I began in martial arts primarily, like many kids did in the 80’s, captivated after Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-san weaved their web of everyday heroes in the underdog storyline found in the very popular “Karate Kid” movie. Thus I began my training in TangSooDo (under the guise of MuDukKwon TaeKwonDo). My first instructor was Grand Master Sok Ho Kang. For the majority of you that don’t recognize the name, you will know his most famous student. He was the original instructor to Chuck Norris, teaching him well beyond black belt. I received my black belt under him then moved on to Judo and HapKiDo. After years of study I received my black belt in HapKiDo training with several Korean National Champions.
I then went on to start my first martial arts studio in Knoxville Tennessee. It was during this time that I began to feel I needed much more training if anyone was to put their faith in me to teach them. I immediately hooked up with the Inayan Escrima group. I trained with them for several years and on occasions had the privilege of training directly with the late Suru Mike Inay, a direct student of Angel Cabales. Though, the years of training was interesting, I was left with the feeling of needing more. I ordered some Dog Brothers (VHS at the time) videos. It seriously shook me up. I realized then I wasn’t training, and wasn’t going to be able to train FMA the way I believed it should be. So I changed directions and left off training in FMA and contacted the legendary Judo, Grappling and MMA instructors Gokor Chivichyan and “Judo” Gene Lebell. I trained exclusively in their styles for many years. Soon after attaining an instructor rank under their system I decided to sell my school of nearly ten years and move to Los Angeles. There were two reasons for moving my wife and four kids across the country. Realistic MMA training at Gokor’s Hayastan Academy, and I knew it was the home of those crazy stick fighters that scared me so much years before.
I trained for several years with Gokor and his guys becoming a sparring partner to some of the world’s top MMA fighters: Manny Gamburyan (UFC, WEC), Karen Darabedyan (WEC), Roman Mitichyan (UFC) and many other fighters. I was on my way to starting an MMA career when a couple of things occurred. 1. I had a fairly serious knee injury during training that cut into my workout time, my income and ultimately ended in surgery. This gave time for evaluating things. 2. I was being told that at 6 feet 1 inches tall that I should drop from my 195 walking weight to a well under 170 fighting weight. 3. I had over the years in LA begun and maintained a very good living teaching children martial arts that even the pay of a UFC fighter couldn’t touch. 4. There was always that voice in the back of my mind that kept telling me there was still something I needed to do with the FMA.
One night several years ago I was at a decision point. I looked up the Dog Brothers on the internet. That old nervous feeling came back with a vengeance. I couldn’t sleep knowing those guys were mixing MMA, TMA, FMA and anything else they could get a hold of into one big, scary, yet delightful stew of adrenaline. I had to decide, do I dive into MMA or should I see what these crazy guys were all about? My decision has made all the difference. I contacted ‘Crafty’ who pointed me to Nick ‘Pappy Dog’ Papadakis. I had to relearn, re-evaluate, and redirect all that I thought I knew. Fighting in my mind will never be the same. I fought again and again at the gatherings, getting more and more addicted. I have traveled to Bern Switzerland to fight in the Euro gathering and plan to make the trip every year. I can tell you honestly, attaining the level of Dog Brother (receiving my ‘Boo Dog’ name) is one of those life goals that will still be there when I am remembering my life on my death bed.
Currently, I am the head instructor at my school – Boo Dog’s Den in Roanoke, Virginia, and as always, I strive to “Walk As A Warrior For All My Days”.