Grandmaster John Hackleman is the founder of Hawaiian Kempo school, “The Pit” and is a 10th degree blackbelt. He has been studying martial arts for over 30 years, and holds two black belts. In addition, John has fought on the US Army boxing team, where he won numerous National titles. After turning professional, John fought the world’s best boxers and kickboxers winning many State, National, and World titles.
John has trained thousands of people into the best shape of their lives as well as coaching many of the world’s best fighters, including former UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell, Antonio Banuelos, Ramsey Nijem, Steven Siler, Glover Texeira and The Ultimate Fighter winner Court McGee. John is sought out by professional martial artists from all over the world.
John continually evolves and incorporates only the most effective training and fitness methods into his curriculum. The Pit grows everyday, with branches throughout California and Nevada, in addition to the numerous Pit affiliates nationwide. On occasion he will pay The Pit Vegas a surprise visit and teach classes.
Eric Umali began his martial arts career at age nine in Isshinryu Karate. He attained the rank of 3rd degree blackbelt in addition to working as one of his dojo’s top instructors. Eric also was an active competitor in statewide Sport Karate tournaments where he excelled at kata and point sparring, garnering many top finishes in over 10 years of active competition.
Over a decade ago, Eric was introduced to John Hackleman to teach The Pit’s kids program, which was new at the time. Eric helped The Pit HQ grow, working as Kumu John’s Chief Instructor where he taught men, women, and children in group and private settings. Along the way, Eric trained in Hawaiian Kempo and attained a Pit Blackbelt; enduring a rigorous belt testing in Hawaii under Kumu John and Pit Blackbelts Rick Metzler and Chuck Liddell.
Eric is currently a 3rd Degree Pit Blackbelt where he continues to learn and grow. He enjoys competing in local smokers and grappling competitions in addition to his duties overseeing The Pit Vegas as well as expanding The Pit Ohana.
Stephanie has been with The Pit Vegas since it’s inception, starting as it’s first Program Director. With a background in dance, gymnastics, and a past Crossfit participants (Crossfit games, Vegas Fit Wars) fitness has always been a lifelong passion for Stephanie. Currently she is one of our CrossPit instructors having been certified directly under John Hackleman. When she’s not busy running classes or her mortgage banking business, Stephanie can be found staying active in various outdoor events such as the Badass Dash and Spartan Races…being a Spartan Beast away from her first Trifecta!
Nick Paladeni was the very first student of The Pit Vegas. Before his time at The Pit, Nick was a lifelong scholar (attended MIT) and collegiate athlete where he played tennis at the University of Oregon. Nick is a member of our Hawaiian Kempo class where he holds the rank of 3rd Degree Green Belt. He has trained at The Pit Headquarters under John Hackleman in California as well as with the amateur fighters at The Pit Elevated in Utah. Initially coming to The Pit Vegas out of shape and with a litany of health problems, Nick has improved his fitness dramatically and is one of the most loyal and hardworking members of the Ohana. Nick is an avid competitor, completing various fun runs, Half Marathons, Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Bad Ass Dash, as well as the Red Rock Canyon Full Marathon.
Kim has been training non stop with us for over a year in our CrossPit program. While always lean, Kim has improved her overall strength, cardio, and coordination. Her technique improves constantly and she has shown great fighting heart sparring with other girls in two of our “Girls Can Fight,” fight nights. A lifelong Henderson resident, Kim’s bubbly personality is infectious. She continues to grow and was recently CrossPit Certified under John Hackleman himself.
Wyatt is one of our top Hawaiian Kempo students and holds the rank of 3rd Degree Green Belt. When he’s not assisting with every class, he helps make everyone better with his always improving jiu jitsu and sparring skills. He wrestled Varsity for Foothill High School where he was Champion of the Southern Nevada District. He has won the Teen Middleweight Title at the National Kickboxing Circuit’s Championships and won 1st and 2nd at FightBlok’s Grappling tournaments. In addition, Wyatt won his first MMA fight at King of the Cage via 1st round TKO. Most recently, he placed 2nd in the WAKO Kickboxing National Championships. Wyatt continues to grow and pursue a career in law enforcement outside of his duties here at The Pit Vegas.
Jeremy is one of our top students and instructors, holding the rank of 3rd Degree Green Belt. He is a vital member of The Pit Vegas, being able to teach every class from kids to adults. He has several 1st Place finishes at the local FightBlok Grappling circuit in addition to winning 1st at the 2015 Pit World Kumite Submission Only Grappling division. When he’s not on the mats Jeremy can be found riding dirt bikes and hanging out with his son Degan.
Josie is one of our Pit Pee Wee/Pit Kid Kumus. She is the highest ranking female holding a 2nd Degree Green Belt. Josie started out in our Pit Kids program but progressed into the adult Hawaiian Kempo classes before eventually becoming an assistant Kumu. Josie was an active softball player at Basic High School and continues her active lifestyle of running Spartan Races, winning her Submission Only Grappling division at the 2015 Pit World Kumite, and fighting a tough, experienced opponent at the 2014 WAKO National Kickboxing Championships. A Senior in High School, Josie looks to pursue a Criminal Justice Degree at the University of Washington come Fall 2015.
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