MArtial Arts Background
At a young age I began practicing kung fu with my dad. He was constantly having me block punches and challenge me to escape various positions. When I was in highschool, a close friend of mine died in a motorcycle accident. I was struggling to cope with the loss and became angry and depressed. I was headed down a dark path and I needed something to put me back on track.
One day I decided to join a MMA gym. I quickly fell in love with training. I spent all of my time at the gym with the idea of becoming one of the toughest people on the planet. At 17 years old I was training with some of the state’s top MMA fighters in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, wrestling, and Muay Thai Kickboxing.
At 18 years old I had my first MMA fight and won by knockout. All I did for the next few years was work, train, and fight. As an amateur I held two titles in MMA and competed in the Golden Gloves Upper Midwest Boxing Tournament. I held a 9-6 boxing, 7-1 kickboxing, and 7-0 MMA record. I currently hold a Professional MMA record of 3-1.
After 5 years of training at my MMA gym, I decided I wanted to shake things up. I began training at a karate center, home to multiple world champion kick-boxers. While training at the karate center, I supplemented my MMA skills by training at the MN Militia and "La Bodega" ("the cellar" in Spanish) which is what we called my friend's home gym. Though it was a home gym, we always had a group of grappling studs training there.
After years of strenuous training, I needed a change of pace. I joined a yoga studio and began taking classes regularly. My body began to feel better, and my martial arts game got better with it.
My love for martial arts began at 17, but my love for fitness didn’t come until later. I’d been practicing martial arts for a few years when a friend introduced me to a trainer named Ken Bromley. Ken is a former bodybuilder and rugby coach. I was skeptical, thinking "How can this bodybuilder with no martial arts background help me become a better fighter?" However, not long after working with Ken, I saw how much overall fitness level and athletic ability played a role in every sport. Through nutrition and functional fitness, I got exponentially stronger and faster. Every part of my fight game improved. I learned what it means to be an athlete, not just a fighter.
I knew that I couldn’t fight forever, so I decided I wanted to become a trainer and have my own martial arts school. I had taught MMA classes and coached students at competitions, but I wanted to get more experience in the realm of general fitness, not just fighting. I began taking a course through the National Academy of Sports Medicine(NASM) to become a certified personal trainer. While taking the course, I got a job as a trainer at 9Round, a fitness kickboxing gym.
While at 9Round, I developed a skill set that allowed me to work with people of all ages, experience, and ability levels. From exercise novices all the way to lifelong athletes, I learned when to push limits and when to take a step back. I had to create ways of working around injuries and limitations. I learned how to make exercise fun and that it’s okay to laugh and smile while working hard.
The owner of the house gym "La Bodega" decided he wanted to do an MMA fight at 42 years old. Billy knew of my fighting experience and my dream of becoming a martial arts coach. He asked me to be his trainer and I was thrilled at the opportunity. He fought an experienced 25 year old with a 5-3 record. We stuck to our game plan and he won by decision. Both of our dreams came true!
Billy asked me to train his 8 year old son and some of his friends in MMA for self defense, and to help them get better at their sports. Almost 3 years later, the kids MMA class is still going strong. The kids have come a long way, and so have I! It’s such a fun, rewarding experience. The most important thing I’ve learned while teaching the kids is patience, and that most learn better while having fun.
I completed my Personal Training Certification in January of 2018 and I am still pursuing my dream of being a trainer and martial arts instructor. In my spare time I practice my craft and learn as much as I can by taking classes, reading books, watching videos of training techniques. Though I am shifting my focus from training myself into training others, I will forever remain a student in the realm of fitness.