stressed the battles best conquered from within. He talked about the importance of awareness and the power of positive thinking.

“If you align yourself with the present moment, your actions will be correct ones,” he advised his students. “It’s only then that you can unlock your creativity.”

Newton said he’s been teaching frequently since his retirement. “It’s definitely one of my new identities,” he said with a grin. “I like to remind people that there’s strength in weakness and there’s weakness in strength.”

During the four-hour workshop in Londonderry Saturday afternoon, he shared plenty of lessons and laughs with some old friends and new acquaintances.

Somerville, Mass., resident Murray Barq, who is Nardia’s brother-in-law, brought along a friend who wanted to meet Newton in person, while close pals Steven Neustadter, Jonah Davis and Regev Melker, all 13, traveled all the way from New Jersey to participate in the class.

Regev said his father knows Nardia quite well, though the three young men said Newton’s appearances in a number of martial arts-themed video games, including UFC Undisputed 3 and King of Coliseum II, made the prospect seem all the more exciting.

They’d soon realize, however, that Newton’s “real-life” persona is a bit gentler than the one on their television screens.

“Carlos is just a great person,” Steven said. “He’s very well respected.”

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