When Mark Twain said, “It is not the size of the dog in the fight; it is the size of the fight in the dog,” he may have been referring to Chris Metzgar.
At 5 feet and 4 inches tall, Metzgar is considered below the American average height. But what the grappler lacks in height, he makes up for with skill, power and determination.
“I look at it as a challenge,” Metzgar said. “Being a smaller guy, I am constantly training with bigger guys. It just makes me better when I actually compete with guys my own size.”
Often, the 50th Space Communications Squadron telephone maintainer jumps to no-weight classes, where anyone regardless of size may compete.
“I love to do it as the smallest guy out there, even though 90 percent of the time, I lose. But it’s fun for me,” he said.
Metzgar’s mother, an amateur judo athlete, pushed him into the sport. He stuck with it when he was in high school, then began wrestling after.
He joined the Marine Corps in 1995 as a communications technician. While he was in the service, he noticed an all-Marine team wrestling tournament.
“I had not done any wrestling for a couple of years but I decided to just jump into it just for the fun of it,” Metzgar said. “I ended up winning so I made the team. I stuck with the team for almost a year.”
This passion for anything grappling didn’t subside even after separating. He has participated in and won several competitions in almost all grappling sports. For a short time, he participated in cage fighting as well.
“I fought several MMA fights and those were very difficult. Grappling is very easy for me, but it changes when someone wants to punch you in the face. Those are some of my most difficult matches I’ve had,” he said.
Still, Metzgar has flourished in the sport. The 3rd degree black belt judo athlete was ranked No. 1 nationally in USA Judo fighter from 2008 to 2014. During that time, he also won multiple state, national and world championships in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
“I am OK I guess,” Metzgar joked.
He explained, “I do love to fight. I love every aspect of fighting sports, I love grappling; really, any kind of one person against another, but in a gentlemanly fashion. We are not trying to kill or injure each other. It is just a matter of wrestling you down to the ground and making you submit.”
Metzgar may sound like a violent man, but in reality, he is a soft-spoken athlete who just likes the fighting sport. It was this love for the sport that enabled him to establish his own training center where he trains children and adults.
“I wanted to start my own gym where I could have a place to grapple, and the easiest way to do it is teaching it. I started offering classes and opened up a place,” he said.
As one of Metzgar’s students, Glenn Wall said his teacher is very dedicated.
“He takes his martial arts very seriously and he is very technical,” Wall explained. “He makes the training fun, even though it is hard work.”
Metzgar teaches sport judo, wrestling, jiu-jitsu and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
“It is difficult to teach, but it is also difficult to learn. The movements are not in your day-to-day activity so it is very uncomfortable,” he said. “It is easier for me to teach kids than adults because they have an easier time to adjust their movements for grappling.”
Even now as a teacher in his 40s, Metzgar still participates in numerous competitions. Since he grew up with the sport, he became accustomed to going mano a mano and the challenges that come with the sport.
“To me, it becomes a game of chess; one move after another. It is very humbling. I have lost a lot of matches and fights that I didn’t expect to lose. It lets you know what you can actually do physically,” Metzgar said. “When you lose, it is not a team sport. You can’t blame anyone else, it is on you.”