Martial Arts Instructor Serving Purpose At Pelham Bay Park

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

You observe and listen to Xsavier Daniels. This 27-year old from the Bronx is a trainer of the martial arts and offers a philosophy.

“Martial artists train for different reasons,” he says. “Concentration, physical to be healthy.  Some  want to be champions, some want to defend themselves, some just want to be healthy. Martial Arts is good at hitting all those points.”.

On the far end of the Pelham Bay Park running track, sanitized mats and equipment, and most of the week during the afternoon, Daniels is  teaching free classes to those who choose to come. He is on hiatus from a job teaching children at a licensed academy and awaits the reopening that was forced to close due to the Coronavirus pandemic,

The craft of martial arts  came from his teacher, Seiko Hanshi Rick Diaz an established pro and tournament champion.

“Father figure for years,” he says. “Taught me everything I knew since 9. I started staring with my instructor at 9. I started teaching at 16.

 He is a second degree black belt. It did not come easy. Lots of work, dedication, time, and taking care of your body. Now, Xsavier Daniels, with the experience, is following in the footsteps of his teacher. 

“Privileges of having an instructor exposed me to everything,” Daniels says. “Karate, Jujutsu, experience and skills from different guys, everything together.  I teach a little of everything.”

Also, boxing Jujutsu and similar to the late Bruce Lee approach. And of course, martial arts has become increasingly more exposed with the popularity seen often on networks with the sport of MMA. 

So  the global pandemic of COVID-19 continues, with New York City starting the process of opening more, outdoor workouts are a good reprieve after those months of isolation. 

He says, safety of those who come to him is a priority. He reminds students about the protocols and  more so because this is one-on-one contact.  

“ I have very high confidence in my immune system,  healthy,” he says.    “First line of defense, also I realize that my students have family at home. elderly and kids. Wash your hands when you leave the house. Be mindful”  

Students, many from the community and other boroughs, come prepared. Word of mouth from friendships over the years and social media are that part of a recruitment process as more and more venture to the park. 

They learn and listen about taking care of the body. They have come to realize this is a sport of self defense and discipline. They have been bullied as kids.

Here is Ruben Sotovelles, 21-years old. He heard about Xsavier from that mutual friend.  Friday afternoon,  for a second time, 7 train from Elmhurst Queens and to the park off the 6 train last stop. 

 It is becoming a routine and that addiction. He displays some good boxing instincts with the hands and coordination, and resembles a contender at 130-pounds. And, like  many who take up martial arts, Ruben no longer wants to be kicked around. 

The kind word is no longer taking it from a bully.  He loves the environment, discipline of learning the art of self defense,  mental approach, and taking care of the body. 

“Don’t want to be picked on,” Ruben says. “Have a resolve, understand why you’re doing it.  You don’t know why you are doing it then there is no foundation.  If not there is no foundation.”

He says about Xsavier, “His spirit, it comes from his eyes. You see it .He knows what he’s talking about. That expression. He’s willing to do it and does it because he wants to do it. And that’s what is most important. “

Credit: Warren King Jr.

“Something I wanted to do and asked Xsavier first,” said the 26 year- old. Aristotle Argyrosl who lives in the vicinity of the park. He has known Xsavier a few years and were co-workers at a local Walgreens. 

“It’s fun, I wanted hobbies that got me out of the house. I only come here and take precaution. Educated, extremely humble, and very educated are his words about the instructor. .

“Has a lot of experience and knows what he’s doing. “I do want to turn pro one day.  In my mind, l don’t know,  maybe four or five years.” 

They can become professional and win prize money from tournaments. Though, the winnings are minimal and not comparable to those earned from a successful pro or MMA fighter.     

“It’s the motivation, Xsavier as a teacher inspires us to keep pushing, his love for what he does.” says Jeremy Dabkowski. 

Right cross,  jabs,  variations of kicks, conditioning,  better  stretching. The discipline is displayed.  

“When you are doing something you love the reward is spiritual,” Daniels says.  His goal is to open that business, an academy for children and adults.

For now, he teaches free lessons and gets a minimal fee. Daniels, realizing these are difficult times, wants to provide that helping hand.

Getting that goal comes with all of the discipline and approach. However, there is hope it will happen at some point. Pelham Bay Park officials, others that train and walk there, have come to appreciate his work ethics 

The park will always be home.

“Very difficult for me to open a place,” Daniels said. “Those things that are difficult are worth striving. My vision is to have an academy.  The mental,  the physical.  My vision to have an academy, not just the physical combat. The mental philosophy that is taught.”

He says, “ Martial arts training sessions, obstacle courses and also the academic side. The philosophy of martial arts, how to be a leader.”   

Not a master yet, Daniels does not want to be classified until that is justified.  But it’s only a matter of time.

Contact Xsavier for lessons: Daniels

Comment: Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

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