Anthony first studied Tae Kwon Do, which not only taught him to protect himself but also demanded discipline. He competed in local and state tournaments and dominated the junior boys division, earning top honors in the Junior Nationals in 1983.
He branched out to learn other martial arts, including Brazilian Jui Jitsu and Thai kickboxing. But for many years, mixed martial arts were an avocation for Morales while he built up a mortgage business in Pleasanton.
"I was in the mortgage business for 21 years," he said, "as a loan processor, than an underwriter manager." He went into mortgage sales and started California Capital Mortgage, which employed 15-20 loan agents, and he credits the discipline learned in martial arts with this success.
But eventually the mortgage service business began to collapse.
"I decided to go into a different service," Morales said, "the protection service and self-protection. I got into the business of martial arts."
He established Victory In Performance Mixed Martial Arts Academy in Pleasanton where his team teaches the skills and discipline of mixed martial arts to others. In 2009, VIP MMA moved to Stoneridge Drive to combine offices with Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu master Dave Camarillo.
The front office/store offers a clothing line, VIP Gear, designed by Morales' younger brother, Michael. Anthony also partners with his older brother, Mario, onsite in Mana Storm Entertainment, which makes commercials, movie trailers and mixed martial arts training videos.
"Your family is your backbone and support," Morales noted. He lives in Brentwood with his wife Tamara and sons Brandon, 8, and Christian, 3.
"Brandon does martial arts," Morales noted.
Mana Storm produced a four-set DVDs for light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. Another project was "Shield of Honor: The Joe Bannon Story," a documentary about a San Francisco policeman, who is also a former Department of Justice Anti-Terrorist Special Agent.
"Joe Bannon comes here to do weeklong street survival seminars," Morales said. "He was a bodyguard for both Bushes, Gorbachev, the Pope."
VIP MMA offers classes for all ages in-house, blending traditional methods with modern combat training. The instructors will work with individuals to define their goals, whether they be to increase fitness or learn self-defense tactics. They also teach children discipline and physical control along with the martial arts.
"We're very busy in the evenings," said Morales, "and the summertime is popular when kids are off school."
Morales is the inventor of the VIP Coach Monitor, a punching bag with sensors that is contained on a platform along with a computer screen where the coach will appear.
"It's designed for soccer moms who don't know anything about martial arts," Morales said.
The idea came when he noticed that people in large classes would slack off when he wasn't directly working with them.
"When I went to the other side of the room I saw them slacking in the mirror," he recalled.
One on one coaching is best but can be impractical, he realized, and he began to develop his coaching machine. It allows users to choose their coach, who then talks them through a workout, offering encouragement.
"I've created a machine that engages the mind," Morales explained. "I've studied people, and my 'secret sauce' is the actual coach inspiration. The reactive coaching technology gives motivational commands to keep you moving. The whole thing is rewarding the user."
The machine also can record how the person is exercising, tallying jumps and punches.
"Can you imagine being able to capture Bruce Lee's data and use it as we work out?" Morales said with excitement. "We can take data from athletes and immortalize the athletes."
The Virtual Coaching Machine currently is being tested at a Fortune 500 company on the peninsula in its employee gym.
Morales hopes the new machine will allow him to reach even more students to teach them about the importance of working out the mind, body and spirit.
"This is my brain child -- I want to give back to people," he said.
And it all comes back to learning discipline, which has helped his life's journey.
"We have to tap into discipline," said Morales. "That's why I chose this new path in my life."
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