When and how did you start training in the self-defense / Martial Arts industry/ fitness industry?
I always wanted to train in martial arts. Unfortunately, when I was a child, my father (like many parents) didn’t understand or see the value of martial arts training. He said things like, “I’m not going to pay for you to do any of that ‘chop-saki’ stuff.” In the very next breath, he would tell me that if I didn’t shape up, he’d send me off to military school. Pretty ironic.
I went through my youth playing conventional ball sports, and as a teen, found weightlifting. I have trained and competed in power-lifting since the age of 18. I became interested in natural bodybuilding in my late 30’s. I’ve been an athlete my entire life, and have been weight training for over 36 consecutive years.
In 2000, my middle daughter expressed an interest in trying martial arts. I took her to classes, and ultimately began training a little myself, and before I knew it, I was all in. It was great to fulfill a personal dream. She and I trained together and eventually we tested for our black belts together. That’s one of my favorite Father/Daughter moments.
In the meantime, I found the martial arts industry to be very intriguing. As a small business entrepreneur, I have made a career of creating and developing small start-up businesses. Eventually, I owned 2 academies and ran four additional ones. I also ran the federation that governed these academies, and was later named Regional Director for that organization.
I got the opportunity to meet and train with some incredible martial artists, such as Bill “Superfoot” Wallace (Superfoot System) and John Pellegrini (Combat Hapkido), 10th Dan Hapkido Grandmaster, In Sun Seo, Master Weapons Expert, Michael Bernardo, Michael Glass, plus my initial instructors who showed me how exciting martial arts are, Scott Sullivan and Jay Chun.
In 2007, I was honored to be inducted into the U.S.A. Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
When we endured the big economic upheaval in 2008, my business and partnership were suffering. I sold my interests in the academies and went in a different direction. For the next 4 years, I became a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, martial arts instructor, wellness coach, and membership associate for the YMCA. While there, I created “Teens Get Fit” to help get young people away from computers and phones and get them excited about fitness, and “Smart Defense” which was a basic family-oriented martial arts program.
How has COBRA impacted you as a professional?
I got out of the martial arts/self defense industry completely and never expected to return to it. When I met Mr. Sutton, we talked over things and we clicked on several levels. He gave me a second chance at doing something that I love; working in the self-defense industry, developing products and services for our industry, and running the International Training Center. I will always be thankful for that.
It is amazing to work with C.O.B.R.A. Defense International. This is an organization that strives and excels on being the best and over-delivering what we say we will. Our standards are high and we continually strive to make them higher. We are the best and we only want the best.
C.O.B.R.A. Defense International has a network of some of the most incredible professionals all over the world. On any given day, I am speaking to California, then to South Africa, then Kansas City, Miami, Grand Cayman, England, etc. Our network continues to grow all the time. It’s very exciting and rewarding to get a new Certified Training Center up and running.
It is a pleasure to work with and for an organization that matches my personal philosophies and tastes so well. I am not a good traditional martial artist. I prefer more modern composite/hybrid style training that is taught and absorbed quickly. Learn it today, apply it today. It’s also great to learn skills that actually work and aren’t simply theory-based.
I remember attending Certified Instructor Training. After training in a variety of martial arts styles, I walked in to the training session thinking, “Well, here we go again.” I thought that the training would just be a rehashing of all the other techniques I had learned. Then the orientation started. My jaw dropped. I had never seen anything like C.O.B.R.A. Within 5 minutes, I knew this was the place for me.
One of the coolest things I’ve ever done was work with Mr. Sutton to co-write the COBRA Fit 10 Week Fitness Solution program. After all the years of training and refining the process, it was quite unexpected that he and I would have pretty much the same approach and understanding of the fitness process.
Having the opportunity to work side by side with Chris Sutton is awesome. He once said that having me on-board was like having TWO Chris Sutton’s. We share a huge work ethic, and desire to excel and go beyond every goal we set. We make a formidable one-two punch for propelling C.O.B.R.A. to even higher levels than we’ve already achieved, and the sky’s the limit.
When we first met and started discussing business ideas, I was amazed that we had so many similar ideas and thoughts about improving this industry. To date, I have never met anyone who’s ideas and plans are so like my own.
Whether we are discussing C.O.B.R.A. Self Defense, COBRA Fit, C.O.B.R.A. Fighting Systems, or any other segment of the business, listening to Chris Sutton is like listening to myself. As a team, we are dedicated to our membership, and seeing to it that they have more than enough tools to be successful in this industry.
What are your training/business goals for the next 3 years?
Since I have been training non-stop in one fashion or another since I’ve been able to walk, it’s a safe bet that I will keep training for the rest of my life.
Business-wise, I will continue to grow and refine the C.O.B.R.A. Global Brand, its resources and supplying our ever-growing membership with all the tools necessary to create and sustain a successful business within our industry. In my time here, we have grown exponentially, and we’re just scratching the surface. Additionally, I will work to expand the footprint of COBRA Fit globally.
I share Mr. Sutton’s vision for changing the way both the public and the industry view self defense, “thinking outside the gi”, and want to spend as much time improving our member relationships as possible.
Currently I am working on a book and hope to work on more writing projects going forward.
What do you enjoy most about being a Self-Defense Instructor?
Showing people from all walks of life that they can be safer and improve their conditioning through C.O.B.R.A., especially the ones that had never really seen themselves ever doing this type of training before. It’s great to watch when people “get it” and watching non-martial artists become martial artists.
If you only had 5 minutes to train someone what would be the most valuable survival skills you would teach them?
Myth busting. It’s hard to continually watch people put their faith in things that just won’t work, or will only make matters worse. So many people believe that the myths will save them. Forget 9-1-1, forget pepper spray, forget kick to the groin, forget your smart phone app, forget believing that your gun will save you. Learn how to use your own C.O.B.R.A. skill set to survive.
Describe your job and what you enjoy most As the Vice President of an international Self-Defense Company
With the new year brought the unexpected news that I would be C.O.B.R.A. Defense International’s Vice President. I was very shocked and flattered to be promoted by Mr. Sutton.
The best part is developing relationships with our C.O.B.R.A. Owners, worldwide, and helping them get as much out of their memberships as possible, and show them various sales and marketing techniques to make them successful.
I enjoy troubleshooting various issues that come along. Sometimes that takes a good amount of creativity and imagination.
It’s great when a new Training Center comes online, and helping them get started and help them gain traction and grow.
Creating and developing new and future projects and concepts with Mr. Sutton for our owners is very rewarding.
You speak to members and prospects world wide if someone interested in joining as a Cobra Instructor / School what would you tell them?
This is the real deal. Not only is the curriculum great, but the turn-key business model is amazing.
I have said it many times before; I’ve spent 10’s of 1,000’s of dollars to buy in to a business or an industry. I wish I would have known about this 15 years ago. Where else can you get a full scale business for less than $25 per week? The answer is, you can’t. At least not one I have ever seen, and not one that has as much support as C.O.B.R.A. International does, with so many revenue streams.
Not only that, but the fact that C.O.B.R.A. Defense International comes with a fully developed “play book” for success, with upgrades added all the time, is unparalleled within this industry.
By thinking outside the gi your business life can dramatically improve without compromise. I’m ready to help training centers succeed beyond their expectations.