I originally started martial arts in the 70's. I started training in Judo at the local YMCA. The mysticism of learning such an art thrilled me. I remember going that first day sitting on the floor all lined up to meet this martial arts master. Then he walked in through the door strutting around like Danny from Saturday Night Fever with his giant Whiteman fro, bell bottom pants, gold chains and a shirt that was 2 sizes to small. He then walked up and down the line of kids much like a drill sergeant. "So you want to learn Judo? You think you have what it takes to learn Judo?" There I sat thinking he might throw us all out when then he said, "If you want to learn Judo you have to get a Gig. No one trains Judo without a Gi." I thought no problem I will get a Gi when he said, "I need $20 from all of you to get them. I have to put in a special order to Japan and I need the money in advance." Just then I looked over at my mother sitting there and watched her breathe out deeply as if to say I don't know if we can pay for this. Remember this was the seventies and $20 was a lot of money to my parents but through much nagging I was able to convince them to part with the $20 bucks for a uniform. The next class we learned how to roll around and started to learn how to fall, the parents all gave the instructor the money for the Gi's.
I could hardly wait to get to go to the next class and get my Gi so I can become a martial arts master. We showed up early that day. I sat in line anxiously awaiting the arrival of the instructor. Time seemed to have stopped. We waited and waited but he never showed up to class. It turned out that he skipped town with all the money never to be seen again.
The next thing I remember is my father throwing a fit and stating that I would never be allowed to do that again. Thus was my first experience in the martial arts.
Fast-forward to 1988.
I started in Tang Soo Do and after a couple of months of training I competed in the NY State Championships. I was disqualified for excessive contact. I thought we were fighting? Then I switched over to a Jeet Kune Do school in the area, which unfortunately only lasted a year. But I had a passion for it and wanted to continue my training.
In my early twenties I decided to journey into a local boxing gym. It was in a bad part of town, a place where I had no business being. I walked up outside and there above a small window was a small faded sign which you could hardly see. It said Boxing Gym. I stood there debating whether or not to enter this new world. After what seemed like an eternity I opened the door and walked down a long narrow hallway with old brown paneling nailed haphazardly on it. At the end of the hallway was a door with a small dirty window, which you could not see through. As I approached I thought: There is still time to turn around and flee. No one knows you are here. But I kept walking right up to the door and before I knew it I opened the door.
As I stepped through the door it was as though time stopped. I felt like Clint Eastwood in those old spaghetti westerns when the saloon doors flew open and everything stopped. Everyone turned around and gazed at the new stranger. The silence was deafening. I stood my ground and stared back taking in the entire gym. There were several heavy bags hanging from the dilapidated ceiling, they were old and covered in duct tape. You could tell that many a fighter had trained long and hard on them. Just past the heavy bags stood the ring. I walked over to the ring. I had never been that close to one in real life before. My heart began pounding faster and faster as I approached. It was a small ring maybe 14 - 16 feet across. It was a real fighters ring, nowhere to hide. The mat, which covered the floor, was soaked in blood of warriors of days gone past.
Along side the ropes was a spit bucket, which had not been emptied in months, and along the walls you could see rat droppings. At this point I should have run but I was intrigued.
Across the gym was the owner. He was in his late fifties a thin man with a lot of miles on him. He had been around the boxing game for his whole life and knew the sport inside and out. He was intimidating as he barked out orders to the fighters in the gym. Everyone seemed to fear him.
So now was the time of truth. Do I stay and see if I have what it takes? Or do I run out and pretend this never happened? I paused for a moment took a deep breath and walked right up to the owner. I said I'd like to join the gym in a broken trembling voice. With out batting an eye he blurted out, "$15 a month at the beginning of every month. Don't be fuckin late with it either."
I quickly reached into my pocket grabbed the money and paid him for the next 3 months before he changed his mind and sent me packing. I changed my clothes put on my gear and headed to the heavy bag. There I stood lightly taping the bag, moving from side to side in an attempt to look like a pro. I had worked the bags for sometime and could fake it for a while, but I had no real experience, no real ring time, and no real knowledge of the sweet science.
Then my worst nightmare came true. "Big Guy" I heard shouted from across the gym. "Get over hear and spar with PITBULL." Pit bull? Holy shit! I thought I might die. I walked over to ring. "Dead man walking" someone shouted. I put my mouthpiece in and climbed through the ropes.
There I was an unwanted pugilist thrown right in with the toughest guy in the gym. When I stepped into the squared circle I gazed across the ring at my opponent. He was huge. Well over 6'2 maybe 220lbs. He was chiseled and resembled a Neanderthal man. He came across the ring at me throwing punches with no abandon. Out of fear and to my surprise I moved out of the way of a barrage of punches. This enraged my opponent. He came after me with even more determination. I threw some shots, which bounced off him like bullets off of superman. Then he dropped his hands as he was looming in toward me. He left his face wide open. What an inviting target. I let loose with the hardest punch that I had ever thrown which landed with imposing force shattering his nose. Pitbull blinked, and then he raised his glove to wipe away the blood.
Then he came at me again. And began to administer a thrashing. He went into a crouch dug shots to my rib cage. I swear I could hear them cracking. Then he unleashed a flurry to my head. I felt this bolt of lightning leave my toes. My legs were no longer steady, I had tunnel vision, I could only see him standing in front of me barring down on me for the kill. I could no longer hear the screams of the other fighters in the gym. I tried valiantly to fight back to no avail. Then my eyes turned to that bloody canvas. I thought to my self "you can't go down. No matter what you can't go down."
All my senses have now been numbed. I could not feel a thing. I could see him throwing punches but I could not feel them. How much longer could I last? DING! DING! DING! Then bell rang to save me. We touched gloves and I walked to the corner. My senses soon returned to me. I had cheated death. I survived. I stood in the corner for some time. Contemplating what had just happened. I had a strange feeling in my gut. It was love. At that moment I fell in love with fighting. I wanted to learn everything there was to know about the Art of Boxing and Martial Arts.
Thus began my journey that I have been on for 20 years. I would watch the trainers at the gym. I would watch how the interacted with the fighters listen intently to what they would say. I would go to many boxing gyms in the North East, pay for the daily training session and do the same. I would watch every fight I could from boxing, wrestling etc. both old and new over and over again until it would no longer play in the VCR. Every detail every nuance I would jot down. I would read boxing, wrestling & martial arts books & magazines on how to fight. What I soon discovered was that there were so many great stories of the trials and tribulations of these old school fighters. I was fascinated by how they trained and had an insatiable appetite to learn more.
I collected a vast library of books, magazines & tapes from which I could learn all the facets of fighting. I soon discovered seminars of which I have attended hundreds. I also spent a considerable amount of time writing down hundreds of pages of notes on martial arts, wrestling, boxing & cqc. I took everything from those notes and performed an autopsy on all of it. How does this work? How can I use this? When should I use this? How often should I use this? I left no stone unturned. I would train hours everyday perfecting the techniques.
I would videotape myself working out doing bag work, footwork, upper body movement etc. I would then watch the tape and dissect it. I would go to the gym and spar thousands and thousands of rounds against every type of opponent there is. I would try out new techniques and strategies that I learned. All this in an attempt to master the sweet science of fighting I went at this relentlessly.
I tested my skills competitively in a variety of competitions and venues for more then a decade having fought well over 100 sanctioned fights and unsanctioned fights (underground fights) as well as participating in thousands of rounds of full contact sparring. Through the years I have trained with and interfaced with many of the world's top martial artists, police and military personnel and worked security at a premier nightclub in NJ body guarding some of the music industries most popular artists. As a result I was forced to use my martial arts on a daily basis being involved in hundreds of altercations through the years involving everything from weapons to multiple opponents giving me a real world perspective on what works.
- Formerly #1 Ranked Kickboxer
- Formerly #1 Ranked Executive Submission Fighter U.S.A. (W.G.R)
- 2004 Grapplers Quest Gold Medalist
- 2003 Action Martial Arts Hall of Fame Inductee
- 2002 U.S. Grappling Championships Gold Medalist
- 2002 U.S. Grappling Championships Bronze Medalist
- Founder of Xtreme Freestyle Martial Arts
- 5th Degree Black Belt Hawaiian Kenpo / Kajukenbo (Dean Goldade)
- 5th Degree Black Belt American Freestyle Martial Arts
- 4th Degree Black Belt American Bujutsu Kempo (A.B.K.I) (U.S.M.A)
- 3rd Degree Black Belt Jujitsu (U.S.M.A)
- Certified Instructor Jeet Kune Do (Tim Tackett)
- Full Instructor Close Quarter Combatives (S.F.C.I)
- Full Instructor Pacific Archipelago Combatives (S.F.C.I)
- Full Instructor Unarmed Combatives (S.F.C.I)
- Full Instructor Knife Combatives (S.F.C.I)
- Full Instructor SDMS Combatives (S.F.C.I)
- Full Instructor Gun/Counter Gun Combatives (S.F.C.I)
- Full Instructor Tactical Weapons (A.B.K.I)
- Full Instructor Submission Fighting (W.S.F.C)
- Head Coach Extreme Boxing, (E.S.P) (Mark Hatmaker)
- Head Coach Submission Wrestling (E.S.P) (Mark Hatmaker)
- Trainer of many Boxing, Kickboxing, Submission & NHB Fighters & Champions.
- Wrote & Starred in Xtremefreestyle DVD Training Series
- Wrote & Starred in Jim McCann's The Art of Boxing DVD Training Series
- Wrote and Starred in Jim McCann's Ground-n-Pound
- Wrote and Starred in Fire & Brimstone DVD Training Series
- Will be starring in Jim McCann's Bare Knuckle Boxing
- Teaches seminars throughout the nation on boxing and martial arts
The most important thing I have learned is to always be a student. Never stop learning and growing. Enjoy the journey.
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes."
"The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to
venture a little way past them into the impossible."
-Arthur C. Clarke