It’s the stories of the Guardian youth and adult students that make the Guardian community special. People of different ages, genders, races, income levels. job experiences, and geographic backgrounds that all come together over a shared passion of martial arts and improving their lives in some way.
The Guardian podcast is intended to share those stories so the people involved with the organization can get a better understanding of their training partners, identify mentors/mentees, and donors can get a deeper insight into how Guardian is having an impact on the lives of the children that they are supporting.
Say hello to Sacha Feinman, he’s the managing director here at Guardian. After completing his master’s degree at Harvard, he travelled to San Francisco to work in politics. Eventually he realized he wanted to pursue a different path which led him to meeting Ben and the rest was history.
In this episode Sacha chats about what draws him to martial arts also the also the positive neurochemistry that happens as a result of both working out as well as being part of a tribe.
Meet Devon Nelson, a 14-year-old foster kid who’s now found a place to be. Devon is such a unique, smart, awesome young man with maturity beyond his years. He’s always thinking of others and trying to broaden his skills.
Now on his 7th foster home in his young life, Devon shares his philosophies and wisdom that would normally come come from people twice his age – like; “Guardian gives you reason not to fight” and “if you have the opportunity, you have to help you must”. Amazing!
Meet Joel Lunenfeld, another co-founder, and has been with the Guardian since its inception. Although you may have not seen him around, Joel has played a vital role in shaping Guardian into where it is today.
Ben and Joel met while working for Twitter. In this episode Joel shares how they came up with the branding, marketing and purpose behind Guardian Gym. He also reminisces on growing up in Brooklyn Projects and teaching from a young age while working in after-school programs with his father.
Say hello to Leoul. He’s a really sweet, brave 13 year old kid that has struggled with bullying and had to overcome losing his hair at an early age.
Leoul Suffers from a physical condition called alopecia, which means that his immune system attacks his hair cells. He shares what it’s like to be ostracized from groups and to deal with challenging kids who don’t understand. He also shares how Guardian has given him a place to show his potential while learning new skills.
Choca Lee is an incredibly hard worker and a mom of 3. She’s one of the first adult students to join Guardian and a favorite student of ours.
Despite holding down 3 jobs, mortgage payments, and raising her children in a single parent household, Choca Lee just keeps giving. Here at Guardian she’s known for her generosity, whether that’s buying boxing gloves for the kids, or helping out whenever she can. Choca Lee is an inspiration to us all.
Welcome Ramil Rodriguez Jr. . He’s a great 18 year old kid, with a lot on his plate. Originally from the Philippines and raised in a single parent household, he is one of our most enthusiastically attended members.
RJ talks about the difficulty of integrating into a different culture at school and the battle of living up to his parent’s expectations to become a doctor. He shares how Guardian’s helped him deal with these pressures and find new career goals in sports medicine and kinesiology.
Meet Vince, our head kickboxing instructor. An excellent guy with a robust martial arts background, from Taekwondo to Kickboxing, with 20 years of experience teaching. Vince shares his enjoyment of taking new students from nothing to something, seeing the look on their faces as levels of confidence rise when it all clicks into place. We are excited to see him recently bringing alternative Chinese styles of kickboxing to Guardian with such as Sanshou and Sanda. Enjoy!
Please welcome one of our first students, a kid who's overcome so much for his age including moving from Yemen to the US, receiving multiple transplants and surviving surgery complications.
Nas shares how he feels he's been given a new chance of life that now drives and motivates him to pass all he's learned onto others around him. Also inspiring him to take an internship program studying strength, mobility and kinesiology under our very own Alex Nichols.
Say hi to Isaac, he's been coming to the gym for a while, he’s from a sporting family originally from Mexico but has lived here in Oakland for 10 years. He suffers from Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder also known as ADHD.
Isaac shares how Guardian has allowed him to focus more in class, brought him out of his shell and given him an ability to interact with others more easily. Even helped bringing out his creative side as he looks to apply to Barnard Art College.