Shihan James Bruchac

  • Head Instructor & Co-Founder Saratoga Kyokushin
  • Served as NE IKU Chairman 2011-2014
  • USBJJF/IBJJF Certified Rank
  • Certified Alliance Jiu-Jitsu Instructor
  • 7-time IBJJF International Open Champion
  • BJJ World Championship Silver Medalist
  • Pan American No-Gi Championship medalist
  • NAGA Albany No-Gi Expert Champion
  • 2-time IBJJF No-Gi PAN Champion

  • Shortly after being awarded my 5th Dan by Kaicho.

    After being awarded my black belt by Romero "Jacare" Cavalcante.

    My brother and I with teammates and medals after IBJJF New York Summer Open.

    Shihan James Bruchac is a 5th degree black belt in Kyokushin karate as well as a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. A life long martial artist and competitive athlete Shihan started his martial arts journey in 1977, at age 9, training in Indonesian Penjak Silat along side his father who was already a black belt in this art. in 1982 Shihan became very active in school athletics, especially football and track. A double captain by his senior year Shihan was a local dream team selection in football as well as being awarded an athlete of the year award at Saratoga Springs High school. Receiving a scholarship to go to Ithaca College Shihan was a member of the 1988 Ithaca College National Championship football team as well as a starting defensive lineman his senior year. Following a short stint with professional Arena football Shihan once again got heavily involved in martial arts. Looking to further his physical activities in 1992 Shihan joined a local branch of Kokorokan headed by Shihan Frank Rosseti who had brought Kyokushin to the capital region in 1969 running a school under Tadashi Nakamura until 1976. Although limited by his busy travel schedule, as a Kokorakan shodan (1st degree black belt), Shihan won several regional black belt competitions. Following his 1998 nidan test Shihan's Sensei decided to leave to form his own style. For the next thirteen years as membership rose Shihan taught at least once a week and by 2005, reached the rank of 4th Dan. Later that year, inspired by his brother Jesse, also a lifelong martial artist and co-founder of WNYMMA, Shihan also began to train and compete in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

    Through BJJ Shihan eventually got involved with the teaching of basic striking techniques to some of his team mates who wished to fight MMA. Through this program Shihan would also go on to train some of the capital regions best strikers including several undefeated kickboxers. Unfortunately, as Shihan's program grew, the rest of the karateka from his school, seemed to drift further and further from their Kyokushin roots. Shihan soon found himself the senior student in a school he no longer recognized. Always wanting the best education possible, not just for himself but his students, Shihan began to look into other options. Following a year long search Shihan had the chance to train with Kaicho David Farzinzad, a ten time knockdown champion and youngest person to ever receive the rank of Shihan from Kyokushin founder Sosai Mas Oyama. By the end of that first class Shihan knew he had found a new home. Once ready, Kaicho offered Shihan the honor of testing for godan and, following the successful test at Kaicho''s private dojo, promoted him to 5th degree black belt in the Spring of 2011. Shortly after Saratoga Kyokushin was born. That same year, brother Jesse, who had since sold WNYMMA and moved back to the Saratoga region was offered a chance to become an associate of the powerhouse Alliance Jiu-Jitsu. This chance of having both Kyokushin karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under one roof was a dream come true. Since that time with the help of brother and a strong core of instructors the school has continued to grow with its students competing and winning in both local and International competitions alike. Along with being an instructor Shihan, like brother Jesse, is still an active competitor in both gi and no-gi competition. Along with his passion for the martial arts Shihan is an award winning author and storyteller as well as a World renowned animal tracker, survival expert, and director of the non-profit Ndakinna Education Center in which Saratoga Kyokushin also calls home.

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    Photos by ERIC JENKS