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Meet Michael Stinson of Quest Martial Arts Chandler and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Chandler

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Stinson.

Michael, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
When I was around 18 or so, I was living a pretty negative lifestyle. This eventually led to my getting jumped by a group of 3 individuals. Truthfully, it was my fault in many ways, but it made me realize that I had NO idea as to how to defend myself against something like this.

I determined at that moment to not only change my lifestyle, but also to ensure that I was never in that position again, so I began my search for a martial arts / self-defense system to study.

After checking out around a dozen schools, I finally found my home under Mark Russo of what is now known as the Tampa Quest Center.

I trained there for a number of years until an opportunity for a job in Phoenix Arizona caused me to move.

Once in Phoenix, I began training in a related style, but it really didn’t fulfill me.

After the events of 9/11, I decided that opening up my school was very important to me. One year later, I opened the Phoenix Quest Center.

Later on, down the road, I also became fascinated with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and went through the process of becoming a Gracie Certified Training Center under the Torrance Gracie Academy.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has definitely NOT been a smooth road. Many things in my life have come easy for me. Running a business has not been one of them.

For most of the 16 years, I have been in business I also worked a full-time job.

I have spent a ton of money trying to learn how to run the business more successfully and unfortunately some of that has gone to charlatans and individuals that promised a lot and delivered little.

Marketing was a mystery. Getting new customers was a mystery. I could teach great classes, but we got stuck at around 60 or so students. I loved what I was doing, but it was slowly killing me.

I finally hit a point in late 2016, where I had to make a decision. Having kids, running a business, working on becoming a better Martial Artists, working a full-time job and everything else finally broke me. I hit a huge depression and thought about quitting. At about the same time, I also broke 5 ligaments in my ankle.

This turned out to be one of the best things to happen. It FORCED me to slow down and assess my life. I quit my corporate 6 figure salary job and put all my energy into running the business.

One year later and we have more than doubled in growth.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Quest Martial Arts Chandler / Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Chandler – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We teach realistic self-defense through two linked martial arts systems. First and foremost, we teach a form of Ninjutsu called To-Shin Do that was developed by Martial Arts Pioneer and Hall of Fame member, Stephen K. Hayes.

We are also a Gracie Certified Training Center, teaching Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, under the world-famous Gracie Family.

All of our programs specialize in teaching realistic self-defense for students of all ages and sizes. We do not spend any time on forms or sports, choosing instead to teach only things that will improve our student’s abilities of getting home healthy and happy in the event of a potentially violent situation.

We also work with our kids and adults on how to improve their mental outlook and ability to live a more successful, confident and happy life through intense life skill study.

Our school as a whole is an awesome place to be, with humor and fun being an important component towards studying how to deal with some of the darker sides of society.

With our kids programs, we use a play based approach designed to help children foster a love of learning and internal self-discipline. With our youngest students we believe in playing martial arts, rather than enforcing strict technique and military style discipline.

One of the things I am most proud of is how often students that leave us for one reason or another, find their way back onto our mats. There have been a few cases where someone has to quit for health reasons where they have brought their kids back in. I am also very proud of the relationships I have seen develop and grow in the school.

It is truly awe inspiring to have the opportunity to help my students create better lives for themselves and their families.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
The first thing that hit me when I moved to Arizona from Florida was the mountains. I still love being able to look around as I drive from place to place and see the many mountains surrounding our valley.

I also love the fact we have very few natural dangers. Living in Florida and growing up with hurricanes and tornados as a constant threat really makes me appreciate the lack of issues here in Phoenix.

I also LOVE our winters and really do appreciate our DRY heat 🙂 I will take 110 in Phoenix over 90 in Florida all day long.

I hate our traffic. So many people drive around in a state of anger and aggressiveness. This really isn’t just us though as most large cities suffer from this.

I also am in a constant war with dust! It seems like the second I dust something in our dojo it needs doing again 10 minutes later!


  • Introductory Trial Offer – $69 for Six Weeks of Training with FREE Uniform.
  • $129 per month for 1 program or $149 per month for full access to both To-Shin Do and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

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Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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