Brothers compete at the Boys & Girls Club Judo Development Tournament

Smash Gyms Kids Martial Arts students, Derek and Aaron Jen, competed this past Saturday at the San Mateo Boys and Girls Club Judo Development Tournament.  This was Derek’s first judo competition and he was in a division where he was the only white belt.  He had 7 matches, all against colored belts, and ended up taking 2nd place.  Aaron also had some really tough opponents in his division.  He won all 4 of matches and took 1st place.  Big congratulations to the brothers for taking home gold and silver!

Here are the highlights from the event!  To watch in HD, simply change the quality setting when the player starts.

Gold at the West Clovis Judo Invitational

On Sunday, Jan. 20th, Smash Gyms Kids Martial Arts student, Aaron Jen, competed in the 2013 West Clovis Judo Invitational held in Fresno, CA.  Aaron won all 4 of his matches by ippon (pin or throwing an opponent flat on their back) and took 1st place.  Another big congrats on a great performance!

Check out the highlights from Aaron’s matches….


Smash Gyms competitors medal at CCSF Judo Invitational Tournament

This past Sunday, Smash Gyms competitors Rogelio Morales and Aaron Jen competed at the CCSF Judo Invitational Tournament in San Fransisco, CA.  Rogelio, competing in the adult division, placed 2nd.   Aaron, competing in the kids division, placed 1st.  Congratulations!

The CCSF tournament marks the end of the 2012 judo competition season.  Both have made excellent progress in their judo training this year.  We look forward to seeing both continue their progress in the new year.



Here are some highlights of Aaron at the CCSF Judo Invitational.

Smash Gyms Kids Martial Arts represents at 2012 Albany Judo Invitational

This past Sunday, Oct. 21st, Smash Gyms Kids Martial Arts program student, Aaron Jen, competed for the first time in judo at the 2012 Albany Judo Invitational.  Different from Brazilian Jiu-jitsu where the emphasis is on the ground, one of the main goals in order to win in judo competition is to throw your opponents flat on their back.   He had several tough matches and ended up placing 1st in his division.  Big congratulations to Aaron!





Here are some quick highlights of Aaron in action!

Rogelio Morales wins his Division at the Cupertino Judo Invitational Tournament!

On Sunday, March 25, one of our Smash Gyms teammates, Rogelio Morales, competed in the Cupertino Judo Invitational Tournament. Rogelio competed in the brown belt division and performed extremely well, taking first place in a very competitive division.

Smash Gyms Head Instructor, Michael Jen and Judo Black belts Patrick Kong and Chad Himeda began to teach and share their judo techniques to Rogelio when he joined the Smash team last year. The Smash Gyms Jiu-jitsu program’s systematic approach to teaching quickly began to help Rogelio transform his judo game. In addition, the talented and supportive students at Smash who were judo black belts, champion wrestlers and top level grapplers not only enhanced Rogelio’s knowledge, but also gave him great training partners to help progress his skill. Most importantly Rogelio’s hard work, focus and humble attitude have allowed him to progress as a student, training partner and martial artist.

Once again big congratulations to Rogelio on bringing home gold. The instructors and teammates at Smash are very proud of Rogelio! We look forward to helping him reach all his goals in judo, bjj and wrestling!

Functional Strength classes in Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Milpitas and Mountain View!

What is Functional Strength?

Strong is the new skinny! Fitness professionals and personal trainers are teaching people the importance of improving their strength to reach their fitness goals. Trainers are particularly fond of using the term ‘functional strength’. When most people hear the word “strength”, weightlifting and bodybuilding are often the first things to come to mind. However, functional strength is very different from weightlifting strength. Most traditional weight training exercises are done to develop physical aesthetics. Of course bodybuilders are not weak, however, the strength from standard weight lifting does not always translate over as effectively in real life as someone who trains for functional strength.

A great example is the World’s Strongest Man contest. Rather than curling dumbbells, bench pressing barbells, and pumping out reps on a machine, the World’s Strongest Man contest has competitor lifting rocks, pulling cars, flipping huge tires, etc… If you look at the competitors in these contests, though they are big guys, they look nothing like professional bodybuilders. A few professional bodybuilders have participated in these contests in the past and most had very limited success. I am not saying that in order to have functional strength, you need to be big like the competitors in a World’s Strongest Man contest as there are many other examples of functional strength. I am using that as an example with people of comparable mass to a professional bodybuilder to show how training for looks versus training for function can directly translate to performance.

Functional strength not about how big or defined a muscle looks, but rather having strength in the movements of your body that is used in daily activities, sports, and another other natural forms of physical exertion outside of the gym. When you look at many standard weight training exercises, the movements are not natural if you look at it closely. Let’s take the flat bench press as an example. Most people see the flat bench press as simply a pushing motion. However, if you really dissect the flat bench press, you will notice that your back is against an immovable object (the bench) and you are pushing (the weight) directly against the force of gravity. When in your regular life do you find yourself with an immovable object against your back and pushing directly against the force of gravity? The answer is probably…never. So, the strength developed for the flat bench press is simply strength to bench press and developing muscle mass for looks. This exercise and the strength developed from this exercises is useless and is not functional for most people and, especially, athletes.

Having functional strength can really be seen when doing movements or activities outside a person’s norm. People with functional strength tend to be the ones who are a lot stronger than they look. I have grappled thousands of people throughout my martial arts career. Interestingly, some of the strongest opponents I have grappled against were gymnasts, yoga instructors, and people who did hard manual labor for a living. None of these people ever did standard weight training and very few were bigger than me, but when I grappled against them, each one felt like I was wrestling a bull.

The Smash Gyms fitness program (SmashFit) includes a wide variety of group fitness classes designed to learn a skill, lose weight and improve your functional strength. All age groups and fitness levels can improve their overall fitness in a safe and supportive environment. The group classes at Smash have a strong emphasis on proper body mechanics has translated to great results and a very low injury rate for our students. Professional instructors guide new members on a safe path to fitness regardless of athleticism or prior experience. Our beginner friendly programs allow anyone to learn, get fit, and have fun!

SmashFit includes kickboxing, zumba, bootcamp, self-defense, krav maga, women’s brazilian jiu-jitsu, kettlebell training and more!

Sam “The Ram” Spengler beats undefeated opponent in MMA!

Smash Gyms Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor and professional MMA fighter Sam “The Ram” Spengler dominated a previously undefeated opponent to win a Unanimous Decision Saturday night at the Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. Sam’s experience, hard-work, and focus on improving his grappling game was showcased in this Mixed Martial Arts bout as he positionally dominated his opponent throughout the fight. Sam took down and controlled his opponent in every round, which allowed him to dish out an onslaught of knees and elbows. Sam is a fierce competitor known for his awesome conditioning and heart which he displayed to everyone on Saturday night!

Sam Spengler, a purple belt, is a competition team co-captain for the Smash Gyms Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu team. He also teaches kickboxing at Smash on Wednesday nights. See below for a full bio!


Sam Spengler is a physical education teacher, wrestling coach and professional fighter. 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 bachelor’s degree in Education. A veteran of Strikeforce, Sam has competed in kickboxing and MMA since 2003. Sam is a dedicated and talented wrestling instructor who has produced many champions while teaching and coaching wrestling at Quimby Oak Junior High School in San Jose over the past 10 years. Virtually every year his wrestling team consists of state and county champions.

After trying a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu class at Smash Gyms, Sam began attending classes regularly. “I was super impressed by the detailed instruction and high level of skill from instructors and students at Smash Gyms. In my opinion for Jiu-jitsu, they are the best around. When I attend a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu class at Smash I can often immediately implement their techniques in my MMA training. My ground game improved extremely quickly since I started training there. I’ve found that the Smash Gyms system of BJJ is very applicable to MMA.”

Sam has competed in hundreds of wrestling matches, 22 kickboxing matches, dozens of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu tournaments and 6 professional 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 kickboxing classes have helped students learn technique and improve their fitness level extremely fast 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 students 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

Filip Novachkov added to Smash Gyms Staff

Highly decorated Division 1 Wrestler Filip Novachkov has been added to the Smash Gyms coaching staff.

Novachkov is originally from Bulgaria where he wrestled until he moved to Sunnyvale. While he was in High School his family won a lottery to bring them to the United States. He became one of Fremont High School’s most technical and decorated wrestlers of all time. He then had a very successful college career at Cal Poly University, defeating 10 of the top 20 wrestlers in the nation in Division 1 rankings.

Filip began training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Smash in January. Filip has been interested in adding Jiu-Jitsu techniques to his grappling knowledge for quite some time. After completing his Senior year at Cal Poly he is now living and working in Mountain View. He began looking for a Jiu-Jitsu gym and heard that Smash was the best place for CCS wrestlers to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the Bay Area.

He was immediately impressed by the technical knowledge of the instructors and the detailed instruction at Smash Gyms. “I really like all the details they show while teaching technique,” Filip said. “They are very very good at what they do. I knew right away this was the right place for me. It was nice to see so many people from the local CCS wrestling community training in one place. ”

Filip is eager to continue to learn Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and to pass on his amazing wrestling knowledge to the students at Smash.

Filip’s impressive wrestling resume includes…

-D1 College Wrestler
-Pac-10 Finalist
-Bronze Medal at High School Nationals
-California Wrestling State Champion
-3X California State Placer
-3X CCS Champion


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.