“What is the West Coast World Martial Arts System?”

“What is the West Coast World Martial Arts System?”

From humble beginnings over 40 years ago, West Coast World Martial Arts has achieved world-wide recognition as a legendary martial arts school– right here in Santa Clara County!

That world-wide fame didn’t just happen; it was the result of the extraordinary vision and hard work of our association’s founders, Great Grandmaster Ernie Reyes, Great Grandmaster Tony Thompson, and their internationally acclaimed West Coast World Martial Arts Action Team.

West Coast World Martial Arts Action Team at Global Village Festival, Santa Clara University

And whether it was on stage in venues around the world, or on the set in Hollywood, the dynamic, high-flying martial art that amazed countless audiences around the world was the West Coast World Martial Arts system– the vision and creation of Great Grandmaster Ernie Reyes.

Great Grandmaster Ernie Reyes, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Ernie Reyes, Jr. during production of “The Rundown”

Every West Coast World Martial Arts student who has begun their martial arts Journey to Mastery learns the martial arts system Great Grandmaster Reyes developed. But new and prospective students may wonder “What is the West Coast World Martial Arts System? And what does it mean for me?”

West Coast World Martial Arts: The Early Days

At the core of our system is the martial art that began our school’s journey over 40 years ago– the Korean martial art of Taekwondo. A modern martial art that blends Karate and ancient Korean kicking techniques, Taekwondo is known the world over for its breathtaking spinning, jumping, and flying kicks. When you take some of the most gifted Taekwondo black belts in the world, and bring them together on a team coached by a Taekwondo black belt champion/martial arts creative genius, the results are guaranteed to be awe-inspiring–and they were! So awe-inspiring, in fact, that Bushido Magazine (Europe) dubbed the West Coast World Action Team “the #1 Martial Arts Demo Team in the World.” Hollywood took notice, too.

But Great Grandmaster Reyes didn’t stop there. He had a larger vision– developing a martial arts system that would be a practical mix of the best martial arts styles on Earth (Hint: it’s why the system is called “West Coast WORLD Martial Arts). 

That larger vision first began to take shape when Great Grandmaster Reyes was training for the 3rd World Taekwondo Championships in 1977. To get ready for the fighting competition, Great Grandmaster Reyes began cross-training in boxing at Garden City Boxing Club in San Jose, under boxing coach Gus Spencer. Combining boxing footwork and punching with his Taekwondo kicks while training for his upcoming competition, Great Grandmaster Reyes had taken his first steps on the road to creating what eventually became the West Coast World System of Martial Arts, and went on to take the bronze medal in his weight division at the Taekwondo World Championships. 

USA National Taekwondo Champion Ernie Reyes, center, carrying the American flag

In the following video, you can see historic footage of Great Grandmaster Ernie Reyes (starting at 7:58) training his boxing skills in preparation for the World Taekwondo Championships. The same video includes historic footage (starting at 3:19) of Great Grandmaster Ernie Reyes training and testing for one of his Taekwondo black belts. The historic footage in this video shows the earliest beginnings of what would eventually become the West Coast World Martial Arts system.

Following the World Taekwondo Championships, Great Grandmaster Ernie Reyes returned home to his Taekwondo school, and began teaching his students the same system combining Taekwondo and boxing skills that he had been training.

Great Grandmaster Reyes had also begun training Modern Arnis under Guro Remy Presas. A weapons-based mixed martial art, Modern Arnis was created by Guro Presas and is based primarily on traditional Filipino stick and knife fighting arts, but also includes elements from Shotokan Karate and Judo. As he had done with his system combining Taekwondo and boxing, Great Grandmaster Reyes began teaching his students Arnis as well. 

Great Grandmaster Reyes continued his journey deeper into the Filipino martial arts, learning Inayan Eskrima under Mangisursuro Mike Inay, and later, Doce Pares from Senior Grandmaster Ron Lew, a student of Doce Pares Supreme Grandmaster Ciriaco “Cacoy” Cañete.

As always, Great Grandmaster Reyes shared his own training and journey in the martial arts with his students, incorporating these Filipino stick and knife fighting martial arts into what was gradually becoming the West Coast World Martial Arts system. 

These weapons-based martial arts became a crucial component of every West Coast World Martial Arts student’s training, and added an exciting new dimension to the world’s best martial arts action team. Today, these Filipino martial arts– Modern Arnis, Inayan Eskrima, and Doce Pares– form the core of our school’s martial arts weapons curriculum. Rounding out our weapons curriculum, Great Grandmaster Reyes also brought Japanese, Okinawan, and Chinese weapons into the system.

Over the years, continuing developments to the West Coast World Martial Arts system introduced Muay Thai and Kickboxing, some of the best stand-up striking arts in the world. And for ground fighting, Great Grandmaster Reyes brought Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and submission grappling into the mix. 

It was this continual process of development and refinement by Great Grandmaster Reyes that forged all of these world-class martial arts into the West Coast World Martial Arts system. Today, every West Coast World Martial Arts student– young and old, from our newest white belts to our most senior black belts— learns this system, gaining a practical, well-rounded foundation in critical self-defense skills.

If you’re currently on your Journey to Mastery at West Coast World Martial Arts, you already know the benefit of the West Coast World Martial Arts system, the result of decades of training and development of some of the greatest martial arts on Earth into our unique system of martial arts. And if you are considering exploring the benefits of martial arts training for your child, or for yourself, we invite you to come visit our school– right here in Santa Clara at at the corner of San Tomas Expressway and El Camino Real– to see for yourself what makes our martial arts system and our school so special.

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