Family Fun Spotlight

Twin Tigers Academy of Self-Defense

Twin Tigers Academy of Self-Defense

Building Self-Confidence Through Self-Defense

Heber Carrillo has always been interested in martial arts, ever since he was a kid and Bruce Lee hit the big screen. “I would be in the movie theaters, kicking and punching with him,” said Heber. “I always enjoyed it and loved training.” After serving our country in the United States Air Force for eight years, being part of Desert Sheild and Desert Storm, Heber returned home to settle down. His love for martial arts had not faded and eventually led him to opening his first karate school in South San Francisco in 1992. As Heber progressed and learned the business, he grew his studio from 12 to 158 students in just two years. “I was training five days a week; I lived and breathed martial arts,” said Heber. “I was hungry and kept going to achieve my goals.”

After teaching in that studio for three years, Heber was in a terrible car accident where he was hit by a semi-truck which left him with a compressed neck and back. Needing to take some time to heal, Heber left his studio in the hands of one of his instructors; however, a couple of months later, one of his students informed him that his studio had been closed. When Heber arrived at his studio to investigate the situation, he was told to leave immediately or else it would be shut down and his students would have nowhere to train. So, Heber was left with no choice but to find a new direction to take his professional career. “I had just gotten married, bought a house, and found out that we were expecting twins,” said Heber. “I had no income and all of my savings was depleting because I couldn’t work.” Heber knew he needed to find another way to support his family, so he entered the world of sheet metal. From 1995 until 2008 Heber attended sheet metal school, worked for a sheet metal company, worked for United Airlines, and taught karate. “During that period, I worked seven days a week nonstop.”
Sheet metal was never Heber’s passion; it was simply a necessary step to provide for his growing family. In 2005, he was presented with an opportunity to take over an already existing karate studio in Brentwood. With the desire to return to his true calling, as well as teach his own children, Heber took the chance to start with something small. “I worked sheet metal during the day, came home and went straight to the studio to teach until 8:00 p.m.” Heber officially opened Twin Tigers Academy of Self Defense on July 1, 2005 in an 1,800 square foot space with seven students including his two daughters. His son, Daniel, who was a teenager at the time, and his wife, Evelynn were his right-hands. “They helped a lot when I was at work,” said Heber. Then in 2007 Twin Tigers expanded to two suites in the same center, increasing to 3,600 square feet. Now Heber’s studio is in an 8,700 square foot space at the opposite end of the same business center. “Our largest student body was 228. We currently have 198 students enrolled with about 35 kids on trials. My goal for 2024 is to reach 300-350 students.”

Twin Tigers Academy of Self-Defense is a karate and kung fu academy that teaches children as young as four years old, all the way up to adults. “Karate is known for its hard style, where kung fu is more of deflection that requires less power,” said Heber. “Kung fu is much more effective for women, kids and smaller adult men.” The Tiny Tigers program, which is for children four and five years old, focuses on basic drills, coordination, punching, blocking, movement, and focus. The Children’s Class is for ages six to 12 and works on self-defense and how to use it/how to move, and developing their core for balance. The Teenage and Adult Class is for anyone 13 years and above. “With society today, kids are always being put d own. For kids, karate is ideal for building discipline, respect, control, self-esteem, and confidence,” said Heber. “For adults, it’s about developing your core and your balance, which are important skills for everyone to learn.” In addition to the variety of classes available for a wide range of ages, Twin Tigers also offers private self-defense courses for businesses or small groups, which can be anywhere from a one day to three-week course. “We’re very open to what the needs are and can accommodate/modify to anyone’s special medical conditions,” said Heber. “I highly recommend it for women especially.”
The studio has continued to be a family affair. Heber’s son Daniel is involved in the graphic design and photography, his daughter Jessica works at the front desk, and daughter Kristi is a Sensei. All three of Heber’s children have trained in karate, his son and daughter Jessica achieving brown belts. Sensei Kristi continues to train as well as instruct classes at Twin Tigers. “Kristi is highly skilled and better than I was at her age in many ways,” said Heber. “She’s a second-degree black belt and trains like I did in my early 20s. She has that drive and her technique is incredibly clean.” Heber is a fourth-degree black belt in his style of karate but has seven black belts altogether. “Black belts go up to tenth-degree, which is Grand Master. There is only one per system, and we have ours in Twin Dragon Kun-Fu Academy in San Carlos, instructed by Sijo John Olivia. I still train with him to this day.”

Heber has given thought to the possibility of expanding the school yet again, with perhaps even a second location; however, he leaves that decision up to his staff. “It depends on what they want to do. It’s really their school, and I work for them. This is just my legacy to leave behind.” Regardless of future decisions, Heber does not plan to take Twin Tigers Academy of Self-Defense outside of Brentwood. “I was a huge part of Brentwood PAL for years, serving on their board. I’m also part of the Brentwood VFW and Honor Guard. Everybody knows that when they see me, I represent Twin Tigers Academy of Self-Defense. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it in my home.”
Address: 700 Harvest Park Drive, Suite M, Brentwood, CA 94513
Contact: (925) 513-7591


by Michelle Lassle
photos by Sara Jean Photography



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Brentwood is one of the fastest-growing cities in the nine-county Bay Area and offers a strategic location that connects: the SF Bay Area, Central Valley, Tri-Valley, and Sacramento Delta.