THE TOOKE TRIBUNE
My Passion and Love for Martial Arts
Got Me Where I Am Today
Determination, focus, and optimism are three words I use to describe my journey to becoming a jiujitsu black belt and coach. At first, I had no idea how I could open my own training facility and begin teaching others the skills and values of martial arts. But I knew I wanted to do it, and that motivation led me to where I am today. I still remember the day my fascination with martial arts started. Back in 1993, my friend rented the very first UFC championship. This was the first mixed martial arts event in history, and as soon as the event started, I was hooked. Watching Royce Gracie in the ring at 14 sparked my interest, and I wanted to know more about the sport. At 16, my mom found a facility that taught jiujitsu, and I started training under my first coach who was just a blue belt at the time. During this time, only a handful of people had their black belts. It wasn’t as common when I was growing up because no one knew the art — it was just starting to make its way to America when I began training. It wasn’t until I turned 17 that I began thinking about becoming an instructor and practicing martial arts for a living. So, once I graduated high school at 18, I moved to
Dallas, Texas, and began training more and more. I started working at 24 Hour Fitness as a trainer and began teaching jiujitsu. After a few years, I earned my brown belt and wanted to take the next steps. So, in 2003, I went to Brazil to compete in the World Championship. My time in Brazil was amazing — I loved everything about the country. I lived in Brazil for 14 months, and while I practiced my craft and earned my black belt, I trained students on the side. When I came back to Texas in 2004, my mind was set on opening my own academy. But I had no idea where to start because I didn’t understand the business and marketing side of things. But I was willing to put in the effort and learn as I went. My first facility was in the garage of my dad’s house. I had about “The biggest lesson I learned was not to be afraid of failure and to keep pushing forward … with this mindset, I slowly grew bigger and stronger.”
friends rented spaces in a warehouse and let me rent out a room.
But I was hungry for more, so I began reading books about business and different marketing strategies. I would try anything and everything! If one tactic didn’t work, I would learn from it, modify it, and try again. The biggest lesson I learned was to not be afraid of failure and to keep pushing forward. It would’ve been easy to throw everything away, but with this mindset, I slowly grew bigger and stronger. Fast forward to today, I kept improving my marketing strategies and moved into different warehouses with more room for students. Now, I have a piece of land with a large facility and 315 active students who include kids, adults, and even families. We even have several Team Tooke Affiliate Academies throughout Houston and Texas. Determination, focus, and optimism helped me to achieve my goals and remain hopeful. I learned these tools while participating in martial arts, and I now teach my students these skills during their training. Martial arts is more than just physical activity — it’s mental. We strive to learn these core values each time we hit the mat. I’m so proud of how
10–15 students to train, but once my dad sold his house and moved into a much stricter neighborhood, I had to devise a new game plan. Luckily, one of my
far we’ve come, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
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