Fighter. Father. Artist. All of these describe Joey Armstrong. This 33 year old member of the Ralph Gracie team has a lot on his plate right now. Armstrong moved to the San Francisco Bay area 10 years ago from Austin Texas looking for a fresh start. What he found was a family, in and out of the ring. Not to mention his son, Kade, who has already begun his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training; Joey and his wife of 4 years Shelley are expecting their second child. When I say expecting, I mean any minute. “I am basically on stand by for the call!” An excited Armstrong reiterates. He keeps his phone right next to him at all times in anticipation for the arrival of daughter Sydney. You would think that would hinder his preparation for his upcoming fight at the Gladiator Challenge on July 18th against Wade Phillips (American Kickboxing Academy). Armstrong seems to be anything but disturbed. His level of focus has reached it’s highest point. “With the arrival of Sydney, it reminds me why I am here busting my ass with my brothers at the academy.” The brothers he refers to are Luke Stewart (who Joey works with @ Seventh Son Tattoo), Jason Collard, Chris Cariaso, Darren Uyenoyama, Braga Neto and head instructor Kurt Osiander(also fighting on the Gladiator Challenge card). When training with the caliber of fighters I just listed, you better be focused on the task at hand or bad things might happen to you. That’s just for the Jiu-Jitsu, mind you. Throw in the likes of James Cook and Neungsiam Samphusri, both Muay Thai champions and you have a complete regimen.
The other aspect of their training which can often be taken for granted by the fans, is the level of camaraderie shared amongst this team. Armstrong states “You don’t realize how important it is to have guys who push you beyond your limits every day with out causing harm. It is very easy to go too hard in training especially when your training partners are hired help. When it is your brother you are sweating and bleeding with, you have a vested interest to see him succeed.”
When Joey is not at the academy which is located @ 1166 Howard Ave in San Francisco, you can find him a few blocks away at Seventh Son Tattoo. The shop is only 3 blocks away down Howard, and is the commute we all dream about during these gas stricken times. “Doing ink, is another release for me and helps to center my mind. Whether it is Tattoos or Jiu-Jitsu, both are artistic expressions for me and will always be apart of my life.” This was a common theme expressed from Ralph Gracie team members which furthered the bond shared between them.
So, come July 18th, Joey will be back in the cage not only looking to improve on his 4-1 record. He will be defending his Gladiator Challenge welterweight belt, the honor of the Ralph Gracie team, and looking to do it as quickly as possible so he can be with Shelley, Kade, and Sydney, the other passions of his life.
Keep an eye out for more interviews from the Ralph Gracie team including an update from Luke Stewart, a chat with Head Instructor Kurt Osiander, and the newest segment from Fast Eddie entitled Lessons in Humility.
For tickets to the Gladiator challenge – www.virtualboxoffice.com