1970s

January 1976, Mike Foley Sr. began training in the Jean-Guy Angell style of Kenpo Karate under Peter Walker of the Memorial University of Newfoundland Kenpo Karate dojo. After receiving his first promotion from Mr. Walker, Mike Foley Sr. moved to Montreal to train directly under Mr. Jean-Guy Angell.

From 1977-78, training intensively in Montreal he moved from yellow through brown belt in 6 months, spending 30 hours a week on the training floor.

April 1978, Mike Foley Sr. founded Foley’s Martial Arts – opening his first dojo in his hometown of Spaniard’s Bay, NL.

From 1978-91 he competed in over a hundred karate competitions where he placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd in 75 of them: 5 in the brown belt division and 70 as a black belt. There were a number of second and third place finishes nationally in events packed with 30-40 other black belts.

Mike Foley Sr. Kenpo Karate Demonstration MUN 1979

1980s

May 24th, 1981, Mike Foley Sr. was promoted to black belt by his instructor, Jean-Guy Angell.

At the 1982 Kenpo ‘Top Ten’ Nationals, Mike Foley Sr. took first place in the heavyweight men’s black belt division.

Mr. Foley Sr. established clubs across the province of Newfoundland and Labrador: St. John’s, Mount Pearl, Fox Trap, Kelligrews, Bonavista, Clarenville, Lethbridge, Old Perlican, Western Bay, Carbonear, New Harbor, Harbour Grace, and Spaniards Bay. He also taught summer programs in several dozen smaller communities around the Avalon peninsula.

As of 2021, he has hosted over 200 martial arts tournaments. Both the annual ‘Battle on the Rock’ and the ‘Iceberg Classic’ are highly popular open martial arts tournaments in Newfoundland that draw upwards of 350 competitors from martial arts schools around the province and across the country

Mike Foley Sr. demonstrating a one-arm pushup on three fingers, circa 1980

Michael Foley started competing in 1988 and took part in every available tournament.

In the Spring of 1989 Michael took bronze in fighting at the Kenpo ‘Top Ten’ Nationals in Montreal, Quebec.

1990s

The Foley family was introduced to the sport of kickboxing by the legendary Joe Lewis – heavyweight kickboxing and karate world champion.

Joe Lewis and Foleys_01
L-R Daniel Foley, Mike Foley Sr., Joe Lewis, Jason Foley, and Michael Foley St. John's, NL 1992

Mr. Lewis was brought to Newfoundland for a series of seminars in St. John’s in 1992 and again at the Foley home dojo in Spaniard’s Bay, NL in 1993.

L-R Mike Foley with Joe Lewis, Foxtrap, NL, 1993

March, 1995, Michael Foley was promoted to black belt in Kenpo Karate by his instructor, Mike Foley Sr.

In 1996, Michael won his first Senior Men’s black belt fighting tournament at a kenpo karate event in St. John’s, NL.

In 1997, Carla Stacey – Mike Foley Sr.’s first black belt (1985) won gold in weapons kata and fighting at the World Police and Firefighter Games. She has since gone on to win at the event three times.

Multiple time World Police & Firefighter Games karate champion, Carla Stacey

In 1998, Mike Foley Sr.’s student – Elaine Fowler, moved to Ontario and made the WKA Canadian national sport karate team. She then travelled to Ireland for the WKA world championships where she took bronze in point fighting and silver in kata. She has since gone on to win 13 world titles within the WAKO ,WPKA, WKA, IAKSA, and NASKA organizations for point-fighting, kickboxing, and forms.

February 1999, Michael took bronze in the middle-weight men’s black belt fighting at the Ontario Open in Hamilton, Ontario.

Michael Foley and Mike Foley Sr. Ontario Open, Hamilton, ON, 1999

2000s

June, 2000, Jason Foley was promoted to black belt in Kenpo Karate by his instructor, Mike Foley Sr.

December 3rd, 2000, Michael took gold in his division and Jason took bronze in his at the WPKA Canada Cup in Burlington, Ontario. This qualified them for the Canadian national kickboxing team – coached by 5x professional kickboxing world champion and president of Kickboxing Canada – Muzammal Nawaz.

April 28th, 2001 at the WPKA world championships in Thessaloniki, Greece, Michael took gold in the continuous kickboxing division and silver in point fighting, and Jason took bronze in point fighting.

WPKA world championship finals April, 28th, 2001

At the 2001 KICK-USA North American championships in Orlando Florida, Jason won silver in the men’s weapons division, bronze in continuous kickboxing, and was part of the winning 5 vs 5 Canadian karate team that beat team USA; Michael won two gold in fighting and the team trophy for the 3 vs 3 Canada vs USA kickboxing challenge.

The winning team - 2001 KICK-USA North American championships (L-R) Sandy Pembroke, Michael Foley, Brad McVicker

In 2002, Michael won his second national title at the WKA Canadian Championships in Ottawa, Ontario.

February 2003, Michael opened his martial arts academy in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

February 2004, Jason took gold in the men’s heavyweight black belt point fighting, and silver in the grand-championships at the Ontario Open, Hamilton, ON.

At the 2004 WPKA world championships in Corfu, Greece, Steve Ryan – kenpo karate student of Mike Foley Sr. and kickboxing student of Michael Foley, won double gold in the junior division. Steve was part of a team of Newfoundland martial artists fielded by Michael Foley to represent our province as part of team Canada. This team included martial artists from clubs all over the island gave rise to the popularity of kickboxing in our province. Most kickboxing clubs that exist in Newfoundland today came from this team.

Team Canada at the 2004 WPKA world Championships. Nine of the sixteen team members were from Newfoundland

The Foley’s saw Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in person for the first time in 2001 at the Disney World Martial Arts Festival. The festival had divisions for sport karate, kickboxing, and grappling. A lone Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt entered the grappling division against mostly Japanese Jujitsu and Judo competitors and won by submission in every match. The two eldest Foley brothers began hosting seminars in Newfoundland by grappling instructors they knew from Ontario. Due to the lack of access to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructors in Canada at the time, these seminars were taught mostly by Japanese Jujitsu and Judo stylists.

December 2005, Michael got his first real introduction to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by his friend Tom Dunne. Tom was the sole affiliate of the Renzo Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu association in Newfoundland. Tom is a black belt in Kenpo Karate under Michael’s father and helped grow Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the Clarenville area while also operating a gym in St. John’s. When Tom closed his St. John’s school to focus on his club in Clarenville, he sent his students to train at Michael’s school. Between Tom’s grappling students and Michael, the first official Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes began at Michael Foley’s Academy of Martial Arts. The group quickly grew as more and more of Michael’s karate and kickboxing students wanted to participate.

November 2007, Michael’s academy joined the Pedro Sauer Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Association. Michael began a regular travel cycle back-and-forth between St. John’s and Professor Sauer’s home academy in Herndon, Virginia, USA and began hosting Pedro Sauer black belts here in Newfoundland.

In the Spring of 2008, under the newly formed Pedro Sauer – Team Canada, Jason Foley started the Gracie Jiu Jitsu program at the Foley’s Martial Arts – Mount Pearl club.

Pedro Sauer and Michael Foley, Mount Pearl, NL, June 28th, 2008

Between 2006-2007, Michael and his father lobbied the provincial government to have the sport of kickboxing sanctioned in the province. In the process, they co-founded Kickboxing Newfoundland & Labrador – the regulatory body that oversees the sport’s operation in the province.

June 2007, the first ever sanctioned kickboxing card in Newfoundland & Labrador history took place. Jason Foley won his bout on the under-card and Michael won the main event.

Michael Foley (right) - Shockwave Kickboxing, St. John's, NL, June 16th, 2007

July and August 2007, Michael and Jason travelled to Phuket, Thailand to stay at Rawai Muay Thai camp. There, they trained with many professional Muay Thai fighters from Thailand and from around the world.

Jason and Michael Foley with their trainers at Rawai Muay Thai, Phuket, Thailand, August 2007

September 2007, Michael won the Atlantic Canadian light-heavyweight kickboxing title belt. This was the amateur main event on the under-card for the WAKO-Pro Pan-American title fight between Muzammal Nawaz and his opponent from the USA.

Michael Foley (Right) lands overhand right on his way to winning Atlantic Canadian light-heavyweight kickboxing title

In 2008, Alex Foley was promoted to black belt in Kenpo Karate by Jason Wiseman.

July 2009, Michael, Jason, and Daniel Foley travelled with Professor Pedro Sauer to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil for the first ever Pedro Sauer Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Association Brazil camp.

The Foley brothers' poolside training at the Pousada Mata Atlantica dos Sauer in Petropolis, Brazil, July 2009

While in Brazil with Professor Sauer, they trained at several famous Jiu Jitsu academies including the world famous Gracie Hamaita – the home academy of Helio Gracie, Rickson Gracie, and Pedro Sauer himself. Rolker Gracie organized the session which was on the eve of the IBJJF Rio International Open. Gracie Humaita team members from all over the world were on the mat including Wellington ‘Megaton’ Diaz, MacKenzie Dern, Regis Lebre, and others.

Michael and Daniel Foley (far right) at Gracie Humaita, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, July 2009

This was also the trip where they met long-time friend and teacher Luis ‘Limao’ Heredia for the first time. Professor Heredia has since been to Newfoundland many times and we have sent students to his academy in Maui, Hawaii as well.

Luis Heredia and Pedro Sauer at the 2009 IBJJF Rio International Open

September 2009, Jason Foley opened his academy in Conception Bay South, NL and Daniel Foley opened his academy in Conception Bay North, NL.

2010s

April 3rd, 2010, Michael attended the grand opening of Pedro Sauer’s new association world headquarters in Herndon, Virginia, USA. The main event for the grand opening was a seminar taught by the legendary Rickson Gracie.

Rickson Gracie and Michael Foley, Virginia, USA, April 3rd, 2010

On June 19th, 2010, Michael won his third national championship by capturing the cruiser-weight Canadian kickboxing title belt in the main event of the ‘Battle For The Atlantic’ kickboxing card held in St. John’s, NL.

Michael Foley wins Canadian Cruiserweight Kickboxing title, June 16th, 2010

September 2010, Alex Foley opened his academy in the Gould’s, NL.

July 23rd, 2011, academy kickboxing team member, Steve Ryan won the Canadian light-heavyweight kickboxing title in the main event of Alpha Dog Kickboxing at Mile One Stadium in St. John’s, NL.

Steve Ryan (left) wins Canadian light-heavyweight kickboxing title - Mile One Stadium, St. John's, NL. July 23rd, 2011

June 8th, 2012, Ontario hosted its first ever sanctioned amateur mixed martial arts event. In his debut, academy team member, Ronald Earle won the main event with a first round submission win over a more experienced opponent from Ontario. This was the first time a Newfoundland MMA fighter won a sanctioned MMA fight while training out of a Newfoundland club. Since then, MMA fighters from our team have competed all over Canada, and the United States.

First sanctioned amateur MMA event in Ontraio history. (L-R) Michael Foley, Ronald Earle, Matt Kippenhuck June 8th, 2012

June 22nd-23rd, 2013, Michael and Jason Foley travelled with a group of their students to Virginia, USA to take part in a camp with Rickson Gracie, Pedro Sauer, and Luis Heredia.

(L-R) Jason Foley, Matt King, Michael Foley, Luis Heredia, Joe Boland, Rob Shandera - June 23, 2013

May 30th, 2014, Stephanie Foley, student of Michael Foley, took first place at the WAKO North American championships in Toronto, Ontario. This win earned her a spot on the Canadian national team. She then traveled to Italy for the 2014 WAKO world championships and, in 2015, to South Africa for the semi-annual Canada vs South Africa team challenge.

Stephanie Foley (5th from left - back row) with team Canada at the 2014 WAKO World Championship - Rimini, Italy

July 27th, 2014, Daniel Foley was promoted to black belt in Kenpo Karate by his instructor, Mike Foley Sr.

July 2nd, 2016, Michael won the heavyweight purple belt division at the NAGA US Open in Orlando, Florida, USA.

Michael Foley wins 2016 NAGA US Open heavyweight purple belt division

At the 2016 NASKA US Open in Orlando, Florida, members from our academy won two gold, four silver, and five bronze. Alex Taylor took gold in Sport MMA, and Alex Hiscock took gold in continuous fighting.

Our team for the 2016 NASKA US Open

May 27th, 2017, at the WAKO Canadian National Kickboxing Championships, academy athletes Ryan Nichols and Jordan Noseworthy captured national titles by winning their divisions. Muhammad Mansour took silver in two divisions, and Laila Brown took silver.

Our team at the 2017 WAKO Canadian Championships

November 4th, 2017, Rickson Gracie travelled to Atlantic Canada for the first time when he was brought to Halifax for a seminar by his student and black belt, Shane Rice. Michael, Jason, and Alex Foley brought a large team of their students to attend.

Michael Foley with Rickson Gracie

November 18th, 2018 Michael’s longtime friend Tom Dunne brought Rolles Gracie to Newfoundland for a series of seminars – one at Tom’s club, Velocity Martial Arts in Clarenville, and the other at Michael Foley’s academy in St. John’s. Rolles and his brothers’ have been to Newfoundland on several occasions with Tom Dunne, and we are fortunate to collaborate with them.

Rolles Gracie at Michael Foley's Academy November 2018

May 20th, 2018, Mike Foley Sr. was awarded 8th degree black belt by the WKC.

August 22nd, 2018, Jason Foley was promoted to black belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu by Pedro Sauer. Jason has since completed the level 1 Gracie Jiu Jitsu instructor certification program.

Pedro Sauer promotes Jason Foley to black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

In April 2019, at the NASKA and WAKO sanctioned Quebec International Open, Alex Hiscock, karate and kickboxing student of Michael Foley won gold in the men’s continuous division.

Alex-Hiscock
Alex Hiscock wins the WAKO men's Canadian national title at the 2019 Quebec International Open

At the 2019 WKC world championships in Niagra Falls, Ontario, Ryan Bennet – karate student of Alex Foley won gold in the junior continuous division.

2020s

We are not letting COVID-19 stop us from doing what we do. The Foley family is currently training the third generation of martial artists while sharing the martial arts lifestyle around the island of Newfoundland.

Stay tuned for more highlights as we continue to make Newfoundland martial arts history.