At just 30-years-old, Justin Wren already holds many titles: professional fighter, national-champion wrestler and cast member of Spike TV’s Ultimate Fighter. Despite those accomplishments, there’s one title he is most proud of — humanitarian. Wren founded “The Fight For The Forgotten,” a nonprofit organization dedicated to securing land, freedom and clean water for the formerly-enslaved Mbuti Pygmy tribe in the Ituri rainforest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He’s now teaming up with Century Martial Arts to bring additional relief to the impoverished area and is challenging you to join the efforts.
Before Justin Wren was the professional fighter we know him as today, he was a young child who fell victim to constant bullying. The bullying got so bad he had to change schools several times. It was at the age of 13 when he came across something that changed his life forever.
“I stopped at a used VHS tape store and found UFC 2 through...
Philip Gattone, Jr. was attacked in the dead of night. Without warning, his body was invaded by an invisible adversary leaving the four-year-old twisting uncontrollably on the bedroom floor. This was the beginning of a battle with epilepsy that he would fight for the rest of his life. Armed with a will to win and the martial arts, Gattone, now 30, is beating the odds.
Philip Gattone, Jr. had his first seizure at just 4-years-old.
“That night was just the start of it,” says Gattone, Jr. “I began having other types of seizures, called ‘Absence Seizures.’ “With that type of seizure, it looks almost like you’re daydreaming, but you’re wide awake.”
An Absence Seizure causes the individual’s eyes to flutter and, at times, cause the person to blank out. This type of seizure usually lasts between 15 to 30 seconds. But for a young boy who has no control over his body, those few seconds can feel like a lifetime.
“So, if anyone...
After years of perfecting his physical martial arts skills, 6-time karate world champion Mike Guido of Clovis, CA attended his first Martial Arts SuperShow convention in 2011. For Guido, it was love at first sight. The energy of the event, the contacts and, most importantly, the insights he gained on how to become his own boss were life-changing.
Learning to teach the martial arts masterfully requires decades of practice and training. The mark of an expert instructor is the ability to pass those lessons on to their students.
The same applies to the business end of martial arts training. Somewhere, somehow, the prospective school owner needs to learn how to become a black belt in business. For Mike Guido, as for so many other school owners across the U.S., his business training came at the annual Martial Arts SuperShow in Las Vegas. It was the MASuperShow, the industry’s foremost trade show and business convention, that offered him the opportunity to learn the...
Steve Butts, owner of three Martial Arts America schools in the general Pensacola, FL, area, has found a niche in what is often an oversaturated marketplace. By combining gymnastics and a mix of martial arts styles, Butts has kids flipping, tumbling, punching and kicking by the hundreds into his Ninja Nation program.
With more than 30 year’s experience under his 6th-degree black belt in moo duk kwon taekwondo, Steve Butts was quick to recognize an opportunity. He integrated a gymnastics program into his already successful martial arts curriculum.
“I noticed a lot of kids doing gymnastics in their forms, but they were mostly self-taught,” Butts says. “Their mechanics were not sound, which wasn’t safe for the student. Being safe and teaching gymnastics properly was very important to me. So, we built out our school to include trampolines and spring floors. We started teaching gymnastics in our school under the supervision of professional gymnastics...
California’s multi-talented Herb Perez is the very definition of a Renaissance man. He’s an extremely successful school owner, an attorney, a city councilman and former mayor, and an academic! Oh yes, he’s also a retired Olympic taekwondo gold medalist. Meet this uniquely-gifted martial arts master who applies a winner’s mentality to conquer every endeavor he takes on!
Before Herb Perez was a successful school owner, he was a natural competitor. By the time he was in his 20s, it was obvious to everyone Perez had a one-in-a-million talent for fighting, having won the National Collegiate Championships two years running. He went on to win gold at the Olympic Sports Festival in 1986, at the Pan American Games in 1987 and at the World Cup that same year. Perez went on to win the gold medal in the -83 kilos taekwondo division in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. He was the only American to win a gold in taekwondo at that year’s Olympics. In...
Hosting a local tournament can be profitable and be a publicity boost for your school. To maximize your event, you’ll need to exploit modern methods. Fresh technologies like Cloud-based enterprises, social media and smartphones have put a high-tech spin on staging competitions nowadays. Applying the knowledge in this article, shared by a veteran promoter, can ensure that your local tournaments run smoother, attract more participants and increase revenues.
After two generations of family experience, Bill Viola Jr. knows the ins and outs of hosting a tournament. His father opened one of Pittsburgh’s first martial arts schools, Allegheny Shotokan, in 1969. As a tournament promoter, the Heinz History Center — in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institute — credits Bill Viola, Sr. with also being the co-creator of mixed martial arts fighting a decade before the UFC arrived.
Viola feels he started “ahead of the game” because his father built a...
Michigan’s Dan Shackmann reluctantly agreed to take over a children’s self-defense class at the eleventh hour when the instructor was moving out of state. That planned “temporary” position was 20 years ago! The program for what was then 12 enthusiastic kids, held in a tiny school gym, grew into a nonprofit school with its own beautiful building and 200 students! Now, Shackmann is hoping history will repeat itself and a new leader will step up to carry the school forward.
Dan Shackmann’s Thunder Bay Martial Arts is located in a small rural area as far north as you can get in the United States. The city of Alpena stands on the shore of Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay and is county seat of Northern Michigan’s Alpena County, home to the Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary. Although its population of roughly 10,500 is considered small, it is by far the largest city in the sparsely populated Northeast Michigan area.
“It was a chance meeting 20 years ago...
Taekwondo Masters Rondy McKee and Teri Lee are two of the most accomplished school owners in the U.S., with some 2,700 active students between them. But success didn’t come easily to either woman. For years, they fought their male counterparts, who sought to suppress, or take credit for, their every achievement. Overcoming this attitude took a combination of smarts, patience and guts. In the process of creating their individual martial arts empires, McKee and Lee also became role models for women and men alike.
Both Lee and McKee can site a list of incidents illustrating the struggles they endured while trying to find equality among their male peers.
McKee was a successful artist. She began her training in college, and eventually moved to Korea where she was able to train alongside the Korean Tigers, a world-famous taekwondo demo team. She was the only female non-Asian on the team at that time, earning her the nickname “White Tiger.”
When McKee returned to the...
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