Nicolas Burrell, President of MMA Club at VCU

Nicolas Burrell

Age: 22

Hometown: Lima, Peru

Year: Senior

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Why VCU?

I love the feel of the campus. The city of richmond has its own magic and atmosphere you can’t find anywhere else. I chose it after transferring from LSU; I needed a good school to go to. I made VCU my home and never looked back.

What do you want to do with your major?

I want to build renewable natural resources for third world countries to improve standards of living and create wealth for impoverished communities. Example: Build a solar panel on the roof of every house in a twelve-home pueblo, which creates enough electricity to light up the village and keeps away predators at night.

How are you involved on campus or in the community?

I teach people how to properly lift through the mentee-mentor organization at Team Break. We in the MMA Club organize charity events like the upcoming women’s self-defense seminar to raise money for the children’s hospital.

What is the MMA Club at VCU?

The mixed martial arts club is all about teaching martial arts to everyone, and for advanced students, the chance to compete. At VCU our club is composed of students, professors and elite instructors all teaching others to improve as much as we possibly can. This is not a fight club; yes, we do spar and have fun, but first and foremost there is respect, learning and teaching. We want everyone at VCU to know how to fight and defend themselves in case of an emergency. We also promote fitness and good health so the only thing you’re going to see us selling at bake sales is protein bars and water.

How has it helped you?

When I was sixteen I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil and getting into fights constantly in school. My brother suggested that I come down to the dojo with him and train. I started training and never looked back. My behavior in school improved, my discipline is better and somehow my grades went up! MMA itself has always been a great way to blow off steam as well as stay in great shape, basically my counseling session with a bag. It has really helped me defuse dangerous situations as I've been at knifepoint numerous times in D.C. and have been able to defend myself.

What are your goals for the club as president?

To teach those who are interested self-defense so people can defend themselves in case they get stuck in the wrong part of town. Go to competitions and get the VCU name recognized in the martial arts community. To eventually host exhibition matches in the Siegel Center. To help out with security at social events for student organizations as well as greek life.

What martial arts do you practice and how long have you been practicing?

I've been practicing muay thai for about seven years and brazilian jiu-jitsu for one. Muay thai is basically kick-boxing but you also use your elbows and knees since they are the hardest points on your body and can do the most damage.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I can speak Spanish fluently, have certifications in CPR, juniper security and scuba diving.

Fun fact about yourself:

I love to pretend I'm not Spanish around Spanish-speaking people so I can listen in on their conversations :D