July 13th, 2006


Perfect fit for martial arts teaching tandem


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
CNY Mixed Martial Arts head trainer Ryan Ciotoli (left) watches Erik Charles (right) and Tamdan McCrory spar at their Polkville site. Charles is co-owner of the business with Ciotoli.

Sports Editor

Because of the nature of this ever-growing sport and all it demands, this was an ideal merger of talents.
Or as Ryan Ciotoli simply stated: “It was a good fit.”
So Ciotoli and Erik Charles became a teaching tandem, and created the Central New York Mixed Martial Arts school in hopes of serving several needs.
Located just outside of Polkville, between Cortland and McGraw on Route 41, this refurbished facility is an ideal training ground for people like Charles. The 31-year-old Cortland native has an ideal place to hone his skills, Charles a mixed martial arts professional competitor. He is among five current school members who appear in shows throughout Massachusetts.
The co-owners also developed a training program for those simply looking for a good workout or learning self-defense skills. The majority of the 40 some folks currently using the CNY Mixed Martial Arts facility have no intentions of ever climbing into a ring or a cage to do battle.
Ciotoli’s background is in wrestling, having been a grappler of note at both Union-Endicott High School and Ithaca College. The 28-year-old, a three-time NCAA Division III All-American, is currently an assistant wrestling coach at Ithaca.
Charles’ background is in martial arts and boxing. His martial arts training began as an 11-year-old, learning under Kevin Seaman at the East West Martial Arts Academy in Cortland. He is a past Golden Gloves and Full Contact Karate champion who also works as an instructor at Cornell — along with former teacher Seaman — in the Muay Thai discipline.
The Polkville school has been open for a couple of months now, after a gutted out barn of some 1,800 square feet was modernized. Now a blue mat covers most of the spacious workout area, with the school’s initials located in the middle. On the edge of the mats in bright yellow lettering is the phrase: ‘Home of the Bomb Squad.’ There are fans on the ceiling to make the place comfortable on humid days.
Classes are held from 6 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, which each hour and a half session covering things like grappling, striking (boxing and Muay Thai) and a session called competitive team training. Beginner afternoon classes for kids will begin soon.
Both Ciotoli and Charles are amazed how many people just come off the street asking about the program, looking to join in the ultimate fighting craze. “The sport’s blowing up,” said Ciotoli.
Charles pointed out a recent show in the Spike TV network even outdrew NASCAR racing and an NBA playoff game in the ratings. That doesn’t mean someone can step off the street and into a ring.
“It educates and misinforms at the same time,” said Charles of those television shows.
“The cages gives the impressive of two caged animals, but it’s the most skillful aspect of martial arts and you need to know each area,” noted Ciotoli. “It takes a lot of time and effort to compete.”
Though Charles uses the moniker ‘Chainsaw’ on his own promotional card, he downplays the violence sometimes associated with the sport.
“It’s an intriguing sport with so many things you can do, kicking, throwing punches,” said Charles, wrestling holds also employed during the four-minute rounds. And there are restrictions, with such things as knees to the head and gouging a huge no-no.
Being a former boxer, Charles noted that sport allows repeated blows to the head. If one blow does damage in mixed martial arts, the bout is halted. He has never felt the head trauma after a mixed martial arts match that he did experience during his boxing days.
“It’s still one of the safest sports to compete in. It’s not safe is you don’t train,” warns Charles.
Charles and his fellow professional competitors train twice a day. On this afternoon, he goes through the paces with 19-year-old Tamdan McCrory, a former Ithaca High School wrestler currently taking classes at SUNY_Cortland.
Charles and McCrory will be sharing main-event billing on a show being held in Mansfield, Mass., on Aug. 19. Before being in that spotlight, there is a card on Aug. 5 in Revere, Mass.
Charles competes at 185-pounds, while McCrory looks to get down to the 170-pound class. The rangy, athletic martial artists are ideal training partners.
While they quest for glory in the rings and cages of the sport, Ciotoli hopes the mixed martial arts takes off locally, that the school builds a reputation. “Basically, my goal is to develop a fight team that competes and really builds the sport up in the area,” he says.
Those interested in joining can call the school at 836-4662. The first week of classes is offered for free.


Beville selected to coach Dragons

Steve Beville

Sports Editor

“My wife and daughters tell me I look good in red,” said Steve Beville, the newly named SUNY Cortland men’s lacrosse coach on Wednesday afternoon.
“So I guess I will have to turn in my forest green,” he added.
The University of Vermont has been the home for the 43-year-old coaching veteran for the past eight seasons, where green is the prominent color at the Division I school.
Now this veteran of 18 collegiate coaching seasons will be ready for a new color scheme while taking over the reins of a Red Dragon squad that captured an NCAA Division III national title this past spring under interim head coach Rich Barnes.
When Barnes decided not to return to coach the squad, announcing that difficult decision the week prior to the Red Dragons’ 13-12 overtime title game victory over Salisbury University, he did so for family reasons.
Beville cites similar reasons for getting back to Central New York, having been a former lacrosse standout at West Genesee High School outside of Syracuse. He is happy to be returning to his Central New York roots with his wife Jackie and those two daughters — 14-year-old Elizabeth and 12-year-old_Lauren.
Knowing Cortland’s past history in lacrosse was also a selling point. “At Cortland, the expectations are you have to be good every year and that’s was very attractive,” said Beville.
Success has pretty much been a constant Beville companion.
After graduating from West Genesee, Beville was a two-time NCAA Division III Defenseman of the Year who played on three national championship teams at Washington College in Maryland. He even played against Cortland one year in the NCAA Division III playoffs.
He was an assistant coach at his alma mater for two seasons, posted a 100-45 mark during 10 seasons at Colorado College in the Division III ranks before landing in Vermont. The Catamounts went 9-6 this past spring.
“It was time to move on,” he said of leaving the New England school located in Burlington.
In his first five seasons there, Beville had no scholarships to offer players. That grew to two scholarships in his sixth season, and has been upped to 4-½ scholarships in recent years. The schools Vermont competes against have three times that_allotment.
“We were severely limited as to resources at Vermont, and that‘s not the case at Cortland,” he said.