Finding my way through Waipahu, I venture into an industrial area and into
a small room which looks like it was once a garage or a warehouse.
I peruse the gym, and it looks right out of a scene from a Rocky
movie. Men are sparring
over wrestling mats, inspirational words adorn the walls, punching bags hang
here and there. All in all, your typical workout training ground, except for the children
running around laughing, playing, and sometimes crying. Welcome to
Jesus is Lord Gym.
Family and faith in the Lord is first and foremost among the team members of
Jesus is Lord Gym. Training for professional mixed martial arts fighting takes
up a lot of time, so rather than take time away from the family, the fighters
families are all right there along side of them. All of the members are married with children. The
little ones keep themselves
busy watching television, running around the mats, and even wrestling among
themselves. The wives have set up in the back room, spending social time among themselves
and taking care of family business. When the kids are crying or get into trouble, it's Daddy who's on the
scene first. It was not unusual to have one of the fighters break training to
calm a distressed child or settle a minor dispute, then go right back to training with the same intensity
and focus as before. You may think the children are a distraction, but
this is just part of the routine. If the team of Jesus is Lord can concentrate
through all that, fighting in front of thousands of people should be a
snap. That's exactly what the Jesus is Lord fighters are training
for on this night - the Upcoming Warriors Quest event.
The team starts off each session
with a group prayer. They pray for guidance, strength (both physical and spiritual), and safety for
themselves and their opponents. When you meet and talk with the team members, it becomes obvious that their faith is genuine and strong.
The team name Jesus Is Lord originated from a message that "Bradda"
Ray Cooper chose to place on a T-Shirt he wore to his first fight. He did
this to use Mixed Martial Arts as a tool to spread the word of Jesus to
the audience. Jesus is Lord Gym has quickly become recognized
worldwide as much for their rock solid values as for their world class
What may be the most unique part of the Jesus is Lord Gym is that they have no
coaches. Although some may have past experience in wrestling, boxing, and martial arts, all training in this gym is
self-taught within the group. They learn from each other during practice, from experience in the ring, and by
praying to the Lord for guidance. Tape study is also a staple of their training regiment.
Since Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is constantly evolving, studying films of others helps
keep them on top of the game, as well as finds any tendencies of their opponents.
Only half of the Jesus is Lord team is
present on this night. Brennan Kamaka, promoter of Warriors Quest, is
sidelined with a cold this week and has taken a break from professional
competition for "healing time" and to concentrate on promotion. Brennan gave us
some of the background regarding some of the Jesus is Lord team, as well as some insight into
the upcoming Warriors Quest (March 29, 2002 at the Blaisdell).
This will be the fourth Warriors Quest tournament. What sets this Quest
apart is that it will be the first one to be sponsored by the Shooto fighting
association based in Japan. Shooto is one of the most respected and honorable of the associations and touts some of the world best mixed martial
arts fighters. Kamaka himself is starting a Hawaii based association, HAMMA - the Hawaii Association of Mixed Martial Arts. He hopes that
HAMMA will help promote Hawaii's fighters - to show the world that Hawaii
houses some of the best competitors in the world.
Here are some of Brennan's comments on the Jesus is Lord members fighting in
Warriors Quest 4:
“Geri” Samson - he's a good stand up fighter, who has a style is very similar to
Bradda (Ray Cooper). He won in Warriors Quest 1.
- He has a wrestling background from Leilehua High School, and is also very good. Both
He and Geri are the "future" of Hawaii's fighters. They are very good, but don't have enough fights under them. Once they get more
experience, watch out, they are the future stars.
(not present at this session) - David's a very good fighter. He's well balanced with an all-around game.
Ray "Bradda" Cooper - What can I say, he's currently ranked #4 in the world
in Shooto. He will be competing in Warriors Quest against the #5 ranked Shooto fighter. When I ask
him who he wants to fight, he always says "the best." Bradda is such a dangerous
fighter, nobody wants to fight him. It's hard to get fighters to come down and take him
on, and in fact you often see last minute changes in opponents because no one wants to fight him. He is
undefeated in Warriors Quest matches, and every time he's pitted against a
more experienced or higher ranked fighter, he seems to come out on top. Bradda just wants to compete with the best.
Among some of the others fighting in Warriors Quest 4, are fighters from UFC
Champion B.J. Penn's school on the Big Island. Haru Shimonishi's student,
Beta Yueng, comes in with an undefeated record in Women's Mixed Martial
Here is the tentative fight card as of March 3, 2002.
QUEST 4, March 29, 2002
Main Event: World Class Ranked MMA Action
Gym: Jesus Is Lord
Manager: Jesus Is Lord
Trainer: Self Taught
Titles: Warriors Quest 3x
Champion, #4 Ranking in Shooto, 4x Superbrawl
Gym: Hell House Gym
Manager: Self Managed
MMA Record: #5
Ranked Shooto Fighter. TKO'ed Jutaro Nakao
Chris Brennan (Next
UFC Veteran,King of the Cage Champion
John Christosomo (808 Fight
Superbrawl Tournament Champion
200.60lbs. Shooto Bout
David "Kawika" Pa'aluhi (808
4 x Superbrawl Tournament Champion
IFC Champion,Pride Veteran
Jeremy Williams (Next
#4 Rank Warriors Quest,KOTC Veteran
Jake Sheilds (Cesar Gracie)
Gladitaors Challenge #1 Contender
Charuto Verissimo (Nova Uniao)
Rolan Fabre (Team Renzo
Womens Shooto Bout 123lbs.
Betta Yueng (HMC)
Eric Montego (Next Generation)
154lbs. Shooto Bout
David Padilla (Jesus Is Lord)
Ikaika Tiger (Team Tiger)
143lbs. Shooto Bout
Yobie Song (Jesus Is Lord)
Dj Dequinn (Team Bj Penn)
The weigh-ins for Warriors Quest 4 are at the Neal Blaisdell on March 28th and
open to the public. Warriors Quest 4 is the following night on Friday,
March 29 at the Blaisdell Arena. Come and watch the team from Jesus is Lord
as well as other fighters from Hawaii and the mainland match their skills in
furious competition. Cheer on Bradda Cooper and the rest of the Jesus is
Lord Team as they work their way to the top of the Shooto rankings. This
event is sure to be world class! You can buy tickets at the Blaisdell Box
Office or even buy them online at www.blaisdellcenter.com.
Get your tickets early, because this one is gonna be a sellout. Aloha!
- Brannon Noguchi for Hawaii411.com