Rafael always had an interest in martial arts, but growing up his parents weren’t able to afford the tuition. So, as a young adult, he made it his mission to find a martial arts academy and in 2017 he stepped in Renzo Gracie LA. Rafael remembers the overwhelming feeling of his first day, feeling like he had stepped into a den of lions. Much to his surprise, he was met with hospitality and kindness by everyone in the school and he knew he had found his place. The journey began as a hobby but in 2019, Kru Al, gave Rafael the opportunity of a lifetime; to become a full-time instructor. He excelled as an assistant instructor in the kid’s program and soon graduated to teach his own classes.
Rafael sees martial arts as more than a hobby but a lifestyle and his training is something he can always rely on as a way to connect to himself. For him, Muay Thai can teach a person not just about the sport itself but also about life and there is an opportunity for self-discovery by pushing one’s body to its limits.
Coach Rafael has a knockout philosophy, “In Muay Thai, we’re taught that if you want that knockout shot you’re going to have to work for it. You’re going to get hit, there’s no way around it. That can be said for anything else you do in life. When I feel like I can’t go anymore, I ask myself, ‘Are you going to be the person that’s comfortable with your limits and stay there? Are you going to rest for a while, come back and do some more? Or are you going to push yourself even more even though you feel you can’t go anymore?’ I love martial arts because it exciting to learn new things and to take your body and your mind to higher endeavors you’ve never even considered.”