Mike Valentine, Founder, 5th Dan

Hi, I am Mike Valentine. I am the founder, co-owner and head instructor of Practical Martial Arts / Marin Karate Kids. I am a BJJ Black Belt under Clovis Silva, a fifth degree Black Belt under Tom Callos, working on my sixth with Dave Kovar and have been actively training in martial arts for over thirty five years.

I started martial arts in Falls Church, Virginia. I was one of those very young six year olds. I was the kid whose belt falls off, fingers are in his mouth and whose focus is everywhere but where it should be. I was asked to leave in order to mature a little bit. I returned at age nine and have been training ever since. I spent the better part of my youth competing in tournaments, watching kung fu, and waiting for my mystical Bruce Lee powers to appear. Point fighting lead to full contact which in turn lead to several years competing in amateur boxing. I attended U.C. Berkeley and San Francisco State University studying Psychology and Sociology.

In 1996 I met and fell in love with Karen; we run the dojo together as a team. We have two boys, Milo and Levi, who fill our lives with love and challenges. Boy, do I have an all new level of empathy for the parents in my school!

My training over the last three decades has been extremely varied, Boxing, Muay Thai, Judo, Tae kwon do, Kenpo Karate, Jeet Kune Do, Wing Chun, Judo, wrestling and over the last decade+ my focus has been on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I trained under Eduardo Rocha and David Meyer and earlier under Caesar, Charles and Ralph Gracie.

In 2013 I earned my BJJ Black Belt from and am currently training with Clovis Silva. I am extremely lucky to have this truly balanced, well evolved human being as my teacher. Clovis is a phenomenal jiu jitsu player, a great coach, and an exemplary example of what a master instructor should be.

I feel blessed to have trained under many other great coaches and instructors and wish to thank those mentioned above as well as Jim McGowan (Greco-Roman Wrestling and Judo), Jon Sutherland (Kenpo Karate), Mark Foster (Kenpo Karate), Roger Carlon (Tae Kwon Do), Daython Taylor (American Karate), Joe Burke (Boxing), Colt Dickey (Submission Fighting), Oliver Reich (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), Steve Labonty (American Kenpo), Terry Neill (Kenpo Karate), Jeff Dix (Kenpo Karate), Guy Chase (Submission Wrestling), Derek Weinstein (Wing Chun), Rickson Gracie (One private lesson and two seminars that showed me what a true master is) Newton Pinto (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), Hakim Boudrir (Muay Thai), Kurt Osiander (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), Terry Gibson (Jeet Kune Do Concepts), and John Will (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Street Self Defense) for their support and incredible technical knowledge.

Above all I would like to thank Master Instructor Tom Callos, who has taught me by example (and through the Ultimate Black Belt Test: ultimateblackbelttest.com) how martial arts begins on the mat but caries itself outside the Dojo – that martial arts is not about fighting, it’s about protecting: protecting our loved ones, protecting our community and protecting our world.