Boxing Coach Tries His Very First Jiu Jitsu Class

See what happens when Boxing Coach Joe Vargas takes off the gloves and puts on the gi to try his first Jiu Jitsu class. Leaving your comfort zone and trying something new can often be intimidating, but far more rewarding.


Coach Joe Vargas:
My name is Joe Vargas. I’m one of the boxing coaches here at The Arena. I’ve been boxing since I was nine years old and I’ve been coaching for over 15 years. Today, I tried out Jiu Jitsu. I thought that with strength and being a macho guy who knows boxing very well, I thought I’d had enough knowledge just watching. I became one of those Pro versus Joes sitting on the couch kind of guy. I thought I could handle it easily. I found myself just struggling with the movements and it was a whole new thing to be a student again. It was a big challenge for me to try something new.


Boxing and Jiu Jitsu goes so hand in hand. Today they were telling me things that I use in boxing, like turn my hips and to use my feet to pivot off. And it was funny to hear them be used in different manner, but we communicate the same. It seems like in Jiu Jitsu, the hips are so important just like in boxing. It’s mechanics of the body. You don’t realize it’s so critical in almost all sports.

It was so cool walking into the class because almost every student there knows that I’m the boxing coach and they’re all very helpful and respectful, and it just felt good to have all that support from all the guys at the gym. So I’m going to be jumping in there. It’s an experience that I really liked and I recommend it. It’s very fun. To all my Jiu Jitsu family from The Arena, I would highly recommend that you guys come and try boxing. And I know sometimes it’s scary, but I did it and I was nervous and scared and you guys treated me good. We’ll treat you guys the same. We’re one big family and I just love, like I said, being a student again, and you guys come over and we’ll work with you guys in boxing.

Two Friends Challenge Each Other to Lose 40 Pounds

We are often referred to as a “fighters gym” but thats only a very small percentage of how our members benefit, and what they can achieve. Here you see an ongoing success story of two gym members, Joe and Justin, not only getting in better shape but living an overall better life based off their experiences at The Arena. Yes we build fighters but ultimately we are building healthier and happier all around people.


Joe O’Connell:
So I started coming here about four and a half years ago. I started off with boxing, but the last three, four years, I really got into Jiu Jitsu and primarily did that until I got hurt in October. And then kind of went back to the fitness aspect of this, and boxing.

I’m a personal trainer. I’ve been doing it for 10 years. I got into it because I was 308 pounds after I stopped playing football. Weight loss has always been an up and down thing for me. I’ve got all the way down to about 225 and I’ve been sitting there for a long time. So in February, I decided to take things up to the next level and propose with my buddy, Justin, to see if we can get down to 185.

Justin Wilson:
Joe and I were making fun of each other for being fat. And he was like, “Step on the scale, where are you at right now?” And I stepped on and I was like 232. Then we’re like, “All right, well, what’s a good obtainable, but would challenge us?” And we decided on 185. So from 232 down to 195 right now, is where I’m at. We got 10 pounds left to go.

At first, he was seeing it as a challenge. Dude was wearing sweatsuits, running extra miles, everything. And I’m like, “Bro, we’re in it for the longevity and the health of it.”, because I’m 40 years old and I don’t want to cut weight. I want to lose weight and keep it off and to maintain a good, healthy lifestyle.

Joe O’Connell:
I first decided to do this because I wanted to beat him. I wanted to challenge to beat Justin to 185. But now it’s turned into, we’re supporting each other in this journey. We keep each other in line and keep each other accountable for our goals. Definitely a beneficial thing. So I’ve been working out with the strength and conditioning coach, Jason, four days a week doing his workouts. And then, I do boxing with Joe Vargas from 10 to 11.

Justin Wilson:
What I’ve been doing, personally, is, cut out alcohol and I train back-to-back classes. So I’ll do Jiu Jitsu and then I’ll do the No Gi class. The more you train, the more you really become aware of how you feel and what you put in your body. And so just naturally, I’ve really cut out junk food, fast food, stuff like that. It wasn’t because I was like, “Oh, I’m on a diet. I have to do this.” It was because, I felt bad. I would eat it and I wouldn’t feel good.

Joe O’Connell:
I got a meal prep company and I do two meals with them, and not snacking outside those two meals, and making a healthy dinner. I stopped drinking. It’s making these lifestyle changes, these small changes, that make a big difference, I’m learning.

Justin Wilson:
Being a veteran, your tribe is a big deal. When you leave the service, I didn’t find my tribe or my group of people until I started training Jiu Jitsu. It’s improved my life in every facet.

Joe O’Connell:
Having Justin with me is excellent because we keep each other accountable. I’m down 30 pounds, I got 10 more to go, and I just got to keep working hard. It’s challenging, but I like the challenge and I like working hard and The Arena helped me do this. It’s been fantastic.

David Da Silva Surfing at Sunset Cliffs

How you do anything is how you do everything. The study of martial arts will permeate into all sections of your life. Here’s Arena front desk worker and Jiu Jitsu practitioner @David DaSilva discussing the parallels between a life of surfing and training the art of jiu jitsu. Keep riding the wave, even if it tries to smash you.


David Da Silva:
I started surfing when I was probably around 13 or 14 years of age. I guess it just stemmed from skateboarding, I grew up skateboarding here in San Diego, and it always felt like a natural progression for me. So once I got into surfing, I’ve just been doing it ever since.

I guess it’s just the feeling of being out in the ocean and being surrounded by nature in the water, riding the waves, the whole lifestyle in general just keeps me coming back from more.

Sunset Cliffs is nice because, if you’ve ever been there, you can just see how beautiful and gorgeous it is, especially during the sunset hours. It’s just one of those few areas where you can go surf and it’s still not very crowded as opposed to other spots around San Diego. Sunset Cliffs is just kind of unique to me too because I grew up surfing there. It’s always just been a part of me since I’ve been pretty young.

When I started surfing, I was just consumed by it pretty much all throughout my teenage years. And then when I was around 20, I started training Jiu Jitsu. The reason being was because I heard and saw that a lot of professional or high-level surfers were into Jiu Jitsu. And I also wanted to supplement my surfing with something else and I’ve always been into martial arts. So surfing and Jiu Jitsu always kind of made a connection for me, not only with the progression but the challenges that come with surfing and Jiu Jitsu. They’re all pretty similar.

With surfing it can be very frustrating, especially when you’re beginning, you’re constantly being bombarded by waves. It’s kind of a similar feeling when you’re rolling with someone much more advanced than you. So being mentally prepared for both of them is something that goes hand in hand with each other, and they both provide such a challenge physically and mentally that if you were to pursue it, it’s only going to help you improve as a person and help you reach your goals further down the line.

What is Your Motivation for Training?

We’re all walking different paths. Coach Charles Martinez discusses how everyone we interact with on this martial arts journey has different goals and motivations. We should help build each other up instead of letting our egos and greed dictate how we treat each other. Leading into the new year we will all grow and get stronger together.


Coach Charles Martinez:
Hello. My name is Coach Charles Martinez from The Arena and today I wanted to discuss a motivation. I want to take this from a slightly different perspective, often in sport especially in these combat sports that we all train in, the motivation is always to be the best and to smash everyone. And I think we forget sometimes that that’s not what most people’s motivation was when they came into the gym. A lot of people are training to address fears or to feel more powerful and I think a lot of times we, especially if you’ve been training a long time or you’re a fighter, or you’re a competitor, you have the tendency of looking down on people that aren’t as good as you. And just because they’re not as good as you at this sport that you’ve chosen to be good at it doesn’t make them lesser. It just means that either their athletic ability isn’t as high, but really their motivation could be different than yours.

Just because your motivation is to go out and be the best in the world, maybe that’s not theirs. Maybe their motivation is to feel stronger, to just be more comfortable in their skin every day and maybe that’s what they’re getting. So sometimes we have the tendency of getting frustrated with our training partners and kind of forgetting that we were new once also. Maybe they’re new, maybe one day they’re going to be your best training partner, they don’t have to be a world beater to give you good work.

So I think sometimes we stray away from that and we forget that we’re all walking a different path but we all ended up in the same place. So if you take that and you treat everyone as if, hey, this could have been me on one of my first days and if someone was kind of crappy to me, maybe I would have never come back. So I think once you switch your perspective, if you could look from outside of yourself and see that maybe this person’s not like you, maybe they’re scared, maybe they’re terrified and they don’t want to get screamed at. Maybe they’ve never been an athlete, maybe they’ve never played a sport. They came here to feel better and to feel empowered and how you treat them, even if something trivial, something like, hey, good job. Even if it wasn’t a good job, just that little bit of motivation might be the reason they come back the next day. And maybe one day they turn into a valuable training partner, but either way, even if they’re only here for six months and it improves their life somehow, and it was worth it, that was their motivation, not yours.

So sometimes I think we forget, we think everyone is looking at the world through our same perspective, it doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe their motivation is different than yours. You should still respect it because ultimately that’s what we’re all here for.

Enson Inoue Speaks About His Interpretation of Victory

Everyone has a different interpretation of the meaning of victory. Master Enson Inoue shares his warrior spirit outlook on what victory means to him. For sport or for life, ultimately you must give your ALL.


Enson Inoue:
Everyone has different interpretations of victory. And it can be real superficial, it can be really deep. Some people, victory is getting your hand raised at the end of the fight. Some people, victory is coming home alive. That is a form of victory. But then if you go deeper, there’s another form of victory. Like Glenn said, giving everything you got. Win, live or die, giving everything you got.


So that, I believe, is controlled. You can control that victory. Winning and losing is hard to control. I always told you guys before, don’t dwell on wins and losses, just give everything you got. Whatever comes with it, it’s like the tail of a dog. When he turns the corner, if the dog walks around the ring right there, I don’t know if his tail is going to be on the left side or the right side, but I know it’s going to be on one of those sides.

It’s like when we fight. We don’t know if we’re going to win or lose, but we know it’s going to be one or the other. And can you control it? You can try. You can train hard. You can get ready. You can fight hard. But you can’t control it. So no sense to dwell on it.


My view of victory in the fights is not getting my hand raised, it’s giving everything I got to the very end. My sign of victory in life, I always have this image of a building burning and a child on the second floor. My sign of victory isn’t walking, going home that night. My view of victory on that is running into the building and see if I can save that person, whether I live or die. That’s my victory. Okay. So just food for thought. Yeah. It’s a different range of success and different ideas of what people view as success.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Martial Arts Training

Here’s Coach Charles Martinez discussing the effective mindset of learning martial arts techniques. How you learn can be as important as what you learn, take two minutes and listen to some advice about how to get the most out of your training.


Coach Charles Martinez:
Hey, this is Coach Charles Martinez from The Arena, and today I wanted to talk briefly about how to get the most out of your learning. Now, sometimes in a class setting, maybe there’s multiple things being taught. They might not all specifically apply to you in your game right now. But in a class, I feel like when I’m teaching, I usually feel like I’m teaching to the middle of the room. Some of the technique is above the head of a new person, but it’s a little too simple for the advanced person. As you’re learning things, maybe you could be attracted to certain technique more than others, and maybe that’s… It could be a body type, it could be where your skill level is currently, so when you’re taking in information, this is kind of the information age for martial arts. Everything is out there. Fundamentals are fundamentals across the board, but then after you learn basic fundamentals, you want to start developing your own game.

There’s this Bruce Lee saying of, “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, and then add what’s specifically your own.” I think that’s important, but first… You don’t know at first what’s going to be the most useful for you. So when you’re taking in information, try and take it all in. Maybe there’s a piece today that you can apply today. Maybe the bare bones of what’s being taught today is important for your fundamentals of your game. Maybe one of the moves, or one of the versions of the move, just doesn’t make sense to you; you just don’t get it. And that’s fine. Maybe it’s not applicable to you today, but it could be. It could be as you get older, whereas maybe you have an injury, or maybe there’s an easier way of doing it. When you’re young, you have the tendency of behaving one way. When you’re older, maybe you find a path of least resistance a little bit easier. So the technique often is taught across the board, to everyone in the room, regardless of tall, short.

A good coach, as you start to develop, if you’re training specifically for yourself, you can start to tailor and decide what’s best for your body type, and your game, etc. But first you have to have the basis to build that on top of. Sometimes the technique is just not for you; maybe it’s just not for you ever, maybe it’s just not for you right now. I think when you have that mentality as you’re learning technique, it will be a lot easier to develop what is your own, but also have an open mind of other technique that could be applicable down the line, or it could be applicable against a different opponent, or a different body type. I think once you have that, you can draw something useful out of all technique, rather than being like, “I like this. I don’t like that.” Maybe you don’t like it right now because you don’t understand it right now, but down the line, you might be able to really draw something from it that benefits your game. That’s your tip.

BJJ Black Belt Stops Burglar with Triangle Choke

The Arena’s Sergio Hernandez, a Jiu Jitsu black belt under Baret Yoshida, describes his encounter with a burglar who was trying to rob his dad’s house. With a cool head and an in depth knowledge of grappling, Sergio subdued the criminal and waited for the police to show up.


Can you let go of my neck please?

Sergio Hernandez:
What? Don’t (beep) move.

I’m not.

Sergio Hernandez:
I’m going to put you to sleep, dog. Either that or I’m going to break your (beep) arm if you try to move.

Me and my dad were coming back from running an errand, and I think that burglar had been staking out our house or something. When we showed up, he was in my dad’s house. My dad didn’t notice that he was inside the house. As my dad came back outside, he tried to jump out the back window, and I happened to be in the backyard, and so that’s when I ran into him, but I didn’t notice that the window was open. I just assumed that he was either somebody that was on drugs and that was lost or that he actually had considered breaking into our house, but he hadn’t done it yet. He said he was running from a dog and if he could go out through the back, so I was like, “Yeah, go ahead, man.” So he jumped through the back fence and then a minute later I noticed that he had actually already been inside the house and made a mess in there, and I didn’t know if he had hurt my dad or anything. I jumped the fence, chased him through the alley for about a block, finally caught up to him.

He turned around and faced me, and at that point, I wasn’t sure if he was going to have a weapon or a gun or he was just ready to fight me, but I think he was so gassed out that he didn’t want to fight so he just wanted to talk about it. And so I grabbed him by the shirt and I was like, “Hey man, let’s go talk to my dad and let’s find out exactly what happened.” I took him back to my dad, and my dad had no idea what was going on and I said, “Hey dad, I think this guy just broke into your house.” We checked out the window and, sure enough, he had messed up the window and made a mess in the house.

Finally, my dad asked him, “Well, how old are you, man?” The kid was like, “I’m 21 years old.” And then that’s when my dad was like, “Well, you’re going to have to go to jail, dude.” And that’s when he lost his temper and just started going crazy. And I was able to control him using the Jiu Jitsu that I learned from Baret, so thank God for that. I was able to keep calm about it.

I don’t know how it happened, but immediately I came here, I grabbed him by the arm here, and he fell on his face, but he came to his side, and so I came to this position here. I told him to stop moving or I was going to break his arm, and then he kept trying to get out of it. So he came here and he started to… If you come to your knees and then try to stand up a little bit. I got to this position and then he tried to stand up. So this is where I considered either going here with the arm break. But as he was standing, I’ve seen videos of people getting their heads slammed in the back of the other head. If you could stand up and show how that one… And then he would slam me, and that was dangerous.

And so as he was on his knees and I seen him stand up, I grabbed his leg here. That’s when we got to this position here. But he turned that way slightly, and so I held this position, and I think this is the safer position because his teeth would have been in my stomach and he could have bit me. And also I didn’t want him to bring his weight on top of me to finish the triangle to get the better angle because I would be on my back and he’d be able to punch me. And if you were to get here, he could have bitten me or something and that would’ve been super dangerous.

So I was comfortable in this position. I feel I could have broken the arm there, and then at some point I did squeeze it and I could tell that he was choking. I just wanted to make sure that if I had to finish the triangle I could have still finished it at this angle, and then I was controlling his wrist so he wouldn’t be able to punch me.

So I started doing Jiu Jitsu about 14 years ago and thankfully I was able to be calm enough to hold that triangle position. So the neighbor filmed it and then I was like, “Oh dude, did you get that?” And he’s like, “Yeah.” And I was like, “Send it to me because I want to post it on my Instagram.” I didn’t really think much about it, but I love to record all my matches. And this one just happened to be out in public, and so I posted it. I didn’t even get a chance to take a shower, just had to go straight to work because I was late for a tattoo appointment that I had. Maybe 45 minutes later the media shows up to the tattoo shop and it was like, “Dude, do you see what’s happening to your video? Everyone’s watching it. Could we do a story on you?” I check my Instagram and it was so many people were checking it out and then it was getting shared by other people.

I do feel a little bit strange because of all the attention that I was getting based on someone’s downfall basically. But on the other hand, I’m happy that we’re able to promote Jiu Jitsu, and that we’re able to promote people learning how to defend themselves. I train here at The Arena, and this is where my martial arts family is at. And I hope more people, if they don’t come here to The Arena, that they find their local gym and they’re able to learn how to defend themselves and feel confident and not have to be scared when they’re out in the world.

About The Arena

The Arena is the largest gym in North America for Combat Sports and Martial Arts instruction.

Our Address

3350 Sports Arena Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92110 USA

Free Trial (A) Footer