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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Trenton Conway – Pushing Mental and Physical Boundaries

20-year-old Blue Blue Belt Absorbing All That is Jiu Jitsu

By Brett Hart

Trenton Conway grappling BJJ GreatmatsPushing mental and physical boundaries serve as plenty of motivation for 20-year-old Trenton Conway to continue is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training.

He says the combination of the competitive side, self defense and brotherhood/sisterhood of the sport make it very rewarding to him.

”I have met amazing people through jiu jitsu and friendships that will last a lifetime,” Conway said. ”My dad got me started in jiu jitsu when I was around 10. When he took me to my first class, I was hooked.”

While still young in the art, the blue belt now runs Mixed Martial Arts Academy in Harrison, Arkansas, with the help of owner David Phelps and professor Luis Rubalcava.

Trenton Conway team photo GreatmatsHe strives daily to perfect his craft, whether teaching, training or learning how to run a school, and he views his biggest accomplishment thus far being staying active as a competitor while teaching kids and seeing them win tournaments.

Conway, who also has background in judo and golden gloves boxing says jiu jitsu has taught him confidence, discipline and meditation – all things he plans to pass along to his students.

”After all, they are the future of jiu jitsu,” he said.

When not performing his duties at Mixed Martial Arts Academy, he trains at Professor Rubalcava’s school in Springdale, Arkansas.

Trenton Conway and Luis Rubalcava Greatmats”God, family and everybody under the Rubalcava Jiu Jitsu affiliation motivate me in life and in jiu jitsu,” Conway said, noting that his father and little sister also train in jiu jitsu. ”You know that saying. A family that trains together stays together.”

Competing in the American Grappling Federation
He recently competed in the Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation’s Springfield BJJ Championships at Drury College in Springfield, Missouri, on April 29, despite coming off an injury and moving up two weight classes. While he admits, he could have done better, Conway kept his head up saying, ”No excuses. There will be another one.”

Trenton Conway winner AGF tournament GreatmatsConway enjoys the AGF tournaments, saying they are some of the best run tournaments around.

”They are always on time,” he said. ”The staff is friendly, and there is high level jiu jitsu at every tournament.”

”You are going to have your great days in jiu jitsu and your bad days,” Conway added. ”The jiu jitsu journey is a roller coaster, mentally and physically. We have all had our days, but at the end of the day your jiu jitsu journey is your journey not any one else’s, so keep the journey going and keep rolling! It will be worth it in the end.”

Trenton Conway winner St Louis AGF tournament Greatmats
To learn more about Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation Tournaments and athletes visit Greatmats’ AGF Tournament Resource Page.
Trenton Conway
Mixed Martial Arts Academy
Harrison AR 72601
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Soul Fighters win AGF’s New Orleans BJJ Championships

AGF Draws Nearly All Louisiana Academys to New Orleans Championships

  The 2017 New Orleans BJJ Championships featured almost 400 competitors on June 10 held at the Alerio Center in Westwego, Louisiana. Soul Fighters Louisiana won the Overall Team Title by a landslide. The tournament was sponsored by Greatmats.

”We had representation from almost all of the schools in Louisiana, which was a really nice plus,” said tournament organizer, Chris Carlino. ”We had people competing from 7 different states as well.”

Soul Fighters Louisiana claimed the most points in Kids No Gi and Adults Gi divisions. They placed second in the Kids Gi and Adults No Gi divisions.

BJJ Revolution was the Overall Team runner up. They placed second in the Adults Gi and third in the Kids Gi divisions. They tied for sixth in the Kids No Gi division.

Cyclone BJJ claimed the Kids Gi Division title and placed second in the Kids No Gi and fourth in Adults Gi divisions. Cyclone BJJ placed third in Overall Team standings.

Clementi’s Gladiators Academy finished 38 points behind Soul Fighters for third place in the Kids No Gi Division.

Gracie Barra (Lake Charles) was the second runner up in the Adults No Gi Division, finishing 37 points behind BJJ Revolution.

No Limit Jiu Jitsu took third in the Adults Gi Division, coming in 123 points behind the divisional champ.

Top 10 Overall Team Scores

  • Soul Fighters Louisiana 485
  • BJJ Revolution 276
  • Cyclone BJJ 255
  • No Limit Jiu Jitsu 121
  • Empire MMA 91
  • Clementi’s Gladiators Academy 83
  • Gracie Barra (Lake Charles) 76
  • Busted Knuckle MMA 75
  • Alan Belcher MMA 74
  • Guerrilla Jiu Jitsu 72

youth AGF New Orleans 2017 Greatmats youth grappling AGF New Orleans BJJ 2017 Greatmats AGF New Orleans BJJ Tournament 2017 Greatmats youth grappling at AGF New Orleans Greatmats youth AGF New Orleans BJJ Greatmats

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

2017 New Orleans BJJ Championships
American Grappling Federation
Westwego LA 70094
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2017 AKF Leadership Summit

AKF kyuki-do leaders summit Greatmats 2017

The American Kyuki-Do Federation held its annual Leadership Summit on February 24-26 in Elgin, Illinois.

”Our annual summit is an opportunity to share ideas, find out what the state of the art is for our industry, reconnect with other school owners and meet the next crop of instructors and owners,” said, Master Rick Steinmaier, AKF Events Coordinator.

Master Steinmaier was pleased to see the event attended by representatives from AKF’s five newest affiliates – four of which opened within the last year and one is projected to open this year.

The new affiliates include Arlington Heights (Illinois), Burleson (Texas), Elgin East (Illinois), Granbury (Texas) and Sleepy Hollow (Illinois).

American Kyuki-Do Federation Logo AKF Greatmats

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AKF Summer Tournament of Champions

New Richmond Martial Arts Academy Well Represented

Aug. 17, 2016 – As approximately 130 martial artists flocked to the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center in Eau Claire, WI, on Saturday, August 13, the American Kyuki-Do Federation, founded in 1979 by Grand Master Ok Hyung Kim, was set to begin its 2016 Summer Tournament of Champions. The family-friendly mixed martial arts tournament brought in competitors and judges from 14 academies across the U.S. to compete in forms, weapons, sparring, grappling, board breaking and even kihapping for the youngest martial arts enthusiasts.

adults competitng AKF kyuki-do action Greatsmats 2016New Richmond shines
The AKF Martial Arts Academy of New Richmond, Wisconsin, boasted the largest number of competitors to enter the Greatmats-sponsored tournament at 31, and produced the 17 and under Junior Grand Champion – Stephen Post-Priller. It also produced the tournament’s oldest competitor, Keith Langfeldt, age 72.

Academy Owner and Head Instructor Zachary Hansen said, ”I’m proud of my school and the students that made the commitment to go over there. It says a lot about them.”

It all began with a friendly competition between Hansen and AKF Martial Arts Academy of Eau Claire (Wisconsin) Owner and Head Instructor Chester Gustavson to see which academy could get the most members to compete in the tournament.

Hansen, who competed in his first AKF tournament in 2011, has been so impressed by the quality of people that surrounded him and his family at the martial arts tournaments that he wanted to share that experience with his students. He said once you attend an AKF tournament ”You know you are in the right place, in a safe place. It’s an awesome family event.”

So he encouraged his students to attend, do their forms, make some new friends and get a bigger picture of what the American Kyuki-Do Federation is.

”It’s a lot bigger than your 10-12 students in class or your 50-100 students in your school,” Hansen said. ”You get a way better picture of how awesome our Kyuki-Do family really is.”

As the excitement grew, so did the commitment to preparing for the tournament. By the time the Summer Tournament of Champions rolled around, Hansen had hosted a total six tournament prep seminars in his New Richmond and River Falls (Wisconsin) academies, which open to students of all AKF academies.

”I wanted my students to have a successful tournament and feel prepared and confident,” Hansen said.

junior champion at AKF Summer Tournament GreatmatsPost-Priller Wins Long-Awaited Junior Grand Championship
One of Hansen’s students to find that success was 14-year-old Post-Priller, who entered with several near misses in his quest for a junior grand championship in five years of competing as a black belt.

”He finished second numerous times where he’s missed out by a point or a half a point,” Hansen said. ”That’s how close he’s come, and he couldn’t have come any closer that last time.”

Post-Priller actually tied for junior grand championship on Saturday and had to break the tie with a form-off.

”He brought it,” Hansen said. ”It was his time. He’s worked hard every time for it. He preps and practices harder than anybody else leading up the the tournament – that last month or so – both in the academy and at home.”

Even with all of his success in Kyuki-Do, Post-Priller remains grounded.

”He’s a very humble student – everything that we expect and train to be as a black belt,” Hansen said. ”I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

youth at AKF Summer Tournament GreatmatsNever Too Old
Also hailing from the New Richmond academy was tournament newcomer 72-year-old Keith Langfeldt. Although he started training in 2011, Langfeldt had not been able to compete in any prior tournaments due to ongoing shoulder injuries.

”He could have easily walked away and given up and said, ‘I’m just not going to be able to do this,”’ Hansen said. ”But he hung in there.”

Langfeldt is viewed by many as the grandpa of the academy and uses his patriarch position to help others. As a member of the certified instructor team, Langfeldt works with a blind student twice a week and is a special olympics coach.

Although still not feeling 100 percent on Saturday, Langfeldt competed in forms and broke through the tournament barricade.

”That’s a great example of one of our tenants,” Hansen said. ”The perseverance of just continuing on through all of the health adversities that he’s had and being able to make adjustments to his techniques.”

Or Too Young
3 year old winner Kihap at AKF Summer Tournament 2016 GreatmatsAt the other end of the age spectrum was 3-year-old Kortney Hart, representing Kyuki-Do Martial Arts Academy of Amery (Wisconsin). Hart was the Kihap Contest Champion and also competed in forms.

Hart’s instructor, 3rd dan Tammy Turcotte said, ”I think Kortney is the youngest (competitor) I have ever sent (to a tournament). It takes guts to get out in front of a panel of Black Belts no matter what your age is. When you are only 3, everyone is much bigger than you are. It can be scary.

”Part of what we encourage in Kyuki-Do is getting out of your comfort zone. Some people are comfortable in front of judges, others aren’t.

”We weren’t sure how Kortney would do. You never know when children are going to pull out their shy card – especially when they are not typically shy). Kortney did her form and the kihap contest with energy and enthusiasm! The excitement on her face when she got her trophy was priceless!”

”That’s one of the beautiful things about Kyuki-Do,” Hansen said, ”It’s not always about the physical aspect. It’s about the mental aspect of training as well that allows all students to be successful from 3 to 72.”

Leading by Example
Gustavson, a 4th dan,was the highest ranking competitor at the tournament. Gustafson, who’s been training in the art since 1991, said everyone’s reason for competing at the tournament is different, whether its for fun, trophies, personal challenge, etc. He competes to set a good example for his students.

”You are graded, judged every day,” Gustavson said, whether at school or work. ”But there’s nothing like face-to-face competition.”

In sparring or grappling, for example, you win or lose. It’s that simple. And face-to-face competition sheds a true light on how fierce of a competitor you are, Gustavson said. You find out just how deep you want to go.

”Some students participate in the tournament to overcome their fears of performing in front of a group,” Gustavson said. ”It’s a way to check their confidence level. For some individuals like this, just showing up is a win for them.”

Turcotte added, ”When students don’t do as well as they think they should – getting a 3rd or 4th or participant ribbon instead of a 1st or 2nd place trophy, I like to ask them how many of their classmates did not participate. They are already further ahead than those who were not at the competition. I also ask, ‘Did you do your best and did you have fun? ‘ That, to me, is the most important thing.”

Other highlights
adult black belt champion at AKF Summer Tournament Eau Claire GreatmatsTopping the field of adult black belts was Grand Champion Reggie Madrigal of Kyuki-Do Martial Arts of Elgin, Ill.

Another special highlight to the day’s festivities was Jacob Hansen, of New Richmond, winning a Free VIP All Access Pass to this year’s AKF Black Belt Extravaganza, which will be held at The Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells, Wisc., Nov. 4-6.

The AKF Summer Tournament of Champions has taken place in Eau Claire for at least 8 years. Included at this year’s event were 11 participants from Lexington, Kentucky, and 1 from Oconee, Georgia.

The 2016 American Kyuki-Do Federation Summer Tournament of Champions was sponsored by Greatmats.

Learn more about the 2016 American Kyuki-Do Federation Tournament Season.

 

Warriors United Fall Brawl 5

Team PMAA Claims 1st Place

Warriors United Fall Brawl 5
On October 1st, over 225 competitors from 31 martial arts schools from 7 different states competed at the Warriors United Tournament Circuit Fall Brawl 5. The tournament was held in Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Warriors United Greatmats sponsored logo Fall Brawl

Team PMAA (Pennsylvania Martial Arts Alliance) of Altoona, Pennsylvania, claimed first place with seven Grand Champions and more than 150 awards.

Culver Karate Club of Connellsville, Pennsylvania claimed 6 grand champion awards, followed by Dragon’s Den Mixed Martial Arts of Grafton, West Virginia in third place.

South USA Grappling Louisiana State Championships

youth competitors SUGA Louisiana State GreatmatsThe South USA Grappling Association’s first tournament of 2017 brought out many strong performances from competitors age 4 and up.
Here are the results from the 250 competitor field at Chappapeela Sports Park in Hammond, Louisiana, on January 28, for the Greatmats-sponsored Louisiana State Championships.

adult No Gi SUGA Louisiana State Championships Greatmats4-6 Year Old Division: Kamden Alford

7-9 Year Old Division: Levi Johnson

10-12 Year Old Division: Autumn Crews

13-15 Year Old Division: Kaleb Miller

Juvenile Blue Belt Division: Isaac Foote

youth No Gi SUGA Louisiana State GreatmatsJuvenile White Belt Division: Kyla Rogers and Daesia Belozerows

Adult Female Blue Belt Division: Rachel Beard

Adult Blue Belt Division: Jesse Roberts

Adult Purple Belt and No Gi Advance Divisions: Zachary Cothren

youth competition SUGA Louisiana State GreatmatsMaster White Belt and Beginner Master No Gi Divisions: Reuben Billiot

Senior White Belt and Biginner Senior No Gi Divisions: Mark Dominguez

Learn more about South USA Grappling Association Tournaments

juvenile division SUGA Louisiana State GreatmatsLouisiana State Championships
South USA Grappling Association
Hammond LA