CICERO – Bob Schirmer is a Marine, and a Marine’s purpose in life is to fight. But it was long before he earned the right to wear the Marine’s Globe and Anchor that he first faced off with a opponent for some hand-to-hand combat.
Master Bob Schirmer, founder of the Combat-Do Jiu-Jitsu Martial Arts system, also is the founder of the All American Academy of Martial Arts in Cicero. There, Schirmer builds world-class fighters, and over the years, more than a few good men, too.
Last December, Schirmer and his fighters participated in the Pan-American Kickboxing Games, where 11 nations competed. The U.S. was represented by 25 fighters from across the country, five of which were from the Cicero area. Schirmer served as team coach, along with noted coach Tommy Alcazar from Texas.
The U.S. came home with 12 gold medals, seven silver and five bronze. Three of the gold were won by Schirmer’s own. Jose “Shorty” Torres took two, and Jose “Chepe” Mariscal, one. Carlos Hernandez took home a silver.
“That’s a tough tournament,” Schirmer said. “We got a tough team.”
“Shorty” Torres may not be all that tall, but through Schirmer and his perseverance, he has learned to tower over the mean streets from where he comes.
The 20-year-old Cicero resident and Morton East graduate now attends McKendree University through a full-ride wrestling scholarship. While at Triton College, he was named an Academic Junior College All-American. He is majoring in physical education and leadership, which is personal training, he said
Torres said martial arts has taught him focus and discipline.
“It’s taught me how to manage my time and control what I’m supposed to do and what I’m not supposed to do; what’s important and what’s not important,” he said.
Schirmer can take a lot of credit for where Torres is today and where he will be tomorrow.
“He has taught me so much; he’s a father figure,” Torres said. “Without him, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today, both in athletics and education.”
Torres said the paths of his family life and gang life have crossed.
“They motivated me as an example of what you don’t want to be,” he said.
Torres is paying his fortune forward by serving as a mentor to a 13-year-old boy in the community.
Schirmer is a former competitor in boxing, wrestling, Judo, Jiu Jitsu and Tae-Kwon-Do. He started wrestling when he was 6. He switched to Judo in 1963, and won a national title in 1965. He then studied Tae-Kwon-Do. Through it all he was boxing as well.
In high school, he wrestled, and later continued wrestling for Chicago State University, where he won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athlete title.
In 1975, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He wrestled and boxed, was on the Marines wrestling team and earned titles for both wrestling and boxing. He served as captain of the Marine Tae-Kwon-Do team. In 2005, Schirmer was inducted into the North American Grappling Association Hall of Fame.
The academy will celebrate its 20th year in September. Schirmer has been established in Cicero for 16 years. From the beginning, Schirmer has stood his ground, maintaining a balance between body and mind.
“We have every kind of demographic of who wants to be a fighter,” he said. “You’ve got those who have no confidence and want to build confidence. You have those who are weak and want strength, those who are overweight and want to get in shape, and those who are tough guys who want to acquire a skill. In the marital arts, you take a vow as a Master to develop people in mind, body and spirit. I take it very seriously.”