My first experience in martial arts began at the age of 18 in 1973. I attended the Chuck Norris School in Los Angeles. I chose to enroll in martial arts because I knew that I was easily angered and needed to learn some self-control. Mr. Norris was not my primary instructor but taught class on a periodic basis. It was a great honor when he taught. I trained for about a year and headed off to college.
In early January 1991 my serious journey in martial arts began. Still feeling un-easy about my occasionally hot temper I decided to get serious about martial arts. Living in the Woodland Hills area and driving up and down Victory Blvd the Karate sign posted on Victory and Varial Ave kept catching my eye. One evening I decided to check out the school. It was Fariborz Azhakh Academy of Martial Arts now known as Team Karate Centers. The minute I walked in I knew this was the place to learn martial arts.
Two years into training my life had to take a new turn. Business required me to move to a new city. It was a bit sad because I earned the rank of Brown Belt and wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t far from the possibility of becoming a Black Belt. Unwilling to simply drop my training I landed at the International Self Defense Center in Laguna Niguel, CA. My Sensei John Muriella was an excellent teacher and practioner. The system was Shaolin Kenpo Karate. A style of Kung Fu, very different from the Hapkido/Blend Sensei Fariborz taught. Sensei Muriella guided me to earn the Brown Belt. Again, close to Black Belt. At the end of two years business dictated a new direction which brought me back to to Team Karate Centers. Sensei Fariborz welcomed my return. In December of 1996 at age 41 I had earned the right to wear the Black Belt. After testing !st degree I asked Sensei Fariborz for an opportunity to learn how teach. His teaching staff was extremely talented and I felt compelled to learn from and join them on the staff. Sensei Fariborz assigned Mr. Shervin Ilbeig to be my teaching mentor. Mr. Shervin gave me tremendous insight and constatnt criticism to hone my skills to teach. About a year later I was allowed to teach classes without oversight. I love to instruct. I learned that a good teacher teaches from the heart not just the mind. I take pride in seeing students become excited about getting the message. That “ah ha” moment. That moment doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just happen though, it takes time and patience to set the seed to blossom.
In September 1998 I tested for 2nd degree Black Belt. Throughout my journey in the arts like most people there are so many lessons to learn. Amongst the lessons I learned is that being a Black Belt is not about how many degrees one obtains and certainly not about keeping up with friends or to enter the testing process to share the experience with someone else. Although at Team Karate Centers we test as a team, the intensity and integrity we put in leads to the true level of personal victory achieved. In a sense there is an Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬Â in team.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been influences by so many people over the almost two and a half decades in martial arts. Naturaly, Sensei Fariborz is the most prominent. He is a one of a kind person and Team Karate Centers is a one of a kind school. He exposes students to experiences both inside and outside the studio that are mind expanding, lifestyle changing and unforgettable. His system of Hapkido/Blend has so many avenues of skills and techniques. Everything in the curriculum has relevance in application, life and philosophy. He brings in the “best of the best” to help further our knowledge and skills. Masters such as Steve Sexton, Benny “the Jet” Urquidez, Ron Balicki, Peter “Sugarfoot” Cunningmam, Dave Kovar, Faramarz Ajakh, Richard Norton, Rigan Michado, Chuck Liddell , Cecil Peoples and Grand Master Ji Han Jae are to name a few. One never knows whom or how amny of these outstanding martial artists will be on any given floor at any time offereing their insight.
Many TKC instructors and students have influenced me over the years. Shervin Ilbeig, Saeed Beidee, Erin Day, Robert Barrett, John Nyugen to name a few. When I first began training I was inspired by the flexibility of the children and inspired me to stretch beyond what I thought was possible for a middle aged man. Lastly, there are two gentleman that I admire as heros. My sons Josh and Justin. They not only embraced being introduced to martial arts, achieved a high skill level and rank but also made the arts a part of their daily life.
I am proud to be associated with Sensei Fariborz and Team Karate Centers.