Oh Canada, Eh? | T.J. Kennedy

As I prepare to leave for a 2 month stay in the UK and Ireland, I am reminded of all the exports that the martial arts world has Canada to thank for.

Barring yours truly (nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more…), there are several highly qualified martial artists that have emerged from what my friend Chris would dub “the frozen wasteland”.

Tony Blauer, Richard Dimitri, George St. Pierre, David Loiseau, Sean Pierson, Bill Underwood, and several other high profile martial artists and combative instructors.

As I am about to travel for a seminar circuit abroad, I thought I would take the time to highlight 5 lesser known martial artists in Canada before I go. These guys are listed in no particular order.


Number one on my list is the one I refer to as “Canada’s best kept secret.” In my opinion, he is one of the most highly skilled combatives experts that Canada has to offer. He may disagree with me, as he is also one of the most humble and gentle guys you could hope to meet. Whenever my students ask me who else they should train with, I mention him without hesitation. His name is Samir Seif. He runs a school in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada – but I am pretty sure he is available for seminars, etc. You can check out his website at http://samirscombatreaction.com/


Next is Kyoshi Michael Zinck. I met Mike back in the summer of 2012, and we became fast friends. Coming from a hybridization of Japanese and Chinese martial arts, he has an ability to bring relevant combative application to traditional martial approaches.  (And he has a pretty disturbing sense of humor in the most awesome way!) He chuckled when I asked if I could call him “Kyoshi Ball Slap”, because of his penchant for smacking attacker’s in the groin. You can find him in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada at http://empowermentcentre.ca/


Third, is my favorite grappling coach and long-time friend, Gord Wood.  Gord and I go back to 2003, when he began as my teacher, and evolved into my good friend and brother.  He is one of the few instructors who cares passionately as much about his students as he does about his own personal evolution in the martial arts.  He also has the ability to offer realistic street applications to all the grappling he teaches.  He is a rare gem, and anyone would be lucky to train with him.  He is in Ancaster, Ontario, Canada. You can find him at http://evolutionmartialarts.ca/


Next on my list is owner/operator of Lanna MMA in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (http://lannamma.com/).  Kru Mel Belissimo was the referee for my first amateur Muay Thai fight.  He is highly skilled as a martial artist, as well as a coach – his skill in these fields rivaled only by his ability to make you feel special.  I swear, I don’t even train at his gym, and every time we interact he makes me feel like the most important person in the world.  This is another instructor who cares deeply about his students.  Every single time someone in the Toronto area asks me where to go for quality Muay Thai training, I send them to Mel.


Finally, I want to finish off with an odd entry. I say odd because this person and I don’t see eye to eye.  But despite our personal differences of opinion, he is still one of Toronto’s highly skilled instructors and very talented martial artists.  This is Shawn Zirger of the Zirger Academy of Jeet Kune Do. You can find him at http://zirgeracademyjkd.com/

We parted ways a long time ago, but I still hold that students would benefit greatly from training with him.

So there you have it; the short list of people I recommend you train with if you ever find yourself in Canada.

Oh, and if you want to check out a Canadian (me) in the UK and Ireland this Februrary and March, go to http://hybridfightingmethod.com/ and click on “Upcoming Courses”

T.J. Kennedy

Hybrid Fighting Method


One Response to “Oh Canada, Eh? | T.J. Kennedy”

  1. Robert Kiernan Says:

    Respect to you sir for being a true man in recognition of someone who you do not necessarily have a good relationship with. I have no previous knowledge of either your school or the gentlemen of whom you spoke but you have earned my respect for seeing beyond personal differences and your ability to see talent in another. I would be honoured to have the opportunity to someday train with you.

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