7th Degree Black Belt, Founder of American Karate Institute, Teacher, Inventor and Martial Arts Consultant. I have been involved with the Martial Arts for more than 43 years.
THIS IS MY STORY.
I was born in Havana, Cuba in 1956. In 1962 at the age of 6, because I was being bullied in school, my aunt enrolled me in Judo. I trained and competed as a child for 3 years with Instructor Heriberto Hernandez. In 1966 I immigrated to the United States to live with my aunt. I lived in several different cities before I moved to Tampa, Fl . At the age of 14, I practiced Uechi Ryu, a Okinawan style karate with Tom Alexander. In 1973 I began practicing a Japanese style of Martial Arts called GoJu Shorei under Sensei Mike Hayashi. In 1976 , after 3 years of hardcore martial arts training, I earned my Black Belt.
Sensei Hayashi’s traditional, intense, and disciplined Japanese training helped me develop a strong traditional martial arts foundation. I was one of the few students who stuck it out and earned my Black Belt. Regretfully, due to unexpected circumstances, Sensei Hayashi had to close the school down.
In 1976, after shopping around and visiting other schools just like you, my wife and I (read her story) enrolled at the Jhoon Rhee Institute of Tae Kwon Do with Master Bill Heimberger.
It took us seven years to earn our Tae Kwon Do Black Belts. We traveled to Washington DC to test directly under World Renowned Grand Master Jhoon Rhee where we were offered a teaching scholarship to become professional martial art instructors.
In 1981 we moved to Washington, DC to learn directly from Grand Master Jhoon Rhee. It was like going to college to learn a martial arts profession. We distinguished ourselves and found our true calling in life – teaching martial arts. After 2 years of intensive training, we moved to Miami, Florida to open our school and live the dream of having the best school not only in Miami, FL, but in the country.
We did not have the funds to open in a shopping center, but in 1983, American Karate Institute was established at the Ron Ehmann Park recreation center in Kendall adjacent to Killian High School.
Not only were we fortunate to have learned Martial Arts and become an instructor from the best, but we also made a great husband and wife team with a rare quality that cannot be taught – CHARISMA. Since we did not have the funds to advertise, we depended upon our charisma and teaching abilities to build the school by word of mouth. Charisma is a quality that often separates the best from the rest in the martial arts profession. There are a lot of instructors that teach martial arts, but there are only a few that teach it with charisma.
In 1989, due to a tremendous following, we were able to open at the location we now have today in the Crossings Shopping Village. Charisma along with a systemized martial arts program is what made the American Karate Institute the best kids program in the country.
In 1991 before MMA and UFC became popular, we made the switch to mixed martial arts. After meeting Royce & Rorian Gracie in Tampa Florida, I saw the value of mixed martial arts and knew that this was going to be the future.
In 2003, I was awarded instructor of the year by North American Grappling Association.
In 2010, I was given a US patent for the invention of the Ultimate Striker, a tool designed to help martial arts practitioners develop more power in their striking techniques and to increase their conditioning.
In 2011, I was given the Paul Harris Fellow award for my work in the community. This organization is devoted to the betterment of humanity.