Shawn Zirger


Head of the Zirger Academy of JKD

Shawn Zirger is the founder and head instructor at Zirger Academy of Martial Arts.

Shawn has been training in Martial Arts since 1980 when he began studying Hungar Style Kung Fu. After learning several martial art styles such as Shomak, Jong Park Tae Kwon Do, White Crane Style Kung Fu and Muay Thai, he found his element with Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do and the instructor who would inspire him to open his own school. In 1990 he began teaching JKD Concepts, Bruce Lee’s legacy to the greater martial arts community.

True to the essence of JKD, Shawn continues to study many different martial arts and holds instructor level ranks in Jeet Kune Do and Filipino Martial Arts, as well as the title of Dog Brother for his many bouts fighting full contact with sticks.  Shawn is very active in his own training, upgrading his knowledge and opening new lines of study. Most recently, Shawn has begun lead a Silat training group, beginning this September as suggested by his instructor, Guro Dan Inosanto.

Shawn also continues to teach and practice massage therapy & orthopedic testing; and provides additional lifestyle coaching, personal and small group training, for personal fitness and or competitive athletic pursuits.


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  • Certifications

    Inosanto Academy Instructor (2012)
    Dog Brother – Wandering Dog (2011)
    – JKD Instructor under Makoto Kabayama

    Recent Training

    The latest seminars that Shawn has attended
    – Sanatan Shastar Vidiya – Toronto, Canada November 2013
    – Silat Suffian Bela Diri – Memphis, USA October 2013
    – Inosanto Academy – Marina Del Ray, USA August 2013
    – Silat Suffian Bela Diri – Desensano, Italy July 2013

  • What made you to decide to teach Martial Arts?

    I never planned to become a martial arts instructor. What was in the plan was the idea of becoming a warrior, of pursuing a kind of self-perfection that can never be fully attained, and must be reached toward ongoing. It was the childhood discovery of the Samurai that originally gave rise to my understanding of what a warrior was, not merely a fighter, or soldier, but an honorable soul, with combative and courtly skills. A samurai, while training with the weapons of war, was also expected to practice calligraphy, music and dance and the subtle arts of negotiation within the noble courts.

    I found such confidence and fulfillment in martial arts and at some point I found that teaching it was a great way for me to crystallize my understanding of what I was doing. I also found that teaching in any form was my calling. It brings me great joy and centers me. During our Costa Rica vacation, my wife caught me teaching some takedowns to my surf instructor. She now jokes that we can’t go anywhere without me teaching everyone we come in contact with, at least one new move or martial history tidbit.

    You also are a licensed massage therapist. What’s the connection?

    To many people, the course of studies seem opposed, but this was not an uncommon thing to see in the traditions of martial arts dating back thousands of years. This concept was derived from my study of spiritual teachings of the North American Native People. In these studies the ideal of the warrior extended to the wisest and most intelligent of the tribes leaders, capable combatants but also shrewd survivors, who in some cases were also those who would become Shaman. Shaman refers to the ideal of the ‘warrior-healer’, a figure from this belief system who helped the tribe to understand its parts, to accept and care for the whole.

    The great martial arts consistently have a healing component and often times; a master practitioner becomes more of a healer, than a fighter. For me, the studies of martial arts, massage therapy, orthopedic testing, many forms psychoanalysis, history and anthropology were all part of one goal. To become the ideal I imagined a modern warrior-healer could be.

    Why do you focus on JKD?

    It is a philosophy, regarding learning, and it is best known, to be practiced within the martial arts. However, in its purest form, it is about all learning and can easily be applied to anything where learning would be an asset. The core idea is that there is intrinsic value in all existing systems yet following just one leads to predictable stagnation, thus, keeping an open mind to this fact allows us to absorb what is useful, while discarding that which is not. Ultimately it is the pursuit of the individual, through emulating ideals, in order to assess their personal usefulness, before deciding what works for you.

    What would you say to potential students?

    If you have thought to train martial arts, to learn the motions, to contemplate the philosophy, and to keep it relevant, you may have found your teacher. I’m at my best when helping others when they are challenging their limits. If your goals include greater fitness, confidence, happiness or if you simply want to learn to defend yourself, I will work with you to accomplish that.