Association Homepage
About Ernie Reyes
Association Mission Statement
Association History
Association News and Events
Association FAQs
Contact Us
Go To Music Player
  About Ernie Reyes

Ernie Reyes was honored as, Century "One of the Greatest Martial Arts Masters of the 20th", on national Television (TNT) produced by Wesley Snipes.

Kick Illustrated Magazine bestowed the title of "Master of Creative Karate", upon Ernie Reyes for his mastery of unique martial arts instruction and creative choreography of martial art performances. Due to his reputation as a pioneer of progressive martial arts training in America, Master Reyes has been featured in every national karate magazine in the world. His record of martial arts accomplishments speaks for itself.

Founder of the West Coast World Martial Arts Association with Master Tony Thompson.

Inducted into the Black Hall of Fame, Black Belt Magazine, Instructor of the Year.

(PKA) Professional Karate Association, Instructor of the Year.

California State Tae Kwon Do Grand Champion, UC Berkeley, (Fighting)

USA National Tae Kwon Do Champion (Fighting and Forms)

Bronze medal winner at the 3rd World Tae Kwon Do Championships (Fighting)

Rated in top 10 in Open Forms Competition in the USA.

California State Lightweight Champion, (Open Tournament Point Fighting)

"Trainer of Champions", accomplished the incredible feat of producing (7) Black Belt National Champions in one year from his West Coast team.

Coached National Champion Ernie Reyes Jr. the first youngest child in the history of martial arts to be rated in the adults professional forms division.

Directed and coached the internationally famous West Coast World Action Team. Bushido Magazine in Europe called his team the #1 Martial Arts Demo Team in the World. The team has been performing for more than 25 years nationally and

Ernie Reyes' creative martial arts genius had led him to Hollywood as a martial art actor, choreographer, and entertainer. He also managed his son Ernie Reyes Jr. in developing his own television series called Sidekicks, a Motown, Disney, Production, for (ABC). Master Reyes also starred in, "Surf Ninjas", with Ernie Reyes Jr. Leslie Nielsen, Rob Schneider, and Tone Loc, a New Line Production.

Inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame, (EFC) Educational Funding Company as, Professional Martial Arts Business Man, of the year. Page 2 Ernie Sr. Resume

Master Reyes has been featured on every national martial arts magazine in the United States and Europe for his unique, dynamic and creative teaching and story.

Master Reyes is in high demand as a world martial art motivational speaker. He is also a graduate of San Jose State University.

On June 22, 2003 Master Reyes was awarded a "Life Time Achievement Award" by the National Association of Professional Martial Artist, for 25 years of excellence.

He is also an co-author of the book, "Little Dragons", children curriculum for martial arts training, produced by Century Martial Arts.

In the community services arena Master Reyes has received, "Proclamation Certificates from the State of California", presented to him by the Lt. Governor himself, Cruz Bustamante. He has been presented certificates by many mayors in the Santa Clara Valley as well as across the United States, Hawaii, Ohio, Reno, for his contribution toward a positive influence to their cities. He has also been given, "The Key To City", by the mayor of Forest Park in Ohio.



"I am first and foremost a martial artist, striving to reach the highest level of living, through the martial arts process. The Way - The Do!"

"I am committed to learning, to free my spirit, so I can become the best I can possible be. Only then can I help stimulate, inspire, share powerful ideas and lead others to become the best they can possible be. Giving this unconditional love to my students brings me an overwhelming feeling of selffullfillment. It taps into my - Spirituality!"

"I believe martial arts is one of the greatest gifts and treasures of life to create positive change in peoples lives. I am totally certain it is my noble calling in life."



Parents story to birth to Ernie Sr. grade school:

Ernesto and Valentina Reyes were some of the first Filipino’s to migrate to the USA, from the Philippine Islands in 1929. They worked in fish canaries of Monterey and the agricultural fields of Salinas California, known as the, Lettuce Bowl of the World.

Ernesto and Valentina were determined to survive in America and worked slave hours that paid 30 cents and hour. Working two jobs at a time, 16 hour days was the regular routine to feed a family of 12 children. A pair of twins and an older brother passed away at a young age, that left 7 sisters and 1 brother, plus the youngest of the family Ernie Reyes Sr, born Feb. 12, l947. Ernie Sr. was the brat of the family always causing trouble then constantly running away behind his mom from his sisters and especially from his older brother.

At the age of 10-12 years old Ernie Sr. was already taught to get up at 5:30 a.m. in the morning to help his parents run their Labor Camp of 150 Mexican Bracerros from Mexico, who worked in the labor fields. Ernie Sr.'s parents also made Ernie Sr. help wash dishes, all (150 plates), or sent out to do the back breaking manual labor, along side the Mexican laborers out in the fields.

It was this old school discipline, taught by his parents that would develop the foundation of a strong work ethic, that would help him pursue future success in his life. But in the mean time Ernie Sr hated every moment of this life lesson process.

Mr. and Mrs. Reyes found a way financially to make sure all of their children were sent to private catholic school including the last of the Mohicans Ernie Sr. Mama Reyes felt if she didn't full fill this obligation her family would go to hell for etertinity. She was on a quest! But for Ernie Sr. grammar school was living hell.

Ernie Sr. had a major problem of adjusting to early years of schooling, he ended up flunking kindergarten, and first grade because he was a constant (DNS) ,did not show. He didn’t want his mother to leave the classroom. He remembers sweating profusely in the reading circles because when his turn came to read, he didn't know how to, and would try to elbow the kid next to him to help him out.

Ernie Sr. was in constant trouble up to the sixth grade, he would consistently get konked on the head, by his teachers, (called nuns), who carried this little wood clicker. This resulted for talking or not paying attention in class. He would always be going to the principals office for fighting with the other kids.

Mama Reyes tried her best to keep her son in check, making him become an alter boy and learning the entire mass in Latin, not knowing what the words meant. She even turned one of the bedrooms of the house into a mini-church statues, candles and all, and would make him pray with her for hours.

Many times with his eyes closed Ernie Sr. would just fall asleep instead of praying. Then mama Reyes would have to finally break out the arnis stick as the last resort to get her message across. That would help for a moment but not for long, because Ernie Sr.'s uncontrollable energy would be all over the place once again. His mom would just look at him, then walk away, making the sign of the cross to herself. Papa Reyes would just laugh and say, "that’s my boy".

One thing that Ernie Sr. did love about school was recess where they played kick ball or dodge ball and he excelled at that early on. Then came all the sports football, basketball, baseball, and track he couldn't wait to go to school just for that. Now all that wild energy had some means of focus. Maybe he didn’t listen to the teachers in class, but he listened very acutely and attentively to his atheletic coaches.

During junior high school he went to a private parochial school for boys only. Every day there would be a paddle session during the last period. If at anytime of the day you talked, ran down the corridors, threw down trash on the ground, chewed gum, or fell asleep in class, you paid the price, breaking these rules.

Ernie Sr. seemed to always be on the hit list especially for falling asleep in class since he would stay up until 12:00 midnight shooting baskets under a moon lit court. Then wake up early in the morning to play some kind of sport before classes. Right after lunch he would be falling asleep in classes.

So the teachers known as brothers, would bring out this paddle with holes in it and for each rule broken you were awarded a hit to the butt. They called it the board of education. And the macho thing to do at the time was when you got hit to not flinch, yell, or scream, even though internally you wanted to give the wildest yell of your life because of the excruciating pain. This would be a way to get back at the teachers, this really pissed them off.

In high school Ernie Sr. made all stars in football and basketball, but was still out of control by getting expelled from catholic high school. Ernie Sr. transferred to public school Salinas High, that was cultural shock because of the lack of discipline he experienced there. Even though he had his challenges at private school, these students were at another level.

This was a major turning point in Ernie Sr’s life for some reason during the 11th grade in high school. Ernie Sr. did a 360 degree turn around, a transformation for the better and good side, started to evolve. Commitment to do the right things all of a sudden started to become his way of life.

It was during this time that he decided with a group of his friends to start studying and no longer be thought of as the jocks of the schools with no brains. They started to get on the honor roll but still didn’t have the confidence to think they could graduate from Hartnell Jr. College.

First Martial Art Classes:

In 1967 Ernie Sr’s.primary goal in Jr. college was to get a
scholarship in basketball, so he took martial art lessons only once a week at a health club were he worked out weight training. But he vowed that one day martial arts would be a big part of his life.

Ernie Sr. was an underdog in making the Jr. College basketball team since many of the all stars from all of the local high schools had the bigger reputations. Eventually with his hard work ethic he beat them all out and became a starter and all conference selection, that no one would ever had expected.

His dream was cut short of getting a scholarship when he severely sprained his ankle and was finished for the rest of the season. But maybe that was a blessing in disguise for him to realize his real calling in life, martial arts.

His first instructor was Moises Arizmendi an old school Tang Soo Do Korean stylist, in Salinas California. He drilled the traditional basics up and down the floor for 3 hour workouts. He then learned how to sweep and mop the training floor every night after workouts. This was part of the studio respect and tradition.

College Days / Master Choi, Tony Thompson:

Ernie Sr. amazed himself by finally graduating from Jr. College. Now it was time to move away from home and transferred to San Jose State University, where he met his Korean Grand Master Instructor Dan Choi by joining the Tae Kwon Do Club at the college. At the same time he met his training partner and friend for life Tony Thompson. They have been together for 34 years sharing their extraordinary martial art journey filled with a lot of sweat, blood, tears, and happiness.

According to Ernie Sr. he has yet to meet an instructor like Grand Master Dan Choi who really instilled the values of honor, loyalty, family, and bravery, based upon respect and discipline through traditional martial arts training. He not only taught it he lived it. Master Choi transformed Ernie Sr.’s life to become more compassionate for others and taught him to give value to other peoples life.

Many times Ernie Sr. would sit in Grand Master Dan Choi’s office for hours not saying one word because there was a language barrier and extreme respect to even try to start a conversation with his instructor. But those were the spiritual training days and moments where Ernie Sr. developed a lot of sensory perception to see, hear clearly and to develop an acute sense for peoples feelings. Now Ernie Sr. and Tony Thompson trained 6 days a week at night doing double sessions, getting up 5:30 a.m. in the morning for special training.

Ernie Sr. and Tony Thompson both graduated and earned their degrees at San Jose State University. Nobody would ever think that these two individuals would ever make it, coming from the poor side of town, literally from the other side of the railroad tracks.

Ernie Sr. and Tony Thompson both lived on food stamps, welfare, and student loans, to survive during these college days.. At times Ernie Sr. had to ride a 10- speed bike as only means of transportation, to part time jobs across town. And this was on top of having Ernie Jr. being born. Ernie Sr. also had to full fill his military obligation during this time by being in the national guard for 6 years. This allowed Ernie Sr. time to finish his college courses instead of Viet Nam.

Ernie Sr. taught for Master Choi ever night for free for five years straight. When Master Choi offered to pay him he felt guilty taking the money from his instructor.

Demo Team / Competition:

Being very competitive in organized sports all his life, Ernie Sr. got into martial arts for the competition aspects and wanting to win those 6’ Trophies. He started competing as a white belt but really started to win when he was a green belt. After winning that first trophy in point fighting there was no stopping the competitive juices from flowing.

Even though competition was Ernie Sr.'s first motivation, teaching became his real love for the martial arts. If at all possible he would love to just teach for free, which he still does, just for the passion of spreading the arts.

Ernie Sr. fought competitively in point fighting , then Tae Kwon Do full contact, where he became lightweight USA national champion. He won the bronze medal at the 3rd World Tae Kwon Do Championships.

Ernie Sr. eventually revolutionized creative musical forms in America and the world with his 7 national champions he developed in one year. Ernie Jr. became the youngest child in the history of martial arts to be rated in the adults professional division. Ernie Sr.. then developed and spearhead his dynamic West Coast Demo Team.

They would all pile into the 1977 yellow dodge van that he still has and go to every rinky dink tournament to national tournaments in California, every weekend. Eventually they flew to national tournaments across the USA, doing car washes to raise funds to travel. Many times their would be 6 to 8 team members jammed into one hotel room.

At one tournament when the team was all asleep a burglar snuck into their hotel room, team members fast asleep all over the floor. Suddenly Cynthia Rothrock screams the thief screams and grabs their boom box and starts running, Ernie Sr. jumps up and starts running after him with only his underwear but lost him. That night all of the national champions John Chung, Helen Chung, Nasty Anderson, Alvin Prouder, Flash Newman, and many more went hunting for the boom box to help out the team.

It was never found until the next morning when Dayton Pang happened to walk by a car and saw the boom box. He told the thief that it was ours and he said no way, until Dayton found the demo team tape in it, titled, "Staying Alive." He finally surrendered the boom box. What would the West Coast Demo Team do without generations of music.

One day Grand Master Choi gave his school 1,400 sq. foot location to Ernie Sr. The rent was $315 a month. Ernie Sr. only had 75 students some he just let train for free, because they didn't have money, but they were awesome. Master Choi gave permission and his blessing to Ernie Sr. and Tony Thompson to form their own West Coast Association, because he knew they had a modern day approach to their teaching martial arts compared to his old school ways. Up to this day Grand Master Dan Choi is still their teacher and father like image.

In the 1970's and 80's Ernie Sr. had already started to teach mixed martial arts to his students and team incorporating Filipino Arts of Arnis from Remy Presas and Escrima from Mike Inay. They worked out in Wu Shu with Anthony Chan and John Chuck. Ernie Sr. and his training partners went to the local boxing club to learn boxing techniques. And Benny Uriquidez did seminars for them, teaching them how to incorporate kick boxing techniques to their system.


One day during a demo in Las Vegas a manager producer from Hollywood approached Ernie Sr. and said she was interested in managing Ernie Sr. and his son. But Ernie Sr. didn't want to leave his students to live in Hollywood, George Chung, Cynthia Rothrock, Scott Coker, Margie Betke, Belinda Davis, Dayton Pang, Darren Pang, Gary Nakahama, Soo Gin Lee additions to the team Chucky Currie, Donna Bernardi, Diane Murray, Tom Callos and all the rest of his loyal students. Teaching was now integrated as Ernie Sr.'s true love for martial arts. So ,he said no to the Hollywood manager. But knew it was their destiny.

Six months later he decided that he would call the producer in Hollywood. But the team Coordinator Donna Bernardi lost the card. Then one day Donna happened to be cleaning out an old purse and, "wa-la", the producers card appeared. Ernie Sr. phoned the producer Sally Baker and she said, I don't know your son was young and that's what they were looking for. Ernie Sr.pushed for an audition they did a demo in her small office, Ernie Jr. did a acting monologue she was amazed and destiny took it's course of action.

But times were hard living in Hollywood at first wasn't easy. Ernie Sr. and Jr. lived in the garage of their aunts house in one of the roughest areas of Los Angeles police helicopter flying over head every night. Ernie Jr. slept on the floor on a fold out futon. Trying to make rent back in San Jose for the school, $315 wasn't easy.

During special events when the producers would send the Reyes' a limo, they were so embarrassed when the limo's would come and pick them up, because of living in the garage. They would pretend they lived in the front house, by walking out the front door.

What kept them sane and happy really was working out daily in the martial arts, weight training, and having a phenomenal family relationship. Ernie Sr. Ernie Jr., Lee Reyes, with the help of Margie Betke all piled into that one bed room garage. They were not just a family they were best of friends, enjoying the process and learning many powerful life skills overcoming barriers, rejection and limiting beliefs on the way to success. Ernie Sr. and Jr. did fight scenes in the smallest producers offices always mesmerizing the big wigs, with help from Ernie Sr.'s first Black Belts, Kelly Walker. Ernie Sr. was amazed that at 8 years old Ernie Jr. was already suggesting and coming up with phenominal martial arts choreography.

Ernie Sr. and Jr. did a demo for Motown's Berry Gordy and his executives and wrote Ernie Jr. into the, "Last Dragon", which they were wrapping up. Then came Red Sonja, Side Kicks the television series, Ninja Turtles I & II, Surf Ninjas, The Process, and Secret of the Horse.

Ernie Sr. remembers when Ernie Jr. got his first big break in Hollywood, in their little garage room they both got down on their knees and thanked their creator with a prayer on being fortunate to have martial arts as their way of life.

Growth of Schools:

Ernie Reyes' West Coast World Martial Arts Association has grown to 35 schools that started with Master Reyes school and Master Tony Thompson the other founder of the association. The schools these days focus in on not only developing Black in Martial Arts but Black Belts in Life. There is greater emphasis on balancing traditional martial arts, combative martial arts, and performing arts. Life skills like the Black Belt Success System are articulated more clearly.

Ernie Reyes' Demo Team for the New Millennium is now called Ernie Reyes' World Action Team. They have now traveled all over the world doing martial art performances and still receiving standing ovations after 24 years of demo's. Now with the new Reyes kids' being born at least 20 more years of demos into the future. Ernie Sr. is now being amazed by his 6 years old daughter Destiny, because she doesn’t suggest choreography like Ernie Jr., did. She just straight out tells her dad, Ernie Sr., what's more dynamic for her and the team.

Influences and Heroes?

Spiritually my mom and dad Valentina and Ernesto Reyes, ingrained that indomitable spirit to never quit. Martial Arts Grand Master Dan Choi and Moises Arizmendi taught him the meaning of respect and discipline. Master Steve LaVallee and Hubbard College set foundation for running professional martial art school and business. Old School Years: Byong Yu, Tadashi Yamashita, Benny Urquidez, Bill Wallace, Joe Lewis, Eric Lee, Hidi Ochi, Fumio Demura, Jhoon Rhee, Remy Presas, Mike Inay, Danny Inosanto, Ed Parker, Ralph Castro, Joe Corley, John and Pat Worley, Jeff Smith.

From: 1999 to 2002 Billy Blanks Tae Bo, Frank Cucci, Frank Shamrock, Bob Cook, Javier Mendez,Grappling and NHB, Peyton Quinn RAMCAT system, CDT,LRT, Tom Patire, Mike Swain Judo, Fairtex Alex Gong, Saxon Sanjir Thai Kick Boxing, Jimmy Tacosa Escrima, Leon Jay Jujitsu, George Dillman pressure point.

Celebrities: Chuck Norris., Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Swartzenegger, Tony Robbins, Dan Millman, Tolly Burkan, Yoda

My immediate Family:

Soul Mate Margie Betke and (3) children New Generation: Destiny Reyes 6 years, Espirit 3 years, and KI -2 years old. First Generation: Ernie Jr. and Lee Reyes.


I believe martial arts is one of the greatest treasures of life. When taught will dignity and reverence, their aren't many organization, systems, or other forces that have the power to bring all kinds of races, colors, creeds, religions, together into an environment that creates peace and harmony. Just take a moment and think about it, I've witnessed it here in San Jose California at each Black Belt test. We have multi cultural nationalities with all levels of income brackets, education, and professions all getting along because of the commonality of the way of martial arts.

Future Goals / Message:

Many people go through life searching for happiness. I am absolutely certain that martial arts is a key to that success. All we have to do is turn the key and unlock the door. In other words, unlock your mind, unlock your heart and discover martial arts vast treasures of unlimited potential to create positive change.

Martial Arts is my way of life! Martial Arts is a way of life for my entire family we live, breathe, eat and sleep martial arts. I will continue to impact and empower as many peoples lives as I can during my lifetime. Hopefully to enlighten the mainstream, general public and society to have martial arts as their way of life. As martial artist, I know we can make a difference during these challenging times in our society and world.

Ernie Reyes' World Action Team has been fortunate to have traveled to different parts of the world. And the greatest satisfaction comes when we have brought joy, happiness, and a smile to different faces of people around the world. We know we have touched their hearts because of the power to blend traditional and modern day martial arts. This brings out the true power of martial arts creating, "Peace and Harmony", for all mankind.

The power of martial arts is only as good as it's leaders.

Isn't it amazing to know that we can learn the philosophy of true martial artist from an insect and a creature:

First the insect, like Spider Man's mentor said, : "With Power Comes Responsibility."

So we must all first and foremost get in shape and stay in shape ourselves, it is our responsibility as martial artist, to carry its power.

If great role models like Jack Lalane or Jhoon Rhee, can do it why not you. Way into the golden years of being a healthy and happy 70, 80, & 100 year older.

Self first before we can teach others. You are the living message.

And like, Yoda, the creature said, "May the Force Be With You Always!"

Masters Ernie Reyes & Tony Thompson

Show all Schools