Jason Lagmay, owner and head trainer of Kaua‘i Pankration here on Kaua‘i, has been in martial arts for over 15 years.
Following in his father’s footsteps as a martial artist, Jason started Kenpo at age 11 which sparked his flame for the arts. From that point on, Jason has dabbled in a mixture of different fighting styles like Aikido, Judo, Kickboxing and Muay Thai.
He was born here on Kaua‘i, but moved to Washington State in 1996. There, along with going to school and working, he continued his training and soon his name was seen constantly throughout Washington’s local fight scene.
In 2003, he met UFC fighter Cris Leben at an event who extended an invitation to train with him at Matt Hume’s school AMC (American Martial arts Center) Pankration, one of the best fight schools in the world. There, Jason became one of Matt Hume’s top amateur students, and by 2005 he worked his way up the rankings for a title shot against Northwest super middle kickboxing champ Clifford Larson.
Jason won via TKO 1:45 in the first round, then kept his belt for the next two years, defending it five times before jumping over to the world of MMA.
At AMC Pankration, Jason tangled with the likes of Maurice Smith, Rich Franklin, Josh Barnett, Hayato Sakurai, and Chris Leben. Chris brought Jason three hours south to Randy Couture’s Team Quest in Oregon, which also held some of the sport’s top professionals like Matt Lindland, Dan Henderson, Chaeol Sonen, and Nate Quary. Jason continued his quest to be the best by venturing off to learn Muay Thai at the Fairtex camp in Puket Thailand, and also training in Tokyo Japan with Sakurai and other great fighters.
In 2007, Jason won Canada’s Tiger Strike Pankration tournament, fighting three opponents over the extent of the weekend. Shortly thereafter he beat Washington’s AX fighting champion Bret Malphrus via KO 1:13 in the first round. Jason then received a call from Mask, from Tapout, who offered Jason a slot in his upcoming TV series.
Tapout flew Jason and coach/manager Matt Hume to Vegas to watch some fights and talk more about the show. After he left Vegas he had a signed contract to fight on the Tapout’s TV show. After a few of the Tapout shows aired, the MMA world lost a great friend in Mask as he unfortunately died in a vehicle accident just before Jason was scheduled to fight, ending the series without Jason fighting on the show.
Jason continued training and working his way up the ladder in AMC’s Genesis fights to the point he earned a title shot against Genesis Champ, Toureen Washington. With another first round finish via guillotine submission, Jason was asked to fight in the states first ‘King of the Cage’ event as a professional, where he fought Washington champ, Landon Showalter, and finished him with a TKO in the first.
Shortly after, one of Jason’s coaches, Maurice Smith, asked Jason to try out for his second season on his Tiger sharks team for the IFL (International fight league). Jason was beat out of the tiger sharks 170 pound weight class by training partner Brad Blackburn, but was still kept as a back up and training partner for Brad.
Jason has a 10-2- kickboxing record and 5-0-0 MMA record. Jason was unfortunately forced to take a much needed break due to a knee injury. Jason, though injured, stayed on at AMC for a couple more years as one of the assistant coaches until his move back home to Kaua‘i.
Jason states, “My goal was to move back home and help out our community by keeping our young ones active by starting my own school and charging only what they can afford – which in most cases was nothing.” He started teaching at the home of one of his long time friends, and as word spread the gym grew. These days Jason has an average of about 30 students that together call themselves ‘Kaua‘i Pankration’.
“It seems like after every fight we enter our students in, people like the skill level we bring to the table, and by next week we have a few more wanting to sign up”, said, Kaua‘i Pankration assistant boxing instructor, Piu Masi. “It’s not just a gym for people to train for the sport but it’s where you can find good company. And not only do we participate in the local MMA fights but also Kaua‘i Police departments USA amateur boxing league and any Jui Jitsu tournaments held on Kaua‘i”.
Jason doesn’t let it end in the gym or in the ring, his fight school is a family. Kaua‘i Pankration is a nonprofit organization, and what Jason doesn’t personally pay for, he uses help from donations. Jason hates to turn anybody down, but until he is able to find and afford a bigger training space, he has to. Jason is married to a beautiful supportive wife in Claudia and has a gorgeous 1 year old daughter in Kiana.
Jason absolutely loves the world of MMA, the competition, comradeship, sportsmanship and the overall thrill in getting in the ring, but what he loves more is his heritage, his Island and the feeling he gets when he watches one of his fighters get in the ring and give 110 percent to win.
At the end of it all, he teaches respect: respect your opponents, respect the sport, respect the judges, respect the referees, respect the fans, and respect yourself.