About Golden Leopard Kempo

beautiful asian architecture

School Schedule

We close four weeks every year. There are no classes held during these weeks. These are the times our staff takes a vacation, rejuvenate, and spend quality time with their families.

  • July 4th Week
  • Thanksgiving Week
  • Holiday Season, the last two weeks of December

Message from Master Bagnas

As a young child, I was enamored with Bruce Lee, Kwai Chang Cain, and Rickshaw movies from Hong Kong. I could watch any show featuring any of those people for hours. I begged my parents to let me train so I could be like my heroes.

During Junior High, I finally took my first TKD martial arts class through school as a PE alternative. It was glorious but didn’t last long. Afterward, I began the study of Shaolin Kempo Karate at a local San Diego dojo, joining my instructor’s staff as a junior instructor some years later. I earned my first Black Belt in 1988, a second degree in 1990, and a third in 1992. That same year of 1992 I opened my first dojo in La Mesa, California. Since then I have trained under many great masters in the arts of Tai Chi Chuan, Pa Kua Chuan, Hsing-Yi Chuan, Shorinjin Ninjutsu, Okinawan Kobudo, Filipino Arnis-Eskrima, and Jujitsu.

I love learning and I’m an eternal student.

I changed the name of my dojo in 1995 to Golden Leopard Kempo, receiving worldwide recognition and accolades for my school’s website. There weren’t many dojo websites back then, so don’t be too impressed. Through my website, I met, corresponded, and trained with many other instructors to expand my knowledge of Kempo Karate. I also continued to volunteer for small, local groups teaching self-defense seminars and introductions-to-karate for children.

In 1998, I became the student of Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu’s Grandmaster Sonny Gascon, and have continued working with Grandmaster Gascon’s organization since that time. This organization shed a lot of light on the elusive history of Shaolin Kempo as practiced on the East Coast. I also supported the World Tai Chi and Qi Gong Day — an annual public event I participate at a local San Diego park.

From 1998, when I attained my fourth-degree rank, I continued to work and explore the arts through reading, seminars, and experimentation. I achieved the fifth degree in 2000 and my sixth in 2005. Through my work promoting all martial arts training with special emphasis on Kempo and Jujutsu, I was awarded an honorary fifth degree in Jujutsu. (That means I’m not good at jujutsu, just a fan, and supporter.)

In 2006, after years of refining my martial art and teaching curriculum, I developed my personal expression of martial arts as a unique and personal teaching method. (No, I did not create a new version of Kempo. The world doesn’t need yet another style of Kempo.)

Based on my own experience, I have reorganized the curriculum to produce better students in the art. Distilled from many years of training and organized along logical lines, this refined warrior art of Kempo helps students achieve a balance between body, mind, and spirit. All those fancy words mean I teach all the Arts I know and highlight how they are related – thus building upon those relationships to make a stronger warrior. It means my art is in a constant state of improvement as I explore, experiment, evolve and adapt.

It also means being a warrior is a journey, not a destination.

Our school is a charter member of the Philippine Martial Arts Alliance, and I am a personal student of the founder, Guro Julius Melegrito. Check out their Facebook page to learn more about the organization, upcoming seminars, and to purchase equipment.

Our school is also an official Empower Kickboxing training center, a curriculum developed by John Graden. Master Graden is a personal student of Joe Lewis–the father of American Kickboxing and student of Bruce Lee. Empower Kickboxing is a style your can master faster.

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