This martial arts coach started his gym from scratch

STORY: This Syrian martial arts coach started his own gym from scratch

LOCATION: Barada Valley, Syria

Hassan Mansour started practicing martial arts while studying physical education

The 25-year-old trainer learnt the basics at local gyms

then started his own gym in the suburbs of Damascus

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN MARTIAL ARTS COACH, HASSAN MANSOUR, SAYING:

"Honestly, the beginning was very hard. I first started in an abandoned place without any equipment that a gym needs. I didn't even have mattresses for students to flip on, I used to teach them with my hands, as in carry the student with my hands and coach him in martial arts and sports skills at the same time. Then, thank God, I took part of the gym’s revenues for personal expenses and the other part to improve the gym and buy equipment step by step."

Mansour now runs outdoor classes for over 50 students

teaching a blend of kickboxing, karate and yoga with other martial arts

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN MARTIAL ARTS COACH, HASSAN MANSOUR, SAYING:

"I wanted to take the students to the mountains and these hills, just like in China and Japan, like the Shaolin temples. I wanted to take them in order to plant the idea in them from the beginning. I would like to have a new sports culture in Syria."