Everyone involved in Martial Arts gains…. whether from the enjoyment of increasing one’s Athletic and Martial Arts Skills while learning The Science of Fighting, from the many health and appearance benefits of Physical Training and Fitness, from gaining The Mental Edges of Confidence, Discipline and Inner Peace, to the personal Challenges of Competition; if one chooses to do so in your studio, local tournaments or even the stage of Ultimate Fighting. No matter what aspect one desires, martial arts training is beneficial and attractive for anyone who desires to build their mind, body and spirit. - Saya Phil Ross
BGS, RKC, CK-FMS, CPT, Internationally Recognized Instructor, Trainer and Wrestling Coach with over 35 years of experience competing and training in the Martial Arts and Fitness.
Many people have asked me how and why I became an instructor. It can be summed up very simply. The has become a way of life for me. Aside from the obvious health benefits, it has made me the man I am today. The lessons of hard work and discipline cannot be found anywhere else. The problem solving, the goal achievement and all of the dedication it takes to become successful has enabled me to overcome a multitude of adversities and reach levels of achievement and a belief in myself that would NEVER be possible without the rigors of training.
My personal, physical and spiritual gains have been so great, that I feel compelled to pass this knowledge onto others so that they too may experience what I have. There is no greater joy than to see someone persevere and achieve with the skills and knowledge that you have been able to pass onto them. I feel so strongly about the benefits of training that I have passed them onto to my family members. Witnessing my daughter attain the level of Jr. Black Belt, after 10 years of training, was one of the most memorable moments of my life. Having my son, niece and nephew training on my floor gives me great pride. I trained my younger brother for 22 years and my younger sister for over 12. It was incredible watching them grow, develop, achieve and change through their time with me. Now they are recognized internationally in the fields of Martial Arts and Fitness, respectively. It has given me great pleasure to have trained them.
There are many other very accomplished individuals that have trained and continue to train with me; The US Navy SEALs, UFC Fighters, Martial Arts School Owners, Professional Fighters, FBI Agents, DEA Agents, Police Officers, US Marines, Professional Athletes, Doctors, Attorneys, a High School Principal, Students with Special Needs, School Teachers, Computer Programmers, Wall Street moguls, moms and dads. The lessons that they learn are carried over into their everyday lives. It’s an incredible feeling to receive a visit from a college student as they relay a story to you about how the lessons you taught them had such a positive impact upon their lives. When the students that I have taught positively influence and guide others with the lessons learned from training with me, there can be no bigger thrill.
The people that I have met and the friendships that I have forged from my involvement in the martial arts and fitness fields is irreplaceable. The more people that share in the same joy and peace of mind that I enjoy, the better.
Master Ross was inducted in the Martial Arts Hall of Fame and is a High School Wrestling Coach for an NJ State ranked team. He has had the good fortune of either training under and/or receiving ranks from:
- Professor Jon Collins: East/West Martial Arts Alliance/Bando
- Dr. Patrick Finely: Bando/Arnis & Shootfighting
- Frank Shamrock: Shamrock Submission Fighting
- Professor Mitch Coats: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Team Alliance
- Dr. Maung Gyi: American Bando Assoc.
- Shihan James Martin: Shotokan Karate
- Guro Dan Inosanto: Arnis (Through Patrick Finely)
- Tom Patire: CDT
- Dr. Mike Evangel: Taekwondo
- Chris Catalfo: US Wrestling Olympian
- Dave Pruzansky: Pan American Judo Champion
- Carl Cestari: Combatu Defendu Jujutsu
- Cosmo Ferro (Grandfather) – Western Boxing, Silk City Gym, Paterson, NJ
South Windsor, CT: AMMO Fight League. On Saturday, May 11th, Zack Fox of the American Eagle MMA/ Team Alliance Fight Team won two divisions and secured the Cruiserweight Submission Fighting Title Belt at the Second AMMO Fight League Championships. The tournament was heavily attended by Gracie Jiu Jitsu Schools and the American Eagle MMA fighter was the only representative from Team Alliance Jiu Jitsu. There were Professional MMA Fighters from the Bellatore as well as Team Link Jiu Jitsu fighters in attendance.
Fox finished two opponents via Submission Armbar and one by a dominant decision enroute his title belt. This is Zack’s 4th Championship in a row. He won 1st at the NAGA Nationals last November, 1st palce at the NAGA World Championships in April and now the AMMO Fight League title winning first place in both Gi and No Gi Competitions.
Mennen Sports Arena, Morristown, NJ, April 20th & 21st; The North American Grappling Association: NAGA, held the the 2013 World Championships. There were teams from Poland, Brazil, China as well as the top US Teams from all over the country. Team Alliance, Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Wilkes Warriors and even the US Naval Academy entered 17 Mid-Shipmen from their Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Competition team.
American Eagle MMA & Kettlebells is proud to announce the opening of NCAA Division 1 Wrestler and NJ High State and Beast of East Champion Fred Santaite’s East Coast Wrestling Academy. The ECWA is geared toward instilling the proper techniques and strategies for Grade School Wrestlers (8th grade and below) to become successful and grow in their sport. The Classes will be offered on Friday evenings from 5:30-7:00 pm and Sunday evenings from 4:00 to 6:00 pm.
About the Instructor: Fred Santaite was a decorated Captain of Boston University’s Wrestling team and has an incredible wealth of coaching experience at the both the Junior and High School levels. Some of his accolades are as follows:
Boston University:Wrestling Team Member 2007-2012. (Co-Captain, 2010-2012 season). 2x NCAA Qualifier: top 12 finisher as redshirt freshman. Ranked as high as 7th in the nation. MVP of the Boston University Wrestling Team as a redshirt freshman. (2010). Wrestling Rookie of the year at Boston University for the CAA conference. (2010). Boston University’s Student Athlete of the Week (March 23, 2010).
Northern Highlands Regional High School: Wrestling Team Member 2003-2007; Captain from 2005-2007; Currently 2nd All-Time Wins Leader in NHRHS history (143); 1st State Champion in NHRHS History. Athlete of the Week Honors 2006; Beast of the East National Champion 2007. Ranked as high as 4th in the United States. North Jersey 1500 WGHT (radio station) athlete of the week award (2006). YMCA J. Barry Stanford Award, presented to an athlete for outstanding achievement in high school sports (2007). Named to the Bergen County All-Decade Team for a lightweight. (2010). Named to the top 50 Greatest wrestlers of all-time from Bergen County. (2009); Fargo Nationals Freestyle and Greco Finalist (2006); 3x Fargo Nationals Greco All-American; 2x Fargo Nationals Freestyle All-American.
For additional information or to register call Coach Fred Santaite at 201-417-8314 or Miss Cathy at American Eagle MMA & Kettlebells at 201-612-1429.
Phil Ross: I’m always looking for the best things available as far as training goes, especially concerning martial arts. I first heard about kettlebells at Frank Shamrock’s place in the Summer of 2005. He mentioned that he knew someone in San Jose who was training with these cool things called kettlebells. So, he showed me a few moves at his studio in San Jose and I thought they looked interesting. Then, one of my clients, Dr. Pat Roth—a very notable neural surgeon who operated on Rutgers football player Eric LaGrande—told me about Steve Freides. Steve had recently explained to Pat how kettlebells helped to cure his back. I just kept hearing a lot about kettlebells, so I went online, bought a set from Power Systems along with the Steve Cotter Encyclopedia of Kettlebell Lifting.
I researched a little deeper and discovered that Pavel and the RKC were the “Gold Standard” for kettlebell training and certifications. From there I found Dragon Door and signed up to test for the RKC. I attended the 3 day workshop in October, 2007 and became RKC certified.
Dragon Door: Was your interest in kettlebells mostly personal at this point, or were you beginning to use them with your clients and martial arts students?
Phil Ross: I wanted to learn as much as possible, so I started buying more videos like Enter the Kettlebell. I started training myself, because there weren’t too many available instructors yet. Steve was nearby, but our schedules didn’t work, and I was busy teaching at my own studio. I started adding kettlebells in some of my advanced classes, and with my advanced martial arts students—wrestlers and fighters—who either wanted to take it to the next level, or were competing.
After I got my RKC certification, I started a kettlebell-only class. Now I’m running eleven kettlebell classes a week. Every Saturday morning, I have a training class especially for our certified instructors. Seven people at my studio are certified HKCs and have been training with me for quite a while.
Dragon Door: In your opinion, what are some of the best kettlebell exercises for martial artists?
Phil Ross: I like alternating cleans, swings, snatches, and any squatting motion—there are so many different squats we can do. I also like push presses for martial arts.
Dragon Door: What benefits have you experienced from kettlebell training?
Phil Ross: First of all, learning about kettlebells has expanded my own training knowledge to an incredible degree. Physically—even though I just turned 50—I’m in much better condition now, far superior to when I was simply weight training.
Luckily, I was always into bodyweight training at some level, but incorporating kettlebells has just really made me strong to the bone. It’s enabled me to keep going as I get older. I have had over 300 fights (a low estimate), and injuries accumulate, but kettlebell training has helped me keep going and enabled me to keep training.
Dragon Door: Very cool. When we talked earlier, you mentioned some issues with your knees, has kettlebell training helped?
Phil Ross: Yes. On Saturday, I was single rack squatting with the Beast for sets of 5 reps. It’s helped me a lot. I’ve had knee surgery, and currently have a torn meniscus and a torn quad tendon, but I’m healing with kettlebells. I’m not going to have another operation; I’m just training the knee and restoring it. On the injured side, I can already do a body weight pistol squat, and the single rack squats mentioned earlier.
Dragon Door: Are you still competing in martial arts?
Phil Ross: I had an injury requiring an operation on four levels of my neck in December, 2011. My doctors told me not to compete anymore, but prior to that my last competition was in NAGA, the North American Grappling Association. I had won the Battle of the Beach, a nationally rated tournament in 2010. I was almost 48 and had five fights in that tournament. I went undefeated with no one scoring against me. I competed in both the 40 and up division and the 18-29 division, and actually won a title belt for the expert division.
Dragon Door: It’s impressive that you were able to compete against athletes of all ages.
Phil Ross: Yes, I would say weighing in at 184, I was definitely stronger than all but one other competitor who was 200lbs. He was huge! I was able to wear him out a little bit though, because my endurance was pretty good.
Dragon Door: You’ve been recently promoted to Master RKC, what do you see yourself doing next with kettlebells?
Phil Ross: I want to bring my knowledge and experience to the RKC and the Dragon Door community. I won’t be reinventing the wheel, but want to bring some nuances that will enhance our community’s training, especially for group training. Since I teach martial arts, I’m used to having people at different skill levels all in the same class. I might have a black belt and a white belt training side by side, but they could be doing different things. The same thing happens in my kettlebell classes, some students have been with me for five years, and some for just a few days.
As a martial arts instructor as well as a kettlebell instructor, I’ve developed the ability to train people of different levels in the same class. In an ideal world, we’d all have one-on-one sessions, or everyone in a class would be at the same stage in their training. But that’s not going to happen and there are only so many hours in a day.
Dragon Door: What’s a favorite strategy for working with a mixed-level group class?
Phil Ross: I’ve created a collection of over 150 different workouts, and have filmed 104 of them, which are in editing right now. The project is called the Kettlebell Workout Library. It’s going to be a great training tool, especially for instructors who will be able to help a new student on one workout, while having an intermediate and advanced student do two other workouts. I can have several different workouts going on at once in the same class by referencing the manual accompanying the video series. I’ve been working on the system by logging my routines, ever since I started training with kettlebells.
Dragon Door: That’s excellent. I remember the last time we talked, you mentioned a comic book project.
Phil Ross: A buddy of mine is Joe Antonacci, who was just inducted into the boxing hall of fame for his work as a ring announcer for Friday Night Fights on ESPN, HBO, fights in Atlantic City, and more. He purchased Joe Palooka, a comic book from the ’40s and ‘50s about a boxer. He’s now reinvented Joe Palooka as a mixed martial artist. Joe Antonacci enlisted me to collaborate on all the fight scenes. Mike Bullock is the prize winning comic book writer on the project, but they’ve brought me in as a specialist to help him make the fights appear realistic. Mike will ask me how a fight between Joe Palooka and a capoeira guy would go for example. Mike tells me who will win beforehand and I lay out the whole sequence of the fight so that it makes sense. In fact, UFC Magazine did a write up on the comic book series asked us how we make the fight scenes in the comic book so realistic, then they dedicated two paragraphs to me.
Right now, two issues of the comic are out, but we were recently purchased by IDW—the same company who brought GI Joe to the silver screen. So, they might be looking to do something similar with Joe Palooka. In issue five or six, I might be introduced as a character—a trainer with my kettlebell and RKC shirt. I’ve got to make sure that happens.
Dragon Door: We’ll definitely need to see that. You have a lot of exciting things going on, especially with the new RKC.
Phil Ross: I’m really excited about the new RKC. I think we’re putting together an excellent team—Max Shank, Andrew Read, and of course Andrea Du Cane. New leadership announcements are happening all the time, and everyone’s top shelf. I don’t have any complaints about the old RKC, I just think we can continue to make the system even better. I’m glad to be part of it.
Dragon Door: What other experiences are you bringing to your leadership position?
Phil Ross: I also have some experience with powerlifting. I’m not hugely involved in it, but did compete up until 1987 where I clean benched 370lbs with a pause at at a body weight of 179.9 lbs. I also achieved a 525lb squat, and 505lb deadlift at the same event. Powerlifting gave me a lot of perspective. I also won some Olympic lifting contests and bodybuilding contests too. I left bodybuilding because to me, training is all about health and sports, so I wasn’t going to use steroids to get bigger just to win the next contest.
Dragon Door: In addition to your studio you’re also doing online-based training?
Phil Ross: Yes, I’ve put together a very low cost beginner’s kettlebell training program, available at KettlebellKing.com. It has three technique sections, two warm-up and bodyweight sections, along with twelve beginner kettlebell workouts. There’s also an electronic manual included which is based on a program I put together for NASM.
Dragon Door: What inspired you to create the program?
Phil Ross: I want to reach as many people as possible since everyone can’t come to New Jersey and train in my studio. It’s also good for people who are still researching kettlebells before making a big commitment like an RKC Workshop. I wanted to make a way for people to get a solid base of knowledge, along with something to practice and reference. It will give them an idea of what they’re getting into, and the benefits that they can expect. I’m certain that once they go and practice the program for a few months, they’ll be started for life. After 90 days they’ll see the benefits.
Something else I’m bringing to the RKC is my Fit to Fight program, it’s based on my SAVE (Surviving A Violent Environment) program. SAVE is a self defense fitness program which was rated number one several times by independent video reviewers, actually beating out Krav Maga, and Dillman’s pressure point system. It has its own certification process, and I just finished teaching it to a group of phys ed teachers at one of the local high schools. They’re going to use it as a unit for their phys ed classes.
The Fit 2 Fight concept is based on martial arts self defense movements coupled with bodyweight exercises. Max Shank and I are collaborating on this project, I’m providing the martial arts techniques and he’s supplying the bodyweight exercises and associated regimens.
Dragon Door: That’s very exciting, and we’re all looking forward to see how you bring your unique style to your new leadership role.
Phil Ross: I can’t wait to lead my first RKC Certification Workshop, I think it’s a great opportunity. In the past five plus years, I’ve put a lot into training with kettlebells. I’m looking forward to see who else is going to be with the RKC and how we all develop it even further.
Zack Fox began his Martial Arts training here at American Eagle MMA in June of 2012. However, Zack arrived at the AEMMA Academy with quite a solid list of athletic accomplishments. Zack was a High School All American Lacrosse player for Don Bosco Prep and an NCAA Division 1 Recruit for St. John’s University. Zack was also a Jr. National Power Lifting Champion and now at a weight of 195lbs, has a bench press of 520, a squat of 680 and pulls another 680 in the dead lift.
Despite having no wrestling experience or any other prior combat experience, Zack began competing in Jiu Jitsu after only 5 weeks of training at the AEMMA Academy. He placed second in the White Belt Gi Division after training only 9 weeks and after only 3 months of training he secured his first Championship at the NAGA North American Championships on November 17th, 2012. We are anticipating a lot of achievements from this young competitor. Zack is also HKC Kettlebell Certified and is a personal strength & fitness trainer at the AEMMA Academy.
On April 20th, 2013, Zack Fox added a NAGA World Championship to his list of accomplishments. He won the Cruiserweight, Beginner Title in the No-Gi Competition.
November 17th, 2012, Newark, NJ: NAGA North American Championship: Essex County College was the site of the North American Grappling Association’s annual North American Championships. The Ho-Ho-Kus based American Eagle MMA & Kettlebell School entered two combatants, Zachary Fox of Wyckoff and Joshua Lay of Ridgewood in the nationally ranked tourney. Zach Fox was crowned the No-Gi Champion in the Cruiserweight Division (under 199.9) and in his first contest ever, Josh Lay took home the Bronze in the Light Heavyweight (Under 189.9) competition.
NAGA, along with Grappler’s Quest are two of the top grappling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu leagues in the world. This year alone, Master Phil Ross’ Team Alliance BJJ school member, American Eagle MMA, has had four (4) champions crowned at these prestigious events. The also competes in the regional, but highly competitive tournaments hosted by The Good Fight.
American Eagle MMA’s Chief Instructor, Master Phil Ross won two First Place Awards in one day while competing in the NAGA Battle at the Beach competition in 2010. He was crowned champion in the Executive No-Gi competition and after only training with a Gi for 3 months, bested 48 competitors in the Gi competition. Master Ross was almost 48 at the time and competed in the 18 to 29 age bracket. He went undefeated and unscored upon throughout the competition and secured two submission victories.
After having won well over 300 fights in various disciplines, Master Ross no longer competes and focuses his energy on training his up and coming fighters, students and conducting seminars.