Shihan Eric Swick – Dragon’s Den Mixed Martial Arts

Hall-Of-Fame Martial Arts Instructor Changing Lives on Greatmats

By Brett Hart

A friend’s invitation to attend a martial arts class at the age of 12 changed Eric Swick’s life. Now 41, Swick is a 5th degree black belt in Shotokan Karate-Do, 3rd degree black belt in Renzoku Jiu-Jitsu, 3rd degree black belt in Dragon Kenpo, 1st degree black belt in Judo and the owner of Dragon’s Den Mixed Martial Arts academy in Grafton, West Virginia where he also trains in Kobudo and Arnis.

Dragons Den MMA Eric Swick Greatmats

Shihan Swick began his martial arts journey in 1988 under Sensei Dave Burner in Shotokan Karate, Aikido and Arnis and now includes Jiu-Jitsu and Kobudo into his primarily lineup of disciplines.

Real Life Experience

While martial artists train to be prepared for the unthinkable, most never need it. Unfortunately, he has, and it saved his life.

Ten years ago while working as a correctional officer in a United States Penitentiary, Swick was sucker punched by an inmate with a 7-inch shank and ended up being stabbed 13 times while trying to control the attack.

”If it wasn’t for God and my training, I do believe I would not be here today,” Swick said. ”The most horrific thing that I have ever seen is looking into another man’s eyes that was just a few inches away from me that really wanted to kill me. … There is no kind of training that can prepare you for that reality.”

Pushing Forward

Dragons Den MMA Grafton West Virginia Greatmats

The life-changing experience, inspired the Swick to focus more of his time and energy to helping others.

”You win, or you learn. You never lose,” he said. ”If you have the right attitude, there is no such thing as truly losing. Defeat, or losing, is only possible when you give up and quit. Defeat is a state of mind, not a reality. You, and only you, determine whether you lose or whether you had a temporary setback from which you learned more and became stronger. You do not play karate; you study it.”

In 2010, he was named to the Martial Arts Legend Hall of Fame and named the Sensei of the Year by the United States Black Belt Hall of Fame. He is also a two-time Hall of Fame instructor both Jiu-Jitsu and Karate and a Hall of Fame MMA instructor.

Dragons Den MMA Grafton West Virginia Greatmats

With all he’s accomplished, Swick says his biggest accomplishment is seeing his students become teachers of the arts, putting their martial arts training to work in the dojo and their everyday lives, overcoming their fears and becoming adults with success stories.

”I want my students to have the ‘I can, and I will’ attitude,” Swick said. That includes his wife and two kids, who train with him.

While Swick did not compete much early on, his academy has a successful competition team that competes at local tournaments as well as the USA-National Karate-do Federation and Amateur Athletic Union (AAU).

Discovering Greatmats
Swick was impressed by the Greatmats martial arts flooring used at one tournament attended and looked up Greatmats on the web.

He soon ordered Greatmats’ Wood Grain/Black reversible Martial Arts Premium 1 Inch Karate Mats and loves the way they look and perform while enduring classes five days per week.

Dragons Den MMA Grafton West Virginia Greatmats Karate Mats

In 2015, Swick co-founded the Warriors United Tournament Circuit, a growing tournament point circuit open to all styles that includes competitors from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio.

”Tell you the truth, it’s just a great bunch of martial artists having a good time,” Swick said of Warriors United.

So happy with his Greatmats martial arts flooring, Swick and his Warriors United co-founders opted to equip each of their tournament rings with Greatmats flooring as well.

”They’re very tough, and the feel is great,” Swick said.

Warriors United Greatmats sponsored logo

Shihan Eric Swick
Dragon’s Den Mixed Martial Arts
http://www.dragonsdenmma.org
Grafton WV 26354

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Adamson Karate Studios Black Belt testing Greatmats Karate Mats

Three Generations of Black Belts, Adamsons Building Karate Dynasty

Martial Arts Inspiring Story – Janice Adamson – Adamson Karate Studios

Adamson Karate Studios Janice Adamson Greatmats Karate MatsHello my name is Janice Adamson I am part of Adamson Karate Studios out of Indianapolis Indiana. Douglas Adamson is my husband.

We started our karate business in June of 1977. We bought out a bankrupt martial arts school on the south side of the city. It only took 6 months to turn it around, and we moved to a bigger location. We now serve the Indianapolis area with 7 locations!!

You might ask how we can man 7 locations? Well, when we started, it was just my husband and I. We raised 4 sons in the martial arts business. All of them became black belts as well as excellent instructors. Each one of us has a passion about what we do and and love to share this passion with the students we are lucky to have come in the door. Time has raced by and in that time our sons married well!! That is they are married to Black Belts as well.

Adamson Karate Studios instructors Greatmats Karate Mats

Everyone of us work in the family business. In 2015 we hired 3 of our grandchildren to also join in the business. My husband and I have 9 grandchildren; 7 are Black Belts; 2 are still too small too reach that level. There is no doubt that that will happen in the future though.

Adamson Karate Studios Janice Adamson Karate Family Greatmats Karate Mats

We have 3 state level tournaments every year as well as compete in AAU Karate. We have been in the top 3 schools at the AAU Nationals for the past 5 years.

Our students have traveled all over the world to compete. This summer we will travel to Ireland with a large team from Adamson Karate Studio. Over the years, we touched a lot of lives in very positive ways. Leadership is big with us; our students excel at it. I can’t imagine how many we have had over the years but I can say there weren’t too many that I wasn’t proud of.

Back in the late eighties we taught karate classes to kids as well as adults. Most Dojo owners back then only taught adults, thinking kids were not strong enough for the rigorous classes they would teach. Mostly they didn’t want to teach kids.

Adamson Karate Studios kids karate class Greatmats Karate Mats

Our children had to go to work with us. We couldn’t leave them home. We even had a class for them, and others came as well (from the group of adults who also had kids) took class in the dojo.

One day, we decided to have a kids karate tournament with small awards given. We advertised in the local paper. Little did we know who would read that add.

I was at work early one day and two men walked in and introduced themselves as being the representatives of Columbia Pictures! They had a idea to share with me. They had heard about the tournament we had just had and wanted to sponsor the next one we had because they wanted to brake in a new movie they were making ”The Karate Kid,” We did did the tournament as well as demos in every theater where it was showing in the Indianapolis area.

Our school grew so much from just this one visit from Columbia Pictures. We have tournaments each year since then. … We use Greatmats for all our tournaments as well as schools.

Adamson Karate Studios Black Belt testing Greatmats Karate Mats

Janice Adamson
Adamson Karate Studios
Zionsville IN 46077
For more on this topic please review our Karate Mats & Striking Arts Mats product page.

Greatmats National Award Series Logo

Greatmats brings National Award Series into 3rd Year of Honoring Instructors and Trainers

Greatmats National Award Series LogoMILL TOWN, WI – Greatmats is in search of trainers, instructors and coaches from across the nation who embody the essence of community service, customer service, integrity and quality in the industries of dance, martial arts, personal fitness training, dog training, horse training and cheerleading.

If you know someone who fits the bill, nominate him or her for one of six awards included in Greatmats 3rd Annual National Award Series. The winner of the award will be given the choice of $250 in new mats/flooring or $150 in cash.

The Martial Arts Instructor of the Year Award is part of Greatmats 3rd Annual National Awards Series, honoring instructors, trainers and coaches who have made a positive impact in their communities.

Greatmats Annual National Dance Instructor of the Year Award LogoThis year’s awards include:

National Dance Instructor of the Year

  • In its third year, the National Dance instructor of the Year Award contest has had nearly 2,700 votes cast over the first two years. Previous winners include Rosanne Vavasis and John Culbertson.

 

Greatmats Martial Arts Instructor of the Year Award LogoNational Martial Arts Instructor of the Year

  • In its second year, the National Martial Arts Instructor of the Year Award Contest witnesses more than 1,300 votes cast in its inaugural year which resulted in Grandmaster Bryant Harrell being named the 2016 winner.

 

 

Greatmats National Personal Trainer of the Year Logo

National Personal Trainer of the Year

  • 2017 marks the first year for the National Personal Trainer of the Year Award Contest. In 2015, Greatmats offered the National Aerobics Instructor of the Year Award, which has been expanded this year to include all personal trainers and fitness coaches. The 2015 Aerobics instructor of the Year was Jeanette Raichle

 

Greatmats National Dog Trainer of the Year LogoNational Dog Trainer of the Year

  • In its third year, The National Dog Trainer of the Year Award Contest has also had approximately 2,700 votes cast in the first two years, resulting a back-to-back victories by Jeremy Joseph Brown.

 

 

Greatmats National Horse Trainer of the Year LogoNational Horse Trainer of the Year

  • Also in its third year, the National Horse Trainer of the Year Award Contest. The 2016 contest, won by Jessica Moctezuma, generated more than 1,400 votes.

 

 

 

Greatmats National Cheer Coach of the Year LogoNational Cheerleading Coach of the Year

  • In its second year, the National Cheer Coach of the Year Award Contest, has an overwhelming popular inaugural showing with 26 nominees and nearly 4,000 votes cast. Amy Beth Klopf was named to 2016 winner of the award.

 

Learn more about Greatmats National Award Series at https://www.greatmats.com/greatmats-national-instructor-of-the-year-awards-series.php.

Josh Mancuso – Becoming BJJ

This isn’t a hobby where you can buy way to the top

By Brett Hart

”I’ve been doing this so long and frequently that I am BJJ,” Louisiana BJJ black belt Josh Mancuso says. ”I can’t imagine not training.”

Josh Mancuso Grappling BJJ Greatmats

In addition to being a first degree black belt in BJJ, Mancuso also holds a brown belt in judo, owns the academy JM Modern Jiu Jitsu, works in outside sales for a large corporation and coaches his athletes in competition. At the recent Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation New Orleans BJJ Championships, Mancuso led 35 competitors from Soul Fighters Louisiana to a overall team title. Two-hundred nine points separated his squad from the runner up team in a field in which nearly 60 teams recorded points.
Josh Mancuso podium AGF New Orleans BJJ Championships Greatmats

Motivated by the satisfaction of seeing his students and himself improve, Mancuso said, ”I’ve got a bunch of medals – all special in their own way. However, the life lessons, growth and friendships I’ve gained through the sport are by far my largest accomplishments.”

As a coach, Mancuso enjoys taking his athletes to AGF events.

”Their customer service is what sets them apart from all other organizations,” Manucso said.

With some background in wrestling, boxing and MMA, Mancuso now trains under Bruno Tanque Mendes and Rafael Formiga Barbosa, and his 14-year-old daughter has also joined in the training process.

”The fact that you can’t fake it,” is Mancuso’s favorite part of BJJ. ”The mats always speak the truth. In many hobbies, you can buy yourself to the top – not this.”

Josh Mancuso with BJJ instructors Greatmats

Josh Mancuso JM Modern Jiu Jitsu Greatmats

To learn more about Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation Tournaments and athletes and coaches visit Greatmats’ AGF Tournament Resource Page.

Josh Mancuso
JM Modern Jiu Jitsu
Baton Rouge LA 70809
For more on this topic please review our Grappling and MMA Mats product page.

Groundbreaking Wing Chun Instructor Expands Expertise over Greatmats

Chris Damiano Builds Academy into One of the Best in Gulf Coast

By Brett Hart

After 32 years in martial arts, Sifu Chris Damiano has been round the world honing his skills in everything from wrestling to Hapkido to Judo, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Jeet Kune Do and has developed a strong understanding of what works for him and his students.

A Chicago native, Sifu Damiano originally moved to Florida because he needed training partners. Soon he was teaching others how to be his training partners.

Chris Damiano owner Centerline Martial Arts Greatmats Grappling Mats

Wing Chun
In 1994, he narrowed his focus exclusively to Wing Chung and six years later traveled to Hong Kong to study with Grandmaster Ip Ching, the second eldest son of Bruce Lee’s mentor Ip Man. Damiano later became an instructor under Ip Ching, opening Centerline Martial Arts out of his garage in Destin, Florida in 2000. A contractor during the day, Sifu Damiano finally opened Centerline as a full-time martial arts academy in 2007. He quickly became one of the most sought after instructors in the Gulf Coast and was named the USA International Black Belt Hall of Fame’s 2013 Wing Chun Instructor of the Year.

Damiano now also has academies underneath his banner in St. Louis, Boston and Las Vegas.

Chris Damiano Centerline Martial Arts Greatmats Grappling Mats

Jiu Jitsu
Over the last four years, Damiano has added Gracie Jiu Jitsu to his repertoire, studying under fellow 30-plus year martial artist Sensei Brandon Hetzler, who has achieved black belts of varying degrees in Fudoshin Taijutsu, Goju-Ryu, Shito-Ryu and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Sifo Damiano still splits his time between his contracting work and martial arts, teaching three days per week, but with other instructors, the academy is used 5-6 days per week.

centerline-martial-arts-chris-damiano8

The Need for Mats
With his current academy being located in the second story of an office building and his teaching expanding beyond Wing Chun to striking/kickboxing and jiu jitsu, he quickly discovered that concrete flooring was no longer suitable for his practices.

That’s when he discovered Greatmats martial arts floors. One of his friends with a big Karate school told him about Greatmats, and Hetzler, who has used Greatmats flooring in his home dojo for six years, both highly recommended Greatmats to Sifu Damiano.

In 2012, Damiano equipped his academy with Greatmats 20 mm inch thick martial arts mats and a pro pole pad. While he was happy with the quality of the mats, they proved to be too thin for his judo and jiu jitsu work – especially in the kids classes. So he ordered three of Greatmats’ 2 inch thick 4×10 foot folding mats to add more cushion for those exercises.

Centerline Martial Arts Chris Damiano Greatmats MMA Grappling Mats

Greatmats Grappling MMA Mats
In 2015, he upgraded to Greatmats’ 1 5/8 inch thick Grappling MMA Mats, with a no burn tatami surface and 4-foot critical fall height rating, and sold off his 7/8 inch mats to students for garage workout areas.

”These mats are not as taxing on the body for what I’m doing now,” Sifu Damiano said. ”I love those mats! My school’s completely covered in it except for my back room.”

With approximately 20 students per class and 45 of his 60 students being adults, the mats are regularly put to the test.

”Those mats get an awful lot of use every night,” He added. ”The overall quality of those mats are great. They’re durable. We usually do 45 minutes of technique and eight 5-minute rounds of sparring/grappling. We always start standing. Using wrestling takedowns or judo takedowns, three rounds of kickboxing and three rounds of kickboxing with takedowns. I love that tatami top.”

Pole Padding
The Grappling MMA mats have eliminated his need for the folding mats, but added that the pole pad is still a ”very needed piece” in his school, noting that it is often used as a circuit training tool.

”People use it to train on; kids kick it,” Sifu Damiano said. ”Sometimes I use that to line them up, and they can do some of their striking on that as part of the stations.”

A believer in ”time put in equals skill,” Sifu Damiano has definitely put in his time, and for the last five years, that time has been put in over Greatmats martial arts floors.

Centerline Martial Arts class on Greatmats Grappling MMA Mats and Greatmats Pole Paddding
Chris Damiano
Centerline Martial Arts
Destin FL 32550
For more on this topic please review our Martial Arts Mats product page.

Jim Fiore – Centering life through Jiu Jitsu

Taekwondo Black Belt rounding out game with BJJ

By Brett Hart

A lifelong athlete, Jim Fiore, age 40, of Biloxi Mississippi, has done everything from backpacking to marathons to rock climbing and martial arts. A former university researcher and personal trainer, he is a World Taekwondo Federation blackbelt, but found his calling in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Jim Fiore AGF grappling tournament Greatmats

”I remember, I was a red belt or a brown belt in taekwondo and there was a jiu jitsu school down the street,” Fiore said. ”I remember my taekwondo instructor being like ‘This is really good stuff. We’re going to start integrating grappling into your second-degree program.”’

Intrigued by that notion, Fiore visited the school to see what it was all about.

”My understanding 10 years ago of the martial arts was – if you’re a black belt, you should be able to handle yourself, regardless. You’re a black belt. … I remember going in there, and I got my butt handed to me by a young man anywhere from 16 to 18. I was like ‘What the heck just happened to me. Here I am almost a black belt in taekwondo and I don’t know anything about the martial arts.’ My pride got the best of me.”

With failure not being an option, Fiore finished his journey to black belt in Taekwondo under Master Antulio Garza, and started pursuing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu without question.

”More and more I just realized the false sense of security I had,” he said. ”It just got to a point where I was training more and more and more in jiu jitsu and just kind of fell in love with it. Eight years later, here I am running a school and a brown belt (in Judo and Jiu Jitsu). … I just love the grappling arts. I love judo. I’ve been fortunate to practice taekwondo and learn how to strike fairly well. … Plus, it’s just really cool to fight somebody and not get in trouble for it.”

As the manager for American Martial Art Academy for three years, Fiore focuses his school on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu while incorporating concepts of judo, sambo and wrestling, under the Soul Fighters BJJ Association umbrella.

He draws upon his training from Soul Fighter BJJ Black Belts Erick Raposo, Marcus Antelante, Bruno Mendes, and Rafael Formiga Barbosa.

Jim Fiore and Erick Raposo at American Martial Art Academy Mississippi Greatmats

Adaptation

”My wife’s in the military, so I’ve kind of had to adapt to where we live,” Fiore said. ”I actually have a masters in microbiology and biotechnology and so I was a researcher several years at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine… Once we moved to San Antonio, down to Lackland Air Force Base, then I switched over to personal training. I’ve always kind of had this battle between brain and brawn. My brawn finally kind of won.”

Tapping into his entrepreneurial spark and new-found passion for jiu jitsu, Fiore had earned a high enough rank and enough capital that he felt comfortable opening his own school by the time he and his wife had moved to Mississippi three years ago.

His instincts were on point, and his school quickly outgrew its original space, so he moved it to a new 2,500 square foot location where he now has 1,100 square feet of mats. Fiore was recently even able to bring in a black belt of his own to teach the classes.

”I met our head professor here, Erick Raposo, out at IBJJF World Masters,” Fiore said. ”He and I hit it off. I brought him up here from Brazil, got him his green card. Now he’s our head professor here. That was one of the best business decisions that I’ve made. … There’s something just genuine when you have a black belt teaching all of your classes.”

That decision also gave Fiore more opportunities to focus on competition and coaching.

”When I go to compete… it gives me that drive to keep going. It inspires me to bring back that resilience to my students,” he said. ”I definitely want to try to win IBJJF world master at some point.”

Jim Fiore grappling at AGF tournament Greatmats

Competing in the American Grappling Federation

Fiore and his team recently competed in a pair of Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation tournaments in Jackson, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana. In fact, he won his absolute division and his school brought home the trophy from Jackson.

”Being here for 2 solid plus years and winning a major regional tournament is huge for my school,” he said, noting that the tournament also improved his competitive skills.

After winning his division in New Orleans, Fiore received a compliment from AGF co-founder Brandon Quick he’ll never forget.

”Today, you demonstrated why you are a brown belt,” Quick said.

”To hear another black belt that I respect say that to me, that was one of my proudest moments,” Fiore recalled.

”I will send my guys to an AGF tournament all the time,” Fiore added. ”I don’t have any reservations about the safety, my guys having fun at that tournament, the efficiency of the tournament or finishing on time…. They’re always bettering the competition not only for the competitors but also the coaches and the spectators. They’re truly listening to everybody. .. They understand sometimes the financial restrictions of families. … A white belt has more opportunity to become a better fighter in AGF.”

”When I was fighting AGF, it was actually setting me up very nicely to fight IBJJF as a brown belt,” he added. ”I’m a lot more comfortable now going to IBJJF or other tournaments.”

Jim Fiore on podium AGF 2017 Jackson BJJ Championships Greatmats

Centering

”Without jujitsu, my life would really probably be pretty crummy,” he added. ”It tells you the type of person you are. … The overall camaraderie, the support, the brotherhood is infectious. No matter how good you are, that mat will just humble you every single day. … The amount of heart and perseverance that you need to have to come in here and have your butt handed to you every single day, man that makes life outside so much easier. It just centers my life.”

That’s something much needed as he and his wife are expecting a daughter in September.

”I’m looking forward to having her on the mat with us in a couple years,” Fiore said.

When that happens, three generations of Fiore’s will don the jiu jitsu gi, as Jim’s father is currently a two-stripe white belt at the age of 67.

”He and I have done a lot of things together throughout our lives,” Jim said. ”It’s increased our bond together. It’s really fun to have your dad or your son or your daughter on the mat with you.”

Jim Fiore BJJ Greatmats

To learn more about Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation Tournaments and athletes visit Greatmats’ AGF Tournament Resource Page.

Jim Fiore
American Martial Art Academy
D’lberville MS
For more on this topic please review our Grappling and MMA Mats product page

Former Pro Fighter Making Friends, Passing on Knowledge through MMA

Roli Delgado – Motivated by Students

By Brett Hart

A former wrestler, Roli Delgado has always had an interest in martial arts, but it was a 1998 move to Little Rock, Arkansas, that finally allowed him the opportunity to pursue his claim to fame.

Roli Delgado grappling Greatmats

”The rise of the UFC helped plant an itch that I had to scratch,” said Delgado, who competed in the 8th edition of The Ultimate Fighter Series (2008).

Now, at age 35, Delgado is a third-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and green belt in Judo. He trains under Denilson Pimenta and Matt Hamilton with GF Team and currently owns and trains in MMA at Westside MMA in Little Rock.

”I’ve trained in most of the major elements of MMA,” Delgado said, noting some great influences and teaching from Hayastan, GF Team and Aaron Fisher (Muay Thai), as well as wrestling and boxing coaches. ”I absolutely love all combat sports.”

Life as a Coach
Now he is able to share that love and knowledge of martial arts with his community as a full-time gym owner and BJJ coach.

After nearly 20 years of training, Delgado said his biggest accomplishment was creating a Black Belt World Champion (2010) out of his sister, friend and student Hillary (aka ”Killary”) Williams – as well as influencing other black belts, including fellow 2010 world champion Rodrigo Cavaca. Delgado was credited for the advancement of Cavaca’s popular straight ankle lock.

”My students motivate me,” Delgado said. ”They are so talented and consistent. I feel obligated to be a great coach for them, not just someone who goes through the motions.”

Roli Delgado BJJ coach Greatmats

American Grappling Federation
american grappling federation logo greatmatsRecently, Delgado led his team to an Adult Gi Division championship at the 2017 American Grappling Federation Arkansas Open, which he said was ”fantastic, considering I had seven killers in Austin that day for the IBJJF.”

”I like that the AGF tournaments run on time and that they are pre-registration only with ‘day-of’ weigh ins,” Delgado said. ”It’s really a good service that they offer.”

Points of Pride
”Personally, I am also proud to have competed in many different platforms such as the UFC, Bellator, Combat World Championships, IBJJFs and Professional Muay Thai,” Delgado added. ”I love grappling, regardless of rule sets, and I love being around my team and helping them. It’s a great way to spend my time.”

Roli Delgado USA Team Trials martial arts Greatmats

Through martial arts, Delgado has been able to build relationships all over the world.

”I’ve met so many great people, many of whom are now good friends of mine,” he said.

Delgado’s son has also taken up the sport, but Roli is trying to avoid pushing him too hard.

”He’s actually pretty good,” Delgado said. ”I’m just wanting him to enjoy it.”

”BJJ has come a long way,” he added. ”I’m so happy to have so many gyms in Arkansas now and to also have tournaments in state. It’s been a long time coming.”

Roli Delgado BJJ coach Greatmats

To learn more about Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation Tournaments and athletes and coaches visit Greatmats’ AGF Tournament Resource Page.

 

Roli Delgado
Westside MMA
Little Rock AR 72202
For more on this topic please review our Martial Arts Mats product page.