Peter Jumrukovski is Santa Monica’s newest Mr. Miyagi.
Recently arriving in Southern California from Sweden, where he won numerous medals as a martial arts competitor, the accomplished former athlete has launched Santa Monica Sport Karate to train local youths.
The new club is the realization of a longtime goal for Jumrukovski, 30, who remembers watching “The Karate Kid” as a small child.
“My dream was always to move to the U.S. as a kid,” he said. “Now I got the opportunity to come here and teach karate. I’m very happy about that. I love the Westside, the oceanside. That’s why I’m here.”
Jumrukovski, who is trained in the Shotokan discipline, combines traditional aspects of karate with modern athleticism and teachings in his classes. He currently holds training sessions at Santa Monica High School’s wrestling gym on Wednesday and Friday evenings, and he’s planning to add more hours and locations in the future. He also offers private lessons.
“The kids have fun but still learn the values of focus, self-discipline and respect, which are very good traits to have in everyday life as well,” he said. “It’s good to learn self-defense, but the best part of learning karate is that it’s a lesson for life. You learn to interact with people, to have respect for yourself, to do your best. Those are values that we try to teach.”
That’s partly because those are the values Jumrukovski learned through karate.
As a young boy, Jumrukovski routinely followed his father, Slafko, to karate training sessions. But he didn’t particularly care for martial arts until he watched “The Karate Kid,” which he said inspired him to take the discipline seriously. He soon began training under the tutelage of his father, who got into martial arts because he was a Bruce Lee fan. Slafko, who currently runs a club in Sweden, has been practicing and teaching karate for more than 40 years.
“Martial arts taught me it’s your values that matter,” said Jumrukovski, adding that he didn’t have many friends as a youngster. “Do your best, and you can be good at anything. I started feeling good about myself.”
He also became a masterful karate athlete. He competed with the Swedish national team for more than 10 years, earning eight national titles. In 2007, while taking classes at Santa Monica College, he participated in a U.S. open karate competition in Las Vegas. And he won a bronze medal at the Shotokan Karate-do International Federation world championships in Australia in 2012, after which he wrapped up his competitive career.
Jumrukovski has since turned his attention to personal training and writing, authoring a personal development guide called “The Goal Book.”
But he doesn’t plan on giving up karate any time soon.
“Karate is a sport, but it’s also an art,” he said. “And it’s about giving back. It’s rewarding to see someone evolve, both as a person and as an athlete. There’s no better feeling than to see a kid come in insecure, and a few years later he’s learned a lot.”