Sep 26, 2022
Sensei Jerry Figgiani is a Martial Arts practitioner, instructor, and founder of East Coast Black Belt Academy, Budokan Dojo in New York.
I played for a legendary coach here in Long Island, he’s in Suffolk County Hall of Fame. I didn’t appreciate, at that time, as a kid what I really had in front of me as a mentor, as a guy… Once the season is over, it’s over, but Martial Arts, it’s for life…
Sensei Jerry Figgiani, 8th Dan Black Belt, is the President and Founder of Shorin Ryu Karate-Do International and the owner of East Coast Black Belt Academy, Budokan Dojo. He comes from a strong lineage of Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu practitioners who have followed in the footsteps of Grand Master Shoshin Nagamine. Starting his training in 1977, he has been teaching martial arts since 1988. Through his extensive background and experience, he has developed a unique way of bringing the philosophy of martial arts to everyday life activities. Because he has the ability to reach students of all ages and skill levels and help them understand karate’s movements, mechanics, and applications his seminars are universal to any karate system.
As such, he has been invited to teach all over the world and was one of the first western instructors to have the honor of teaching at the Okinawa Karate Kaikan, the official government-supported center for learning the essence of traditional karate. A published author as well as the subject of many magazines, newspapers, and media articles, Sensei Figgiani is a featured column writer for the premiere martial arts magazine, Masters, and has published books on martial practice and philosophy as well as interviews with some of today’s greatest martial artists and karate pioneers. Building on his distinctive ability to help his students reach and exceed their expectations, in 2010 Sensei Figgiani developed the Mental Martial Arts Program.
Promoted predominantly in the K-12 school classrooms, the series of lessons is designed to create a more peaceful school and community environment, instill a sense of confidence and self-respect in the students and even more importantly, help each individual learn the value and benefit of respecting others. Possessing a 3rd-degree black belt in Judo and membership in the Kodokan, the headquarters of Judo training located in Tokyo, Japan, Sensei Figgiani is able to integrate the principles and foundations of both karate and judo into a well-rounded and total martial education for his students. In this way, the student gets a complete understanding of the mechanics of self-defense enabling them to be more confident and secure as they go through their daily life.
In 2003, Sensei Figgiani created a program with the support of the Police Athletic League that would improve academic achievement through the study of martial arts. Known as the R.E.A.C.H. Program, the acronym stands for Respect Education and Always Climb Higher. The program guides kids having social and academic difficulties towards success through the practice of traditional martial arts skills. This curriculum instantly became so popular that in 2004 the Longwood School District Board of Education recognized Sensei for the immediate impact his methods had on the lives of the student participants. Later, in 2012, Sensei was presented with the National Police Athletic League Mentoring Service Award for the dramatic influence his program has made on the lives of so many students.
The R.E.A.C.H. program continues to this day and has expanded to numerous school districts sharing its positive impact on students throughout Long Island. Sensei Figgiani believes that a major component of learning martial arts is being able to integrate the lessons taught in the school with the activities that take place in daily life. Making positive choices in difficult situations, learning about situational awareness and stranger danger, adopting strategies for safety when it comes to bullying, and being able to manage and overcome peer pressure are just some of the values taught to his students. This mind, body and spirit philosophy creates a safe and unique learning environment for each and every student.
Recognizing this success, in 2018 Jerry Figgiani Sensei was invited to be the Keynote Speaker at Brookhaven Town Hall addressing the issues of making positive life choices and student anti-bullying strategies. In 2019, he was inducted into the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the practice of martial arts.
In this episode, Sensei Figgiano shares his journey to the martial arts. Listen to learn more!