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Meet Tim Santos of Zenki Dojo in Los Feliz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tim Santos.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Martial arts are a life-long passion of mine. I started training at 6 years old. By 1997,  I had graduated from ArtCenter College of Design and decided to open my own dojo (then called UCKA Dojo) as an experiment. We have been going strong ever since. Today we are recognized as one of the longest-running martial arts schools in LA.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been an up and down road, as with running any small business. I had several jobs to keep afloat in the beginning. I had to get several loans that have already been paid-off. My biggest struggle today is meeting the demands of running the business and the needs of our various personal training clients, all while ensuring that our group classes are provided the highest caliber of instruction. After so many years of running this business, we have acquired a level of stability that enables us to focus all our attention on cultivating our ideal community.

Zenki Dojo – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Zenki Dojo is a unique, intimate environment that offers training in a variety of styles and techniques, both on and off the mat. Our youth program focuses on mixed martial arts combining karate and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Our adult group class schedule currently focuses on Brazilian Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, Kenpo, Muay Thai, and boxing, as well as circuit style cross-training (we call it Combat Fit) and yoga. However, in private training sessions, our students have access to a variety of other styles and techniques such as eskrima, judo, Wing Chun, meditation etc. Our trainers have accomplished levels of certifications, and/or professional fighting experience. We bring this expertise to all of our classes and training sessions, while many other gyms/dojos have novices teaching the lower-level students. All our sessions are taught by highly qualified professionals. Our student body is made up of a diverse group of people encompassing all levels of experience in fitness and martial arts. Our primary goal is to provide an inspiring, focused, and driven environment to provide access to a well-rounded experience in fostering a healthy lifestyle for each individual.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I am so proud of Zenki Dojo: our community, our awesome staff, and the success that has accompanied all that. I run a neighborhood, small business that plays an important role in the daily lives of a diverse group of locals. My staff has a supportive and exciting place of work. Together we improve the lives of each other and our clients. This camaraderie does not end when we walk out the door, rather it proliferates throughout our daily lives. Yes, I’ve had moments of winning tournaments, getting belt promotions etc, but the roll of myself and our gym is that which I am most proud of in my life.

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