As Told By Manny Cabrera III, Sidekicks’ Chief Instructor
When I was growing up in Tallahassee I was lucky enough to train in martial arts and have my dad, one of the leading Taekwon-Do practitioners in the United States, as my instructor. I nearly spent every waking moment of my childhood at the Taekwon-Do school that he operated along with my mother. If I wasn’t at school, I was there with them training in classes or helping. It was the coolest thing, because as a child it was like getting to live like a real-life superhero training the way Batman did in the comics I loved to read at the grocery store.
However, as my grandmother was getting older she decided to move from her home in Crystal River back to Tampa, FL to the home she was born in. My parents decided that it was time to move back to Tampa to be closer to her (can you imagine driving four hours just to mow the lawn?). My parents sold their school in Tallahassee when I was a Junior in high school and we moved Brandon in eastern Hillsborough County in 1999.
From an early age I KNEW that teaching martial arts was my calling to CHANGE the WORLD
Having such an incredible instructor and competitor as my dad really enabled both my brother, Ryan, and I to be exposed to the best training in all kinds of different martial arts, not just Taekwon-Do. It gave us a tremendous understanding of people and how violent encounters unfold, how to survive them, and the potential power that martial arts has to help practitioners in their every day lives.
I laid low for the rest of high school, once we moved to Tampa Bay, teaching martial arts for one of my dad’s students that had a school in Brandon and visiting my long-distance girlfriend (who’s now my wife) whenever I could earn enough money to make the trip back to Tallahassee. Looking around the Brandon area I knew that there was more that could be done in the community to raise the self-esteem and confidence and empower children to succeed. Even before the end of high school I was beginning to lay down plans for martial arts programs in east Hillsborough county.
I went to school at the University of South Florida in the morning and by the afternoon, I would be at a local daycare or child enrichment center teaching the moves and character lessons of Taekwon-Do to the kids in the afternoon. After a short while we began teaching in the Family Life Center of the church we attend and before you knew it, we had over 30 students in that one program. We needed to add more classes in order to better serve the students we had at that program. However, we knew it wasn’t fair to ask the church for more time and space that they could be using for religious education. So, we looked around and one of the daycares we were teaching at had a steel building on their property that they only used in the mornings during the summer. We rented that building from them and the first full-time Sidekicks location in Tampa Bay was born!
Training in “The Oven”
One of the unique characteristics about our first location was that it didn’t have air conditioning. We affectionately dubbed it “The Oven.” To keep cool, we had four giant 50” diameter floor fans blowing air into the building and two giant fans up high in the wall sucking the hot air out. Despite the lack of amenities, Sidekicks continued to grow on the strength of referrals because of our incredible methodology in teaching and our focus on personal development. During this time I promoted my first students to black belt, with my wife being the first student I had taught all the way from white belt to black belt as my student and not as a staff instructor for my dad or someone else. After about two years of training in “The Oven,” it became clear that if Sidekicks was going to be able to continue growing and giving our best to the community, we would need to move into a more commercial space.
Nearly a Decade after teaching our first class, Sidekicks is the go to for martial arts, fitness, and personal development in East Hillsborough County, FL
In 2013, Sidekicks Family Martial Arts Centers will celebrate our tenth anniversary of starting full-time operations in the Brandon area. During that time, I’ve been privileged to have promoted people to black belt every single testing cycle for several years. My wife and I also welcomed twin sons into the world (I have high hopes for their martial arts training) and my dad and mother have even come to work for Sidekicks in key leadership positions. We really believe in putting the family in family martial arts. I’ve been fortunate to have team of instructors that are among the best I’ve ever experienced anywhere.
The Highest Quality Martial Arts Training in East Hillsborough County
That means you can expect an organized, well-ran classes for yourself and your child. We know how valuable good communication and planning is. We want your child to be a part of something GREAT, yet give you the opportunity to schedule other valuable family activities.
A Professional, Knowledgeable and Innovative Staff
At SIDEKICKS FAMILY MARTIAL ARTS CENTERS, athletes are exposed to amazing role-models. Young girls witness that women CAN HAVE IT ALL! They see first-hand female instructors who are athletic, smart, and family and career- oriented. Boys learn from positive male role models that treat everyone around them with respect and are values driven. You can also trust that your child is part of a program that is current with industry standards, following proper progression of skills, and constantly combining creative minds for the best possible products for you!
A Safe, Clean & Properly Equipped Facility
This means that your child will train in a gym that has proper mats and flooring while learning martial arts.
A “Home” for Loyal, Respectful and Driven Athletes
Your family will become more self-confident, motivated and learn to love being a part of program that challenges and leads them to excel.
We’re excited to meet you and welcome you into the Sidekicks Family. Please take a moment to register for one of our free trial programs in the links in the right hand column.
If you’d rather just pick up the phone, please call (813) 661-2224 and let us know if you’re on our website. We’ll schedule you for a FREE Grand Tour of our facility and a meeting with one of our awesome coaches to help you determine which program is right for your child.
I’m confident that once you see our facility and meet our instructors and students, you’ll know that you’ve found what you’ve been looking for!