Growing up Daniel and his brothers moved all over the East coast. Having lived in 5 different states, Daniel and his brothers were always the “new kids” and were often recognized as prey for bullying. Though they were always interested in martial arts they were never allowed by their father to take it for fear that it would lead to fighting at home. Their parents finally gave in and at the age of 16 his mother agreed to enroll them at Triad Martial Arts. Daniel was in awe at his instructor Johnny Lee Smith at first sight. As a boy Daniel grew up in New York watching Johnny on the Fox network showcasing his skills as the character Tiger Claw on WMAC Masters.
Daniel O’Brien began his martial arts training during the spring of 2004 at Triad Martial arts. Under the tutelage of Johnny Lee Smith, Daniel began winning vast amounts of state karate competitions for sparring and nationwide Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitions. After years of dedication and hard work Daniel became the first and only person from Alabama to win a gold medal at the Pan American Jiu-jitsu championship. Through Johnny, Daniel has become an undefeated professional mixed martial artist and the first person from Triad Martial arts to receive back belts in both Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Daniel has been training for nearly a decade under Johnny and has over half a decade of teaching experience working with both children and adults. Daniel trains and teaches at Triad Martial Arts 50 hours a week and competes regularly in tournaments and Mixed Martial Arts events. Daniel’s goal is to instill the teachings of his instructor, Johnny Lee Smith, onto those who would not abuse/misuse his teachings and to pass on the discipline and positive moral values which Daniel believes his instructor bestowed upon him.
- Undefeated Professional Mixed Martial Artist
- Black Belt in Karate
- Black Belt in Jiu-jitsu
- Pan American Gold Medalist
- 9x NAGA gold medalist
- Open Weight NAGA Expert Division Gold Medalist
- Pan American Black Belt No Gi Silver Medalist
- Gold Medalist in Numerous Karate State Competitions
- 6 yrs Teaching Experience
Growing up, John O’Brien and his two brothers, Daniel and Josh, were obsessed with martial arts and everything related to fighting. Due to the high cost and fear that the brothers would just use their training against each other, they did not begin training until much later in their lives.
In May of 2004, after much pleading and having part time jobs that could help pay for the classes, the O’Brien brothers began training at Triad Martial Arts Academy in Cullman, Alabama. Their childhood obsession with martial arts carried over into their training and they progressed very quickly in knowledge and rank.
In July of 2005, John began teaching the adult karate class out of necessity, having just over a year of experience. This motivated John to progress faster and train harder so that he would be a competent instructor. Later, John would go on to teach a few classes at the Triad Martial Arts location in Madison, which would lead to developing a long relationship with the school.
John has gone on to compete in Karate and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments, the Alabama Golden Gloves, as well as local Mixed Martial Arts competitions. John O’Brien teaches Karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Vale Tudo in both the Cullman and Madison, Alabama locations and continues to train to better himself and his students, while still being able to compete at the highest levels in karate, jiu-jitsu, and mixed martial arts.
Seven years ago Matt Ward decided to pursue mixed martial arts as a way to get into shape. He was committed. He began to train for competition. And compete he did. Matt has won the advanced divisions of NAGA six times. He has competed multiple times at the Pan American Games and World Championships.
Though Matt got into martial arts just as a way to stay in shape and compete his pursuit quickly changed from just wanting to be the best to becoming the best he could be. In other words, he stopped focusing on the next fight or the next competition. Mixed martial arts became a life journey. This gives Matt the ability to relate with others on many levels. If you want to compete he brings real world experience to the table. Is MMA a way to get into shape and improve your overall fitness? Matt understands that desire and he can help you start your own life journey. MMA training will give you confidence. Matt can teach you effective self-defense techniques.
Matt Ward has a 3-0 AMMY MMA record and a 1-0 Pro record. He is still currently competing and training everyday to become the best he can be. He holds a Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Johnny Lee Smith. His future goals include receiving his black belt, continue competing in BJJ and MMA and growing Triad at Riviera to be the best school in the state.
Daniel Whisenant is the instructor for these classes. Daniel has trained extensively in martial arts for over 10 years. He holds a black belt in Triad Martial Arts Karate-Do and Kobudo, and a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He is qualified as a SSGT defensive tactics instructor for law enforcement (a program mandated through all of Alabama, and taught widely through 8 other states) and is a certified instructor in Equalizer Women’s Self Defense.
Daniel is the owner and lead instructor for Triad Martial Arts in both Madison and Huntsville Alabama. He is also a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, where he has trained combat troops in martial arts in Afghanistan, and holds the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program black belt.