Archive for Gord Wood

Oh Canada, Eh? | T.J. Kennedy

Posted in Martial Arts, Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2012 by hybridfightingmethod

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


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


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


Next on my list is owner/operator of Lanna MMA in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (  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

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 and click on “Upcoming Courses”

T.J. Kennedy

Hybrid Fighting Method


Roundtable Discussion 011: Notable Influences

Posted in Discussion Question, Roundtable Discussion with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2011 by Combative Corner

“Who’s one person that has inspired/taught you in the martial art(s) and who may never be considered ‘well-known’?”


This guy was just another student like myself, but he is Master Chen’s (Zhonghua) most senior disciple (seniority – not age).  Ronnie Yee lives and teaches in Regina, but was able to travel to our camp for Hunyuan World 2002.  I learned a lot from my time in Edmonton, but what really stood out was how easy it seemed for Ronnie to put complicated Taiji theory and concepts into a form that was more ‘palatable’ to our young minds.  He was a fellow wushu practitioner (so we had that background in common) as well as being a massage therapist.  He knew magic and played with some of the youngsters there (including myself- I love magic!) and introduced me to the rope dart… a weapon that is now my favorite to play and perform.  In just one weekend, Ronnie Yee had a pretty huge impact – and I feel very fortunate to be there at that date and time.  He didn’t MySpace, and he certainly doesn’t Facebook or Twitter (maybe one day in the future), but there is no doubt about it, he’s a fine martial artist and is somewhere working his “magic” ways on his students.

[Video]Ronnie pushing hands with Master Chen]


For me it is Arden Cowheard 6th Dan Kodokan Judo. He is almost 91 years old and still teaching. I still attend and teach there but Aikido and other arts are my true calling.  He opened his Dojo and heart to me. I grew up without a father but I had so many great father figures in my life and he is one that changed my life.
After my first class I never had to pay for a class from that point. But He knew my heart was into the study of Aikido. So I talked to him and said. ” Sensei, there is a very powerful Aikido teacher coming to topeka to teach for a weekend. May I go and train with him?”
He said ” Yes Robert!!! Go where your heart leads you.”  From that point I never left Aikido. I found my love. I still trained Karate and Judo. But without my Judo teach helping to raise me up and not holding me back he helped me to bloom into the person I am today.
He may not be well known. But he is a hero to me. A real Budoka. My family and countless others. Rei Sensei!!


He was my Krav Maga instructor in 2003, and he taught me how to teach kids martial arts. He taught me how to teach adult martial arts. He taught me how to be an excellent communicator. Above all, he was and remains to be an excellent friend. A finer man you would be hard-pressed to find.



He was my very first martial arts instructor when I began Tae Kwon Do when I was 13. He started my martial arts career. As a teenager he not only instilled in me the confidence and self respect that made me the man I am today, he also helped me discover something that I seemed to be naturally good at. As someone who was never great at sports that was a big deal for me.

Master Lee taught me to never hold back when it came to my techniques or how hard I tried in class. He expected a lot from his students and never let us get away with doing things half way. He was a great instructor and I’ve shared stories of my time training with him with my students on more than one occasion.


My father has taught me much about the ways of Tao and Buddha without saying a word, he just lives it. He goes on doing things without taking credit for all that he has accomplished. I was actually raised to live the Martial Way without even realizing it. I was born and raised living the Martial Way. My father will never be well-known because he has no desire to expose himself, he claims no titles, he is not a Martial Artist. He is a man of Gung Fu, but he does not realize it. He will never be “well-known” but if I am ever to be “well-known” then maybe my stories about him will be “well-known.”


My Karate teacher, Gilles Beaulieu, was my first martial arts teacher. Although he was teaching in a relatively small city, he still managed to have a thriving class for a while. I have memories of Gilles conditioning us by having us punch each other in the gut (which I don’t think is kosher anymore), running way more than I liked, and doing crazy things like 1000 crunches the day before I had a presidential fitness test at school. As a kid who was not in great shape and really hated the exercise conditioning, I still loved the class. Even though he was tough on us with the training, he was inspirational since he was doing all the work too and making it look easy. All the while, he maintained a positive energy, built up people’s confidence, and established a sense of community in the class.


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