Joe Fife is one of the most underrated martial artists competing today. He has a gentle personality about him but his incredible flexibility and powerful punch makes him one of the best light weight fighters in the world. Joe’s fighting style has a certain finesse to it. Perhaps this has a lot to do with his training background that started overseas while his dad was stationed in Italy. Joe openly says he is a “military brat” and has traveled all over the world with his family. Ironically, it’s this exact lifestyle that has given him the opportunity to find his home and grow up around and become one of Florida’s best fighters.
Joe’s martial arts started while he was living in Italy with his family where he took martial arts for a few months. It was only for a short time as his family moved back to the US and was stationed in Sumter, South Carolina. It wasn’t long before Joe started training in the martial arts again. Only this time he was six years old and now learning Kenpo karate at a school in South Carolina from Marty Martin. In the summer of 1996 Joe would attend the Battle of Atlanta for the first time. He competed in the intermediate forms division and won. While he can laugh at it now, the All Star Fighter admits he was once a forms competitor. Joe continued to travel to events that he could drive to and compete. However, in 1999 Joe’s dad retired from the Military and the Fife family moved down to Winter Park, Florida which is just outside of Orlando. It was here that Fife would meet his instructor and coach Steve Butcher and many other aspiring fighters including his present day teammate and good friend Chris Walker. He was also introduced to Team Paul Mitchell member Preston Clements and would find a new passion within the martial arts for point sparring.
For those that don’t know. Florida is the home of so many NASKA and martial artist world champions. In fact, while an incredible number of forms competitors call Florida their home, central Florida is a hot spot for martial arts fighters in the southeast. That goes without saying there are a number of places throughout the country that have or at one point had a lot of talent. But central Florida continues to pump out new and aspiring fighters like Joe Fife. It’s no wonder Joe’s passion for forms slowly began to dwindle once he moved to Florida. Joe like most followed the local circuit competing as a part of Steve Butcher and Preston Clements’ Team Impressive. Traveling only to events he could drive to, Joe would eventually get noticed by Joe Greenhalgh and was asked to join the squad of Team Straight up in 2006. With a national team on his back Joe started to travel more to events fighting his way up the ladder. Unfortunately, like all great fighters injuries seemed to plague Fife. He suffered a crack rib fighting Chris Walker at a local tournament. Fife chose not to listen to the doctor and jumped back in to soon and cracked another rib. At the Diamonds a few years back he was fighting in team sparring and pulled hi hip flexor which turned out to be a ripped hip flexor and took him out of competition for five months. And let’s not forget the infamous pulled hamstring and jammed toes which Joe says are too many to count.
Despite the set backs Joe always found his way back into the ring. He has competed all over the world on the NBL, NASKA, and WAKO circuits. Joe said his biggest accomplishment so far came in 2007 when he won his first NBL title at the Super Grands. That same year Joe also won the Overall Grand at the Survivor tournament in Jekyll Island, Georgia. Joe’s career as a martial arts fighter has allowed him to represent a multitude of teams. After representing Straight Up he was part of Team Velocity and shortly after found his home with the USA All Stars.
For Joe the journey started out at the Battle of Atlanta as a forms competitor. Who would have thought that fifteen years later he’d be one of the strongest light weight contenders in the world? And if that wasn’t enough the icing on the cake Joe gets to do what he loves with some of the best fighters sport karate has ever seen. Joe currently teaches at Fortress Hill Martial Arts and will be teaching a camp along with his teammates the USA All Stars June 29-30, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. Joe’s progression of training with the greats has led him to a path of greatness as well. When we asked Joe what bit of advice he had for the next generation he said, “My parents always said you’re never to young or old to accomplish what you want and chase your dream. A dream is only a dream if you sleep on it. Just wake up and go get it.” Joe is certainly living by his own advice and is a perfect example of an athlete going after his dreams and for that reason is this month’s Featured Athlete.
For more information on the All Star Fighting Camp visit the US Open-Karate Camp Website.