It was a busy Weekend for Johnmichael Brancaccio, an international Kickboxing Federation (IKF) Champ, who has family roots to Sussex County.
Not only did this former local resident win a fight on Sunday night, Sept. 29, he took time to teach a self-defense class the Friday night prior at local CKO Kickboxing.
Brancaccio lives in Florida, but his family once called Hardyston home. When it came time for him to prepare for his next fight being held in the Bronx, he wanted to use the facilities at CKO Kickboxing.
Darlene Pallay, owner of CKO Kickboxing, was happy to have him train at her facility. Together they decided to give back to the community by offering a self-defense class.
Brancaccio said he came across Sensei Angel Ortiz, a fighter and trainer, giving free lessons to a community in Florida. After one session Johnmichael was hooked.
“I enjoy learning from Sensei Angel and love doing this as well as giving back to the community.,” Brancaccio said.
For now, he is taking one day at a time but is considering making a run at turning professional. Sensei Angel said Brancaccio is “very humble and gives back.”
Sensei Angel told the participants to “slap, scratch, sample and run!” By ‘sample’ he means that it is now possible to scratch someone and get that person’s DNA which is helpful in an investigation. He and Brancaccio also demonstrated how to place your forearms on an attacker’s neck, make low kicks because they are more effective than high ones during self-defense, to avoid and block, and repeated to run. Sensei Angel and Brancaccio encouraged all present to be confident, to not overthink, and enjoy learning. Much of class was dedicated to practice. At one-point Sensei Angel and Brancaccio had the students playing zombies in order to have a little fun, all while learning how to avoid a strike.