As of December 2023, I decided to retire, and closed my studio Kaizen.

This was not a decision I made easily, as teaching has always been a major facet of my life. It’s a part of who I am and how I’ve defined myself for over 30 years. However, this journey for me has come to an end as I embark on new paths. I’m not getting any younger, and a lifetime of fighting, injuries, surgeries, and chasing adrenaline,  has taken its toll on my body. I feel so much older than I am. I’m tired and worn out.

It’s time for a change in my life to heal and rebuild my own strength both physical and mental. Teaching consumed a massive amount of my time and energy. I gave all I could to others while never feeding my own flames, and I paid the price for it. It’s time I return to my primal roots as I did while training in France and Tahiti. I feel the need to re-ignite my own fires and evolve into someone or something new. As selfish as it may seem, I can’t focus on my own goals if I’m giving all of myself to everyone else. I now understand more about one of my own trainers ” T “, and the journey he had to go through to become who he is today. I need to once again train for myself as I did in the beginning.

This difficult yet necessary decision was a long time in the making. I’m now doing what is best for me, focusing on my own personal needs and goals in life. After three decades of teaching, I’m ready for this career shift. It will allow me freedom to train myself, to travel, to pursue my filmmaking and photography full-time, and more availability to volunteer at the Big Cat Rescue, which truly is where I’m happiest.

In my lifetime, I’ve trained countless students ranging from beginners to seasoned fighters. I dedicated nearly my entire life to studying combative arts and the science of tactical fighting. My training has taken me to several states and foreign countries and I’ve encountered many amazing people in my life because of it. I’ve been a bouncer, a fighter, and even a stunt actor in films. These experiences and memories will stay with me forever, as will my time as a teacher.

Throughout my career I endured many extreme hardships and setbacks. No matter how hard the world hit me, I’d stand back up and continue fighting. Those struggles forged the foundation for Kaizen. I wanted to offer something real, something not focused on titles, ranks, and trophies, something that gave people true strength and skill. I feel I accomplished my goal one last time. Those who trained with me long enough understood the differences between “title vs skill”, “style vs discovery”, “instinct vs memorization”, “courage vs ego”, and “reality vs bullshido”.

Since opening in May 2018, Kaizen remained strong for nearly 6 years with a large and growing number of active members. While some students came and went, there were many who had the dedication to pursue their goals, overcome their fears and doubts, and achieved a talent they never knew themselves capable of. In a society today full of people with an overwhelming sense of entitlement, laziness, and lack of motivation or commitment, all of my students knew every time they walked through my doors, I would push them harder and harder and not tolerate any excuses. Everyone knew where the doors where should they not be willing to apply themselves, or if I felt I was babysitting them rather than training them. My reputation was and still is everything to me, as was the quality of training I provided.

However my life is pulling me in a different direction, so I’ve closed this chapter on my own terms. My other businesses have grown to a point where they are successful and self-sustaining, and I’ve unexpectedly found myself in a new career I never anticipated, yet highly enjoy. For it to remain successful and continue growing, it needs more of my time, focus, and energy.

My passion for training will live as long as I do. Perhaps someday I’ll find myself teaching on the side again, but never again as a career. My time now belongs to me. If and when should I someday train anyone else, they will have to prove they deserve what I can offer them.

I will no longer give my time to just anyone. As arrogant as it may sound… I know my worth, I know my level of skill. It certainly did not come quickly nor easily. I had to fight for it. I had to sacrifice, suffer, bleed, and be broken both physical and emotionally. I chose to rise up every time, time after time after time. Few will ever know or understand what I endured, and even fewer have seen the full capacity of my capabilities. I know what I’ve done for countless students throughout my career. I know I will give (as I always have) anyone all the knowledge I posses if they’re willing to fight for it.

I truly believe any trainer worth anything, should relentlessly strive for their students knowledge and skill to someday surpass their own. This is one thing that always set me apart from other instructors, and in many ways made me an outcast and ronin. To anyone willing and capable, I would have given them all I had to carry on my legacy. It’s all I have to leave behind. However for now, I’m ready for a much needed sabbatical from teaching.

For the families and students who have been with me since the beginning of Kaizen, I can’t thank you enough for your continued support and commitment in sharing your time with me. You made Kaizen a success. I will truly miss teaching my students, and I’m very sorry our time together has ended. I hope the knowledge I strived to pass onto you will stay with you throughout your lives, and that your memory of me will be a positive one.

For those who’ve only recently begun your training, I regret our time together was short lived. I hope for everyone to find a new outlet and direction in your activities that will have a strong impact in your lives, as martial arts training has had for me.

For any “would be” future students, I regret I’ve left you with little to few options of quality places to train. Everywhere I look, all I mostly ever see are pseudo instructors parading their titles and styles around like some kind of ridiculous holy grail, who posses more ego than actual skill. All I can say is, don’t be fooled by their claims… make them prove their worth and make certain they help you discover YOUR fighting style, and not just make you copy theirs. Your life is far more valuable than their pride and ego. Train as you fight, and fight as you train. Remember, it’s all Bullshido… until its for real.

Continue striving for excellence in all you do. Thank you.

Nathan Grey