South Charlotte

Charlotte MMA teacher says sport is about confidence

Paul Booe teaches and trains martial arts students and fighters in the Charlotte area.

Booe owns two MMA schools, the main one in Matthews and a smaller one on South Boulevard in Charlotte.

Booe is a fully accredited instructor who trained under the founder of the Hayastan fighting system, Gokor Chivichyan. Booe continues to train with Chivichyan several times a year.

Booe’s schools are affiliated with Hayastan MMA.

Booe, 39, said he has been involved with martial arts since he was 13.

“I wanted to do something individualized, where I could compete, and team sports didn’t do it for me,” he said.

Booe said he started practicing martial arts through taekwondo, then moved on to other styles, even before the concept of mixing different styles was popular.

Booe said he recognized that each style had strengths and weaknesses and that it was an advantage to study and combine different martial arts forms.

He went on to become a fifth-degree black belt in taekwondo and hapkido, and also has black belts in jujitsu and karate.

Among Booe’s group of competitive fighters are people from a wide range of backgrounds, but they all sharing a passion for physically and mentally testing themselves.

“We’re not a fight club, we’re a professional MMA team,” Booe said. “We’re not crazy and we’re not idiots. Most of the guys have families. At least half are college educated.”

Booe said that despite its broad appeal, the sport of mixed martial arts is not for everyone.

“It takes time to build the confidence to walk up and lock yourself in that cage with another human being,” he said. “I won’t put anybody in to a fight until they are properly trained and ready.”

As comfortable as Booe is in an intense competition environment, he said he also immensely enjoys teaching regular classes.

When working with students who have no interest in competing, Booe said, he finds satisfaction in helping them learn a skill that enables them to defend themselves, increase their confidence and get in better shape.