trainingATMAC, LLC was founded by Sifu James Sparks. In 1984, James began his own martial arts journey after seeing The Karate Kid. Signing up at the local YMCA, he found the training hard but fun for a 7-year-old future ninja. He eventually left and began training under Master Trey. A positive role model, he encouraged his students instead of instead of belittling them as some masters would. This early experience provided a solid foundation for Sifu Spark’s future career in martial arts.

At the age of 17, James noticed his neighbor coming home in a kung fu uniform. Interested in Kung Fu, James asked him where he trained. He was introduced to Master Isaac who taught Shaolin Kung Fu combined with practical self-defense techniques. Again he found the training exciting. Shortly after, James also began learning kick boxing under Master Jose Rodriguez.

Sifu Sparkes earned his 1st Duan (black belt) in 1999 and opened his first school in 2000 in Colorado. Also in 2000, he began studying JKD specifically under Master Gary; he then opened another school in 2002. Testing in front of the Abbott of the Shaolin Temple, Sifu Sparks earned his 2nd Duan in 2003. His Wing Chun training continued with Sifu Bart Mann and Sifu Bill Davis.

In 2004, Sifu Sparks opened his 3rd school; he later studied MMA-JKD Kali with Master Scott Pedersen. In 2008 he achieved his 3rd Duan under Master Jack Gianeella. Sifu Sparks achieved his 4th Duan in 2012 and currently continues training with Grandmaster Ray Parra and Sifu Stephen Fontanel. Now in his 4th school, Sifu Sparks’ curriculum emphasizes Shaolin Kung Fu, Kali, and JKD styles.

What do these ranks, masters, and training experiences mean? It means receiving experienced martial arts training from a master who continues to perfect his craft. With this background, Sifu Sparks knows that finding a good martial arts school means taking the time to explore whether or not a school and its instructors are a good fit for you. We invite you to come visit, try our one week free trial, and ask questions! Also feel free to click on and read this article from the Bruce Lee Foundation on what to look for in a martial arts instructor.