Consummate Pro Teaches Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu In Pasadena
By Darrell Mak
Brooklyn Park resident Duke Koblinsky grew up a fighter. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and started training and fighting in the military while serving in the Persian Gulf War. In the early 1990s on board his Navy ship, Koblinsky stumbled upon a video that would forever change his mindset, career, and life interests.
The video was that of Hélio Gracie, founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, a martial art form known internationally as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Unbeknownst to Koblinsky at the time, the video would ultimately inspire him to develop a new talent and mastery of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that he would use later in life to help others do the same.
I was hooked immediately, recalled Koblinsky, describing the first time he watched the video. I poured myself into it by studying books, magazines and practiced, practiced, practiced.
At first, Koblinsky taught himself Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, learning with fellow Navy shipmates. Koblinksy recalled he couldnt find anyone locally that taught Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but it eventually caught on to people who wanted to train. Over the years, he has continued working at his skills, achieving a black belt last year. Today, after having won every national tournament and placed in every international competition, Koblinsky is devoted to the art.
Its a profession, and my lifestyle, he affirms.
In 2007, taking his interest a step further Koblinsky partnered with Monroe Hall, a brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu, to open Maryland Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Pasadena. The academy originally opened in Millersville, then moved in 2009 to its new location on Mountain Road in Pasadena. About 100 students, ranging in age from five to adult, currently train at the academy, which caters to all students regardless of experience level.
The academy offers fundamental to advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes as well as self-defense and mixed martial arts courses. Although Koblinsky admitted he grew up fighting, he modeled his business on the art side of martial arts instead of the fighting side, something he emphasized repeatedly.
Together, Koblinsky and Hall keep with the traditions of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, working with students as a whole and not just on a few standout fighters. The school builds team unity, hard work and discipline, and is fast becoming the place for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the county and the state. Classes are structured to create a balance between warm-up and stretching, technique and live rolling, allowing students to refine their technique and reach individual goals.
In 2009, a Naval Academy graduate approached Koblinsky and asked if he would be interested in teaching his accomplished Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu art to Navy midshipmen. I instantly related, said Koblinsky, recalling his Navy days. So, he began teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with Marc Cruise, a multi-time champion and brown belt at the Naval Academy. Cruise coaches the students, while Koblinsky volunteers several hours per week to oversee the program. Together, the high-caliber duo coaches up to 125 cadets at a time.
Koblinsky has no regrets about the hours he has spent helping at the Naval Academy. I felt a civic duty to my country. I can certainly take two hours out of my week for these guys. I enjoy taking care of the people who take care of me, he said, adding, The program has blossomed.
Contrary to the general perception of martial arts, Koblinsky was quite adamant that people not think he is teaching students a form of aggression. I dont consider martial arts as fighting, he countered. Its a flow, an art form.