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By Jamal Laoudi                                                                    
Hollywood today is indeed of new faces in martial arts.  Van Damme, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li are among the few names that still sell but you can only push so far.  As for possible new faces, there is a name to keep a watch on, Nassim Faras Lehrizi.  He is a 9 year-old martial arts prodigy being trained and groomed by his own father Hamid, a martial artist in his own right.  Based out of Massachusetts of Moroccan origins, Hamid and his son are due to start shooting in a martial arts film.  As it is only their first ever such adventure, dreams of Hollywood are that much closer. I caught up with Hamid and we discussed his movie project among other things. 

How did you start out in martial arts and where does your apssionof the sport come from? 
Growing up in Mohammedia where I was born and raised, I was picked on quite a bit by other kids partly because I had a small frame.  I was bullied and one can derive quite a bit of passion from anything that helps defeat that. Like every father, my dad wanted that I would be able to defend myself so he took me to a friend of his who ran a boxing gym.  That did not last past two sessions as I took a beating when thrown right into the boxing ring.   Luckily, I have an older brother who, at the time was a black belt in Judo, took me to a Karate Shotokan school.  This appealed to me and I took it seriously. At 14, I had already entered regional and national competitions, and received my black belt in the discipline.

You opened you own martial arts school at a very young age, and you have never looked back. What is involved in not only running but growing such a business?
I started as an assistant instruction in Morocco when I was 17.  After moving to the States soon after in 1987, I became an assistant instructor in a Taekwondo school in Cambridge Mass.  After I got married in 1990, I bought a house with a large basement in Brockton Mass.  That basement became a small Dojo for my neighborhood kids.   A year later, I opened Hamid's Karate Academy at Bay State Gym in West Bridgewater Mass.  After other openings and renovations, I had about 250 students.  In 2008, I moved to Brockton where I established Hamid's Academy of All Mixed Xtreme Martial Arts (AMXMA).

AMXMA is your own creation. Why did you create this style and how is it different from existing ones? 
AMXMA involves acrobatics, weapons, and exciting martial arts tricks on top of what Mixed Martial Arts requires.  The techniques involved are very exciting and is similar to what you see in Disney’s Martial Arts movies like Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers.  This happens to appeal to kids which is the exact demographic for the new style I have created.  They can commit more time, they are more energetic, and more willing to try new things than their adult counterparts.  My focus has been to transition this style to a point where my students can compete all over the United Sates and the World.  So far, it has been very successful.  
                                                                                                                                                                                       
You are quite dedicated and committed to you craft.  That becomes abundantly clear once one takes a look at your 9 year old son and prodigy Nassim Young Dragon.  When and how did you decide to get your son involved?
I have been asked this question many times before and I have never told the full story; I am sharing it now.  Nassim, my first kid, was born three weeks early in August 2004 weighting 3.75lbs.  My academy is a family business.  I run the floor and my wife handles the front desk so Nassim is always around.  At 11 months old exactly, he began to sit beside me during kids’ training sessions.  I remember him that young trying to mimic other kids’ moves in his own uniform.  It was having a blast.  He would throw a fit if I tried to make him wait for me on the side.   Just like that, a young dragon was born.
A day after his 1st birthday, Nassim went into a coma caused by an unknown virus according to the doctors who examined him.  That was the worst time of my life as you can imagine.  I prayed and prayed that he recovers and I recall saying to him "I promise to make you a champion someday son" then I prayed to God to allow me to keep my promise.
A week later, Nassim was back on his feet. Soon after, he was back in the gym enjoying himself.  And ever since, he has been with me at the Academy pretty much consistently.  He enjoys it.  I have always made it a point to expose him but to leave the final decisions to him.  Now, Nassim "Young Dragon" Faras Lahrizi is the youngest Karate & Kickboxing World Champion with many international & national titles. We travel around the world where he competes, holds workshops and seminars, among other things.

How has Nassim respond to this discipline and do you balance your role as a father and a master?
A child is a great gift and a blessing. I am blessed to have married Loubna Faras.  She is a great wife and mother to our two kids Nassim and his sister Aya.   At home, we are family, at the Dojo and during p5actice. Nassim is just one of my students.   

There are reports that you will both be starting in Hollywood movies in the very near future. Talk to me about that and when would it come out? 
Indeed, we will both be taking part of the upcoming Martial Arts action movie "The Martial Arts Kid” alongside Don The Dragon Wilson and Lady Dragon Cynthia Rothrock.  Michael Baumgarten is the screenwriter as well as the director. The Producers include Cheryl Wheeler Duncan and James Wilson.  We are very much lookign forward to this project.
It is too early to talk about release date but I would say end 2014 early 2015.  This among other things will become clearer during the next few months.

How can one keep in touch with your work?
In this day and age, social media is proving to be quite a marketing and communications tool.  I am active I this domain and here are links to my activities:

http://www.youtube.com/hamidsacademy
https://www.facebook.com/hamidacademy
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nassim-Young-Dragon
http://instagram.com/nassim_young_dragon


Demo by Nassim Young Dragon

 


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01/28/2014 6:33pm

masha allah

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