Sonny Hughes started training with the great Judo Gene LeBell before 1960. Mr. Hughes trained for several Olympics in Judo. He has trained with national Judo champion Hayward Nishioka, Gokor(#l teacher of leglocks in the world), world champion Benny the Jet Urquidez, Regan Machado, Roger Machado(first cousins of the Grades), 8th degree Judo master Tony Raven and many more. Mr. Hughes was an instructor and manager for 3 years of the Pasadena Machado Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu studio.Sonny Hughes, a martial artist who was
Sonny has trained with some of the best martial artists in the world including Kazuo Shinohara, Al Thomas and Judo Gene LeBell. Sonny had the privilege and good fortune to train with LeBell when LeBell was at his best Sonny once saw LeBell beat the heavyweight Judo champion of the world in 1 minute and 40 seconds. He then beat the middleweight champion in less time and went on to beat 18 of the best Judo players in the world all in one night. LeBell combined Judo and wrestling and taught Sonny everything he knew. Some say that training with Sonny is just like training with Gene LeBell.
Sonny Hughes has diversified his training in martial arts to include grappling and kickboxing. He has 28 years of training in Muay Thai kickboxing with the great champion kick boxer Benny the Jet Urquidez who was voted the #1 martial artist over such greats as Chuck Norris, Bill Super Foot Wallace and heavyweight kickboxing champion Joe Lewis. He has also trained with Hay ward Nishioka National A.A.U. Judo champion and Gokor Chivichyan who is considered the foremost expert on leg locks in the world and world champion in Russian SAMBO and Judo.
Sonny holds several black belts in different styles of martial arts including an 8th degree in Jiu-jitsu and a 6th degree in Judo. Additionally and most noticeably Sonny has been the manager and an instructor for the Pasadena Machado Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu studio for the past two years in Pasadena, California. He has trained and trained with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champions Rigan, John and Roger Machado sharpening his already skillful ground fighting skills while improving the brothers stand-up skills with his Judo and wrestling techniques.
Santos Flaniken was born in Los Angeles, was an only child and was introduced to "killer wrestling" as a child. His father was a professional body builder who trained at the Hollywood YMCA and was introduced to "submission wrestling", better known as "catch-wrestling" by the former world champion Al Baffert. Baffert was a highly recognized submission wrestler from Japan and training partner of Ed Strangler Lewis. Taylor Flaniken, already a tough and strong street fighter and amateur wrestler was schooled in the art of submission wrestling by Al Baffert.
Taylor's only son Santos was taken to the gym regularly and joined the Judo Club at the Hollywood YMCA under Sensei Bob Oda and the father and son team named the Falcones'. This weekly workout lasted for over fifteen years. Between Santos' interaction with Sensei Bob Oda, Al Baffert and the Pro Wrestling's referee Bobby Coleman, young Santos became not only a formidable Judo player, but a highly skilled submission wrestler. The emphasis was on a series of techniques called "finishing holds". In the 1960's, Santos' family friend Jack Rogers, a notorious Hollywood tough guy and boxing promoter, introduced Santos to the "toughest man alive" Judo Gene LeBell.
Santos' first contact with LeBell left him with two black eyes, not from having been punched, but by having been "skidded off of" from the ever so powerful LeBell. "Awesome" is the only way to describe Judo Gene in his prime. His unfamiliar method of attack and finish was uncomprehendable from an outsiders frame of reference. LeBells combat training was just too much for the average tough guy, wrestler or fighter.
The inspired Santos made it a point to never ever stop training in the art of submission, thanks to the influence of Judo Gene!
Santos is one of only a handful of instructors who posesses a Black Belt Master ranking from Judo Gene LeBell and Gokor Chevichyan. He has also achieved a 7th Degree in Judo from Olympic Judo coach Phil Porter with Judo Gene's blessing as club instructor. He is also, 7th Degree in JuJitsu from Shorinji Ryu in Osaka, Japan and holds instructors ranking from Gokor's Hayastan School of Combat in Los Angeles.
Santos is quoted as having said "Gokor, thanks to Judo Gene LeBell, is the most gifted, technical submission martial artist in the world...he has more moves than any hundred men combined...his transitions are very advanced...he is unbeatable in the ground game... he is a young Gene LeBell!" He goes on to say "without the personal instruction of Gokor and Judo Gene's constant input...I'd be at the bottom of the food chain".....Santos has been featured as the Mixed Martial Arts athlete for Karate/Kung-Fu magazine, Black Belt magazine 2001, Black Belt Magazine 2003 and Grappling Magazine 2005.
Santos' specialty is that of Extreme Finish. He has an assortment of submission skills which range from foot and leg control (the guard) to a wide range of chokes, rides, arm locks, leg locks, takedowns, and general submission techniques. He is a highly skilled combatant at 185 pounds. Beyond his athletic skills, Santos is a skilled martial arts teacher. He travels around the world and throughout the United States conducting seminars and spreading the technique that makes him an unbeatable coach. Presently, he teaches self defense, combat grappling, Judo and Jiu-Jitsu at Malibu Judo Club in Malibu California.
All the classes are taught by Santos himself, where he has a steady following of martial artists from all disciplines. The classes include professional NHB fighters, children and in many instances the parents, whose aim is to get in shape and learn self defense at the same time.
It was 1980 that things looked up again. Vic LeRoux, who had been a student of mine from the time he was fourteen years old and later a co-worker and fellow instructor at Mr. Parker's West L.A. school, came to me and said he'd like to get the "Old Gang" back together and open a dojo on his side of town. I told him he'd never get the "Old Gang" back together but chances are he'd create a "New Gang." He asked me to be the Head Instructor It felt good to have a steady teaching thing again, instead of just an occasional get together with old friends. And I was right about the Old and New Gangs. But the New Gang of the Karate Connection School is now the Old Gang and the Old Gang from the Crenshaw school is now the Over The Hill Gang. If that's too hard to follow, don't worry about it. It just means we're all getting' old.
When Vic was about to open the Karate Connection I asked him exactly what it was he intended to teach. He said, "The whole thing, all the techniques I taught at the West L.A. school". I told him it was too much. Then I asked him if he had ever taught anyone all of that material. He said, "Practically none, nobody ever stayed long enough". I asked if that didn't give him some sort of clue, maybe something was wrong. I told him how, in the early days there weren't but a handful of techniques, so we concentrated on the basics. I mean we really concentrated on the basics. And the guys of that time were some of the finest practitioners of the Art I've ever had the pleasure to work with and learn from. They were focused, the system was lean and the Old Man wouldn't allow anyone to advance without impeccable basics.
Kenpo techniques have always been, and still remain, the most fascinating part of the Art. It isn't hard to understand why techniques won favor over strong hard basics and it was my observation that the instructors doing the actual teaching, wanted still more. Their appetites seemed insatiable. The basics were still there but they seemed to be gotten through as quickly as possible in order to get to those "Fabulous Kenpo Techniques". As the demand for techniques grew so did Mr. Parker's ability to create them. He once told me that with the number of basic moves he had to work with, the number of combinations was virtually limitless. The only problem is, not all the combinations are worth putting together. Some things just don't blend and flow. It's always been my personal philosophy, if it doesn't work don't do it!
I told Vic, if I was going to act as Head Instructor we were going to have to go back to basics and cut down the number of techniques taught up to black belt. My feeling was and still is, when a student got his or her black belt they could go and learn all the techniques they wanted, from where ever they might choose. But we weren't going to turn out Black belts who didn't have the strongest basics we could give them. The sum total of the Art is in the basics. There's never been a great practitioner in any style or system who didn't have great basics. Can't be done.
Vic's main concern was that if we cut the amount of techniques from what the Old Man had set up for each belt, he wouldn't want us as an affiliate school. I told him, there's no way he wouldn't want us as an affiliate school no matter what we do, just as long as we turn out Black belts he can be proud of. We're using his basics, aren't we? We're using his concepts and principals, aren't we?
We wanted to be independent and affiliated at the same time and we achieved just that. In fact we wore his club patch on the left side of the chest and our club patch on the right.
Mr. Parker acted as head judge and referee at our inter-dojo tournaments and participated in our promotion ceremonies. He awarded all the 1st degree black belts and all subsequent degrees in Black belt. It was at the Karate Connection School in Hawthorne California that Vic and I received our last promotions from Mr. Parker on Oct. 27, 1981.
Toward the mid eighties Vic decided to pursue other business opportunities and closed the school. I continued to teach a small select group until it was announced that Mr. Parker was himself teaching at his West L.A. school. It was such a pleasure to see him back on the mats again. From then on, we all attended his classes.
By this time Vic had come back to full time teaching and had a couple of schools in the high desert about a hundred and fifty miles from L.A. He immediately rescheduled his classes so that he could make the Old Man's workouts. Ed Parker drew black belts to himself like bees to flowers. We had the opportunity to meet and workout with some great people from all over the world. Each year around the time of the International Karate Championships in Long Beach they would flock to his studio. Sometimes the mats would be so full of high ranked black belts it was difficult to move but it was always fun.