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 fighters. 

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:

Gerald “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.

Yobie Song - 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.

David Padilla (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
Arts.

Here is the tentative fight card as of March 3, 2002.

WARRIORS QUEST 4, March 29, 2002
Blaisdell Arena
The Main Event: World Class Ranked MMA Action
Ray "Bradda" Cooper
DOB: 11-19-73
Height: 5'6
Weight: 170lbs
Gym: Jesus Is Lord
Manager: Jesus Is Lord
Trainer: Self Taught
Titles: Warriors Quest 3x Champion, #4 Ranking in Shooto, 4x Superbrawl 
Champion.

VS.

Pic
Not
Available
!

Dan Gilbert
DOB: 05-03-1972
Height:
5"8
Weight: 167lbs
Gym: Hell House Gym
Manager: Self Managed
MMA Record: #5 Ranked Shooto Fighter.  TKO'ed Jutaro Nakao
The Undercard:

167lbs. Shooto Sanctioned Bout
Chris Brennan (Next Generation)
UFC Veteran,King of the Cage Champion
-vs-
John Christosomo (808 Fight Factory)
Superbrawl Tournament Champion

200.60lbs. Shooto Bout
David "Kawika" Pa'aluhi (808 Fight Factory)
4 x Superbrawl Tournament Champion
-vs-
Bobby Southworth
IFC Champion,Pride Veteran

170lbs. Welterweight
Jeremy Williams (Next Generation)
#4 Rank Warriors Quest,KOTC Veteran
-vs-
Jake Sheilds (Cesar Gracie)
Gladitaors Challenge #1 Contender

170lbs. Welterweight
Charuto Verissimo (Nova Uniao)
Brazilian BlackBelt
-vs-
Rolan Fabre (Team Renzo Gracie)
3-0

Womens Shooto Bout 123lbs.
Betta Yueng (HMC)
1-0
-vs-
Eric Montego (Next Generation)
Pro Debut

154lbs. Shooto Bout
David Padilla (Jesus Is Lord)
-vs-
Ikaika Tiger (Team Tiger)

143lbs. Shooto Bout
Yobie Song (Jesus Is Lord)
-vs-
Dj Dequinn (Team Bj Penn)

The weigh-ins for Warriors Quest 4 are at the Neal Blaisdell on March 28th and are
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 Gym 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