Happy War­rior Get ripped with the bad­dest man on In­sta­gram.

One mo­ment Tony Sent­manat is laugh­ing, jok­ing around.

Men's Health (Australia) - - Contents -

His dark eyes peer­ing straight ahead, Tony Sent­manat zips over the crum­bling pot­holes and jagged cracks that could man­gle his an­kles. In the past hour, he’s been frog-jump­ing 90cm hur­dles and drag­ging a sled that weighs some 90kg across a weather-beaten car park pock­marked with pud­dles and oil slicks.

He sucks air in heap­ing gulps and ex­hales with such fe­roc­ity that veins pop in his tem­ples and his puffed-out cheeks turn red above his salt-and-pep­per goa­tee.

In one drill, he shuf­fles side­ways with the sled in tow while catch­ing a 13kg medicine ball and vi­o­lently sling­ing it back from the hip, as if try­ing to oblit­er­ate his train­ing part­ner. In an­other, he catches the ball just above his stom­ach, throws him­self to the ground, and pops back up in the blink of an eye. He fin­ishes each gut­bust­ing burpee with a chest pass and then ex­plodes for­ward with the rat-a-tat of the me­tal sled chas­ing af­ter him like a bark­ing dog.

Built like a bouncer but with the agility of a bal­let dancer, Sent­manat has be­come a so­cial me­dia star and an ob­ject of won­der to nearly a mil­lion fol­low­ers. How can a man this big – he stuffs 110kg of brute strength into skintight com­pres­sion gear and looks more rugged than the Jeep Wran­gler parked in the dis­tance – crackle with such re­lent­less en­ergy and fer­vour?

The an­swer is sim­ple: His life once de­pended on it.

For 15 years, this Ma­rine Corps vet­eran

worked as a cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer and po­lice of­fi­cer in Hialeah, Florida, in Mi­ami-dade County. He spent a decade on the SWAT team and al­ways trained with one thing in mind: in a fight, the bad guys would never stop to let him catch his breath.

Sent­manat re­tired from the force in 2016 and fo­cused full-time on Real­world Tac­ti­cal, his fit­ness and firearms train­ing com­pany that teaches cops, mil­i­tary per­son­nel and or­di­nary cit­i­zens how to de­fend them­selves. But the 38-year-old still trains with a com­bat-ready in­ten­sity. When­ever he hits a wall, Sent­manat imag­ines the next rep be­ing the dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing able to pull some­one out of a burn­ing build­ing and leav­ing him to die. “I know peo­ple from all around,” says Diego De Vera, a trainer and Muay Thai cham­pion from Ar­gentina who’s on the re­ceiv­ing end of Sent­manat’s medicine-ball slams. “No­body can do the shit he does.”

Here are the most valu­able lessons that the Bad­dest Man on In­sta­gram has learned in the gym, on the street and in his new ven­ture as an en­trepreneur.

Prep for the mo­ment

Some years ago, Sent­manat found him­self chas­ing an armed-rob­bery sus­pect who ducked into a ware­house. In­side, a ter­ri­fied worker silently mo­tioned with his eyes and mouth that the bad guy was hid­ing be­hind a nearby wall. As Sent­manat inched around the corner, hold­ing his gun in front of him, he was con­fronted by a sud­den flash of move­ment. The sus­pect had about 13cm on Sent­manat, who stands 180cm, and he used that lever­age to try and grab the cop’s gun.

“If you’re not in phys­i­cal shape to fight for your life and fight for that gun, he’s go­ing to take it away and shoot you,” Sent­manat says. The two brawled in a con­fined space sur­rounded by racks of shoes. Gassed, Sent­manat fi­nally grabbed the guy’s leg, took him down, and re­gained con­trol of the weapon. He didn’t hol­ster it, though, in case the guy had his own, which meant Sent­manat couldn’t put on the hand­cuffs. The sus­pect moved be­tween Sent­manat’s legs, broke free, and ran out­side. The bark­ing of a nearby K9 unit dis­tracted the bad guy long enough for Sent­manat to tackle him from be­hind. >

Af­ter the adren­a­line wore off, Sent­manat sat in his cruiser for 30 min­utes, un­able to move be­cause of stab­bing back spasms. The or­deal was a turn­ing point. He’d al­ways looked in­tim­i­dat­ing – “When you see some­one like Tony walk­ing up to you, you’re like, ‘Oh, lord, I think I should com­ply,’” says Sgt Richard Quin­tero, his friend and for­mer col­league – but Sent­manat re­alised he needed to drop some 10kg to im­prove his car­dio.

“Fear of fail­ure mo­ti­vated me,” he says. “I never wanted to be that guy who wasn’t pre­pared phys­i­cally.”

Now, as a busi­ness­man who teaches tac­ti­cal and self-de­fence sem­i­nars across the coun­try, Sent­manat main­tains the same work ethic to back up an on­line per­sona that screams “com­plete badass” in a crowded field of mixed-mar­tial-arts may­hem. The most im­por­tant les­son he im­parts on his stu­dents: be ready for when all hell breaks loose.

At­tack, don’t re­act

Sent­manat teaches his firearms stu­dents how to han­dle their weapons un­der duress. If they ever have to pull a gun, their heart rate will soar, their hands will shake, and they’ll get tun­nel vi­sion. His train­ing in­cor­po­rates those pos­si­bil­i­ties so they’ll know how to

respond. Sev­eral years ago, he learned in a dark back­yard how im­por­tant it is to re­vert to train­ing un­der pres­sure, and how vi­tal it can be to land the first punch.

It was af­ter 2am when Sent­manat and Quin­tero separately and si­mul­ta­ne­ously iden­ti­fied a car car­ry­ing an armed-rob­bery sus­pect. The bad guy bailed out of the mov­ing ve­hi­cle and Quin­tero was the first to chase af­ter him on foot. The cop grabbed the sus­pect’s right leg as he be­gan scal­ing a 1.8m fence, but Quin­tero slipped and could only pull off the man’s shoe. “I hear Tony run­ning up. He’s got good speed and mo­men­tum,” Quin­tero says. “I go, ‘Tony, get him – he’s over the fence!’ In one jump, Tony went right over.”

Sent­manat landed on the other side into pitch-black dark­ness. Then he heard a thud. He went to­ward what­ever the sus­pect had hit and kicked it him­self: a can of roof­ing tar that was spilling out in all di­rec­tions. Sent­manat scanned to his left and his right. Sud­denly the sus­pect jumped out from be­hind an old couch and bull-rushed him.

Sent­manat, who has a black belt in Shito-ryu karate, was briefly sur­prised by the dou­ble-leg take­down, but he in­stantly re­verted to his train­ing. He struck the man in the face, which caused the at­tacker’s knees to buckle and gave Sent­manat the op­por­tu­nity to over­power him. The sus­pect was even­tu­ally hand­cuffed. (Quin­tero made it over the fence to help make the ar­rest, but only af­ter tak­ing a spill in the gooey tar.)

Sent­manat later saw that the man had cau­li­flower ears, a call­ing card of the MMA pro­fes­sion. Dis­gusted but cu­ri­ous, he asked why such a skilled fighter was mess­ing around with rob­beries. The man said he’d fought pro­fes­sion­ally but had de­vel­oped a drug habit and needed to pay for it. A cop with­out Sent­manat’s mar­tial arts train­ing wouldn’t have stood a chance against this perp. “He prob­a­bly would have dropped him on the fuck­ing con­crete, break­ing his head wide open,” Sent­manat says. “He would have grounded him and pounded him. That’s what MMA guys do. They get on top of you and beat the fuck­ing piss out of you.”

Don’t stop, don’t quit

One day in 2014, around lunchtime, Sent­manat and Gene De­lima, now a rob­bery de­tec­tive, were mak­ing lunch plans. “Don’t get caught up in any­thing be­fore we eat,” De­lima joked with him. “Next thing I know, he’s on the air and gives an ad­dress,” De­lima says. Sent­manat had iden­ti­fied a man the

crime sup­pres­sion unit had been look­ing for. This guy was savvy and knew po­lice weren’t al­lowed to go af­ter him if he was on a mo­tor­cy­cle; a high-speed chase isn’t worth the risk to pub­lic safety. So he al­ways rode one and took off at the first sign of cops. Sent­manat waited un­til af­ter the man got off the bike to turn on his flash­ers. As soon as he did, the man bolted through a yard, climbed on top of a pickup truck, and then placed one foot on a wooden fence to fly over it.

“I did the ex­act same thing. The only dif­fer­ence was that fence wasn’t ready to hold me,” Sent­manat says. “The fence col­lapsed. I went straight down to the con­crete.” His ra­dio bounced in one di­rec­tion, his gun in the other. The bad guy stopped to look back. Sent­manat checked his shoul­der and arm to make sure noth­ing was bro­ken, and then got to his feet. The chase took them around a gazebo and through a maze of aban­doned re­frig­er­a­tors strewn across a back­yard. “It was a god­damn dis­as­ter,” Sent­manat says with a laugh. “I man­aged to hit ev­ery­thing on my way out of there.”

They con­tin­ued through more back­yards, over more fences, and around one house mul­ti­ple times. All the while, Sent­manat was yelling that he wasn’t go­ing to give up. Fi­nally the sus­pect turned around and as­sumed a boxer’s stance. Sent­manat ran right into him. “The guy he was wrestling with was an­other big guy,” says De­lima, who even­tu­ally caught up. “You could tell they’d been fight­ing for a while – the pant­ing, the breath­ing.”

“It’s a life-or-death sit­u­a­tion,” says Sent­manat, who took con­trol by us­ing a rear naked choke hold. “That guy was try­ing to hurt me. Even if I’m tired, I’ve done so much jiu-jitsu and ground work that I know how to use my body to dis­perse my en­ergy and weight.” The chase and fight left Sent­manat miss­ing a chunk of skin from his knee and shoul­der, and his right el­bow and fore­arm pul­sated with pain. But he got his man – us­ing the same fo­cus and drive that he later used to launch his com­pany.

“It doesn’t mat­ter how many hours you have to work. It doesn’t mat­ter how long it’s go­ing to take. If you start some­thing, you fin­ish it,” Sent­manat says. He was in­spired to teach self-de­fence af­ter be­ing called to a scene where a thief pis­tol-whipped a man and broke a wo­man’s fingers by rip­ping her rings off. “The pas­sion that I had as a law en­force­ment of­fi­cer, I put into my busi­ness,” he says. “You have to have pas­sion for what you do. If you do it for the money, you’re never go­ing to be suc­cess­ful. You do it be­cause you love it.” >

I’m in the busi­ness of teach­ing you how to sur­vive – and mak­ing you un­der­stand what you are phys­i­cally and men­tally ca­pa­ble of”

Leave your stress at work

The com­ments on his so­cial me­dia feeds call him “a wreck­ing ball,” “mon­ster” and “the most sav­age hu­man on earth” but there’s a softer side to Sent­manat that his 900,000 In­sta­gram, Face­book and Youtube fol­low­ers rarely see. “I’m two to­tally dif­fer­ent peo­ple,” he says be­tween sets at De Vera’s gym, the KO Zone in Mi­ami. “When I train, I’m one way, one mind­set, un­til death.”

He looks up at Pa­trick Ram­dial, his videog­ra­pher and friend, and asks, “What would you say I am when I’m done train­ing, as a reg­u­lar per­son?” Ram­dial smiles, and Sent­manat in­stantly re­alises his mis­take. “Don’t say what I think you’re go­ing to say,” Sent­manat pleads. Grin­ning even wider, Ram­dial quips, “If a teddy bear had mus­cles...”

Sent­manat, son of a sin­gle Cuban mother, has an un­canny abil­ity to turn his vi­cious in­ten­sity on and off, to tog­gle be­tween badass and teddy bear, to be a fe­ro­cious work­out ma­chine and a ded­i­cated friend who, Quin­tero says, “will give you his last penny”.

The du­al­ity re­flects a sur­vival mech­a­nism he adopted early in his po­lice ca­reer. “First time I went on a call where a guy had blown his brains out, he looked like a mush­room. His whole en­tire face was gone,” Sent­manat says. Af­ter wit­ness­ing hor­rors like that, he re­alised he had to leave the trauma at work.

“If you emo­tion­ally at­tach your­self to all these sce­nar­ios, you end up crazy,” he says. “In my job, I would go into a burn­ing build­ing to save your life, or I would shoot you in the face and kill you – ei­ther one. And with­out a split-sec­ond hes­i­ta­tion, I’d go back into my car, drink my soda, lis­ten to coun­try mu­sic, write the re­port, go home and sleep.”

And, of course, get up in the morn­ing and rip through the day like it could be his last. “I’d rather live like a lion for one day,” he says, “than like a sheep for 20 years.”

In my job, I would go into a burn­ing build­ing to save your life, or I would shoot you in the face and kill you – ei­ther one”

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