Shihan Mike Armstrong

Shihan Mike Armstrong

Blind Tiger Martial Arts Academy (originally Arizona Personal Protection Academy) was opened on April 28th, 2002 by Shihan Mike Armstrong. Shihan Mike has dedicated over 25 years to martial arts and has received numerous awards for not only his martial arts abilities but also his ability to inspire others; For Shihan Mike Armstrong is completely blind.

At the age of 26 Shihan Mike who was already a martial arts instructor, lost his eyesight due to a hereditary disease. Before losing his sight Sensei Mike was warned by his doctors to STOP practicing martial arts, but Sensei Mike’s passion for the martial arts would never let him stop.

Shihan Mike continued to teach and practice martial arts, and eventually he lost his eyesight completely. It is not known whether or not the Martial Arts was a contributing factor but Sensei Mike has no regrets. The discipline and determination that Sensei Mike has formed through his practice of Martial Arts has helped him not only adjust to the loss of his sight, but also overcome challenges any sighted man would have difficulty with.

Outside of teaching martial arts Sensei Mike Armstrong is a professional drummer and adventurer. In the recent years he has summited Mt. Kilimanjaro the tallest mountain in Africa, participated in the World Team Sports Adventure Challenge, and has become the only Blind man to hike the Arizona trail a 807 mile trail that took 57 days to complete.

Sensei Mikes passion for the martial arts started at a young age, but it wasn’t until 1985 Sensei Mike was able to dedicated himself to the martial arts. He started studying the Chinese martial art of Kenpo at Bernstein’s House of Karate and became a Student Instructor.

Sensei Mike and his sighted guides on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro

Sensei Mike and his sighted guides on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro

In 1986 Sensei Mike started researching other styles of martial arts and begin training in Kyokushin-kai under Kancho Ron Fugiel. Kancho Fugiel tought a mixture of Kyokushin-Kai Karate, Jujitsu, Kung Fu, and Fuji Ki.  Within the last 25 years Kancho Fugiel has introduced Sensei Mike to many master martial artists and has promoted him to a Shihan (Master Instructor).

In 2003 Sensei Mike started training with Hanshi Fred Buck the President of The American Kyokushin Karate Organization and officially holds the rank of Godan (5th Degree Blackbelt). In working with Hanshi Fred Buck, Sensei Mike Armstrong has also earned his Aiki-Jujitsu Nidan (2nd Degree Blackbelt) under Aiki-Jujitsu of America.

In recent years Shihan Mike has been training with Kyoshi Dana Abbott International Director of the All Japan Goshindo Renmei and the International Sports Chanbara Association. Sensei is a certified instructor of Chanbara and has recently received his Shodan (Blackbelt) from Kyoshi Abbott in both Goshindo and Chanbara.

Sensei Mike has also been studying the Chinese martial arts of Wu-Shu aka Kung Fu under Sifu Joseph Eager. Sensei has been an active student of Master Eagers for some time now and is training in styles such as Northern Shaolin Five Animals, Tai Chi, Xingyi, and Long Fist.

After recently discovering the opportunities of competition in Judo for the visually impaired; Sensei Mike has begun training with Sensei Phil Brier at the Mizu no Michi Judo Club. His desire is to compete on national and international levels. In training in Judo he has increased his skills and knowledge of Jujitsu as they stem from the same roots.

To his students Sensei Mike is not only just a teacher, he is a mentor and an inspiration. Anyone who meets Sensei is instantly amazed by his ability to live not only a normal life, but an extraordinary life even though he is without sight.

“The biggest disability that anybody has is in their mind. We all have challenges in life, and it’s up to you to get off the couch and do something about it.”
– Shihan Mike Armstrong