Growing up, I desperately wanted to learn how to fight. I remember watching myself throw punches in the bathroom mirror when I was 6 or 7 years old. I punched the air nightly, a dumbass in a towel, waiting for the shower water to heat up. Sometimes I would punch at the air until the water went cold. I’d throw some water in my hair to fool my mom and go to bed dirty… visions of bad-assery and tough-guyness drifting me off to sleep.
It’s remarkable that most people never learn How to Fight, even after being beaten up or humiliated publicly… learning self-defense is not as difficult as you might think.
I wish that I had a statistic to go with this statement, for example “99 percent of people never learn defend themselves,” but such a stat can’t possibly exist.
If we were to poll the world with the question, “Do you know how to fight,” we wouldn’t even get an accurate answer. It’s not as clear as “Do you play softball,” or, “Do you walk on two legs?” Some guy may have practiced Aiki-kung-fooey-do for 30 years and really think that he has an idea of how to fight; but false senses of confidence are common.
One night, a large tattooed biker might grab this martial master’s girlfriend by the butt, and say something like, “How about I toss you over the back of my Harley?” Our martial artist attempts to defend his lady’s honor but instead, he ends up getting beaten senseless, and having a beer poured on his unconscious body.
The next day he’s left bruised and holding his ‘black belt’ with a tear in his eye, questioning everything in which he believed. His girlfriend does not answer his calls.
I remember the day that I heard about Jean Claude Van Damme getting knocked out in a bar fight. The story made me feel like someone assassinated Santa Clause right in front of me, but it also made me realize that perception is everything. A lot of people think they know how to fight, but they don’t really know crap.
While useless martial arts are common, people who practice any fighting style are in the minority. In reality, while many people would love to learn how to fight, most would rather watch Rocky to make themselves feel better than train like Rocky.
I understand that everyone deals with situations differently. Many kids or young adults get bullied, go home, and imagine all of the things that they should have done to change what they experienced. Often, they direct this built up tension elsewhere, maybe into art, maybe into athletics. Hopefully, the negative energy becomes productive, but the situation is haunting.
When bully-like situations occur in the future, the same gut wrenching, heart-dropping feeling comes back, and nothing has changed to make the scenario go any differently. Fortunately, you don’t have to be Rocky to learn how to fight.
I remember having the same group of 5 or 6 bullies consistently gang up on me and try to instigate me into fighting them after school. I could have been a tough kid, but I was frozen, I would never spring to action. After letting them push me around, followed by a long, miserable walk home, I would take a shower and throw imaginary punches at my imaginary enemies; I’d replay the scenario that could have unfolded, had I just found the courage to fight back.
I didn’t open the phone book to find a dojo that could teach me. I just felt sick and humiliated, wishing that I had super powers to use against them.
If there was some place that I could have gone, where I knew that I was going to be taught some real type of fighting, I would have signed up immediately.
If Mr. Miyagi, the martial arts legend, lived next door and I could have washed his cars in exchange for lessons on how to punch or block using the “wax on, wax off,” technique, I would have done it without questioning.
I wanted to learn how to fight; I just didn’t know where to go that wouldn’t waste my time. I had seen my friends in karate outfits doing some pretty silly looking stuff, and I didn’t believe in it.
I had also seen those same kids get beat up trying to use their moves. Interestingly, it didn’t look very graceful when it came time to use the practice. They ended up looking like every other kid, flailing their arms about, trying to hit whatever they could. Then they would go home and insist that they just “went easy” on the other kid because they didn’t want to hurt anyone. It was a sad state of affairs.
Years before I started training to fight full time, my “outlet” was lifting weights and playing football. I became very big and strong. I certainly looked tough and began to think that I could fight, but just like every other fool that never put himself to the test, I didn’t know who I was or what I could actually do. I just assumed that I knew how to fight because I was bigger and stronger than everyone else.
My entire martial arts career has been accidental. Even my first day of training was caused by a random circumstance. One of my friends kept calling me a pansy because I would never check out a mixed martial arts school that he found. The day that I finally broke down and went with him, I got my ass kicked by every single person in the gym, even the smallest fighter there.
I was 220 lbs and I don’t think I landed a single punch on my 150 lb opponent.
My face was bruised, my jaw hurt, and I was happy. I trained at that school every day for two years before I went away to college. I finally found a place that really taught me something and it wasn’t a pile of B.S.
I knew that the stuff taught in classes worked because everything that I learned was being used against me, and it was PAINfully obvious that the technique was effective.
My first professional fight was just as random of an event. It turned out that my new girlfriend had previously dated a professional fighter. This guy heard through the grapevine that his ex-girlfriend had found a new man (me of course) that liked mixed martial arts.
I was watching TV one evening when I received a phone call from a man named Lou Neglia, the owner and promoter of “Ring of Combat,” a New Jersey based professional MMA event. The ex-boyfriend had apparently called this promoter, and demanded that I fight him. I was challenged to a fight in a cage, in front of a crowd of screaming fans.
I trained several times a day for months. I skipped all of my classes to improve my Jiu Jitsu. When I came home at night, I watched instructional videos created by my favorite fighters. I became obsessed, and I submersed myself in MMA.
After I knocked the kid out with a knee to his midsection, I never looked back at normal life.
Soon enough I was referred to as the “master of devastating body blows.” My days were spent learning martial arts. I gave kids at my school private MMA lessons in exchange for doing my homework.
My grades were terrible, but I graduated and moved on with my athletic career. I spent the next several years fighting, and running a small mixed martial arts school that I built from scratch.
While I stepped back into the ring a few more times, I eventually lost interest in competitive fighting.
I had nothing left to prove to myself… I knew that I was a savage individual. As far as I was concerned, I had become invincible… and I was finally at peace.
I’m certainly not the toughest person in the world. I spar regularly with UFC fighters and other pros at lower levels and they are tough. I win rounds against them, just as I lose rounds.
I am a student of this sport. I get excited every time I learn something new and effective. I practice moves for hours with my training partners. I analyze the movements. I make them more efficient. I use my brain to make techniques more powerful and more effective. Having perfected a move, I turn around and teach it to all of my students. In doing so, I get to practice it all over again. I figure out what they’re doing wrong and how to communicate the solution.
At the end of the day, I’ve helped women build kicks that can break ribs and bruise organs. I have a 13-year old trainee that I’m actually afraid of hitting me too hard in sparring. He might actually break my jaw one of these days.
I’m able to give people the instruction that I desperately needed when I was growing up, and being pushed around by a bunch of kids that had no idea what I was capable of doing. I get to give people the solution that I never had.
I’m proud of what I do, but it’s not enough.
I can’t reach everybody in my small Dojo near the Jersey Shore. Few even figure out how to find me. I’ve started to compile all of my MMA techniques on video, and I’ve designed the series to teach people how to fight from the ground up. No detail is skipped, and the results are guaranteed. I am making myself accessible as a coach through the Fight Smart forum. I will answer any questions, review techniques, and even create new videos to solve the problems that any of my trainees might be having.
This site is about teaching people how to fight. If you want to learn, I personally guarantee that I can teach you.