Wrestler, Navy Deepsea Diver, Helicopter Pilot, Firefighter, Jiu-Jitsu Instructor, husband, and father. These sound like the credentials of a Hollywood action hero or The Most Interesting Man in the World, but this is just a small slice of Anne Arundel County resident and Kogen Dojo Jiu-Jitsu coach Isaac ‘Ike’ Haertel’s real world resume.
A graduate of Arundel High School where he was a 2x Wrestling State Finalist, Ike joined the United States Navy immediately after graduation. Ever since becoming dive-certified on a vacation trip to Hawaii his junior year, Ike knew he wanted to become a Navy Diver. During his eight years in the Navy, Ike began training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and his passion for wrestling found a new outlet.
While stationed in Hawaii, Ike met his now wife, Lucia. After leaving the Navy, Ike and Lucia got married and Ike put himself through helicopter flight school with assistance from the G.I. Bill. Later, his career in the aviation field took Ike and Lucia to South America where Ike continued the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training he started in the Navy. Eventually, Ike and Lucia had two daughters and moved back to Anne Arundel County to restart their life and to be closer to Ike’s family.
In 2015, Ike started a new career as a Firefighter in Anne Arundel County, where he works today. Through all of the adventures in the Navy and as a civilian, moving around the world, Ike maintained his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practice, always finding local schools to train at.
As a brown belt, Ike began teaching classes at a local school and dedicated his spare time to teaching jiu-jitsu to first responders – firefighters, police officers, and EMT’s – as well as the general public.
At home, Ike’s passion for jiu-jitsu began to rub off on his two daughters and they started to express interest in the sport as well. Around that time, Ike heard that a few of his friends and former training partners Dwayne Bowie and brothers Robert and Matthew Van Valkenburgh were starting a new martial art school in Severna Park that would center around Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (a traditional form of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu focused on practical self-defense) Muay Thai (a form of kickboxing originating in Thailand), and Taikyoku Budo (Japanese Jujutsu and Qigong).
Feeling inspired, Ike became one of the first members of the teaching staff at what would become Kogen Dojo in Severna Park Village Center. Not long after joining Kogen Dojo, Ike and Lucia began bringing their daughters to the school to learn jiu-jitsu. Ike and Lucia themselves even began training in Muay Thai as a couple at Kogen. Lucia explains that she loves to see her family training together, but especially her daughters and their father because it has brought them all closer than they ever were before. Ike explains in practical terms that “The confidence and awareness my daughters learn from doing martial arts is almost more important than the self-defense aspect because while Jiu-Jitsu will get you out of trouble, self-confidence and awareness stop trouble before it even starts.”
Robert Van Valkenburgh, Co-Founder of Kogen Dojo
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