Dan rolling during a private lesson

My experience in MMA began in 2008 when I found the Forge, MMA located in Vero Beach, FL. I had actually never taken any form of martial arts before and had been somewhat tentative of what I might experience inside the “fighting” atmosphere.

I’d always considered myself as having athletic ability, however I was unsure of whether the traditional athletic ability I was used to (surfing, snowboarding etc.) would transfer over into the MMA arena. I had no desire to actually enter the cage, but felt a desire to challenge myself against other athletes in the varying specialties of MMA (muay thai, jiu jitsu, boxing).

My first experience within the Forge’s walls, calmed my worries of possibly going up against head hunting fighters looking to show a rookie the ropes “the hard way.” This was not the case. The trainers were introduced to me as Dan and Pete.

I felt at ease right away and sensed no urgency from the coaches to put me into situations that I wouldn’t be ready for. I felt at home right away and definitely part of the family at the Forge. Ego’s were not something that were supported by the coaches, and this was something that helped me as a newbie, feel compelled to come back class after class.

The coaches always take the time to expose the students to proper technique, and make sure there is understanding of technique before applying such learned processes into a sparring environment. Each class, re-educates the students via repetition of learned techniques, which helped solidify the core maneuvers needed to proceed to the next training level.

Dan in particular takes each student in as part of his brood. He takes the time to make sure situations are safe and challenging for the varying skill levels in each class. I felt as if I was important to Dan as a student and this helped motivate me to train that much harder. He would often take the time to personally train with not only me, but many of the students in each class.

This approach engrained many proper techniques as well as commitment to the Forge’s work ethic and training beliefs.

SInce leaving Vero Beach, FL, due to work in 2009, I have experienced other training environments in other MMA gyms. Far and above, the Forge always remains at the top of my list due to the coaches commitments, devotion and family atmosphere. I never felt like “just another student” in the class and that value is hard to come by. I still visit the Forge for training opportunities when visiting family in Vero Beach, FL.

I consider the coaches of the Forge as personal friends, as well as many of the students I trained with over the years. If anyone is looking for a training environment that pushes your ability, supports proper technique, exposes it’s students to a multitude of training styles, and offers family-like atmosphere, then look no further than the Forge in Vero Beach, FL.

Jeff Fairbanks

MMA fight with Dan

 I have a lot of love for the Forge. Dan’s not only a great teacher and a great friend. He cares about his students and treats the sport and people with 100 percent respect. For me, when I walked through the door having a bad back and multiple surgeries, and not being able to do a pushup; I can do things I physically thought I’d never be able to do again.   I can’t thank him enough. If you’re somebody who wants to just improve physically, keep in shape, or if you want to learn how to do mixed martial arts in all aspects; he’s the man.  You couldn’t ask for a better atmosphere of acceptance, fun and hard work. The people that go to the Forge are the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

John Henderson

sparring lesson


I met Dan a few years ago when we brought our son to The Forge to learn the basics of MMA fighting.  We were hoping for our son to gain some discipline, as well as skill, and we have not been disappointed.  This is not your average after school karate program.  Dan teaches real technique.  You can imagine the patience it takes to keep a young child focused to learn the skills of MMA fighting.  Well, Dan’s got it.  His easy going nature, accompanied by his knowledge of the sport,  made us comfortable continuing to send our 5 year old to train, and that was almost 3 years ago.

 I, myself, started private lessons with Dan a few months ago.  I had no previous experience and was a little nervous about getting started, but Dan’s relaxed instruction has made it really enjoyable.  In addition to feeling great, I’m learning a combination of cardio and boxing for working out at home or at the gym.

 Thanks, Dan!! -Angela Snow














974 14th Lane. Vero Beach, FL 32960



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