Robert Santos; Achieving His Own Version of Perfection Through Martial Arts

Robert Santos, Mixed Martial Arts Coach and Jiu Jitsu Competitor, standing inside West End Athletic Club

Robert Santos, Mixed Martial Arts Coach and Jiu-Jitsu Competitor

“I like to think that the best is yet to come,” Robert stated after being asked about his most significant accomplishment in Martial Arts.

At the age of 33, Robert Santos has competed in over 100 grappling matches, winning a provincial championship, and has had experience in Amateur and Pro MMA fighting.

His Coaching resume includes UFC athlete Misha Cirkunov, who was ranked as high as 7th in the world, Glory Kickboxing Tournament Winner and World Title Challenger Matt ‘Matics’ Embree, as well as 2 of the top-ranked professional MMA fighters in the country in Xavier Nash and Dorjan Dokaj. 

With a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Misha Cirkunov & Wagnney Fabiano (co-signed by Steve Simms and Barry Simms), Robert seeks to continuously be the best version of himself; as a Coach, he challenges his fighters to do the same. 

There’s no room for an ego in Martial Arts, every fighter must learn to adapt and overcome. Robert ensures that his fighters understand the importance of balance, learning to train hard but knowing when to take a loss in the gym so that they don’t get hurt. “It’s about getting 1% better every single day and chasing perfection through growth and improvement.”

Robert Santos, with his hand being held up in victory by the referee and his opponent standing on the other side

Robert Santos is victorious in the qualifier match at the 2022 IBJJF European Championship in Rome, Italy

Misha Cirkunov, Vinny Cappuccitti, Rob Santos and Xavier Nash

Robert’s Role at West End Athletic Club

Growing up playing hockey with Vinny Cappuccitti (West End AC Owner and Coach), Robert realized that his favourite part of hockey was fighting. While studying Kinesiology at York University, he got sidetracked and soon found himself learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. From the ice rink to the cage, Robert’s journey led him to be a competitor and a Coach. It wasn’t that long until Vinny opened his own gym and was calling Robert to see if he would join their family at West End Athletic Club.

At West End AC, Robert’s role is diverse:

  • Coach
  • Beginner Muay Thai Program Instructor
  • Runs Technical Boxing Classes
  • Offers Private Lessons
  • Can be found doing his own strength and conditioning training at the facility

Each of these roles is important to Robert, his experience ranges from Jiu-Jitsu to Kickboxing, MMA, and Muay Thai, allowing him to provide guidance and growth for his fighters and members at the gym.

“At West End AC, everyone looks out for each other no matter the skill level or reason for showing up at the gym. Everyone is there to achieve their goals and help others achieve theirs along the way.” This statement is a true reflection of the reality at West End. Coach Jeremy works alongside Robert, has been trained and also Coached by him for close to 10 years.

Robert has known Jeremy since he was a kid starting off in MMA and Jiu-Jitsu. Robert has cornered Jeremy in Kickboxing, MMA, and Jiu-Jitsu competitions; they challenge one another as competitors but bond through Martial Arts as brothers and leaders.

Finding a healthy balance with the people you work with at all levels is just as important as finding balance within the art itself.

Watch Robert Santos Vs Guillaume Saint-Jacques

Preparing For a Fight

The mind and body connection is imperative to success in all Martial Arts disciplines. One of the major advantages that Robert has as a Coach is his ability to relate; he’s been there and will be again. What goes through a fighter’s head can really play tricks on them, “always thinking there’s more you can do.” Really the focus needs to be on not getting hurt. Robert reminds his fighters to “not put it all on the line in training, you can’t be injured or broken down going into fights, take the losses at the gym if you have to, so you can be the best version of yourself on fight night.” Just like in life, finding balance while training is important.

Robert Santos cornering Jeremy Miazga-Grzybek during a fight

Robert Santos cornering Jeremy Miazga-Grzybek

Greg Dykstein, Rob Santos, Dorjan Dokaj standing together in a locker room

Greg Dykstein, Rob Santos and Dorjan Dokaj

In the month(s) leading up to a fight, technique and cardio are most important, any weight lifting is done to maintain muscle and prevent injury rather than trying to get stronger. Cardio workouts should include sprints, “in the summer, we go to a ski hill and run. In the winter, we put the treadmill on a full incline and run until we puke.” It is all about keeping perspective and not allowing the ego to overtake the intention and ultimate goal.

The mental struggle is difficult for any fighter. As a Coach, he talks to his athletes a lot, spending time going over videos of other fighters to break down techniques and helping them to maintain focus on the task at hand. “I make sure to watch and study the opponent, whatever video is available of them. I do a background check and look over their martial arts history; it’s all important to know. Their specialties, weaknesses/strengths, and their stylistic matchup. It is my job to figure out what style will beat them, that way, I can pass that knowledge on to my fighter so there are little to no surprises.”

Robert’s Future as a Coach and as a Fighter 

March is an exciting month for Robert. He is training Canadian-born Xavier ‘Spartacus’ Nash, who is fighting Navid Zanganeh for the BFL lightweight title in Vancouver, B.C. on March 30th, 2023. Robert is also in the corner of Dorjan ‘The Hope’ Dokaj, the two-time Canadian Champion who is making a run toward the UFC. In addition to these fights, Robert has over 10 amateur fighters who will compete in April.

Determined to become a Jiu-Jitsu World Champion himself, Robert is competing in the Canadian National Championships on Sunday, March 12th, 2023, in London, Ontario. He will also compete in the ADCC Canada Open in Ottawa, Ontario, on April 23, 2023. Robert not only teaches what he believes, but he also lives it. Martial Arts is a discipline that provides a way for him to impart experience and wisdom to others while challenging his own mind and body.

Rob Santos and West End AC Member Yevgeniy Gorlov standing inside West End Athletic Club

Rob Santos and West End AC Member Yevgeniy Gorlov

Sharing His Passion for Martial Arts

Providing the opportunity for others to experience Martial Arts is a passion that Robert is able to share with others at West End AC.  It can be intimidating, but “Martial Arts is really for anyone, anyone can try it.  No matter how big or small, in shape or out of shape, age, or gender, it’s a good life skill for everyone.”

The Beginner Muay Thai class is a great way to start. It’s non-contact and provides a great strength and conditioning workout while learning about Muay Thai techniques. Just because you come to a class doesn’t mean you have to compete, it’s a skill that transcends so many aspects of life, and at the end of the day, there’s nothing to lose. 

Find balance in your life and continue to become the best version of yourself. Book a Private Session with Robert, join him in the Beginner Muay Thai class, or take a chance and try another form of Martial Arts; West End Athletic Club challenges you!

Rob Santos and West End AC Member Yevgeniy Gorlov standing inside West End Athletic Club

West End Boxing/Muay Thai student Misha Ideltchik and Robert Santos at West End AC