Mike Onzuka Bio


Michael-Onzuka-fullMichael Onzuka grew up in Palisades at the top of Pearl City, the youngest of 5 kids. Well, actually youngest by 2 minutes as he has a fraternal twin brother Chris who is his business partner with O2 Martial Arts Academy in Aiea. Being twins and energetic boys, Mike and Chris were very competitive with each other and competed in every facet of their life like brushing their teeth to getting dressed to eating breakfast to running to school…you get the idea. Little did he realize that this competitive drive to become more efficient and better technically at everything would be the ground work that would follow him in to his martial arts career. Instead of utilizing his high school years learning wrestling or judo which would have helped Mike with his future career in Jiu-Jitsu, he was too busy trying to be the world’s fastest guitarist. Just after high school, Chris and Mike figured that they better learn something to back up their big mouths and started researching various martial arts to see which was they felt was the best. Since Steven Seagal movies were huge in the late 80’s to early 90’s, Mike got his hand on every book on Aikido that he could find and read everything cover to cover and practiced many techniques from these books on Chris.

They both came across a Black Belt magazine where the title article was “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu vs. the World!” After reading the magazine and learning about the Gracie family, Chris and Mike thought that if these guys were willing to fight to the death to prove that their art is the best in the world, they HAVE to be good. In the article, the author mentioned that one of the brothers, Relson Gracie, taught classes at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Chris started researching all throughout UH and no one knew anything of this Gracie brother teaching there. By pure luck, Chris attended a class at Honolulu Community College and a classmate next to him was a black belt in Aikido who knew someone that took Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. That person passed on the info of the classes and Chris was able to start in November of 1991. Due to Mike’s work schedule, he could not start right away. Chris came home to show Mike some techniques, and again being competitive, Mike would try to defend the move before Chris could actually perform it. Chris got pissed off (which was a common thing with us) and vowed to not teach Mike a thing after that. Finally, in January of 1992, Mike took his first Jiu-Jitsu class and he was hooked ever since. Mike is extremely proud that he is a true product of Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and started Jiu-Jitsu with “two left feet” and not knowing anything before joining Relson’s team.

Later that year in 1992, Relson Gracie held the first ever Gracie Jiu-Jitsu tournament in Hawaii and Mike won the blue belt 160 lb. class which is one of his most memorable moments even today. As Mike got better in his technique, he looked to assist Relson in any way he could and eventually was one of four hand picked instructors by Relson himself that was personally taught to teach Jiu-Jitsu and open Relson’s first satellite school in Aiea in July of 1995 (which would eventually become the O2 Martial Arts Academy). This would be the first school in the world that would bear the Relson Gracie name and that was not taught by Relson himself. Mike fell in love with teaching and although he competed in numerous Jiu-Jitsu competitions like the World Championships in Brazil in 1997, 2000, 2002, and 2003 and the Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championships in 1996-1999, 2002, and 2003, his lack of competition success actually reinforced the fact that God put him on this earth to teach Jiu-Jitsu. Mike’s mantra is “If you cannot be a world champion yourself, the next best thing is to help someone else become a world champion.” Mike openly teaches every technique that he knows to his friends and students in an attempt to make them the best as possible as fast as possible. He is equally open to learning a new technique from anyone including a first day white belt. A good move is a good move.

Right after high school, Mike went straight on the college and was a full time student studying mechanical engineering and working 32-40 hours a week, but still made time for Jiu-Jitsu which he almost never missed a class. The rigors of engineering studies brought his sleep to a minimum, but the physics and engineering classes reinforced the Jiu-Jitsu techniques he was learning because the techniques of Jiu-Jitsu could be proven by physics formulas. His schooling and work ethic proved beneficial for Jiu-Jitsu to look at the smallest details which make a huge difference. Mike eventually graduated with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1996 which he considers another of his life’s great accomplishments.

Mike augmented his Jiu-Jitsu technique by taking up Judo in 1997 from the prestigious Shobukan Judo Club and competed in almost every tournament that he could in Judo, eventually earning a brown belt. He placed in the Uemura Cup, won the Aloha State Games Judo Championships in 1998, and numerous state Judo competitions in various weight classes (even winning one championship at the 209 lb weight class although weighing only 150 lbs). He also competed in a couple of wrestling tournaments as well to add to his grappling techniques. Mike also took kickboxing on and off for years under many instructors and practiced Escrima under Ian Beltran and his instructor Snookie Sanchez for a short period. Ian eventually became one of Mike’s best friends and with his wife are the god parents to all three of Mike’s sons.

Mike earned his black belt from Relson Gracie on April 7, 2007 and is currently a 3rd degree black belt in Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Mike feels that God has blessed him in many ways with his involvement in Jiu-Jitsu, but none more so than meeting his future wife Lisa in his Jiu-Jitsu class who, with his help of course, produced three beautiful sons, Caleb, Lucas, and Ethan. Along with Jiu-Jitsu assisting with his family, it also allowed him the opportunity to create a website which has been one of the most popular in the Hawaii Martial Arts scene, www.onzuka.com, write for Full Contact Fighter Newspaper (www.fcfighter.com), the most widely distributed MMA publication in the world, become a judge, referee, and commentator for mixed martial arts (MMA) and kickboxing events, the Hawaii Shooto commissioner, and become a co-host for a local TV show called Fighters’ Club TV. He currently also works for SimplexGrinnell / Johnson Controls as a fire alarm and fire suppression salesman and is consistently ranks in the top 8 salesmen country for over a decade.  Mike is a very open and friendly person so if you see him at a MMA or kickboxing event or even around town, please stop and make sure to introduce yourself and say what’s up!

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