"It’s my mission to help people learn how to protect themselves" Marcus Kowal
A curiosity in various art forms and an urge to fight better opened the sails and pushed Marcus into the endless, oceanic world of martial arts. Born in Gothenburg, Sweden, Marcus is a professional MMA fighter, kick-boxer and boxer, who dedicates a lifetime’s worth of training as the owner and lead instructor at Systems Training Center in Los Angeles.
Marcus’ ability to switch itineraries on the fly and learn new things was instilled in him during his time in the military. In 1997, he joined the Swedish Special Forces (Rangers), a unit known for turning boys into men. It was during his time there that Marcus truly acquired the fighting spirit. A serious injury as a Ranger left him crippled for two months. It was a depressing transition to go from being an athlete and Special Forces Ranger to not knowing if he was ever going to walk properly again.
After leaving the military, Marcus attended the University of Kent, where he started the Kent Kickboxing Club. British Universities Sports Association (BUSA), the British equivalent to the United States’ NCAA, didn’t include kickboxing as an official sports program but Marcus’ club grew into the biggest club at the university, even surpassing Rugby. It eventually became a BUSA recognized sport after Marcus spearheaded a plan to host the first nationals. Marcus took home a medal that day—both in actual competition and innovation. In 2000, he was awarded “Sportsman of the Year,” and to this day, kickboxing remains a BUSA accepted sport and the largest club at the University of Kent.
Professional fighting was prevalent in Marcus’ mind, but coming from an academic family, he chose to finish out his studies before pursuing a career in fighting. After graduating with a B.A. in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management, Marcus moved to Mexico to begin his professional fighting career. He continued to excel in kickboxing and eventually won a world title in a five-round title fight at K2 Promotions, a growing organization in Mexico.
Marcus’ journey eventually trekked north into the United States, originally to join the military, which didn’t pan out due to post-9/11 restrictions. While working on a Master’s Degree in Sports Management at California State University, Long Beach, in 2002, he got into Krav Maga while serving as a kickboxing instructor at the Krav Maga Worldwide headquarters in Los Angeles. But none of that quelled his love for kickboxing and boxing. Krav Maga was hors d'oeuvres, and boxing was the main course Marcus pursued in making a living with his fists. Professionally, kickboxing was relatively non-existent in the States, which meant he would have to focus on boxing. The swift change in sport occupations didn’t impede Marcus’ success, as he was named the runner-up in the 2004 Golden Gloves tournament and the runner-up in the 2005 Title Boxing World Championships.
As Marcus competed in boxing, he started to see the growth and popularity of Mixed Martial Arts. Like a siren out at sea, MMA called out to Marcus the same way kickboxing and boxing had done many years ago, and he answered the call after working with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend Wander Braga. Marcus was hooked ever since that moment. He took it as a personal challenge to improve his grappling, including wrestling, and compete in MMA professionally. His journey through MMA saw tutelage under the legendary Rickson Gracie, Rafael Cordeiro and UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum. In 2009, he made his professional MMA debut and won by TKO in the second round. The following year he was already competing in Strikeforce, which was one of the biggest MMA promotions in the world.
Marcus eventually moved on from competing and opened System’s Training Center. The mission philosophy at System’s Training Center is to offer a family-oriented type of environment where anyone can feel comfortable coming in and learning.
Marcus has appeared on Celebrity Fit Club, the Tyra Banks Show, Dr. 90210, I form med (with Anna Anka) and the National Body Challenge on the National Geographic Channel. He has also trained several celebrities, including Sasha Baron Cohen, Rachel McAdams, Brendan Fraser, Hilary Swank, and Erika Elaniak. Although he enjoys the wide variety of clientele he trains, Marcus is perhaps most passionate about helping people learn how to protect themselves.
The H.U.M.A.N. (Humanity's United Martial Arts Network), Podcast hosted by Shane Fazen & Marcus Kowal explores the roots of martial arts, and how the acquired skills transcend just combat.