What We Teach: The West Coast World Martial Arts System

What We Teach: The West Coast World Martial Arts System

The 1970s were the decade of martial arts. Across America, and around the world, kids copied the moves made famous on the silver screen by martial arts superstars like Bruce Lee. Here in Santa Clara County, two young Taekwondo black belts opened their own martial arts school in 1977, a humble beginning that would eventually take them around the world, achieving their own world-wide recognition as the Masters of a legendary martial arts school.

That school was West Coast World Martial Arts. And the legendary fame of their martial arts school was the result of the extraordinary vision, creative genius, and commitment to excellence of our school’s founders, Great Grandmaster Ernie Reyes, Great Grandmaster Tony Thompson, and their world-renowned West Coast World Martial Arts Action Team.

West Coast World Martial Arts Action Team at Global Village Festival, Santa Clara University

And whether in live performance, or on the set in Hollywood, the dynamic martial art that amazed countless audiences around the world was the West Coast World Martial Arts system– the vision and creation of Great Grandmaster Ernie Reyes.

Great Grandmaster Ernie Reyes, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Ernie Reyes, Jr. during production of “The Rundown”

Every West Coast World Martial Arts student who has begun their martial arts Journey to Mastery learns the martial arts system Great Grandmaster Reyes developed. But new and prospective students may wonder “What is the West Coast World Martial Arts System? And what does it mean for me?”

West Coast World Martial Arts: The Early Days

The core of our West Coast World Martial Arts system is the Korean martial art of Taekwondo. A modern martial art that is a hybrid of Karate and ancient Korean kicking techniques, Taekwondo is known around the world for its awesome spinning, jumping, and flying kicks. Taekwondo was the martial art our school’s founders began teaching when they first opened West Coast Martial Arts in 1977, and it is still the foundation of our West Coast World Martial Arts system today.

When you take some of the most talented Taekwondo black belts in the world, and bring them together on a team coached by a Taekwondo black belt champion and martial arts creative genius, the results are guaranteed to be awe-inspiring–and they were! So awe-inspiring, in fact, that Bushido Magazine (Europe) dubbed the West Coast World Action Team “the #1 Martial Arts Demo Team in the World.” Soon, Hollywood wanted in on the action too.

But that was only the beginning. Great Grandmaster Reyes had a vision of what martial arts could be, and should be. And out of this vision, he developed a martial arts system that would be a practical mix of some of the best martial arts styles on Earth (This is why the system is called “West Coast WORLD Martial Arts). 

This vision of creating a new system from some of the best martial arts styles on Earth first began to take shape when Great Grandmaster Reyes was training for the 3rd World Taekwondo Championships in 1977. To get ready for the fighting competition, Great Grandmaster Reyes began cross-training in boxing at Garden City Boxing Club in San Jose, under the guidance of boxing coach Gus Spencer, and in sparring with his training and business partner, Great Grandmaster Tony Thompson. Combining the footwork and punching of boxing with his Taekwondo kicks, Great Grandmaster Reyes had taken his first steps on the road to creating what eventually became the West Coast World System of Martial Arts. And from there, he proved the value of his training by taking the bronze medal in his weight division at the Taekwondo World Championships. 

USA National Taekwondo Champion Ernie Reyes, center, carrying the American flag

In the following video, you can see historic film footage of Great Grandmaster Ernie Reyes (starting at 7:58) training his boxing skills in preparation for the World Taekwondo Championships. The same video includes historic footage (starting at 3:19) of Great Grandmaster Ernie Reyes training and testing for one of his Taekwondo black belts. This historic film footage shows the earliest beginnings of what would eventually become the West Coast World Martial Arts system.

After winning the bronze medal at the World Taekwondo Championships, Great Grandmaster Ernie Reyes returned home to his Taekwondo school, and began teaching his students the same system combining Taekwondo and boxing skills that he had been training.

Great Grandmaster Reyes had also begun training Modern Arnis under Guro Remy Presas. A weapons-based mixed martial art, Modern Arnis was created by Guro Presas and is based primarily on traditional Filipino stick and knife fighting arts, but also includes elements from Shotokan Karate and Judo. As he had done with his system combining Taekwondo and boxing, Great Grandmaster Reyes began teaching his students Arnis as part of his new system of training. 

Great Grandmaster Reyes continued his journey deeper into the Filipino martial arts, learning Inayan Eskrima under Mangisursuro Mike Inay, and later, Doce Pares from Senior Grandmaster Ron Lew, a student of Doce Pares Supreme Grandmaster Ciriaco “Cacoy” Cañete.

As always, Great Grandmaster Reyes shared his own training and journey in the martial arts with his students, incorporating these Filipino stick and knife fighting martial arts into what was gradually becoming the West Coast World Martial Arts system. 

These weapons-based martial arts became a crucial component of every West Coast World Martial Arts student’s training, and added an exciting new dimension to the world’s best martial arts action team. Today, these Filipino martial arts– Modern Arnis, Inayan Eskrima, and Doce Pares– form the core of our school’s martial arts weapons curriculum. Rounding out our weapons curriculum, Great Grandmaster Reyes also brought Japanese, Okinawan, and Chinese weapons into the system.

Over the years, continuing developments to the West Coast World Martial Arts system introduced Muay Thai and Kickboxing, some of the best stand-up striking arts in the world. And for ground fighting, Great Grandmaster Reyes brought Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and submission grappling into the mix. 

It was this continual process of development and refinement by Great Grandmaster Reyes that forged all of these world-class martial arts into the West Coast World Martial Arts system. Today, every West Coast World Martial Arts student– young and old, from our newest white belts to our most senior black belts— learns this system, gaining a practical, well-rounded foundation in critical self-defense skills.

If you’re currently a student on your Journey to Mastery at West Coast World Martial Arts, you already know the benefit of the West Coast World Martial Arts system, the result of decades of training and development of some of the greatest martial arts on Earth into our unique system of martial arts. And if you are considering exploring the benefits of martial arts training for your child, or for yourself, we invite you to come visit our school– right here in Milpitas (at the corner of North Milpitas Blvd and East Calaveras Blvd)– to see for yourself what makes our martial arts system and our school so special.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *