WHEN Greg Jenkyns started teaching three young Ipswich girls the basics in self defence he never imagined where his lessons would lead.
This weekend the Real Life MMA instructor will be cheering on three of his youngest pupils as they make their first appearance inside a real MMA fighting cage.
After 29 years in the business, Jenkyns for the first time will see a student use his classes for competition.
"It's a huge thing for them and for me," Jenkyns said.
"It wasn't something that I planned to do.
"I just wanted to teach self defence but the question came up about whether the girls could compete and I didn't want to hold them back.''
Nine-year-old Brooke Boetje, 10-year-old Hunter Williamson and 11-year-old Sophia White will join more than 20 fighters aged between six and 17 in the Junior MMA League competition this Saturday at Sumner Park.
Encouraged by the girls' enthusiasm, Jenkyns believes the experience provide the girls an opportunity to put their hard-earned skills to the test.
"If nothing else it gives them more confidence," he said.
"It will be different for them to fight someone they haven't met before. That's a good lesson in street defence because you most likely won't know the other person.
"It's fantastic just for me to watch them come from someone who had never done any MMA before to where they are now."
In the little Real Life MMA studio on Brisbane St, the three girls look at home amongst the pads, mats and boxing bags arrayed across the room.
From flinging themselves into the air to perform a high kick, or contorting their bodies to find the right wrestling positions Brooke, Hunter and Sophia are a lot more dangerous than their innocent blonde hair, blue eyed looks suggest.
Despite being on school holidays, the young fighters have taken on extra lessons to get themselves ready.
If the girls continue to pursue the life of a cage fighter, Jenkyns said he'll have to rethink the way he trains his students.
"It's something I'll be looking at more," he said.
"It's only in the last four months that we have changed to look at competing.
"They are still doing fighting but it's a bit different in the cage. You have to change your mindset."