He played at Ozzfest, has a second-degree black belt, and loves the beach. Hermosans, meet your new neighbor.
Name: Nicholas A. Moreno
Occupation: Professional musician and martial artist.
Music background: I sing for a band based out of L.A. called Ankla, did the 2008-2009 Ozzfest and we're bringing the band back together.
How long have you lived in Hermosa Beach? About a month. Before that, Marina Del Rey-Venice area for six months, and then North Hollywood before that.
Where are you from? I'm from the Midwest, 13 countries and three continents. I've traveled for martial arts and music, and I ended up here in L.A.
What's your favorite part of living in Hermosa Beach? The best part about the beach is all the people—everyone around here is very active. You go to the beach in Marina Del Rey and Venice, I'm not talking s---, but there isn't 5,000 people playing volleyball and a bunch of people running and doing yoga. It's a very active area, so I feel at home here.
What do you enjoy about teaching and training martial arts here in Hermosa? It’s the environment and then my boy [Josh] Murdock. He's a personal trainer. He's working with some guys out in Hollywood. Training in Hermosa Beach is kind of a trip, man. It's great.
Where else have you taught before? I've taught [at] six schools, mainly in Southern Florida and then in the Midwest (I'm from Madison, Wisc.). The primary art I study is Shaolin Kempo Karate. I'm a second-degree black belt in that… Kempo is translated as 'law of the fist.' It's a lot like four moves of Western boxing in terms of the style, but there are 36 fists. So I don't have to just do a jab, cross, hook and uppercut, I can hit with all different parts of my body. Plus there's kicking, and locking and throws.
How do your pupils differ from area to area? I've had probably 3,000 students in my career. And now, I only do private students. Before it was, let's say, you wanted to take a lesson from me. I had to train you because you were paying the school. Now it's completely personal. It's way different... [for example] I happened to be backstage doing an opening slot for Soulfly, and Marc Rizzo from Soulfly happened to look in and see me holding pads, and turned out, what do you know? He's a boxer.
All of a sudden we're clacking pads and holding sticks for each other. When I was part of Luiz [Claudio]'s team, as a team captain, he introduced me to all kinds of world champion grapplers. They would see my standup, and say, “Hey, you know, I really, really want to learn some of that” and we would do a trade… So, to answer you question, some people like to come to me as a business executive… but it's usually not about the money.
What is your earliest memory of martial arts? Being a little kid and seeing the guys do it in the parks and walking up and totally emulating. I can remember walking up and being like, “Yah,” trying to throw my kicks out. I couldn't have been more than two or three.
What was your favorite teaching moment? Getting put on the spot by Grandmaster Villari, asking to teach a technique and him telling me I did a good job.
I think the most surreal moment was when I realized I was actually teaching legitimate rock stars. You know, like when I got to go to Mayhem Festival at the Waterfront Amphitheater in San Francisco. I was there last year for Mayhem Fest clacking sticks with dudes, and like you're looking out over a crowd of 60,000 people from backstage.
What's your favorite Hermosa Beach hangout spot? My favorite Hermosa Beach hangout spot is here, right by the Pier. , I've been going to a lot... I'm not really a bar guy, but there's so many chill people in this area I go out to breakfast all the time. , I eat breakfast there all the time.
If you could change one thing about Hermosa Beach, what would it be? Where I come from people say hello all of the time, and I found out that here in L.A.-California, for whatever reason, people aren't used to people being nice… So whenever I say 'hello' to people there usually isn't a hello back. I know I'm carrying sticks, but I'm not here to whack people.
How would you describe Hermosa Beach in one sentence? Athletic and relaxed.