Growing up in a martial arts family, Michael Foley and his brothers were raised in the dojo. Mike Foley Sr., Michael’s father, founded Foley’s Martial Arts in 1978, giving the brothers exposure to combat sports at a young age. Mike Foley Sr. is a direct student and black belt under Canadian Kenpo Karate founder Jean Guy Angell. While living in Montreal in the 1970s, Mr. Foley Sr. received his training directly from Mr. Angell and earned a reputation as a formidable competitor. The tournament fighting champion provided the foundation for his sons, along with hundreds of other martial artist in the province, to progress from.
Michael started competing in 1988 and took part in every available tournament. In the Spring of 1989 he attended his first out of province tournament at the Kenpo Nationals in Montreal Quebec where he took a bronze medal.
The Foley family were introduced to the sport of kickboxing by heavyweight world champion and Shorin Ryu Karate black belt Joe Lewis. Mr. Lewis was brought to Newfoundland for a series of seminars in St. John’s in 1991 and again at the Foley home dojo in Spaniard’s Bay in 1992 by Mr. Foley Sr.
In 1996, Michael won his first Senior Men’s black belt fighting tournament and held the top spot at the black belt level locally for the next six years.
In 1999, Michael took a bronze medal at the Ontario provincial open in Hamilton, Ontario. This marked the beginning of his training with Goju Ryu black belt, 6 x world sport karate champion, and coach of the WKA national team, Mr. Jim Flood. Mr. Flood has worked with the Foley family on many occasions in both Ontario and Newfoundland and is a key figure in introducing modern day sport karate to the far east coast of Canada.
Competing in open karate tournaments for ten years eventually led Michael into competitive kickboxing in 1998. The following winter, he began training with professional world kickboxing champion and coach of the Canadian amateur team, Muzammal Nawaz. Mr. Nawaz helped facilitate Michael’s move from karate into competitive kickboxing and provided him with many competition opportunities. In December 2000, Michael and his brother Jason made the Canadian national kickboxing team by winning at the Canada Cup national team qualifiers. They then traveled to Greece in May 2001 to compete at the WPKA world championships. Michael took a gold medal in the continuous kickboxing division and a silver in the semi-contact division.
Michael traveled for the next few years competing in parts of Canada, the United States, Europe and Africa with the Canadian team within different sanctioning organizations such as the WKA, WPKA, KICK-USA and WAKO. In that time, Michael won several major events including two gold medals at the 2001 KICK-USA North American championships as well as his second national gold medal at the 2002 WKA national championships.
In the Fall of 2003, he opened Foley’s Martial Arts – St. John’s.
In 2005, Michael was introduced to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by his friend, Tom Dunne. Tom was the Newfoundland affiliate of the Renzo Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu association. Tom is a black belt in Kenpo Karate under Michael’s father and helped grow Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Clarenville while also running a gym in St. John’s. When Tom shut down his St. John’s school to focus his efforts in Clarenville, he sent his students to train at Michael’s gym. Between Michael and Tom’s senior grappling students, the first Jiu Jitsu training sessions began at Michael Foley’s Academy. At first, it was a loose group of kickboxers wanting to keep jiu jitsu in their weekly training schedule. This quickly snowballed with more and more karate and kickboxing students wanting to participate. With the Jiu Jitsu group growing, the need for direction became necessary. In 2007, Michael had the chance to train with Professor Pedro Sauer, the world renowned teacher of Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Michael began a regular traveling cycle back and forth between Professor Sauer’s home academy in Virginia, USA and their home in Newfoundland, Canada while, also bringing Professor Sauer and his black belts in for training seminars. The Foley brothers also took the opportunity to travel to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil to train at several famous Jiu Jitsu academies including the world famous Gracie Humaita Academy in 2009.
Between 2006-2007, Michael co-founded the Newfoundland & Labrador Council of Amateur Sport Kickboxing (now known as Kickboxing Newfoundland & Labrador) and lobbied for the legalization of amateur sport kickboxing in the province. In a lengthy process that ended in 2007, the sport of kickboxing was made legal. This paved the way for Michael winning the main event in this provinces first ever kickboxing tournament that June.
In 2007, Michael, his brother Jason and several other team mates traveled to Phuket, Thailand to live in and train at professional Muay Thai camps. There, they trained with many top tier professional Muay Thai kickboxing champions from Thailand as well as many other fighters from all across the globe. Within a month of returning to Canada, Michael won the Atlantic Canadian light heavyweight Kickboxing title belt.
In 2010, Michael won his third National championship by capturing the cruiser weight Canadian Amateur Kickboxing Championship title belt in a five round main event in St. John’s, NL.
In 2011, the academy found it’s new home at 117 Ropewalk Lane in St. John’s. A 2200 square foot facility that offers over 1000 square feet of fully matted training area, shower facilities, air conditioning and a pro shop.
In January 2016, the Michael Foley Academy joined Victory Jiu Jitsu Team which is headed by Rickson Gracie black belt Shane Rice. Victory Jiu Jitsu is one of the strongest teams in Atlantic Canada with academies in every Atlantic Canadian province.
Currently, Michael is teaching at the academy full time and is heavily involved in promoting martial arts in the province of Newfoundland & Labrador. He also coaches his academy’s competition team as well as continually traveling to training and competition destinations around the globe. To date, the academy competition team has captured three provincial titles, one Atlantic Canadian title, twelve national titles, two North American titles, one intercontinental title and three gold medals at the world championships.
For more information on Michael or any of the instructors, please visit the Instructors page.