Richard Cruz was born in San Leandro, California May 30th 1971.  At an early age of 7, Richard was drawn into boxing and martial arts and begun boxing training through the Boy’s Club and YMCA. In 1984, Ron Esteller (currently Professor 8th Degree) who was a black belt in Kajukenbo under GM James Juarez and the late GGM Charles Gaylord (may he Rest In Peace), began devoting his free time at the San Leandro Boy’s Club by giving classes.  From then on, Richard was dedicated to the martial arts, specifically Kajukenbo.  At the age of 15, Richard moved to Vallejo, California were he began training in Taekwondo from Master William Kim who had a school a few blocks from his house.  After a couple years of training, Richard began looking for a Kajukenbo school, and with the help of Professor Esteller, Richard was put in contact with GM Woody Sims.  It was the year of 1988 when Richard begun his life long training with his Sifu and mentor GM Woody Sims.  Richard had the privilege of also training in full contact fighting and point sparring under GM Sims and frequently traveled to tournaments in the early to mid 90s.  For several years, GM Sims had 2 schools in Vallejo, one open to the general public and the other for the California Maritime Academy leaving Richard to conduct classes and teach at the main school for several years.  This was a great honor, and greatly contributed to Sifu Cruz’s growth and understanding in the Kajukenbo system.

Sifu Cruz was tested and promoted to the rank of student black belt in 1994 and a year later after testing, promoted to 1st degree.  At that time, Richard was asked to teach Kajukenbo at the Vallejo Multi-Cultural Martial Arts Academy in Vallejo. With GM Sims blessing, he began teaching and gaining several dedicated students.  During that time (while continuing to teach Kajukenbo), Richard sought personal growth in the Kajukenbo philosophies and began training under Grand Maesrto Jon Bais in Kalis-Silat (Filipino Martial Arts) a mid to close range system along with Eskrido (full contact fighting with a stick and utilizing strikes with the arms and legs).  Richard also began training at the school of Grand Master Emil Bautista located at 974 Benicia Rd.  This was a great opportunity to train and learn from one of Kajukenbo’s Senior Grand Masters.  Richard enjoyed the many days of old school training with black belts like Dave Laughren, Joseph Bautista, Joel Purvis, Mitch Powell, Rob Peladeau, Jeff Macalolooy, Albert Saddler III, Dave Ducay, Clarence Isadore, Nick Melas, Dennis Peterson, and many others, to include GM Joe Davis who regularly came to the school to teach along side GM Bautista in the Black Belt classes. 

This continued until the year 2000, when Richard accepted a position with the U.S. Border Patrol and had to relocate to Tucson, Arizona.  After spending 3 years working as a Border Patrol Agent, he applied to attend the selection course to become a member of the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson Sector full time Special Response Team (SRT), one of the Border Patrol’s largest and most active SRT Teams.  Of the 67 selected applicants, only 9 made the Team, including Richard for whom it was a great honor and life achievement.  Richard spent the next 4 years operating with the Tucson Sector SRT, where he had the opportunity to receive extensive training and operational experience in high risk operations, high risk warrant service, (CQC) close quarter combat, dignitary protection, hostage rescue, barricaded suspect, officer down, vehicle and bus assaults, tactical tracking, tactical air operations, surveillance LPOP, extended rural patrolling, high risk interdictions, advance firearms techniques, chemical munitions, riot control, confined space operations, undercover operations, intelligence gathering operations, incident command and many others.  Richard begun to teach fellow operators some of the Kajukenbo theories and principals as a part of the Special Response Teams’ defensive tactics program and he eventually became the Teams’ Training Officer during the last year.  Richard has had many situations during operations where his Kajukenbo/Martial Arts experience has came in handy in various threat levels.  

While in the southern Arizona area, Richard was put in contact with Sifu Greggory Tobias of the Sei Ryu Kan Dojo and began training during the week.  This continued for several years until 2007 when Richard was asked to work on temporary duty assignment at the Border Patrol's Headquarters (HQ) in Washington, DC as an Operations Officer for the National SRT program within the Border Patrol's Special Operations’ Division.  In September of 2007, after being offered a permanent position, he accepted and relocated to the Border Patrol Headquarters in Washington, DC.  Some of Richard’s current duties for the last few years have been providing advanced instruction and oversight for CBP Office of Field Operations Special Response Teams (SRT) Basic Selection Courses; teaching advanced firearms, defensive tactics (Kaju inspired ;-), vehicle/bus assaults, close quarters combat (CQC), patrolling, immediate actions, urban scouting, basic and advance first aid/trauma, IV Therapy, Mobile Field Force/Riot Control and Tactical Decision Making. 

Richard has continued his training in Martial Arts throughout his life, primarily with Kajukenbo through Grand Master Woody Sims, earning his Black Belt (currently a 5th degree) under GM Sims.  Sifu Cruz now teaches in Alexandria, VA (Rich Cruz's KAJUKENBO "Street" Self Defense); this gives him the opportunity to share his knowledge, train and to help others in their quest in becoming life long martial artists/Kajukenbo practitioners.