Hi. I’m Jeff and I love martial arts!
My history with martial arts
I still remember doing karate as a kid (hint: that was a long time ago).
I don’t actually remember how long I did it for, but I do remember learning how to hip throw someone. Fast forward to my early 30’s and I got into Judo at a school in Berkeley, California where I lived in the mid ’90s through early 2000s.
I racked up a few skills there, but also a few injuries (cracked rib, and once got choked unconscious by a tiny 70 year old black belt visiting from Japan)!
I also got to hang out with Mr. Miyagi himself, the late, great, Pat Morita of the classic movie The Karate Kid (and Happy Days before that). Here we are pictured to the right!
But my real training began in April of 2013, which I’ll get more into below.
My career and experience
Up until April of 2013, my career had been with Whole Foods Market where I had worked for most of the previous 25 years.
However, in April of 2013, looking for a change, my family and I moved back to Austin, Texas (where I grew up) and while initially, my plan was to work for Whole Foods at their global headquarters, I ended up getting hired as the Academy Director for Life Ki-do Martial Arts.
I remained Academy Director for almost 7 and a half years, helping the owners run the school, occasionally helping other instructors lead classes, and training 3-4 times a week.
I worked my way up to red belt with a black stripe. Had I stayed, my next belt would have been brown, which is just below black belt.
At Life Ki-do, we trained a variety of styles of martial arts, including:
- Brazilian Jiujitsu (BJJ)
- Systema (a free-form Russian martial art)
- Tang Soo Do (a karate-based Korean martial art)
- Tai Chi Chuan
And we also included elements of other styles too.
We had 2 primary locations and a few satellite programs, and at their peak, had over 600 students total. Life Ki-do helped me not only train my body, but also my mind; improving my focus, concentration, and ability to live more in the moment and be present to what I am doing.
Their focus on breathwork (from Systema) also gave me some critical self-regulation skills that I know make me a better husband, father, and human being.
But in addition to training at Life Ki-do, I was also fortunate enough to meet and train with an amazing martial artist named Gene Smithson of Austin Systema and Tai Chi.
Gene is one of a kind, and holds black belts in several styles of karate, has extensively trained Chinese boxing, BJJ, JKD, Aikido, and also traveled to China and studied Qigong with a true Chinese master.
He is also a certified Systema instructor who runs his own Systema school.
Gene has given me so much training, feedback, and expertize on life in general that it’s hard to put into words all he’s given me and his many students.
I’m not an expert
Make no mistake. I’m not a master martial artist. I’m not a Sensei.
I am, however, a guy who loves martial arts and has trained in martial arts a fair amount. So I do have some good knowledge about the different styles, how martial arts schools (often called dojos) operate, and what to expect from different styles of martial arts.
So while I wouldn’t feel totally comfortable leading a class of students as their instructor, I’m more than qualified to write about all things martial arts.
Here is team Life Ki-do plus Gene Smithson. Note, while we did wear gi pants, we did not wear the traditional gi jacket and instead wore a branded T-shirt.
My family life
I’m happily married to an amazing wife and mother, and I’m a father to 3 awesome daughters, 2 of whom are tweens and 1 toddler.
We live in the hill country outside of Austin, TX.
Here’s a shot of my middle daughter, Jolie winning her first medal at a martial arts tournament in 2016. Both she and her older sister Astrid trained at Life Ki-do for about 3 years.
Jolie and I now train 1-2 times a week in a Striking Fundamentals class which incorporates elements of sparring, boxing, and kickboxing.
We train at an awesome martial arts gym (they don’t use the term dojo) called Fighteria Academy in Wimberley, TX.
The training I do with Jolie is in addition to me training in their BJJ classes 2-3 times a week.
With regards to products I may occasionally recommend, I focus on only the best items with the highest ratings out there; no junk!
So, I only review stuff I have used, plan to buy or were highly recommended to me and I’ve checked ’em out thoroughly.
Have a martial arts tool you think is great? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you.