Passion for teaching martial arts leads to new gymnasium
By MIEKO BEYER
Just two months ago, martial arts teacher and stuntman Yoko Hamamura’s passion for teaching and performing almost came to an end. After a stunt injury slashed his head open and resulted in four head surgeries, it was unclear how soon the brilliant and hardworking Hamamura would speak normally again, let alone give lessons or do stunts.
“It was very scary, I couldn’t move, speak or walk the right way,” Hamamura recalls.
However, in early June, Hamamura, 35, miraculously returned to his school to teach his first class since his injury. The class went well and Hamamura has been back almost full time since then.
“My cognitive ability came back very quickly,” Hamamura said. “The doctors said I was ahead of schedule.”
It was a devastating experience for someone whose life revolves around fitness and education, but with his recovery sooner than expected and his passion for teaching back on track, Hamamura feels solid. for the future.
“I take my time and I continue to work. I’m not going to have big crashes or big hits on the movie screen yet, but I’m going to get acting training and teaching right away. I am almost back to normal, but not as strong, ”he said.
After his surgeries at the UCI medical center, Hamamura underwent cognitive, occupational and physical therapy as well as home therapy. It was a fight scene causing him to fall onto his back that led to the head injury – he ended up bumping his head instead and fracturing his skull. The fracture caused bleeding that returned after an initial surgery and then required additional surgeries to deal with the fluid build-up.
After the last operation was over, Hamamura’s recovery went well, but having four surgeries in four weeks was a painful journey, even for someone as fit and strong as Hamamura.
Now that his recovery is going well, he can once again focus on his business, Point of Impact MMA, 542 W. Katella Ave., Orange, CA 92867, a gym he founded three years ago. Hamamura is known to his students and people in the entertainment industry for his specialty in teaching everything.
“What sets me apart is that I can teach everything from stunts and wrestling to boxing and jiu jitsu, which also makes the gym so successful since we also teach variety there.”
Born in Tokyo, he moved to the United States at the age of three and grew up in Orange County. His father worked in the sale of American golf clubs in Japan and moved the family to Los Angeles for work. Still active as a child, Hamamura played soccer and karate, but didn’t start training mixed martial arts until he was 16, when he started learning Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu jitsu. He graduated from high school in Tustin and continued his education at CSU Fullerton before transferring to College University of Redlands to accommodate his martial arts training and competition program.
It was actually an injury that started his MMA career. After tearing his ACL while playing soccer, he was unable to train for a year, which triggered a weak and depressing period of time for the young athlete.
“Martial arts was what I came to feel like myself again,” he said. “It’s more of an individual sport where you have to be your own trainer and participate in it on a daily basis.”
After quickly discovering MMA, he soon found himself thriving in the sport, fighting first as an amateur and then as a professional. At the same time, he also taught, ran a gym and worked as a bartender while finishing his studies. A business graduate, he used his university thesis to study the opening of a martial arts school.
“I was finishing my studies and getting married,” he explained. “Fighting wasn’t making a lot of money so I found investors and within two years of graduating I found a place to rent and in 2018 I opened.”
His business partners were also coordinators of stunts in movies and television that he had known for many years. He had always hoped to work with them in the entertainment business and it took him seven years of training to gain their blessing from working in their industry.
“A lot of fighters think they can be film artists, I wanted to show my partners that I was ready to work on it,” he recalls.
His hard work paid off – the first film he worked on was “Birds of Prey,” where he had a fight scene with lead actress, Margot Robie. He went on to work on many other projects, TV shows like “Magnum, PI” and movies like “Sweet Girl” on Netflix, “Dune” and “The Gray Man” with Ryan Gosling. In addition to fighting against performances and stunts, he also lends his talents to training actors. He worked with Jason Momoa and Gosling to teach them the fight scenes and moves needed to perform in an action movie.
The secret to her success in managing multiple careers as a teacher and performer has been to lay a solid foundation at Point of Impact. Now with 11 staff members, Hamamura is able to work on feature film projects and has full confidence that the gymnasium is functioning perfectly while he is away. The gym also has a class that showcases their connection to Hollywood – a film combat training course that teaches how to fight on screen.
It’s been a busy three years for the young entrepreneur, from the end of his professional fighter career to opening a gym to the big screen, but he’s perfectly at ease in the middle of everything. the hustle and bustle of his career and busy school, which is open most days from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and two days from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The main attraction of the gym is their cardio kickboxing class in addition to offering Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu jitsu classes for adults and MMA and jiu jitsu programs for children. They also have a champions club to teach martial arts to children with autism, which Hamamura says is going very well.
The point of impact did not happen overnight, and Hamamura worked hard to ensure the gym would be a success. “The first year and a half, I was in the gym from 5 am to 10 pm to work and prepare the business plan,” he said. “Finally, I have staff members who I completely trust who know what to do, they are just amazing and it gets me going to work on films. “
The fledgling gym has suffered challenges like so many other fitness facilities due to forced shutdowns as part of COVID-19 safety precautions. Mandated to close for four months, they immediately took action to provide services to their members by offering online “POI LIVE” HIIT classes for their members. As soon as private lessons were authorized, they were also able to provide a fitness service for their members as well as training facilities for professional athletes.
Despite the hardships caused by COVID-19, the gymnasium managed to reopen successfully with strict adherence to all safety precautions, capping at a certain number of people per class, setting all participants six feet apart and imposing temperature checks and masks. Now that they are able to fully open the gymnasium when California opens, they are remaining strict to keep everyone safe, but eagerly awaiting what will come next.
Point of Impact will celebrate its third anniversary on July 23. It’s a feat Hamamura is very proud of, especially in light of a near-fatal injury and the pandemic last year. They will offer special offers to celebrate the milestone, one to three months free to sign up for six or 12 month programs in cardio kickboxing, POIMMA Unlimited or Kids Team Impact.
For more information on how to register for classes at Point of Impact, visit www.poimma.com or call (714) 681-1760.
Photos of MIEKO BEYER