Remembering the not so glorious days of when I was young and I learned the Art of Fighting by Fighting Bullies. No instructors just the Streets and maybe some Books and VHS Tapes occasionally. Here is my story that I would like to tell.
Learning to Beat Bullies At Their Own Game!
My first fight against a much bigger opponent-bully on my block, he shoved me and bullied me. I was in kindergarten or first grade, I’m thinking first grade. I went home asked my dad to have my uncle crush him. He said no “go back and face him. If he pushed you push back. If he does it again punch him in the nose” and he sent me back out.
Sure enough the dude came back to push me around. He pushed I pushed back. He pushed again I busted his nose. He didn’t know what to do his nose was bleeding. He would walk away turn around ponder coming back. Eventually he took his bloody nose home. He never messed with me again. Lesson learned hit first, hit hard. My dad said don’t start a fight but if you finish a fight you won’t get in trouble with me.
School Sometimes Makes Fighting Inevitable.
School was another issue. I had two kids pick fights with me in kindergarten. Once I tried to climb a fence to avoid a fight got in trouble for trying to avoid a fight. Got in trouble for fights and not fighting. Eventually fighting became inevitable.
I usually didn’t start the fight, I’d try to avoid it much of it had to do with gang violence or kids trying to act tough to avoid getting picked on my gang members. They just picked on the wrong guy. I learned to fight back at an early age. Usually the first to hit wins a fight.
Growing Up In The Hood, Violence Is Unavoidable!
Being white growing up in the hood I had to defend myself a lot. Mostly from other white guys who were new at school and wanted the gang members to leave them alone so they would pick a fight with someone who wasn’t a gang banger to show they were tough.
I’d try to avoid the fight they’d talk big and some even said they took Karate or Judo usually I beat them up anyway. Street fighting experience trumps dojo experience in my young estimation if things.
I grew up in Oceanside on Garfield Street which in Elementary is in gang territory then we moved to Deep Valley by Libby Lake between the Mesa Loco’s in Deep Valley Crip Territory across from Deep Valley Blood Territory.
Being in Gang territory and not in a gang seemed to put a target on me mostly by Ese’s I had a few friends who were either Deep Valley Crips or Insane Crip Gang, I had one friend in the Mesa Locos but when he wasn’t around they would mess with me or chase me, try to jump me or rob me if I walked through Libby Lake.
A Title I Never Wanted, Being Known As A Fighter
In high school a kid in the 9th grade with me said “You known as a fighter,” I just looked at him and he continued “no, no that’s a good thing, you win more than you loose.” I wasn’t particularly proud of this.
I never really sought out the fights. I had a few of fights in elementary and Junior high school. I even tried a flying kick to the head of a kid who was running from me after I beat him up. He had started the fight I was in finishing mode.
Some times I wouldn’t fight back I just didn’t want to fight those are the few days I lost. I was an odd duck. Rough environment. Sometimes I just didn’t want to fight and I wouldn’t I actually just took the punches and walked away. And I wasn’t afraid of or bothered by being punched. I never sought it out. I was a loner.
Fighting isn’t something you seek out. There is no glory in getting beat up or fighting back and defending yourself. Getting jumped by gang bangers or running in the hood olympics to escape a group of gang bangers is no fun.
A Journey Begins, Self Studies into Jeet Kune Do
At some point I picked up the Tao of Jeet Kune Do and all for Bruce Lee Fighting Method books as well as the Bruce Lee Fighting Method VHS with Ted Wong and Richard Bustillo (may he rest in peace), I got some training gear and started training with speed bag, bag gloves, a heavy bag, and begun practicing punches and kicks. I didn’t have a training partner so I didn’t train blocking just attacking. Kick, Punch, Slip, Bob, Move, that was about it.
I learned early the first to hit the other person usually wins my main method was attack til they were down or they fled the scene. If it was a fight, then it was a fight.
White On White Violence Was Pretty Common In My Hood!
Rarely did I have to fight black guys or Ese’s in school. Once an Ese just hit me because he told his homie he would hit the first white guy he saw. Lucky me. I got chased by essays-locos from time to time. I had friends that were Crips so they didn’t mess with me at all.
Neither did the Bloods except Junior but he was all talk a big Samoan dude who just talked trash. Which was amusing since my lack of response annoyed him. He asked if I wanted to jumped into DVB I said no.
I had friends in the Deep Valley Crips I hung out with they asked if I wanted jumped in I declined. I was also offered a brick of Marijuana to sell I declined. I didn’t want the gang life. I didn’t want to get into drugs either.
Violence At Home Didn’t Help The Situation Much
I had an abusive alcoholic father who would take me to the ground and pound on me most literally a few times to many. He threatened to beat me to a pulp and leave me half dead a couple time.
Once I woke up one night to him choking me in my sleep I couldn’t scream both his hands were on my neck. One thing about two hands on a neck means my arms are free I swung and knocked him in the head it gave me enough room to scream, my mom came in turned on the light he claimed I was having a nightmare.
My parents divorced at the beginning of high school. It was a relief I chose to live with my mom because I didn’t feel safe with my father. I’m glad I had the ability to choose.
By high school most people left me alone they knew my reputation that I’d win if I fought so other than groups of gang bangers chasing me I was left alone mostly.
A New Nick Name, Ninja Boy Rises
The two fights I had in High School got me dubbed Ninja Boy because by this time I was studying Taekwondo working toward my recommended Black Belt for the first time. I was vice president of the Martial Arts Club with my friend Joseph Pelaez who taught me Aikido and I taught him TKD and I trained with the wrestling team for a year.
For a solid period of time I would run 4-5 miles a day in the morning, lift weights in my garage, work out on my heavy bag, do my katas, then go clean up the dojo, the help teach the kids classes for two hours a day and then train for at least two hours a day Monday through Saturday, that was my life, that is what I enjoyed to do.
The Karate Kid
Martial arts made me a man and saved my live. Thanks to my first instructor Mr. Dan Allegro from Family Karate in Oceanside (which is now closed) for all he did to help me, my Mr. Miyagi in a way. He helped me become a man at a time when my father wasn’t around.
His teachings helped me change my life and go from living in the Ghetto to once I got out of high school I started working in an office and began living a more suburban life. Thus bringing and end to the violence I did a little to start training in Olympic Taekwondo for a short time.
The Art of Fighting Without Fighting
The only two fights I had in school were more the art of Fighting without Fighting. I had learned how to fight. I was confident, I didn’t see the point of fighting. It was basically angry guy picks fight with me I move and let them meet wall. It was pretty funny thus the nickname Ninja Boy arose. Literally thats what happened.
The second guy was a big guy who was a wrestler I suspect he was juicing, because my nickname Ninja Boy he decided he would try to punched at me to test me, I tossed him into a fence, then he tried a kick I tossed him down the steps, and I guess that made him angry because again at the end of PE not having learned my lesson he tried to punch me as I leaned against the wall I simply moved and allowed him to punch the rough concrete wall and bust his knuckles a teacher saw him he got suspended.
The Hood Is a Violent Place, Fights Start All The Time For No Good Reason
Oh I did get in a fight on my block once I Jab Crossed then Round Kicked the essay in the head and he was out cold when I kicked him in the head. Fight over. End of fight.
A Loser Comes Again For More…
Oh and the time the dude I had previously thrown down the steps at school attacked me while I was delivering Newspapers he rushed me. He told his friends watch I’ll beat this guy up and then he rushed me. I kicked his butt he was unhappy to say the least. He wasn’t happy that he lost or got suspended so he tried to get payback apparently he didn’t learn his lesson. What did he expect? He did it because he wanted to test my nickname “Ninja boy.” I was training in Taekwondo, did Wrestling for about a year, Aikido with a friend at school and self taught in Jeet Kune Do. Just because I didn’t punch him when he attacked me at school didn’t mean I would be so nice when he attacked me on the street.
Enter the UFC…
After watching I started training Olympic Taekwondo, I tried Muay Thai, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and some MMA briefly.
So in the college in the dorms we would have Midnight Fight Club nights from time to time. We had no rules. I won most my fights except one I lost to a national championship in Gracie Jiu Jitsu to an arm bar. I won most of the rest. Some how the nick name Ninja Boy came up again. The time that the guy I had beat in a Midnight Fight threw a ball at the back of my head and I still dodged it kind of made the whole Ninja Boy thing stick even more. I did have a couple unsanctioned mixed martial arts matches with other martial artists, I did a lot of sparring. In one of the fights I got out of a guillotine choke but my neck popped like 18 times but won by arm bar. Neck hurt for a year and a half after that. I’ve since learned better ways to get out of a guillotine.
Sparring, Sparring and more Sparring
At one point people would travel hours to spar with me. I was fast, strong, skinny, light and did I say fast. I would outspar people of much higher rank and experience than me. When. I worked out I always worked on fast twitch long muscles to stay thin fast and strong never to get big.
Weight Training Influenced by Bruce Lee’s Studies into Equipment Training and Physical Fitness
For a good while I lived at 24 hour fitness I usually would do two hours circuit training and heavy cardio. Being skinny, getting beat up by my father, having to defend myself against gang bangers and people wanting to look tough to gang bangers wasn’t fun. I didn’t enjoy it. I did what I had out of survival.
I took weight training in High School for a few semesters and in college. I built long fast twitch fibers over bulking up. I wanted to be quick and strong not big and slow. So I was deceptively strong and fast.
Enter the Krav Maga
In 2003 I tried Krav Maga in Dallas for a while. I also trained in Haganah (a derivative of Krav Maga) when I was in Santa Maria, then did some Krav Maga conferences here and there from time to time.
Exit Physical Ability Due To Injury, Life Changes for the Worse
Then came work injury to my low back, then a car accident that made it worse. I lost all I knew my physical ability gone, my training gone, I gained weight, got out of shape, and became very depressed because Martial Arts was my life.
So I was out of doing martial arts and most physical activity. I’ve had chronic pain for over 15 years now. And I acquired asthma when I moved to Arizona.
Come old age marriage, kids and overweight. Along with struggling with PTSD from the abuse I suffered growing up.
A Life Changing Wake Up Call
In 2013 I got mugged – jumped by 6 guys who wanted my money. I won sort of but my face was covered in blood and I was so out of shape and beat up. Maybe it was more of a tie. They left while I was still fighting. I say it was a tie because I had taken a beating.
I hadn’t trained in a long time, I was out of shape, had developed Asthma and chronic back pain. I put the hurt on the took a couple to the ground, the rest fled as I continued to put the hurt them one by one, one tried to do a guard take down and I pounded his head and ribs he fell on his back.
Security came along as they were running away. It was a major wake up call about my health and readiness to fight and not end up covered in my own blood. It was a rough fight.
The fact that I got hit in the glasses and had a cut over my eye and was bleeding bad was the worst thing about the fight. And it hurt like a mug, 6 guys, I wasn’t prepared.
I still wasn’t ready to get back into martial arts. I should have but I was pretty depressed still dealing with disabilities and injury. It took a while to recover from that fight. My face was real messed up.
Remembering My Passion To Teach Kids and Train
In 2014 was asked to teach PE (I taught the kids Taekwondo) and Art at my sons private school and learned my passion to teach Taekwondo to kids and see them grow. Made me think I needed to get back into training and exercising myself. I guess sometimes I live life by happenstance. It sparked my interest in martial arts again.
Deciding To Rebuild Myself, Beginning to Fight For a Comeback
Then in 2015 I decided to go back and retrain to get my black belt in Taekwondo with all my injuries, asthma , PTSD and other health issues to prove I could working with my Doctors.
Gaining an Addiction to Training Again
I worked hard to reacquire my Black Belt in Taekwondo in the process I started training in Warrior Kali and Warrior Krav Maga with Mr. Anthony Landgren who allowed me to start teaching Warrior Krav Maga while he was gone. I’m thankful to Mr Landgren for believing in me and all you did for me.
During this time I got certified to teach ATA Krav Maga under Chief Master Daniel Longoria. I would train Kali with anyone I could find including a buy who used to train with Doug Marcaida.
I also trained at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Chandler for a while with Michael Stinson and at the Phoenix JKD Mixed Martial Arts Academy with Shahram Moosavi in Kali, JKD and no-go BJJ. I trained with a student of Ted Wong in Jeet Kune Do (Original) for a while I’ve become addicted to training again.
Going Backwards, Second Chances, Therapy and a Path to Recovery
Since moving to California I’ve had my asthma get worse along with increasing back pain. I’ve been working with pain doctors, doing physical therapy getting injections in my spine to help with pain, practicing mindfulness along with Mussar and breathing practice to help reduce the mental factors that add to pain and stress. I’ve added a modified Paleo-Diet and Allergy Elimination Diet that’s helped me loose weight and get mental clarity. I’ve changed the way that I live and eat daily and seen benefits to my health, mental clarity and weight lose.
Its been a path of recovery. Its been tough. I did all that training in and through pain while working with therapist to help with Asthma, a Deviated Septum (which I recently got fixed, which has helped my breathing issues), I am working to manage PTSD, and have been managing back injury with chronic pain for over 15 years now.
Finally Getting On Track, Again
Since moving to San Diego I’ve begun training with Sensei Phillip Palmejar (one of Roy Harris Black Belts) at the P5 Academy in JKD, Jendo Arnis, Kali Ilustrusimo and soon BJJ once my deviated septum heals fully. Where I am also apprenticing to become a JKD, Kali and BJJ instructor.
I’ve also recently got certified to teach Israeli Krav Maga from 5th Dan Master Alain Cohen of the Israeli Wingate Institute through the Krav Maga Federation of America and I also got Senior 2nd Level Student Coach in Los Angeles Chinatown Jeet Kune Do under Tim Tackett, Mike Blesch and Steven Resell.
I am also looking forward to the Vunaks International Military Edged Weapons Convention with Sifus Paul Vunak and Thomas Cruse. As well as training with Darren Levine of Krav Maga Worldwide at Revgear University Revolution 2017 along with Tuhon Apolo Ladra of Kali4Kids, Ryan Hoover Fit to Fight, Sifu Francis Fong of Francis Fong Martial Arts Academy, Pedro Sauer and Erik Paulson of Combat Submission Wrestling also Randy Couture, Mark DellaGrotte, Dave Kovar, Master Clark’s Business Training, John Whitman, Rachel Greenbaum, and AJ Draven among many others. Exciting times.
This has been my journey through the Arts of Martial, why I do what I do and I hope you find my reminiscing interesting. Thanks for everyone who picked fights with me.
Thanks to all my teachers. Thanks to those who are on this journey with need. Onward and upward.
Always forward – Retzev. Always a student. Always be learning. Never full. Never quit. Indomitable spirit. Fight on.
- Bruce Lee & The Popularity of Mixed Martial Arts (thekickassdad.com)
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