Münchens 1. Original Ruhmeshalle für verdiente Kampfsportler
I was born January 25th, 1963 in Des Moines, Iowa. My family had lived in the small farming community of Prairie City, Iowa for the first six years of my life and then when my father got a new job we ended up moving to the city of Des Moines. Unfortunately for us it was a bad area we ended up moving into. Gangs, drugs, neighborhood bullies, and break-ins were common. So, my oldest brother took myself and my other brothers to the local YMCA to start studying self defense under The Kim’s Academy banner. This would begin my 49-year journey in the martial arts.
As time went by Kim’s Academy stopped teaching at the YMCA and opened a series of stand alone dojos. Most of my other brothers stopped going but I had a friend in school whose mom would drive myself and him to the local dojo to continue training. My belt advancement in Taekwondo was a slow but a steady process. In 1976 my brother Bill was taking wrestling lessons at Iowa State University and decided to have me transfer my study of Taekwondo there under Grandmaster Yong Chin Pak. Training under Grandmaster Pak was more regimental and the training was more focused. As well as advancing in my belt levels I also started to compete in local and regional tournaments.
I was able to compete almost every weekend and started to follow the careers of such greats in martial arts as Cynthia Rothrock, Kathy Long, Karen Shepard, Don Wilson, Chuck Norris, Benny Urquidez, and Bill Wallace. My Taekwondo training was rigorous, and I had advanced to my 3rd Dan level. While in high school I started working at Montgomery Wards and met a gentleman there who himself was an accomplished martial artist and decided to workout with him at his West Des Moines dojo. This was the beginning of my training in Chinese Kempo under Grandmaster Angelito “Bobby” Barongan.
The summer of 1981 after I graduated from Des Moines East High School I left Iowa to attend college in California. While there I decided to once again turn to the martial arts for a source of exercise and protection. As I asked people at school where I should go the Gracie name seemed to be the one that stuck out so I decided to attend classes and check it out for myself. Thus, began my journey with the legendary Gracie family in Brazilian Jujitsu. I learned to adapt my size to defend against all size and style of attacker.
I was a student of the Gracie family for four years where I returned to Des Moines, Iowa and back to my roots. I once again took up Taekwondo and Chinese Kempo. Under Grandmaster Barongan I was able to train with other masters such as Hanshi Carl De Los Reyes, Master Danny Mulane, Sensei Roger Zoffi, Hanshi Frank Raymond, Master Jim Perkins, and so many others. This helped me to develop a wide range of skills to use not just for tournaments but also for self-defense.
Over many years of training in both Taekwondo and Chinese Kempo I was able to meet and train with some of the worlds best martial artists. Guru Dan Inosanto, Bill Wallace, Michael DePesquale jr, Dale Cook, Al Dacascos were some of the many legends I had the privilege of training with. In October of 2008 I found myself feeling rundown and tired constantly. I worked for Delta airlines for several years and was bounced all over the Midwest do aircraft repairs as an avionics technician. On 1october 24th, 2008 I collapsed while working on a jet in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
After weeks of testing the doctors in Iowa couldn’t figure out what was wrong so they referred me to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. After running tests they determined I have an illness known as Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. This is a disease where the blood doesn’t carry enough oxygen for your organs to work properly so your lungs struggle for air and your heart fights to pump blood so it becomes enlarged. The doctors at Mayo performed an operation where a Hickman Catheter was placed into my heart to pump a medicine called Flolan from a micro infuse iv pump.
I then moved to Valrico, Florida and started the long road to recovery. Two years after being diagnosed with the disease I was almost back to normal. I once again began training and decided it was time to open my own dojo but lacked the funds to do so. The Gracie family had a number of schools in the Tampa area so I reached out to them with a proposition. I would start a coop of martial arts instructors to rent a building from them and to teach out of. The idea was to get several instructors in many different styles to work together teaching daily from 6am to midnight. We would pay the rent simply by conducting seminars and all the funds from the seminars would go to the Gracie family. At this time a proposal of this type and never been done before on such a grand scale. But the Gracies accepted the offer and thus was born Dragon Warrior Martial Arts in Tampa. Under the direction of 50 instructors teaching 19 different styles we have prospered and excelled with our teachings.
Since my journey began in 1969 I have since earned the title of Master and am a 9th Dan in Taekwondo and a 7th Dan in Chinese Kempo and a high brown belt in Brazilian Jujitsu. Over the many years I have started a program traveling to different colleges over the summer teaching women’s self defense classes. Also teach special needs, elderly, at risk youth which are kids who are borderline of ending up in jail or some other lockdown facility due to criminal behavior. I am also a guest speaker of the PAH Foundation at various events lecturing on how normal a life can be with a life altering disease.
I have achieved much success in the martial arts garnering such accolades as being inducted into three USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame, Black Belt Hall of Fame, Action Martial Arts Magazines Hall of Fame, Munich Hall of Honours, Masters of Karate/Kungfu Hall of Fame, Who’s Who in The Martial Arts, Taekwondo Hall of Fame, United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame. I never achieved the honor of being in the Grand champions circle at tournaments but was very close on a number of occasions. I have no regrets and only feel lucky for the many things I have accomplished and the many martial artists I have been able to meet, train with and call friends.