In the dynamic and challenging world of martial arts, Sifu Jeramiah Giehl's journey is a testament to resilience, adaptability, and an unyielding passion for self-improvement. His story unfolds from the gritty streets of the inner-city hood to becoming a highly skilled and respected instructor in Jeet Kune Do (JKD), Filipino Martial Arts (FMA), Japanese Ju-Jitsu (JJJ), and Israeli Krav Maga.
Early Years: Former Inner-City Brawler
Sifu Jeramiah Giehl's martial arts journey traces back to his formative years in the inner-city hood, where street smarts and survival instincts shaped his fighting style. The challenging environment became his training ground, earning him a reputation as a skilled brawler who navigated the complexities of a culture steeped in violence.
Embracing Bruce Lee's Legacy
High school marked a pivotal period when Sifu Giehl delved into Bruce Lee's philosophy, immersing himself in Lee's writings and meticulously studying Fighting Method VHS tapes by Ted Wong and Richard Bustillo. He watched it religiously and trained and practiced, picked up a heavy bag and speed bag and trained as much as he could. This foundational phase instilled in him the principles of adaptability, efficiency, and the amalgamation of various martial arts elements.
Wrestling and Beyond: Exploring Diverse Martial Arts
His formal initiation into martial arts began with wrestling, but he found traditional pinning techniques less practical. Recognizing the limitations of traditional wrestling, Sifu Giehl sought a broader perspective. Fortunately, his wrestling coach introduced elements of Sambo, Judo, and Catch Wrestling, which not only expanded his technical repertoire but also instilled a profound understanding of reversals and the importance of pressure testing techniques.
The Quest for JKD: From Traditional Styles to Modern Realities
Driven by a thirst for Jeet Kune Do, Sifu Giehl embarked on a quest, exploring various martial arts schools including Goju Ryu Karate before finding a home in Taekwondo (TKD). Rising through the ranks to a recommended Black Belt. He became the Vice President of the Martial Arts club in his High School. At this time he was teaching at 3 different locations.
Going Beyond Style: Exploring Diverse Style of Martial Art
Expanding his martial arts repertoire, Sifu Giehl learned Aikido, Kendo, Eskrima, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). Exposure to Master Pat Burleson's grappling techniques further enriched his skill set. Witnessing demonstrations by legends like Gene LeBell and Gokor at the Long Beach International left a lasting impression which further fueled his passion for martial arts.
The Karate Kid: How Martial Arts Taught Maturity
Martial arts not only honed Sifu Giehl's physical skills but also transformed his mindset. To support his training, he worked at the school, climbed the ranks, and also contributed to anti-drug and anti-gang school assemblies. Nicknamed "Ninja Boy" after incidents where he displayed remarkable restraint in high school altercations, he realized the power of non-violent responses.
Early Exposure to JKD: Original JKD
For a short period of time he took lessons with a student of Jerry Poteet, who was very adamant that there wasn't Grappling in JKD, coming from a Grappling background that was a little off putting for him so he did not train with him long as he disagreed with his instructor because saw illustrations of grappling in the Tao of Jeet Kune Do and knew it to be a valuable tool in self defense.
Muay Thai, Trap Fighting, and Midnight Fights: Expanding Horizons
Sifu Giehl's martial arts odyssey continued with the inclusion of Muay Thai, Olympic-style TKD, and Trap Fighting (an offshoot of Shoot Fighting). The emergence of the UFC influenced his training methodology, leading him to embrace the intensity of BJJ gyms. He would go to BJJ gyms and and regularly tap out Blue Belt who claimed to be National Champions with basic leg locks this happened a couple times. Then the Black Belt BJJ instructor would turn him into a pretzel after no one else was able to tap him. It was a fun learning experience. The intriguing chapter include a brief forray into unsanctioned Midnight Fights in a no-holds-barred environment, one experience specifically challenged his perspective on the role of ground fighting and reinforcing the importance of adaptability in real-world scenarios. He reevaluated his ground-focused training as it relates to Self-Defense, recognizing the importance of adapting to real-world scenarios.
Krav Maga and Beyond: Teaching and Certifications
At this point he desired to train JKD but there weren't any opportunities instead he started training at Krav Maga. Sifu Giehl immersed himself in Krav Maga, discreetly incorporating JKD principles into his training. His journey then included becoming as a PE teacher at a Jewish Day School, and he later achieved instructor status in two Krav Maga organizations. He taught a Krav Maga Self Defense Course at the Chabad of East Valley for a while. At this time he took a few lessons with a guy who was a student of Ted Wong who again was adamantly against grappling which again lead to him deciding to move on.
Overcoming Adversity: Coming Back From Tragedy
Sifu Giehl went back to training in Taekwondo again due to an injury he chose to work his way back up to Black Belt as a form of rehabilitation. Simultaneously, he explored JKD, Kali, and BJJ under a seasoned instructor, laying the groundwork for a diverse and comprehensive skill set. His journey at this point included training under training under the lineage of Sifu Paul Vunak, at the Gracie Certified Centers, and under the lineage of Tuhon Apolo Ladra for Kali. At this point he began to be certified in a few different Active Shooter Programs including ones by FEMA and DHS and began assisting teaching civilian Active Shooter Defense.
Mastering JKD and Beyond: Training with Legends
Returning to San Diego, Sifu Giehl seized the opportunity to train with martial arts luminaries such as Sifu Tim Tackett, Sifu Paul Vunak, and Guro Dan Inosanto. He started the Chinatown JKD - Study Group, San Diego. He began training regularly under under Sifu Paul Vunak for a few years and was eventually asked to assist him when he has IPTP's which was a valuable experience. He became a Full Instructor under Sifu Paul Vunak in JKD /FMA. For a while he also taught JKD / Kali at the UCSD Recreation Center. He began to travel to LA to train at the IAMA academy to train with Guro Dan Inosanto as often for a while and he also trained with many of his top students. Training with renowned figures like Guro Burton Richardson, Guro Daniel Sullivan, and Guro Ron Balicki added layers to his expertise. He got connected with Sifu John Doty a Senior Full Instructor under Sifu Larry Hartsell and Sifu Paul Vunak and became an Associate Level Instructor under him in the Jun Fan JKD Grappling Association. He began working with Sensei David Tice a black belt under Gokor and Gene LeBell, who is a Black Belt in JuJitsu and TKD, who also trained with Larry Hartsell and certified Leg Locker under Eric Paulson. He received his Black Belt in ShorinJi Ryu JuJitsu and Combat JuJitsu under Sensei Tice. These experiences culminated in significant ranks, including Full Instructor in JKD/FMA, Black Belts in Shorinji Ryu Jujutsu, Combat JuJitsu, and Taekwondo, an Associate Level Instructor in Jun Fan JKD Grappling, as well as becoming a Coach in Chinatown JKD and a Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Legacy and Leadership: Cali Combat Systems
For the past seven years, Sifu Giehl has spearheaded Cali Combat Systems, his training group in San Diego. Specializing in Jeet Kune Do, Inosanto Kali-Silat, Israeli Krav Maga, and Combat Jiu-Jitsu, he continues to shape the next generation of martial artists.
Sifu Jeramiah Giehl's biography is a captivating narrative of growth, adaptability, and a lifelong commitment to mastering the diverse and evolving world of martial arts. His story serves as an inspiration for aspiring practitioners, urging them to embrace the journey, absorb knowledge from various disciplines, and continuously evolve in the pursuit of martial excellence.