I recently had a great oppotunity to visit one of the top mixed-martial arts training camps here on Kaua‘i: New Breed. New Breed is known throughout the island for its jiu-jitsu training, but don’t let that fool you into thinking its fighters aren’t just as skilled in their stand-up. From what I witnessed during the New Breed training session, not only do they love to bang it out, they are very well-trained to do just that.
New Breed Academy Kaua‘i was established in Sept. 2010 under the direction of Kaua‘i MMA/ jiu-jitsu athletes Kaleo and Kaeo Lopez.
I spent a lot of time talking with Luis Soltren Sr., who helps New Breed athletes with their hands and stand-up skills. This guy treats every member like they are family. Luis will not hesitate to call his students at their homes just to check in on them. A good example is New Breed’s own Timmy Teves. Luis knew Timmy was getting into some trouble and wanted to help him better his life because he knew Timmy had a good heart. He knew Timmy wanted to join New Breed but could not afford it at that time, so Luis did something that I am sure was hard to do in today’s economy: he paid for Timmy’s dues so he could join the gym. This gave Timmy something good to focus on and redirect his energy to better himself. It worked.
Luis is like a dad to all his students, but don’t mistake his kindness for weakness. Luis is a veteran in both this sport and in life. In and out of the gym, Luis wants his students to give 100 percent in everything they do. He wants his students to use up all their energy while training so they are too tired to think and then train more so they rely on the hard training, muscle memory and memory reflex. This will help them in the ring, in the cage, on the mat and in life.
Luis told me, “During a training session, if you don’t puke at least once you’re not working hard enough.”
I also spent some time with a couple of New Breed’s students, one of which was 20-year-old Timmy. Timmy is the young fighter that I felt had lost his fight in Vance’s last event. Timmy was eager but respectful in informing me that even though he was nervous for his first fight, he did win it. Regardless how I felt that fight went, after watching Timmy train, I can tell you he will win many more fights. In fact, I will say if Timmy continues training hard and keeps his motivation, this guy has all the tools to go pro. Timmy tells me, “Prior to New Breed I was getting into a lot of street fights and getting into trouble.” At the young age of 18, he started feeling like there was more to life and he could do better; that is where Luis and New Breed stepped in. Since that time, Timmy now feels humility and pride being a part of the extended family of New Breed. Timmy wants to take his MMA training all the way to the top. Let me just add a warning to anyone stepping into the cage with this guy: don’t let his lack of cage experience fool you, as he can grapple and has both speed and power with his hands, feet, knees and elbows.
Tyson Hawelu, a brown belt, says his favorite thing about New Breed is the camaraderie.
Tyson, at the time I wrote this, had six wins to his name with fights here in Hawai‘i and King of the Cage in Las Vegas. Watching Tyson in the gym, you can tell his love for the sport and his fellow students. He is quick to jump in and provide guidance, assistance and encouragement to the other students. He does not display any bravado for his many accomplishments, just humility and respect. Tyson’s coaches say he is in a very special place in his life, training and career, and he is ready to go pro now. Unfortunately, Kaua‘i will be losing Tyson soon, as he is looking to move to Honolulu and possibly train with BJ Penn.
Nalu Hawelu says the best thing about New Breed is the coaches. The coaches really care and treat everyone like their own family, he said. Nalu has been training jiu-jitsu for six to seven years and just recently started training in full MMA. Nalu loves MMA because it is extremely hard physically and mentally. Nalu just recently had his very first MMA fight, which he won in the first round via tap-out. I remember watching that fight, thinking how skilled Nalu was and that he must have had at least a half dozen — if not more — cage fights. Nalu’s skill level is far beyond his fight record.
To watch these guys train was like watching poetry in motion.
A couple of things I took away from New Breed were that everyone feels like they are part of something special. All the students are trained to be very skilled in all areas. The coaches really care about all their students and will not let them compete until they are fully ready.
Without a doubt, New Breed is in a class of its own. They ensure everyone who comes into contact with them walks away a better person.
New Breed specializes in so many things both in the gym and out, things that could help each and every one of us. Great job New Breed, and please keep up the good work.