UNION, NJ – Union’s Israel Velez has achieved the highest ranks in martial arts and breaking, but he is equally passionate in his fight for autism awareness.
Velez’s father was a martial arts instructor and Velez began when he was five years old. He is a martial arts master in karate, jujitsu and Jeet Kune Do. Velez said he is an instructor in hand-to-hand Navy seal tactics, and he has become a champion in martial arts breaking.
Velez said he’s lived in Union since he was seven-years old and graduated from Union High School in 1998, where he played football and wrestled. “My brother and I wrestled for Union because our father was all-city wrestling champ and captain growing up in Newark.” He said he was a substitute teacher for several years before becoming a mailman and now supervisor for the United States Postal Service, where he has served for the past 15 years.
Velez has two sons, Max and Logan, and two daughters, Catherine and Helen. He says his sons both have autism, and he started the International Breaking Federation (IBF) over 10 years ago for autism awareness. The IBF is a charitable organization that uses breaking and feats of strength to raise Autism awareness in schools and local communities in New Jersey. He said he was inducted into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame for “being a grand master in martial arts and for being a humanitarian for my work in using martial arts for autism awareness”.
Velez said started breaking under the mentorship of his friend and world’s hardest striker Paul Hickey. “Paul Hickey and I became world-famous and world champions breaking large amounts of wood and concrete.” Velez also hosts an online radio show called Israel Velez Power Hour, on which he interviews famous martial artists from movies and from the world of martial arts.
“My father raised us as martial artists, wrestlers and power lifters,” said Velez. “He was a street fighter from Newark, who along with my mom moved us to Union to give us a better life. Union to me will always be home. It's real America. The history and diversity is like no other. Being Hispanic and native American, I love Union because my friends were African American, Italian, Irish, Polish, Portuguese, Chinese. We all got along.”
Velez said in January he will be involved in a breaking event at the Atlantic City Tropicana during the Atlantic City Martial Arts Hall of Fame and Martial Arts Expo.
Velez started his own martial arts system, the Velez Jujitsu System, also known as American Modern Jujitsu. He co-founded the DLMA - Diversified League of Martial Artists, which has members from all over the world. DLMA, founded in 2003, is a free organization for martial artists to share knowledge. Velez still teaches martial arts privately and through home distance training through my website israelvelez.com.