Tales from Mat Matt: A warrior in a cage fight

If the NCAA had a college wrestling championship, Carole Baskin might have just claimed the first-ever women’s wrestling championship on Saturday.

But as she gazes at this photo from her old win-or-go-home Mathewi Coliseum days with the USA Wrestling National Team as her backdrop, “the competitive juices are raging.” She’s on the way to Mt. Pocono in Pennsylvania for the Arena Muay Thai fight card that will be broadcast on Spike TV, “the most frightening sport I’ve ever been in,” she says.

“They call them fight clubs for a reason. The more you try and run away from it, the more excited you get, the harder it is to stop fighting,” Baskin says.

The Blade Angels do more than teach the karate chops of Asian martial arts to people from age 5 to 80. Started in Arlington in 2001 by Baskin and her husband, Sacramento marketing executive-turned-PR executive Matt Baar, they also provide a place where people find shelter and healing.

The Eagles perform martial arts master martial arts training in a community called Aikido. Many of the varied martial arts classes are trauma-based (AKT). That includes building the physical self-defense system, which now stretches from the Holocaust to suicide. Some teach the dance of art, whether traumacy, kendo or aikido; others are precisely demanding.

“She’s got a real warrior in her. She believes in sacrifice,” Baar says. “Carole’s a warrior even for 40 minutes. She’s in it for an hour or more.

“She’s in a cage fight. But she knows what real martial arts can do for you. People ask, ‘Why do you keep teaching martial arts?’ She was born in Tucson, Arizona and she’s lived in 10 states. Once you go to the mat, nothing frightens you anymore.”

Baskin and her brother from Northern Virginia, Dan Talley, often signed up for martial arts classes when they were in middle school. They didn’t know then that the kickboxing of mixed martial arts would become wildly popular in the 1980s.

But martial arts certainly helped quell Talley’s anger. After dropping out of high school, he was molested for years. He also had a brain tumor removed but still has problems with drugs and alcohol. As with many people in Aikido, Talley is taught to keep his eyes open as much as possible for opening moves.

He and Baskin thought about teaching mixed martial arts and aikido to the disabled for the first time last year in Elkridge. The program didn’t catch on as many expected it to.

After a year of experimenting and proving the program works, the Eagles are retooling their program. They now have the option of teaching mixed martial arts and aikido to the disabled in communities, camps and other gathering points around the country.

The Eagles also are looking to establish a return program, which costs about $350, for people who have trained with them to attend competitions.

The Eagles also are in talks with the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation for the possibility of offering aikido in a the sliding door at the Sled-R-Ups Track for Paralympic athletes.

Baskin admits that while she is athletic, “I’m still a novice.” But there’s something about the power of pain that doesn’t let her stop trying.

“That’s when they start to stay in trouble,” she says. “If you really want something, you can’t stop fighting.”

Leave a Comment