Fighting for greatness

Senior trains in martial arts


Jack Densmore

Senior Autumn Darragh has done martial arts since she was 12. She only just recently moved to Texas last summer.

Taking the punches and taking the kicks. Fighting hard, and working hard and preparing to fight. Whether it’s fighting a UFC fighter or another martial arts student, all of this comes with hard work and preparation.

Senior Autumn Darragh is a martial artist in training, and she trains three times a week for two to three hours. She moved to Ohio early in her life and just last summer moved to Texas. Her dad is the sole reason she fights.

“I started doing it [martial arts] because my dad has always done it ever since he was in the Marine Corps,” Darragh said. “He brought me into it right around the time I was 12, just as a self defense course, and then I started getting into it, and I started to realize I had talent for it.”

Starting up in anything is tough. Learning the basics of martial arts was a little bit of a struggle for Darragh.

“It was a lot of basics, a lot of back work, and just boring foot work,” Darragh said. “Left, right, left, right, and then it started getting up into you can spar with this person, and spar with this person on different levels, and throwing in combos and just doing a lot more advanced work.”

After getting past those basics, Darragh was able to take part in learning more moves from some of the country’s best fighters.

“I learned the spinning heel kick, and the superman punch,” Darragh said. “I used to train with a lot of UFC people like Ron Mitchell, Soa Palelei, and a couple of trainers that used to coach and corner people in the UFC like Rob Radford.”

Darragh has even sparred with possibly the country’s most popular women’s fighter, as well as some other well known fighters.

“I actually sparred with Rhonda Rousey for a little bit when she came into town, so that was pretty intimidating,” Darragh said. “And Mojo Horn, and I met [Floyd] Mayweather once, but I never got to spar with him.”

Of course with any career there are some road blocks in the way, and martial arts is no exception.

“Having to do body conditioning [was the hardest part]. It’s punching bags without hand wraps, so it’s a lot of bleeding, a lot of shin splints, and it’s a lot of bruising,” Darragh said. “So the body pain was definitely the hardest part to get through. Especially with the basics. It was boring, but you have to get your basics down for you to be a good martial artist.”

Darragh found inspiration to get past these road blocks.

“My trainers Scott Wegman and Evan Sumaad live in Ohio, and they’re pre-professional fighters,” Darragh said. “They’ve had a lot of obstacles they have had to overcome. Scott completely broke his leg but overcame that, and he’s fighting again. Evan completely tore both of his ACLs and overcame that, so they inspire me to keep going no matter what life throws at me.”

Darragh has also recently suffered a head injury due to falling off a horse and hitting her head on a rock. Now, after being away from martial arts, she has go back to basics.

“I was out of martial arts for about four months,” Darragh said. “It was a serious brain trauma accident, so having to recuperate from that was definitely rough.”

Sometimes getting prepped for the training itself is the hardest part.

“I had to cut out all carbs like no sodas; it’s very strict,” Darragh said. “Very very starchy carbs, and I could only eat five times a day in very small portions so that was really hard to get used to. My weight fluctuated like crazy.”

In the end though, her father is always there to support her.

“We’ve sparred a lot and he’s probably my least favorite person to spar with,” Darragh said. “He’s very hard on me because he knows I have all of this talent, and he’ll tell me what I do wrong. He’s also an explosive fighter.”

During her final year of high school, Darragh has to worry about a lot, but martial arts has always helped her.

“Being a senior, and having to worry about college and getting the year finished up, it can be very hard. It’s [martial arts] a great stress reliever.”

— Autumn Darragh

Darragh plans on going to Blinn College for her first two years after high school. She then plans to go to Texas A&M University since they have a martial arts course, but for now she uses competitions to further gain experience.

“I went to a few amateur fights. They’re not ranked, it’s just they’ll pair you based on your weight and experience,” Darragh said. “I won a few of those, and then there was a couple of times where I lost so it was a very good learning experience.”

With support and inspiration, Darragh has many goals for her future in martial arts.

“I’m hoping that if I can keep training and if I get better then I can actually start fighting more,” Darragh said. “If that goes anywhere then I can try getting into a women’s professional league, and I know I can do that throughout college as well so scholarship offers, money and a career as a trainer are possible.”