Filip Novachkov – Smash Gyms San Jose

Eastern Europe is known for producing some of the best wrestlers in the world, but growing in the Bulgarian city of Radnevo, Filip Novachkov was into another national pastime; Bulgarian Folk Dancing!

Filip & Boris Novachkov

His younger brother, Boris began sneaking away to go to wrestling practice, telling his parents that he was playing with friends. At home he would practice his moves on Filip, which is what convinced the older brother to trade his dancing uniform for a singlet. “I knew he was sneaking away to go to wrestling classes. The only reason Boris began training is because he heard they gave you a free pair of sneakers if you signed up for the wrestling team.” Filip said, “I didn’t think anything of it until my little brother started kicking my butt. That didn’t sit right with me so I signed up as well.”

Filip is part of our Amazing Staff of Wrestling Coaches!

The brothers excelled in wrestling ever since, winning multiple cadet national titles in Bulgaria. In 2003 Filip’s mom, Zhivka, received a green card package for the family of four and they made the move to California. “I was excited for the whole journey. I’ve always wanted to see what the other side of the world looked like” Filip mentioned. They moved to Sunnyvale and the brothers went to school at Fremont High School.

Filip won three CCS titles, was a three time state placer and California State Champion. He also took 3rd place at Nationals Championships. Filip was also an outstanding student having a 3.9 GPA. He was named the student-athlete of the year awarded from San Jose Mercury News in 2005. His accomplishments drew interests from university wrestling programs across the nation but ultimately he chose Cal Poly, where he received a full scholarship. As a Mustang, Filip was ranked as high as 3rd in the Nation and defeated a couple of National Champions. Filip placed 3rd in the PAC 10 conference as a Junior and earned a Silver Medal as a Senior. John Azevedo, Cal Poly’s Head Coach described the brothers as typical American brothers, but different in a way that they wrestled. “The European mentality definitely showed up when they wrestled”, Azevedo added.

Cal Poly Stand Out Filip Novachkov

After graduating from college with a degree in Industrial Technology, he began working for Space Systems Loral in Palo Alto. Filip feels that wrestling helped him earn the engineering position. He explained that the company was especially interested in the fact that he was successful student athlete who had excelled both in sports and academically. Being a part of a large space technology company is definitely an incredible experience, but something was missing.

Novachkov’s passion for wrestling brought him to Smash Gyms. Filip began training wrestling and BJJ at Smash and was immediately impressed by the friendly environment and high level of skill by the students and instructors. He began teaching wrestling classes and competing in BJJ competitions. Filip noticed the amazing growth of Smash and eventually he decided he wanted to open his own Smash Gyms location.

Two D1 Wrestlers and a BJJ Black Belt!

Novachkov jumped at the opportunity to help open a second Smash location in Evergreen and East San Jose.  He now is part co-owner of Smash San Jose. Smash Gyms is ran by an all-star team of martial artist including D1 Wrestlers, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belts, Pro-boxers and MMA Fighters. Filip hopes to use the resources at Smash to reach his goal of making the World and Olympic Wrestling Team and earning a black belt in BJJ. Filip’s brother Boris is seeing tremendous success on Bulgaria’s National Wrestlng Team. Boris’ success in international wrestling motivates Filip to keep on training; the long time brotherly rivalry that has helped them both see amazing success.

Filip runs wrestling classes at both Smash Gyms locations. Smash has two Bay Area locations. One on the border of Santa Clara and Sunnyvale near Levi Stadium and Great America and one in East San Jose and Evergreen across the street from Eastridge Mall. Filip is excited to share his amazing wrestling technique with the students and instructors at Smash. He is part of an amazing staff of wrestling instructors including Jacob Palomino, Eli Sanchez, Scott Clymer, Tina Linhsamout, Sam Spengler and more!

Smash Gyms Wrestling Coach

Sam Spengler’s New MMA Classes at Smash Gyms

Beginning Monday February 10th 2014 Sam “The Ram” Spengler will begin teaching beginner friendly MMA Fitness & Self-Defense Classes at the new San Jose Smash Gyms. Smash Gym San Jose is located in Evergreen right down the street from Quimby Oak Middle School where Sam has taught for over 12 years.

Sam Spengler - Teacher, Coach, Martial Artist, & MMA Fighter

As a veteran PE teacher, wrestling coach, athlete, and role model Sam Spengler has contributed to the East San Jose and Evergreen community in many ways. As a teacher Sam’s positive attitude is contagious and he is extremely popular with his students and fellow staff. Sam has had huge success as the Quimby Oak Head Wrestling Coach. He has led the Quimby Oak Lobo’s wrestling team to win their league for 12 years in a row. As a coach Sam has helped students fulfill their potential by guiding them in their athletic careers. He has created countless champions. Many of Sam’s students have gone on to receive scholarships, become coaches themselves, and be contributing members of the community.

2013 BJJ US Purple Belt Open Champion Sam Spengler

Sam has been wrestling since he was 5 years old. As a senior in high school he earned a bronze medal in the Montana State Wrestling Championships and also received a scholarship to play college football where he earned a degree in Education. A seasoned martial arts veteran, Sam has been competing in kickboxing and MMA since 2003. He began training kickboxing over 10 years ago at West Valley Community College with Brian Kuhn.  Shortly after Brian introduced Sam to Cung Le’s Martial Arts in San Jose where Sam began training MMA. Sam continued his MMA training with Cung Le and supplemented his training by learning BJJ at Smash Gyms. Sam has trained with many world-class competitors and instructors over the last 10 years.

Sam has competed in hundreds of wrestling matches, 22 kickboxing matches, dozens of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu tournaments and 9 MMA fights. Sam is also the head of his Physical Education Department in San Jose. This competitive experience in kickboxing, wrestling, brazilian jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts coupled with his teaching background lends him the unique ability to transfer his knowledge to eager students in a structured and systematic way. Sam’s organized and fun classes will help students of all skill and fitness levels learn technique and improve their fitness level due to a format and curriculum designed to create an optimal learning environment. Sam is happy and excited to pass on his experience and unique skill set to the Evergreen and East San Jose community at Smash Gyms.

2011 Jiu-Jitsu by the Sea Champion

2011 Jiu-Jitsu by the Bay Champion

2011 San Jose Open Champion

2011 San Jose Open Absolute Division Champion

2012 American Cup Champion

2013 US Open BJJ Champion


Smash Gyms | San Jose | After School Tutoring Program

With the opening of second Smash Gyms in San Jose, we are proud to announce inclusion of the After School Tutoring Program at this new location.  This academic achievement program is headed by Rosalinda Jen.  Rosalinda was a credentialed school teacher for 6 years at Dorsa Elementary School and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Smash Gyms family.

Check out this great video highlighting the background of our lead teacher and her teaching philosophies.

Smash Gyms Coming to Evergreen and East San Jose

Smash Gyms in Evergreen and East San Jose


New Smash Gyms Location right across the street from Eastridge Mall in East San Jose and Evergreen! Cross streets will be Quimby Road and Capital Expressway!

Please LIKE Smash Gyms San Jose Facebook Fan Page:


Sunnyvale Fan Page:

Also sure to check San Jose Gyms website for updates:

Smash Gyms San Jose 

2268 Quimby Road – Suite C  (Building A)

San Jose, CA 950122

Smash Gyms San Jose will offer the same great fitness and martial arts classes we offer in Sunnyvale and Santa Clara! Every class is taught by experienced professionals for a unique fitness and social experience that will allow you to reach your physical and mental potential. Smash Gyms instructors take a systematic and beginner friendly approach to teaching, with a focus on the individual needs of each student. Smash instructors are excited to help you reach your personal goals!

Specialty group fitness classes like Strength & Conditioning, UJAM, Yoga, Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Grappling, MMA (mixed-martial arts), Self-defense, Circuit Training, Bootcamp, Zumba, Wrestling and more!

After School Martial Arts & Tutoring Available for youths in addition to world class martial arts instruction.  

To accommodate everyone’s needs we offer monthly memberships, annual memberships, drop in, and prepay options. We have special discounted rates for Police, Firefighters, Teachers, Students and Military Service Members.


New Instructor at Smash! by Debbie Sanchez

A few weeks ago I decided to take the CrossFit Trainer Course to become a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. I want to thank my Strength & Conditioning coaches James Cebedo and Cainan Munsell for the inspiration! They have helped me reach a fitness level that I never thought possible. Without them I would not know my full physical capabilities & potential and I have grown to love physical fitness.

The course spanned over 2 full days with lectures, breakout sessions, and a WOD  (work out of the day) on both days. The class was full of mostly very fit aspiring trainers ready to take their knowledge and fitness to a new level. I have never seen so much muscle in one place! I was pleasantly surprised of the equal ratio of women and men. Because of the awesome training at Smash I was in the top 20% of the women in completing the prescribed timed WODs despite only training for one year. Many of the women could not complete the workout with the prescribed weight requirements.

I am proud to say I have passed the exam and can now consider myself a Crossfit Level 1 Trainer! Below is my fitness story!

Growing up my diet was horrible. As an adult I ballooned up to 140lbs because I never worked out. When I met my husband I had lost 10 pounds mostly through starving myself and diet pills.

I was Heavy Before Smash!

When I began working out I just would walk straight to the elliptical machine. Like most women I didn’t want to lift weights because I didn’t understand the benefits and thought I would look bulky. I didn’t want muscle because I didn’t know what I know now. I have come a LONG way.

All I knew of exercise was getting in 20 mins of light cardio, whether it was jogging or using an elliptical machine. I never saw any results but that was because it was boring so I was never consistent.

When my husband and I started dating I started to workout with him. He encouraged me to start lifting weights and told me that it would actually help me lose fat! He designed an exercise regiment which consisted of weight lifting and cardio. My weightlifting (Globogym style) consisted of legs one day, tricep, chest, & shoulders the next, and back & bicep the following day. I started to see results but I didn’t have systems, knowledge or the support to measure progress and reach my potential.

Then came Smash Gyms and my life changed! After two long years of the same boring workouts I found an exercise regiment that was fun and making huge strides in my physical fitness. The variety of classes at Smash pushed me to a new level of fitness. I was incorporating group classes such as Kickboxing, Kettlebells, and Bootcamp into my workouts. I was taking 3 classes a day because it was FUN!  I learned so much in every class and didn’t want to stop progressing.

Then I finally tried the Jiu-Jitsu classes. By that time we had a lot of women in the program at Smash so it was a comfortable safe path for me to see what is all about. It took me a few classes but I eventually fell in love with Jiu-Jitsu. Once you get passed the first few classes Jiu-jitsu becomes addictive! This new found addiction motivated me to get in the best shape possible! Getting tapped will motivate you!

Jiu-Jitsu Competition

Soon after I started taking women’s Jiu-jitsu, Smash added Strength & Conditioning classes to the schedule. The class was taught by fitness veterans & personal trainers James Cebedo and Cainan Munsell. They showed me what real strength training was. It meant taking the plunge and adding heavy weights to a barbell. I soon found that I could lift and squat heavy weights. I was amazed at my new abilities! I soon realized that it wasn’t me. It was my new coaches! With high level coaching everyone is capable of taking their fitness to this level! The coaches also tracked results for everyone taking the Strength & Conditioning classes. This showed that everyone is capable of getting physically stronger and making progress on sprints, WODs, jumps, etc. We could see our progress every week!

Clean & Jerk!

Not only was I able to see and track progress on my lifts and conditioning but best of all I could see the results in my jiu-jitsu training. I found that much of my success in Jiu-jitsu was due to the physical and mental strength that our Strength & Conditioning class gives me. With the combination of our amazing coaches for BJJ and S&C at Smash I was so confident that I decided to enter The Bay Area Jiu-Jitsu Championships and ended up taking home a silver medal. The days I don’t feel like lifting the barbell I remind myself that I want to win my next BJJ tournament and I know that supplementing with strength & conditioning classes will be that extra step towards the gold.

Aside from sports performance our Strength & Conditioning classes have given me much more confidence. I am much happier with the way I look and feel. I was always very self conscious and have battled with low self-esteem. Through martial arts and physical fitness I have built confidence. This is why I decided to take the CrossFit Trainer course. I want to share these great things that I have found and help inspire others to do what they never thought possible.

Debbie Sanchez
Certified Level 1 CrossFit Trainer

Find Debbie!

Smash Kids medal at the North Bay Judo Developmental Tournament

Derek and Aaron Jen represented the Smash Gyms Kids Martial Arts Program and competed in the 5th Annual North Bay Judo Developmental Tournament.  This was a smaller competition with fewer competitors, so the brothers were put against opponents of higher rank.  Aaron placed 1st in his division and Derek placed 2nd in his division.  Congratulations to both boys!

Check out the highlights!