Recently we had the privilege of speaking with Daniel Longoria, owner of Longoria’s ATA in Lincoln, Nebraska. The following is about how he got into martial arts both as a student and an instructor.
What got you interested in becoming a martial artist?
“Well… I started off as a kid, studying boxing. My father was a “boxing champion”, and when my four brothers and I were little we used to sit in front of the TV (back then it would’ve been a black and white tv with about 3 channels so this would have been like 1960/61). We would watch Friday Night Frights from the Forum in LA and my dad would tell us what these guys were doing so we always looked as fight not as brutality and vicious, we always looked at it as an art. He would tell us what the guys were doing and how they were doing it, setting people up, dropping their hands their going to get hit and sure enough someone would get KO’d for making a mistake.
When I got into grade school, we moved to Nebraska and there really wasn’t any good boxing around and my cousins were already into wrestling so my brothers and I got into wrestling. Between my four brother and my two cousins we had about 12 Class A wrestling titles, we were always All-District, All-Regional, All-City honors. In fact, my older brother was a Junior College National Wrestling Champ and my cousin was the first Division 1 National Champ from the University of Nebraska, this would’ve been about 1970/72.
Wrestling was my background, when I got out of high school, I started College… didn’t like college so i started doing a little restaurant work. I was looking for something competitive, I got into powerlifting and I didn’t like some of the stuff that was going on.. There was a Taekwondo class in the gym I was in that met once a week and so that was my introduction into martial arts. I did Shotokan Karate for about three years and that would have been 1969, in between wrestling seasons is when I would do Karate to keep me in shape. After I graduated I got more into it and did it for about 2 years. It ended up being too slow moving for me and I saw an article of some girl who had got her black belt in Taekwondo and it had a picture of her kicking her foot straight up in the air. I said that’s what I want to learn to do, I want to learn how to kick like that. This would have been around 1978. Then that’s how I got really involved in Martial Arts
When did you become a Martial Arts Instructor?
Actually I started in 78, I got my black belt… I was one of the fastest people in the ATA to receive my black belt… I got it in exactly one year. I would be there like 6 days a week, I’d go in classes started I would be working out in the back and my instructor used to joke and say “I’m not going to charge your membership, I’m going to charge you rent” because I was there so much. I lived in that gym… when I was a red belt, the instructor that was teaching kids classes, which would have been in late 78, quit. He was stuck with no instructor and I just asked him if i could get my youngest brother involved, he must have been 6 at the time and he wouldn’t take anyone younger than 8 or 9. He said I could bring him if I teach the classes, so I started teaching classes as a red belt. About 4 months later I received my black belt and a year later I tested for my certification as an instructor with the ATA. In 1985 is when I became a School Owner, my instructor went through a divorce and he was going to move up to South Dakota where he was from. The school was going to shut down so myself and another instructor, we were both 3rd degree black belts at the time.