12 countries
12 martial arts
12 months

Saeed Baghbani: Super Sensei


Saeed Baghbani is the sensei I will send my precious children to as soon as they are able to walk. When I have kids. If I have kids. My little nonexistent future ninjas. Why? For one, he is an amazing martial artist with a Pan American Gold Medal, a 10 year undefeated National Record, and a Bronze Medal at the World Championships (basically the olympics for Karate). Second, he is a truly respectful martial artist and not a hot headed fighter. I believe it is very important to build respect, confidence, and calmness before you cultivate aggression and power. Third, he's the nicest guy I know. Sorry friends. If I said it was you I was lying. He's the nicest. I cannot for the life of me think badly of him. If I tried it would sound like a bad medical school interview answer where I try to make something good sound like a fault. 

Interviewer that has too much power: What is one of your biggest faults?
Nervous student who believes his life depends on this answer: My fault? Oh, that would definitely be the fact that I work too hard. 


Even crazier is that I cannot find anyone, in the world, who can talk badly of Saeed either. Crazy isn't it? I want this kind of man to pass on the martial arts spirit to my little samurais. Plus, I know him... So I'm going to ask for a discount. ha.

The most fundamental reason why I am utterly inspired by this man is simple. He is at the very top of what he does, yet remains completely humble and kind. He does not talk a lot. His actions are enough. He is an "A" lister. He is past cocky and insecure. He is truly confident. This is in stark contrast to many of the senseis, masters, grand masters and sifus I've met in the past. Get called "master" by everyone for a long enough time and I guess it gets to you. Plus, he values hard work, family support, and sacrifice. Three very important things that I find keep people from getting what they want.

Saeed has been an inspiration in my life since the early 2000's when he kicked my butt like I was standing still. It was the first time that I was beaten so badly I wondered what even happened. It's like he had a cheat code on: Power Overwhelming

We trained together for a short period of time, but his impact lasted forever. In the years to come, our paths would cross at some interesting times. It turned out that one of my oldest acquaintances [Grade 2] was one of his closest friends. It also turned out that I would be in Japan in 2008 at the same time as him. I came for the Harajuku girls, food and maid cafes. He came for the World Karate Championships. 

Over the course of the tournament I would sneak in to avoid the ridiculous ticket price and get to know this man a bit better. (one time I just walked into the stadium holding a huge, empty card board box while pretending I was important.) I met his father and sister. I met his friends and some of his competitors. I met his coaches and fans. And, if you don't know what attending a tournament is like, it's a lot of waiting time. So I got to talk a good deal. 

Then... Saeed lost his first match. It crushed us all. 

But the person he lost to went on to get into the finals, which meant he was given another chance. I then watched him systematically destroy every competitor on the way back up to earn a spot in the bronze medal match, and win. You could make a movie out of this guys life.

Then again, a few years silence... Mainly because I'm rarely in Canada. When we started talking again it was because we had a mutual student. I was teaching affluent children in Toronto. I was seen as one of the best tutors in town (damn right) and he was seen as one of the best trainers. This kid got us both and reunited us. 

Saeed then opened up his gym, Senshuken MAA, not MMA. Martia Arts Academy. Not Mixed Martial Arts. And, I ended up doing a lot of the photography for his website, signs and brochures. 

I'm happy about all of this, because now we are close enough that I could trust him with my future spartans. We are also close enough that I can share this with all of you. His gym is a little north of Toronto where he teaches with his similarly talented, but much prettier partner, Nadja Bratic. If you're in the Aurora area or just want the best for your kids (or self). You better head over to his gym! It's honestly one of the big reasons I'm a little sad about leaving Tdot for this trip.

But that wont stop me either.

Sacrifice. Hard Work. Family Support. LEVEL UP
Dec 12 2012 00:00:00