International Martial Arts Expo slated

JOHNSTOWN – On Aug. 22 and 23, the 2014 International Martial Arts Expo will take place at the Fulton County YMCA.

The event will be hosted by Pazzaglia’s Kenpo Karate. The seminar starts Friday from 5 to 10 p.m. and runs all day Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The event will feature legendary full-contact fighter Benny Urquidez, who will be the featured presenter and guest instructor, as well as eight other internationally recognized martial artists. That group includes Datu Tim Hartman, Francisco Vigoroux (Chile), Sibora Chan, Jason Arnold (Canada), Keith Morrison (Japan), Joe Pazzaglia, Damian Abbott (England) and Omar Del Canto (Chile).

Urquidez was born in 1952 in Los Angeles and was the second youngest in a family of nine. His father was a professional boxer, his mother a professional wrestler and his siblings are all black belts.

Starting out in relative obscurity, Urquidez catapulted to world prominence in the mid-1970s when he became a world champion kickboxer in the same year full-contact karate was introduced to the United States.

As a kickboxer, he traveled from country to country, challenging national champions to bout after bout, always with the same result – winner.

During his years as a martial artist, he became an international movie star, according to a news release, appearing on the screen with such luminaries as Jean-Claude Van Damme, John Cusack and Jackie Chan.

In addition to being a champion kickboxer, Urquidez also is a teacher of the martial arts.?He won 63 world titles and fought in five weight divisions.

He started his martial arts study at the age of eight, received his black belt at 14, and was voted in 1978 by Black Belt magazine as the best fighter that year and placed in the magazine’s Hall of Fame.

At the age of five, he was competing in pee wee boxing events at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. Since then, he has earned black belts in nine different styles of martial arts and trained in many other styles. Urquidez trained with his mentor and brother, Arnold Urquidez, as well as Bill Ryusaki, Ed Parker and many legendary martial arts masters. ?He was encouraged to test for his black belt at the young age of 14. He also competed and was undefeated in the adult black belt division.

Urquidez also pioneered full contact karate. In 1974, he introduced the United States to what is known as full contact karate or American kickboxing.

Urquidez’s professional fighting record stands at 200-plus wins and no losses, the release said, including a 63-0 record in title defenses.

He is the only fighter to have retained six world championships in five weight divisions for 24 consecutive years. Coming out of retirement in 1993 at the age of 42, he again demonstrated his unique fighting style, defeating Yoshihisa Tagami, the 25-year-old Japanese world welterweight champion, to win the world light middleweight championship. Urquidez is the longest reigning world champion of all professional sports in history, the release said.?He is retired from the ring and has devoted time to his acting and movie career. His specialty is training actors for fight scenes, taking into consideration camera angles, fighting technique, weapons, stunts, etc. He has coordinated stunts and fight scenes for television and feature films. He also trained and coordinated the opening fight scene with Cuba Gooding Jr., for Jerry Bruckheimer’s movie “Pearl Harbor,” which was released in 2000. He has also worked on “Natural Born Killers,” “Batman Returns,” “Roadhouse,” “Street Fighter,” “The Crow: City of Angels,” “Con Air,” “Grosse Pointe Blank,” “Soldier,” as well as co-starred with action legends Jackie Chan and Sylvester Stallone, the release said.?

According to the release, Urquidez also has served as a trainer for Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, Nicolas Cage, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jimmy Smits, Chuck Norris, Kurt Russell, David Lee Roth, Mark Wahlberg, Louis Gossett Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, Juliette Lewis, Michael Keaton, Woody Harrelson, Rene Russo and Patrick Swayze.?

Urquidez also has written four instructional books and released eight instructional videos and also is the hero in a series of Japanese comic books titled “Benny ]The Jet'” and the founder of Ukidokan Karate, which is recognized as a true modern martial art discipline by the Okinawan masters of Japan. “Ukidokan” translated means, “a way of life,” internal training, based on how you deal with emotions under pressure. Through proven theory, he discards the inferior techniques and applies only what works to the Ukidokan System, the release said.

Urquidez will be a presenter at the International Martial Arts Expo on Friday from 8 to 10 p.m., and Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m.

On Saturday, there will be a book signing by Urquidez at 10 a.m. The event will provide practitioners from all over, lessons in a variety of areas and martial arts styles.

All of the presenters at this year’s event are professional martial artists and highly recognized for their accomplishments and their craft. Classes will be taught in Escimna (Stick Fighting/Defense) Jeet Kun Do, close quarters gun disarm and combative, American Kenpo, Point and full contact fighting, Ju Jitsu and more.

To register, participants can pay at the door or call Pazzaglia’s Kenpo Karate at 762-1533 to pre-register and reserve T-shirts and books.

The registration fee will be $150 for both days or $85 for one.

Visit Pazzaglia’s Kenpo Karate Studio or the International Martial Arts Expo on Facebook for more information.

Spectators are welcome to attend the second annual International Martial Arts Expo. The entry fee will be $10 for spectators. For more details on the event, call 762-1533, Ext. 2.