One of the most common questions I’m asked is how I got started in the martial arts. Many people think I started when I was a young child, or that it was some sort of family lineage. I didn’t start until I was 16 years old, and while my father had hand-to-hand combat training from his time in the military, it’s certainly not any kind of family tradition.

First, a little backstory is required. When I was in high school, my best friend, Adam, trained at a place on El Camino Real (ECR as it’s known) in Belmont, CA. He often asked if I wanted to try a class, but I resisted, thinking I wouldn’t like it, that it’s not for me, etc. Well, one day he and his father suddenly moved to Arizona. Adam and I hung out after school every day, and now I was without my best friend.

One day I was cruising along ECR, and came across the school Adam trained at (Belmont is a small city, so I knew where it was). I stopped out of curiosity to see what the place looked like that he trained at. A man named Randy Cardellini stepped out and introduced himself. I told him how Adam was my friend, and I was just curious. After about a half hour of convincing me to try it, he finally got me to try out a class. One class led to a week, a week to a month, and well, 25 years later, I’m still here.

Sadly, Randy had some personal issues he was unable to overcome, and Linda Tomasello took over my training when I got my purple belt, and remained my instructor through black belt. She also gave me first job teaching martial arts as an assistant, and I gradually earned more responsibility, that led to me taking over the Livermore location. Linda still teaches the USSD Belmont dojo to this day, and remains a close friend and confidant.

The rest, as they say, is history. What started as a simple ride down ECR, turned into a lifelong passion, a career, a calling even. I had no idea when I got in the car that day what would result. I took a chance by signing up that day, and that chance has paid off more than I could have ever expected or hoped for. I’ll always be thankful to Randy for taking that time to convince me to try out that first class.

Take that chance and sign up. What’s the worst that can happen? What’s the best that can happen?