Good Morning POU!
Today’s featured martial artist: Earnest Hart Jr.
Earnest Hart, Jr. is a world class martial artist champion, physical fitness trainer, actor and seminar specialist. In the ring Mr. Hart earned a reputation as the man to beat, and during his days as a competitor was considered one of the most formidable competitors of the day.
As a teenager he trained in judo, karate and jiu-jitsu. At 19 these skills were put to task as he shot onto the kickboxing scene, and at age 21 Mr. Hart won his first World PKA Kickboxing title. Among his many other accomplishments Mr. Hart is the only man ever to win four kickboxing titles in the welterweight class.
A multi talented martial artist, Mr. Hart holds a black belt in 15 different styles of martial arts. They include, Yoshan Kai Karate, Shorin Ryu Karate, Kage Kempo, Tae Kwon Do, Jujitsu, and Savate to name a few. Mr. Hart is also the highest-ranking teacher at 10th Degree, in the America Fighting Arts School of Martial Arts. Named on the “Top Ten Kickboxers of All Time” by Inside Karate magazine.
In 1992 the martial arts champion was invited by His Imperial Highness, the Emperor of Japan to teach His Majesty’s Imperial Guard his brand of self-defense. Mr. Hart is the only non-Japanese ever to be so honored.
A WorldBlackBelt Founding Member, Hart admits that he even surprised himself when he handed his business card to NFL All-Pro D’Marco Farr of the St. Louis Rams in 1997 and boldly told him to give a call when he got serious about winning. At the time, the Rams were coming off one more losing season, and a year later, following yet another losing season, Farr got serious and placed the call to Hart right after their last game and simply said “I’m ready.” Two years later, the St. Louis Rams were sitting on top of the NFL world as Super Bowl Champions and Earnest Hart, Jr. was being featured on ESPN and the Fox Sports Network.
Farr took Hart, who was not even a football fan at the time, in to meet with the then Head Coach of the Rams Dick Vermeil. “Coach Vermeil had previously hired a Cardio Kickboxing Instructor and did not get very good results, so I had to sell him on myself,” recalled Hart. “I sold him on speed, I told him that I could make his guys quicker and faster, and although I don’t think he was entirely convinced, Coach Vermeil decided to give me a chance.”
Next, Hart had to prove himself to the players and earn their respect. Farr, already a believer, started offering $1,000 to any player who could block one of Hart’s still lightning quick kicks…he never had to pay up. “I used to do the Kung Fu thing by snatching pennies from their hands, because even though I was older I was faster,” said Hart.
As for the coaches, Hart soon realized how important it was to not alienate himself from the strength and conditioning coaches so that they would see him as a threat. Hart made sure not to exclude them and wisely offered them free private lessons so that they could understand what he was teaching.The coaches soon became believers too.
“Basically, I taught the players quickness through explosive drills and told them to always stay relaxed, be ready but don’t be tense,” explained Hart, who put on four classes a day three times a week for the Rams, as well as giving private lessons. “The guys really responded well and the year before they won the Super Bowl I could see it coming because they were hungry,” said Hart.
During their Super Bowl run in 1999, Hart became a national celebrity. “All of the TV announcers wanted to talk to me, guys like James Brown from CBS and John Madden and Howie Long from Fox. The only TV personality Hart would not talk to was Dennis Miller from ABC’s Monday Night Football. “There was no way I was going to talk to him (Miller), if things didn’t go well with the team that night I knew he would rim me, and then I would have had to kick his butt because I’m from the old school,” joked Hart.
Here is ESPN’s profile of Hart and his work with the Rams: