Close Quarter Combat / Defensive Tactics
Richard Cruz was born in San Leandro, California. At an early age of 7, Richard was drawn into boxing and martial arts and begun boxing training through the Boy’s Club and YMCA. In 1984, Ron Esteller (currently Professor 8th Degree) who was a black belt in Kajukenbo under Grand Master (GM) James Juarez and the late Great Grand Master (GGM) Charles Gaylord, began devoting his free time at the San Leandro Boy’s Club by teaching classes. Richard began training under Professor Esteller at the age of 10. At the age of 15, Richard moved to Vallejo, California where he began training in Taekwondo from Grandmaster William Kim, (a direct student and son of Grandmaster Hae Yong Kim) who had a school a few blocks from his house. After a couple years of training, Richard began looking for a Kajukenbo school, and with the help of Professor Esteller, Richard was put in contact with GM Woody Sims. It was the year of 1988 when Richard begun his training with his Sifu and mentor GM Woody Sims. Richard had the privilege of also training in full contact fighting and point sparring under GM Sims and frequently traveled to tournaments in the early to mid-90s. For several years, GM Sims had 2 schools in Vallejo, CA, one open to the general public and the other for the California Maritime Academy, leaving Richard to teach and conduct classes at the main school for several years.
Sigung Cruz was tested and promoted to the rank of 1st degree black belt in 1995. At that time, Richard was asked to teach Kajukenbo at the Vallejo Multi-Cultural Martial Arts Academy in Vallejo, CA. During that time (while continuing to teach Kajukenbo), Richard sought personal growth in the Kajukenbo philosophies and began training under Grand Maesrto Jon Bais in Kalis-Silat-Kuntaw / Bais Tres Manos, a mid to close range system along with Eskrido (full contact fighting with a stick, utilizing strikes with the arms and legs). Richard also began training and teaching at the school of Grand Master Emil, one of the longest running Kajukenbo Schools in the country.
This continued until the year 2000, when Richard accepted a position with the U.S. Government and relocated to Arizona. While working in the southern Arizona area, Richard was put in contact with Sigung Greggory Tobias of the Sei Ryu Kan Dojo and began teaching and training during the week. This continued for several years until 2007 when Richard was asked to relocate to Washington, DC for his job. While assigned to work in the area Sigung Cruz introduced Kajukenbo to the DC Metro/Virginia area by teaching classes during the week at the Warrior Gym located in Alexandria, Virginia. This continued until 2012 when he relocated back to Tucson, Arizona leaving his senior most student, Sifu Larry Amante to continue teaching the art in the area.
Richard has continued his training in Martial Arts throughout his life, primarily with Kajukenbo through GM Woody Sims, earning his Black Belt (currently a 6th degree) under GM Sims. Sigung Cruz continues to teach and train at the Sei Ryu Kan Dojo located at the Kodenkan Martial Arts Academy in Tucson, Arizona. This gives him the opportunity to share his knowledge, train and to help others in their quest in becoming lifelong martial artists/Kajukenbo practitioners.
Prior to Richard’s government position he was enlisted with the United States Air Force Reserves as a Military Policeman and Combat Arms Instructor. Rich spent eight years as an active reserve in California and Arizona as a Combat Arms Instructor / Weapons Armorer instructing and certifying military and government personnel in weapons, tactics and conducting specialized training for military units to include Office of Special Investigations (OSI), Survival–Evade–Resistance-Escape (S.E.R.E) and Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD). He was certified as a Colt, Berretta, Remington, M60 machine gun, M249 squad automatic machine gun, M203 grenade launcher, light anti-tank weapon (LAW), and Barrett M107 .50 BMG rifle Armorer.
Rich was also selected as a competitor in several military combat competitions and represented the U.S. Airforce Command in Defender Challenge and Rodeo Security Forces competitions.