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Stephen's first introduction to martial arts was Shotokan at the age of eight (1976). Since that time, Stephen has also been awarded a black belt in Tae Kwon Do (1993) and spent five years training and competing in San Shou (1994 - 1998), culminating with a finish as a finalist in the 1997 United World Championships. Stephen has also gathered competition experience in Tae Kwon Do, Kung-Fu, amateur mixed martial arts, sambo, and grappling. In 1997 Stephen began coaching; serving as corner man and cut man for many amateur fighters. In 1999 he began training Combat Sambo training under Alexander Barakov, which he continues to teach today.
Stephen is a Level 1 USA Boxing Certified Coach (inactive) and a Level 1 Catch wrestling coach under the ISWA. He attended the inaugural Combat Sports Medicine Symposium hosted by the NJ State Athletic Control Board in 2012. In 2013, Stephen became an approved Association of Boxing Commissions MMA Judge & Referee and has since begun judging amateur MMA for the ISKA. He has had the pleasure of training Sambo under Igor Kurinnoy at Spartak (Ukranian Olympic Training Center), Borec and Sambo 70 (Russia). Additionally, Stephen has taught at the FKE training facility in St. Petersburg, Russia. Stephen has been a guest instructor at the United States Military Academy (West Point, NY) and Fort Campbell (Kentucky).
Stephen regularly offers national/international seminars; has coached his team to wins in Sambo, submission wrestling, San Shou, and MMA. In 2008, Stephen was on the US Coaching Team for the FIAS World Sambo Championships and was awarded his Master of Sport of Russia (Combat Sambo) in February, 2009. He has written for Bodyguard Magazine, Ultimate Grappling Magazine, Bloody Elbow, the Journal of Asian Martial Arts and regularly writes for his NYMMANOW Blog. He served as a technical advisor for the "Human Weapon" (History Channel), "Dhani Tackles the Globe" (Travel Channel) and is producer of the documentary "New York Mixed Martial Arts" and “Choke Artist.”
Outside of martial arts, Stephen is a NY State Licensed Massage Therapist, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts and a Master's Degree in Creative Arts Therapy from Hofstra University.
Tyga started wrestling in 10th grade at Mt. Vernon High School in Mt. Vernon, NY in 1993. His first year wrestling, he quickly realized that there was more to wrestling than what he saw on T.V. as he finished with a 14-10 record. His second year he quickly turned that around with a 29-3 record, 3 consecutive tournament championships, became divisional champion and became co-captain of the team. He accredits this to the training he received at NY Athletic Club under coach Sonny Greenhalgh (World Freestyle Champion from Iran), Hamid Kermanshah, Florian Ghinea (2x Romanian National Freestyle champion and 2x Division 3 national champion at Montclair State). In his senior year, he posted a 33-2 record, became divisional champion again and finished 2nd in the Section 1 championships.
After graduating high school, in the summer of 1996, he competed for the first time
in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. He won 3 freestyle tournaments, went 7-0
on the East Coast Wrestling Tour camp where he had one of his most memorable moments
defeating a high school Freestyle national champion in Florida. He also qualified
for the high school Greco-Roman National championships. He went on to wrestle at
Hunter College under coach Bob Guadenzi in 1996. He achieved All-State at the NY
State championships in his sophomore year in college. Due to financial and family
commitments, he had to stop wrestling for his last two years of college but continued
to train at NY Athletic club with many great wrestlers. He wishes to pass his love
for wrestling onto others. Tyga began training Combat Sambo under Stephen Koepfer
in 2008. In addition, Tyga holds a purple belt in BJJ under Marcello Garcia. He is
the 2008 - 2009 North American Freestyle Sambo Champion (74kg).
Bradley “Featherstone” Desir
Bradley has trained at NY Combat Sambo since August of 2009, shortly after his discharge from the US Marine Corp. Since that time has diligently trained Sambo and MMA. In addition to a very active training and competition schedule, Bradley takes time to coach MMA and Muay Thai at NY Combat Sambo and at an after school program in the Bronx.
Brad has cross-trained with such noted gyms as Extreme Couture in Vegas, Marcello Garcia Academy (Brad holds a Blue Belt), and TSMMA with Bellator Champion Lyman Good. He currently trains at Gleason’s Gym with Boxing Coach Don Saxby. In 2013, Brad moved to Thailand for 6 months to train at Tiger Muay Thai and later that year received his “Kru” under Miguel Rivera/USMTA. Bradley brings he love for the sport of MMA and his enthusiasm about training to all the students at NY Combat Sambo. He is featured in the documentary "New York Mixed Martial Arts." Check out more about Brad here
Anthony “Magnum” Pipola
Anthony, Ozone Park’s Secret Weapon, is a talented grappler and fighter with many competitive accolades under his belt. In addition to his 2-0 record as an amateur MMA fighter, Anthony has won the Good Fight Winter Open Gold Medal (No-gi purple belt), North American Freestyle Sambo Championships Bronze Medal (A division), ISWA Carpentier Catch Wrestling Open Gold Medal.
Alexius “Stealth” Phoenix
Alexius, who works as a senior court officer at the NYS Federal Court, has been training at NY Combat Sambo since 2007. In addition, he holds a Shodan in Judo and Japanese JuJitsu. Alexius’ competitive record is a long and accomplished one including a Bronze Medal (Judo) at the 2011 World Police & Fireman’s Games. He has placed in numerous other events including the Good Fight, World MMA Expo Takedown Tournament, Ultimate Sambo Submission Showdown, North American Freestyle Sambo Championships, and Canadian Freestyle Sambo Open.
Chris has worked in yoga and martial arts studio management over the past ten years. He has managed two of the largest yoga studios in Manhattan and on the East Coast, while also being highly regarded in the martial arts community, most notably as a plaintiff in the case to legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York. As a student and teacher of yoga and martial arts (Sambo, Judo, BJJ), Chris has obtained knowledge of both industries through deep, thorough study and experience. With an extreme eye for detail and a top-notch pedigree in both yoga and martial arts training, he is a trusted source of information and "know-how" for practitioners, teachers, and business owners. Chris has fought amateur MMA (1-0), holds a brown belt in Judo, a blue belt in BJJ, and has been training Sambo for over 10 years. Some accomplishments include:
-2005 Garden State Games Sambo Gold Medalist
-2005 North American Freestyle Sambo Championships Silver Medalist.
-2006 NJ Open Freestle Sambo Championships Gold Medalist
-2007 Canadian Combat Sambo Challenge Gold Medalist
-2007 Battle of Brooklyn Freestyle Sambo Superfight winner
-2008 North American Freestyle Sambo Championships Silver Medal
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