John “The Pitmaster” Hackleman
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 (Hawaiian for “teacher”) 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 has competed in a handful of regional grappling tournaments and MMA smokers. Eric enjoys keeping fit by training his students to compete in grappling competitions, amateur kickboxing fights, and MMA bouts. In addition to his day to day duties overseeing The Pit Vegas, Eric is always looking to grow The Pit brand.
Steve hails from Texas where he earned a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a blue belt in Yoseikan Aikido. During his studies at Baylor University, Steve was an instructor for his campus’ Self Defense course. In addition to training with notables Relson Gracie, Daniel Moraes, and Scott Epstein, Steven continues to hone his skills in grappling and striking competitions. Steve is a dedicated member of our Hawaiian Kempo class and holds the rank of 2nd Degree Blue Belt.
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 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 directly.
Kelly Meyers teaches Pit Yoga and is a Certified CrossPit Instructor. She has been training with us for over a year and placed 3rd in The Pit World Kumite. Her classes are always upbeat and her enthusiasm is infectious. In addition, Kelly is also a licensed massage therapist. Check out her website here to book a great massage.
Scott is a Purple Belt in our Hawaiian Kempo class and is one of our top CrossPIT instructors. He shows great attention to detail as he enthusiastically helps each student during class. Scott recently was CrossPit Certified by John Hackleman and he continues to constantly improve his game – whether it be sparring, grappling, or devising unique workouts. One of the first Pit Vegas students with his daughter Morgan and wife Katie, we are proud to always have Scott teaching and helping the Ohana.
Wyatt is one of our top Hawaiian Kempo students and holds the rank of Green Belt. When he’s not assisting with the children’s classes 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. Wyatt recently won his first MMA fight at King of the Cage via 1st round TKO.
Other Instructors (more info coming soon)