The Jacob Palomino Story

We have so many amazing people at Smash, so it always feels strange singling out any particular individual. I often have the feeling that I can never repay all those who have helped, so I feel that the least I can do is share with everyone the history and behind-the-scenes workings of some of these great people. One of these people is Jacob Palomino.

Ever since I met Jacob, he made it clear that his top goal has been to share the skills and knowledge he has acquired. The wrestling program at Smash Gym San Jose has become one of the top programs in the area because Jacob and his assistant coaches go way beyond the call of duty.

For example, yesterday, Jacob conducted a free clinic for all local high school wrestlers. After the free two hour practice, he grabbed the 14-year old son of one of our Brazilian Jiu-jitsu coaches who has just begun his first year wrestling in high school. Jacob spent 20-30mins showing him details on the front headlock. Then he played with my 3 year old son, along with his son, and taught them how to get into a wrestling stance and sprawl for another 20 mins after everyone else left.

Free Wrestling Clinic at Smash San Jose

This is not uncommon behavior for Jacob. He is probably the hardest working coach I have ever met, and that’s saying a lot because I know a lot of amazing coaches. A typical day for Jacob may consist of teaching two classes and coach up to 5-6 private lessons. During wrestling season, he brings local high school kids to the 6am strength and conditioning class at Smash San Jose. He is often working at Smash San Jose until 9pm.

As many of you know, Jacob comes from one of the greatest wrestling families in the state of California. When Jacob, his older brother Jason, and his cousin Ricky were in high school their legendary uncles, Anthony and Rick Palomino committed themselves as coaching staff for Independence High School. They created one of the most legendary high school team’s in California history. Under the Palominos, Independence won the California team state title, produced future NCAA champions, and Olympians such as Eric Guerrero. Their technique, work ethic, and heart were incredible to watch in action.

Jacob Palomino as a freshman at Independence

In 1998, Jacob was the youngest of his generation in the Palomino family and made history by becoming the first freshman to become a state champion in California EVER. Typically a 14-15 year old competing against 18-19 year olds would not stand a chance. He proved it was possible and, amazingly, became a 4-time state finalist and 3-time champion.

As if this wasn’t incredible enough, those that were close to him knew his story was even more inspirational than you could possibly imagine. About a month before the State Championships, Jacob’s young and healthy mother suddenly passed away. Jacob was devastated. Most people thought his season was over. Just weeks after this tragedy Jacob stepped into the toughest high school wrestling tournament in the country and did the impossible by becoming the first freshman to win a California State Championship. You can imagine the inspiration that his friends and family drew from that victory. Jacob’s story inspired the wrestling community all over California. He dedicated his historic championship to his mother. At 15 years old Jacob Palomino became a legend.

Jacob was also a teenage father, having had twin babies his Junior year in high school. Either one of these things would have easily derailed someone from achieving excellence. Jacob, through incredible determination somehow continued to march forward and made a history as one of the greatest high school wrestlers ever.

First Freshman State Champ – Jacob Palomino

If you’re not aware of what a California State Championship really means I’ll do my best to explain this amazing accomplishment. There is only one kid at each weight that becomes a state champion in all of California. This year in California there’s about 2 million kids in high school in over 2,500 schools. It’s a dog fight every step of the way to move up in qualifying tournaments to and then get to state. Only one kid at each weight in his whole school gets to wrestle varsity. High schools are split into a league tournament of about 20 schools, top 2-3 winners at each weight in each league go to our section tournament, where about 120 schools compete against each other. The top 3 athletes that place at sections in each weight get the honor of going to State. The California State Tournament is truly a tournament of champions.

Right before we were going to open Smash Sunnyvale I ran into Jacob at CCS. I mentioned that I was going to open a gym soon. Always humble, he said, “if there’s anything you need let me know, Not sure what I can do, but seriously I want to help so just please let me know.” I tried to keep an acceptable level of excitement and I told him I’d give him a call.

He began teaching a wrestling class Monday night and would not accept any money. For a year, no matter how often I asked, he would always brush it aside. Finally, I started putting money in his shoes while he was still on the mat. Even then I would have to reason with him that it would be good to at least let us pay for his gas. After all, he was driving over 25 minutes to get to Smash Sunnyvale.

Jacob and his youngest son Ezra

That first year Jacob rarely participated in jiujitsu. Although, he had never attended one jiujitsu class, sometimes jiujitsu students would ask him to roll during his wrestling classes. He never said no. Late one evening near the end of Smash’s first year, about two weeks before the BJJ US Open, I got a text from Jacob. He asked me if I thought he could win it. I would never bet against Jacob, so I said yes. We did a few private lessons around a game plan for the US Open and of course, he won his division.

When Filip, Mario, Eli and I partnered to open Smash San Jose, Jacob was working full time at a local cemetery. Jacob began teaching some classes at Smash San Jose, getting requests for private lessons, and word started getting around to local high school coaches and wrestlers. Soon enough, they were asking him for help. His schedule quickly filled with private lessons. He began to realize that it might be possible to teach wrestling full time. Jacob told everyone that was now committed to becoming the best instructor possible. His passion and dedication to servicing student athletes in the community showed. People began to say Jacob might even be a better coach than he was a wrestler. Their support provided him with the opportunity to finally quit his other job and start teaching wrestling full time.

 

Coach Jacob and one of his students

Jacob has developed a very close following of supportive parents and students. They are loyal and thankful for all that he does for the kids in the community that seek out his guidance. Jacob has significantly influenced the local wrestling scene. Entire junior highs and high schools have better teams because of his efforts. A lot of local hardworking coaches are very thankful for the help he’s given them.

Having Jacob at Smash full-time is a blessing to everyone. He is always inspirational, honest, and hardworking. Because we were so thankful for his contributions Filip, Mario, Eli and I decided to make Jacob our partner and co-owner of Smash San Jose.

Jacob is one of my personal heroes. He’s one of the most giving people I’ve ever met. Very few people inspire others to be better in so many different aspects. Jacob motivates everyone around him to be a better leaders, parents, athletes, and coaches. I hoped by sharing his story you can find as much inspiration from it as I do.

Rudy Sanchez

Smash Gyms | CEO & Founder

 

Jacob Palomino Wrestling Coach

California has a long and proud wrestling tradition. California’s High School State Championship tournament is widely accepted as the toughest State tournament in the country. There is only one champion crowned for the entire state at each weight class. Jacob Palomino was the first freshman ever to win a California High School State Wrestling title. The prodigal son of the family of wrestlers that has earned more state championships than any other family, Jacob was a wrestling legend that made history.

Today, he credits the support of his family and team mates for that success. “I was working out in a wrestling room with older champion high school wrestlers when I was only in the 6th grade. In a room that tough no one was a star because they were all amazing wrestlers. These guys were some of the best wrestlers in the state. I saw the struggle, hard work and technique that made them what they were.” Through the guidance of his coaches, his entire family, and older teammates he assembled a virtually unstoppable arsenal of technique that helped him secure his place in wrestling history.

Jacob’s mental toughness, technical abilities, and kindness have become legend in Bay Area Wrestling. He also happens to be one of the nicest and most caring coaches an athlete can ask for. Jacob’s dedication and world class coaching have helped build the Smash Gyms wrestling program into one of the most popular wrestling programs in San Jose.

In the last few years Jacob has become one of the most sought after wrestling coaches in California. Jacob teaches classes at Smash Gyms San Jose on Monday and Wednesday evening at 6:30pm. He also has a full schedule of private lessons. Young wrestlers drive from all over California for a chance to train with one of the best wrestlers and coaches ever. Jacob also host Bay Area Wrestling Open Mats on Sunday at Smash Gyms San Jose.

Smash Gyms members are privileged to have such a humble champion as our Wrestling Coach!

-4X California Stae Finalist

-3x California State Champion

– 2011 US Open BJJ Champion

Smash Wrestling Coach Jacob Palomino with one of his Champion Wrestlers

 

 

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

Scott Clymer – Smash Gyms Wrestling Coach

A NCAA East Regional Champion Scott Clymer had been ranked as high as 19th in the nation and was on track to become a D1 All-American his senior year. Unfortunately Liberty University, where Scott was attending lost it’s Division 1 status due to Title IX when he was going into his senior year. Like many wrestling teams that lost their status, Liberty’s wrestlers were forced to wrestle in NCWA. 

Scott made a statement his senior year. He was a MAC Conference Champion and NCWA National Champion. Amazing achievement! He also made a statement in the final, beating his opponent by technical fall! For those of you not familiar with wrestling a technical fall means you’re winning by so many points (15) they just stop the match as a mercy rule for your opponent. To do that in the final of a national college tournament is extremely impressive.  

Watch more videos on Flowrestling

Scott is also an exceptional coach and is putting a ton of thought and effort into the wrestling program at Smash. His passion for wrestling led him to become an assistant coach at Liberty University. This is when he discovered his talent for coaching. Under the guidance of world class wrestling coaches Jesse Castro and Joe Pantaleo he began refining his coaching abilities until he knew it was his calling.

Scott moved all the way from his home State of Pennsylvania to help start the Smash Gyms Wrestling Program and train martial arts at the new Smash in San Jose. Scott,  Filip Novachkov, Eli Sanchez, Jacob Palomino and other local coaches make an incredible wrestling staff. They regularly meet and are developing a complete curriculum in which they have picked apart each others game. The coaches are analyzing every position imaginable to borrow from each other’s specialities to come up with a comprehensive wrestling curriculum that quickly progress anyone to a high level. Scott truly wants to help make an improvement in the local wrestling community and has already began to make a huge impact.

Scott teaches a full schedule of classes. Smash has wrestling classes for kids, teens and adults. Try a free week! 

Scott Clymer - NCAA Division 1 Wrestling

Smash Gyms – The Home of CCS Wrestlers!

Smash Gyms Head Jiu-Jitsu Instructor Michael Jen promoted some very tough competitors to Blue Belt this week!

Jacob Palomino – US Open Champion

Filip Novachkov – American Cup Champion

Cainan Munsell – American Cup Champion

Stephan Thalin – American Cup Medalist

Isaiah Fernandez- American Cup Champion

 

Smash Gyms is the best place for CCS wrestlers to make a successful and fun transition to BJJ. Many former Bay Area wrestling stand outs have made Smash their home to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and see old friends from the wrestling community. It is a great opportunity for all Smash members to have elite level athletes help them with their wrestling while the Smash BJJ team and instructors help the wrestlers expand their grappling knowledge.


7pm Monday nights at Smash, 4x California State Finalist Jacob Palomino leads our wrestling class! Following Jacob’s class, open mat is often full of wrestlers drilling their takedowns.

 

 

Smash Gyms wrestlers make some noise at the San Francisco State California Collegiate Open!

At the last minute, a few of our Smash Gyms teammates decided to enter the California Collegiate Wrestling Open. This was the last college tournament before the prestigious College Pac-10 tournament. Although our guys are no longer training and competing at the college level they did an amazing job without any preparation. Some of the best college wrestling teams in the country were at this tournament. Filip Novachkov talked Eli Sanchez and Cainan Munsell into entering the tournament two days before the event. They decided to just go have some fun.

Filip won his weight class! He registered under “Team Smash”. He dominated all his opponents with amazing technique. He was exhausted in the 3rd period of all his matches but controlled the pass with pressure and really outclasses all his opponents in an amazing performance. Thanks to Filip for winning Smash Gyms’ first Gold Medal at a major collegiate level wrestling tournament.

Eli decided not to cut weight when he got home the night before and saw a steak sitting on the counter. 🙂 Eli weighed in at 180lbs but the weight class was 184lbs. His opponents were cutting 10-15lbs. It was hilarious how much bigger his opponents were! A fresh Eli came out strong his first match and won with a technical fall (16-0) over his first opponent. Technical fall is a mercy rule when you’re winning by so many points they just stop the match. In the quarter finals Eli ended out losting to the number 2 seeded wrestler in his weight class. Eli got the first takedown on the opponent and was winning the match until his opponents size and Eli’s lack of conditioning took over in the 3rd period. Eli eventually lost the dec. after becoming exhausted from returning his opponent to the mat over and over. Great performance!

Cainan also dominated his first opponent pinning him in about one minute. In the quarter finals had to face the number one seeded wrestler in his weight. Cainan took it to this guy. He beat the guy up the whole first period. Taking him down and putting him on his back. Cainan was winning 10-1 going into the 2nd period. That’s a huge lead in a college wrestling match. lol.. unfortunately Cainan’s conditioning caught up to him and the other guy ended out winning the match.

Congrats to all the competitors! We have amazing wrestlers on our BJJ Team at Smash. Coach Jacob Palomino, David Anderson along with these other guys are great resources for the team. Take advantage of these knowledgeable instructors at Smash! Jacob Palomino teaches wrestling Monday nights at Smash. Filip and Eli lead the Saturday Competition practice along with Smash Gyms Head Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Instructor Michael Jen.

www.smashgyms.com

Holiday Party and Promotions!

Smash Gyms in Sunnyvale would like to thank everyone that attended the Smash Gyms Holiday Party and Potluck! We had a full house, tons of great food and lots of fun.

Head Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Instructor Michael Jen awarded some much deserved belts!

New Yellow Belts

Christian Reyes

Junior Zuniga

New Blue Belts

Patrick Kong- 2011 San Jose Open Champion, 2011 BJJ by the Bay Champion, 2011 BJJ by the Sea Champion, 2011 US Open Silver Medalist

Brian Kuhn- 2011 Brazilian Jiu-jitsu US Open Champion

Joe Gonzalez- 2011 BJJ by the Sea Silver Medalist, 2011 US Open Bronze Medalist

David Armstead- 2011 BJJ by the Bay Champion, 2011 BJJ by the Bay Absolute Champion, 2011 San Jose Open Champion

Sam Jung – Sam Jung is one of our most dedicated and fastest rising students! He earned his blue belt in less than a year!

Harry Hardono-  2011 San Jose Open Champion

Bruce Geoff Nardone- 2011 Modcom Submission Grappling Champion , Most Technical Award

New Purple Belts

Sam “The Ram” Spengler – 2011 BJJ by the Bay Champion, 2011 BJJ by the Sea Champion, 2011 San Jose Open Champion, 2011 San Jose Open Absolute Division Champion

Eli Sanchez – 2011 Jiu-Jitsu by the Sea Champion, 2011 Jiu-Jitsu by the Bay Finalist, 2011 San Jose Open Champion, 2011 San Jose Open Absolute Division Champion, 2011 US Open Championships Bronze Medalist

New Black Belts

Mario Rios – Smash Gyms Assistant Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Instructor

Rudy Sanchez – Smash Gyms Assistant Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Instructor

Smash Gyms also presented Jacob Palomino with an award for his contributions to our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling program. Jacob represented Smash Gyms while winning a Championship at the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu US Open in San Jose, California. He also tirelessly helps people in our grappling program learn his sophisticated and technical system of wrestling that he perfected on his way to becoming a Four-time California Wrestling High School State Championships Finalist.

Head Smash Gyms Krav Maga Instructor, Opher Har-El awarded Level 1 Certificates to members of the Krav Maga program. This realistic system of fighting with a focus on self-defense is taught by the 28-year practitioner . Opher teaches the true Krav Maga system he learned in the Israeli Military and his students feel privileged to be of such an authentic lineage.

New Krav Maga Practitioner Level 1

Alex Lupon

Gabrielle Blanc

Hallie Fowler

Jess Ramos

Teddie Aguiniga

Cris Neckar

Chris Long

Erik Archer

 

Also three awards were given to some of the most dedicated and consistent members of the Smash Gyms fitness program SmashFit! These three young ladies consistently participate in up to 3 classes a day! That’s 3-4 hours of training 4-5 days a week! Amazing effort and dedication!

SmashFit Award of Excellence

Gabrielle Blanc

Debbie Sanchez

Naomi Har-El

 

 

All our students from Milpitas, San Jose, Santa Clara, Mountain View and all around the bay area had a great time!

2011 Was an Amazing Year for the Smash Gyms BJJ Program! Watch out 2012!

 

2011 was an amazing year for all the programs at Smash. I’d like to take a moment and point out the amazing growth of our BJJ program in particular.

The Smash Gyms Jiu-jitsu program is headed by Michael Jen. Michael had been teaching a small group of loyal students out of his garage for nearly 10 years. Most of his students grappled recreationally for exercise, fun and self-defense. He did have one student that liked to compete in Sport BJJ. Seo Perales was only the second person ever to be promoted to Black Belt by Michael. Seo took 3rd and 5th in the World Championships and won his division in the US Open twice. Michael’s students were all complimented on their solid fundamentals when training at other schools and Seo’s success was impressive but still Michael was largely unknown in the younger Sport Jiu-Jitsu world. Michael was one of the first 50 American BJJ Blackbelts but only the “old school” guys knew who he was since he had been not publicly teaching for ten years.

The Smash Gyms Jiu jitsu program officially started in January 2011. We were excited and happy to share the system of BJJ that we had spent 10 years in Michael’s garage helping to design. The system went through many iterations where techniques were changed, thrown out, and replaced. We were confident that we now had a system of teaching BJJ that would help the average person turn into a very good grappler in a short amount of time. We also knew it would help a talented person turn into a monster even faster.

Many of Michael’s top students came and helped lead the new program at Smash. Seo moved to the Bay Area for a few months to help get the program started. Mario Rios a brown belt, was in almost every class teaching the system of jiu-jitsu to beginners. Louie Noble and Andrew Yao purples and all of our blue belts were happy to help everyone. Before opening Smash we were fortunate to have relationships with talented people and training partners with a variety of skill-sets and backgrounds. They all came to help. My younger brother Eli who was a D1 College wrestler came in and combined his wrestling with our BJJ and made some noise. Pretty soon we had state champions like Jacob Palomino, all-american wrestlers and Judokas like Patrick Kong and pro-fighters like Sam Spengler all join the team to train, learn and pass on their existing skills to the students at Smash.

With such a great group of talented and giving instructors our brand new Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program literally shocked the Sport BJJ world in 2011. The very first team tournament the Smash competitors attended they brought home 3 Gold Medals. Sam, Seo, and Patrick dominated their divisions at BJJ by the Bay. After a few months the influx of new and motivated faces found Smash to be a place where they could learn and excel. Guys like David, Sam Jung, Rogelio, Joe, Harry and Ruben joined and helped rally the team. A couple months later was BJJ by the Sea and we brought home 7 medals. 4 gold and 3 silver. Exceptional growth but it did not stop there. In July Smash brought a team to the San Jose Open and won it. The Smash Gyms competitors brought home 8 Gold medals, 2 silver, 2 bronze and the Team Trophy. It was phenomenal feeling to have such remarkable success as a new gym in the Bay Area, which is known worldwide to be a BJJ Mecca of top schools. How would we do at a national level tournament though? We found out at the US Open 2011. Smash Gyms had 6 people place in the top 3 at this nationally recognized tournament. This is unheard of for a brand new school.

We are incredibly proud of each and every person on our team. Even more fulfilling than tournament wins is watching someone go from “the nail” to “the hammer” during a practice. 2011 was amazing because of everyone that stepped on the mat and tried to help each other get better. There are too many people to thank in this post but I can honestly say I’ve learned from every single one of the students at Smash. Thanks to everyone that has helped us with the struggle to improve ourselves both on and off the mat. With everyone’s help 2012 will be even more amazing.

Smash Gyms claims 6 medals at the Brazilian Jujitsu US Open at San Jose State!

Congratulations to our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu  Competitors that medaled in one of the biggest Jiu-Jitsu competitions in the United States this past weekend.

Jacob Palomino (Smash Gyms Head Wrestling Coach)- 1st place

Brian Kuhn- 1st place

Patrick Kong – 2nd Place

Eli Sanchez- 3rd place

Jacobi Johnson- 3rd

Joe Gonzalez- 3rd places

All of these guys stood out in their weight class and made Smash proud! Eli had an impressive 3 submission victories this weekend! Jacob won in an exciting final displaying heart and beautiful wrestling technique. Great job guys!

 

www.usopenbjj.com

World Class & Beginner Friendly BJJ, Judo, and Wrestling Instruction at Smash Gyms

The Smash Gyms Brazilian Jiu-jitsu program incorporates the most effective techniques of BJJ, judo, and wrestling.

Highlights in this video are from the June 2011 Jiu-jitsu by the Sea and July 2011 Jiu-jitsu by the Bay competitions.