Breaking the Rules

It was a privilege to spend some time getting to know Tony Sentmanat, one of the country’s leading tactical trainers of military, law enforcement, and private civilians.  As we are about the same age, we were able to quickly relate, and we started by exchanging stories about our families.

“My grandparents came here from Cuba in the 1960s,” said Tony.  “My grandfather needed heart surgery, and they knew he could get quality medical help here in the U.S.  So my grandmother bought the plane tickets, and the day they landed…right there in the airport, my grandfather passed away.  Can you believe it bro?!”

His grandmother would later raise him, since his parents split up when Tony was two; his mother had to work while also attending school.  It’s no surprise, then, that his grandmother’s work ethic and passion for caring for her family and those around her, can be seen in Tony’s career, his approach to training, and his ability to motivate and push others to better themselves.

“Man, it was horrendous when my grandmother died.  I was 15.  I grew up in Carol City (Miami Gardens) and we later moved to Hialeah, so my mom and my grandmother got me into karate when I was four because they wanted me to learn to defend myself.”  This introduction into martial arts at an early age would later become a focal point for Tony’s training.  “I used to love watching Bruce Lee, and my grandmother came to every single one of my competitions.”  Tony trained in American-style boxing, Muay Thai, and Jui-Jitsu.

Life happens

Around the same time his grandmother passed away, one of his cousin’s close friends was shot and killed due to gang-related issues.  This caused him to start to think differently…and he wondered what might await him outside of the challenges he faced everyday in Miami…so he focused on graduating so he could join the Marines.

Early on, Tony realized he was hungry for more, so rather than re-enlisting after four years, after a quick stint in security and executive protection, he pursued a career in law enforcement – specifically, SWAT, firearms training, and defensive tactics.  If you’ve ever talked with Tony or watched any of his videos, you know the man is HIGH INTENSITY.  As such, he admitted he has always liked breaking the rules.  Because of this attitude, he is a pioneer in specialized training: physical training (weights and calisthenics) combined with fighting and weapons training.


“Everyone said I shouldn’t do it.  But here’s the thing – rules are placed in this world and in organizations so they can be broken!
You want to break the rules and set the new standard.”

Tell us about your motivation

When I asked about Tony’s sources of motivation, he responded in a serious tone: “I know what the world is really about; any point in time you can turn around and a guy can put a gun to your head.  It’s not about you; it’s about you and your family; most of the time, they rob you and they still shoot you.”  It is this mentality – the preservation of life, looking out for his brothers from the Marines and from law enforcement, and the love of the struggle and of the pain…that led Tony to create Real World Tactical.  

“People just kept telling me that I needed to do more of these classes.”  To the beginner, he says, “Staying in shape is better than doing nothing.  The average person quits at 40% of their potential.  Think about that! 40%!”


When Tony trains with others, his goal is not only to learn from the experience, but to push his clients and training partners to the edge of their potential, and then beyond it.  In talking with him, it’s clear Tony’s mentality permeates all aspects of his life. Tony willingly talks about his struggles and mistakes, so as to put those around him a step ahead when faced with similar struggles or decisions.  


What message would you share with our youth?

1. You have a dream…a path…go for it at 100 miles an hour.  No matter what ANYONE tells you.

2. Don’t get complacent where you are; you get in a 9-5 job, you’re not happy, but it’s paying you (maybe good money), then you waste five years of your life.  Keep growing.  Keep adapting.  Keep changing [“be about change!”].

3. BREAK THE RULES!  There’s a lot to be said for education, and reading is important, but a lot of times people spend their lives reading books and following others; they don’t spend any time doing sh– for themselves and figuring it out for themselves.  You’re gonna fail.  You’re gonna f-ck up.  You’re gonna make mistakes…and THEN you will learn.  And in five to ten years, you’ll be doing your own sh-t…not everyone else’s.

What more motivation do you need?

Whether you are into fitness or not, get to know Tony.  Not only is he relatable, he will help you to know yourself and your potential on a much deeper level.

“The faster you understand pain, the easier life will become.”
-Tony Sentmanat

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Marcel Hernandez

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