Q: Besides Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I see you offer Shorin Kung-Fu and Chinese boxing, can you tell us a little more about them?
A: The Shorin Kung-Fu program is also a unique program. Shorin Kung-Fu is a combination of Kung-Fu, Karate, Jiu-Jitsu and Chinese Boxing. The founder of this art is Grandmaster Gene Brigham who spent decades in Asia mastering these arts. I am his highest ranking student. As a certified instructor in Shorin-Kung Fu and with his blessings, I try to make the art better and enhance it to the best of my knowledge. As an experienced fighter in the mixed Martial Arts world and my involvement with a reality based combat, I enhanced the art more by adding kick boxing and Thai boxing techniques.
The Chinese boxing also included in this program is a very unique style. Chinese boxing is basically Thai boxing with take downs. A lot of the Chinese boxing competitors, now train in Thai boxing and wrestling. You are not only learning how to punch and kick, you are learning how to become aware if someone were to grab or throw you, and vice versa. I find this to be a very affective striking art. At my facility, I don't like to have the beginning students do full contact kick boxing or Thai boxing because I feel if that is done prematurely. The students may get carried away and take some unnecessary punishment. I believe in teaching the average people and making sure that their safety is a priority.
We teach them all the techniques that Thai boxers and kick boxers use. We have them do light sparing and point sparing, but until they are very advanced, or getting ready for a professional fight, I don't let my students use much contact. In Boxing and Kick-Boxing you may suffer repetitive small concussions and it could end up being very harmful to your brain (your strongest weapon). I do not believe that is really necessary, especially if you know a lot more than just punching and kicking.
Q: Are the styles taught at your academy, including the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, something that everyone can learn?
A: Absolutely, I can't put enough emphasis on how unique the jiu-jitsu that we do is, because it doesn't really require strength or certain physical ability to pull it off. You don't need to be an athlete or a certain size it works for everybody.
All the techniques are based on leverage and timing and it is very affective, yet there is no strength involved with what we're doing. You're able to subdue people that are bigger and stronger than you. I'm not just saying this, if you watch the first and second Ultimate Fighting Championship my teacher Royce Gracie is the smallest guy but he beats everyone without hurting them.
Q: You have a lot of rewards for academic achievements for children and teenagers, can you tell me a little about that and how it relates to Martial Arts?
A: Kids who get straight A's are rewarded and I consider that as a positive thing and it helps them for their promotion. I believe that someone who is a true martial artist should be focused in everything they do and it shows in all their activities and involvements. Actually, many of my experienced students do very well in school because they are more focused and disciplined.
Q: You've had other successful businesses, why do you choose to teach Martial Arts?
A: I love what I do, but I mainly teach Martial Arts because I know it affects people in a positive way. I do not just teach people how to fight, although, I love to see students who are really effective in defending themselves and are confident. That makes me really happy. But I mainly teach Martial Arts because people that get involved with it have better lives. Teenagers and kids who get involved with it have an activity to focus on. It's something that, not only builds character, but keeps the body healthy, strong and your mind sound.
Q: How important is it, for people interested in Martial Arts training, to do research and make sure they are joining the right place?
A: It's very important that you learn it at the right place because it has to have the balance of the spirituality as well as the effectiveness of it. If you have one and not have the other you are not really benefiting from what Martial Arts has to offer.
Q: How has your experience with Royce Gracie and the Gracie family been?
A: I started training with the Gracie family back in the beginning of 1994 and it's been something that I've been doing on a consistent basis since then. They really welcomed me and after awhile they really treated me like family. That is the kind of school that I want to have as well. That's the way I like to look at my students. That's the kind of environment I'd like everyone to see or feel when they walk into the school. That is why we put so much emphasis on safety and solid, effective training.
Q: Besides all the spiritual benefits and education you get through Martial Arts, what can your students do with their training?
A: The sky is the limit with people who stick with it. This is a place where the average person or a handicap person can walk in and become very effective in self-defense. People that do decide to do this professionally are at the right place. This is a facility that is fully capable of taking them to the highest levels that the Martial Arts world has to offer.
Q: What do you expect from your students?
A: I expect my students to be respectful and have good character. When my students do get to compete at the world class levels, I would definitely like to see them be respectful and demonstrate the attitude of a true Martial Artist. It's very important to me that the students that learn from me don't use it in an abusive fashion. What's taught in my school is for self defense and competition only. It should never be used to bully someone or in any wrong way. If I feel like a student is using it in a wrong way or is not being respectful to other people or the school I will terminate their training at once. I'm not going to put up with that. Besides, I want what I'm showing them to benefit them. Usually, if they use it in the wrong way it will bring them down and/or cause trouble for them. I don't want to see that happen either.
Q: What about the students that you may encounter that may be lacking respect or are troubled in certain ways?
A: I do run into troubled teens and adults sometimes. However, if I do run into troubled teens or adults that need our help, we definitely do try to give them attention and hope that learning the art will change them and make them respectful members of the society.
One of the main reasons why I teach Martial Arts is to affect these people in a good way. When I ask them not to use the art in an abusive way, I really mean it. I expect them to have enough respect for me, in return of what I'm giving to them, that they'd listen to that.
I did not dedicate my life to teaching people to go around hurting people. That is not my mission here that's not what I'm here for.
Q: Your students seem to really appreciate and respect your efforts, why do you think that is?
A: Those who train with me at my facility are learning world class Martial Arts. They are learning the best techniques in the world. They are becoming truly confident people and what they're getting has a lot more value than what they're paying for.
I have sought after the best martial artist in the world and I've commuted to them for over a decade on a consistent basis. I've invested a lot into what I'm teaching. The Gracie family, Royce Gracie and Grandmaster Brigham are very special people in my life. What I'm sharing with them is a very personal thing to me.
First of all, I'd like to thank God, secondly, my teachers, Royce Gracie, Grandmaster Helio Gracie, and Grandmaster Brigham.
Also, special thanks to Rorion Gracie for bringing Jiu-Jitsu to the U.S. and Rener, Ryron, Rodrigo Gracie, Rico Chiaparelli, Rob Kaman for training me.