FIGHT! Doctor: Denny Prokopos

(Dr. Pete with BJ Penn, Jake Shields, and Bas Rutten. Props to

A fighter’s body is a machine geared for top performance and every machine needs regular tune-ups. Peter Goldman, DC, is one of combat sports’ best mechanics. Dr. Goldman practices a rare branch of chiropractic developed approximately 80 years ago by Dr. Thurman Fleet called Zone Healing, the goal of which is to balance the six interconnected systems of the body: circulatory, eliminative, digestive, glandular, nerve, and muscular with an emphasis on mental strength.

A black belt in Oyama full contact karate and a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt under John Machado, roughly 40% of Dr. Goldman’s practice are martial artists. Each week will check in with the man BJ Penn credits with fixing his neck and Bas Rutten believes put an end to his asthma.

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.— Twenty-one-years-old, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Eddie Bravo and the owner of a 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu affiliate gym in San Francisco, Denny Prokopos is just getting started.

It wasn’t long ago that Prokopos met Dr. Goldman, but it seems like a lifetime ago. The positive, energetic grappler says he met the doc at time when, “I had a negative outlook on life.” Prokopos had blown out his right knee wrestling, tearing his meniscus and damaging his LC, MCL, and ACL. He could barely walk let alone train. And just a few weeks ago he he hurt his neck doing muay Thai and when he woke up in the morning, he couldn’t sit up. In both instances, Dr. Goldman got the prodigious jiu-jitsu artist back on the mats.

“Dr. Pete’s one of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever met in my life. That guy inspires me in so many ways. He’s an amazing healer and he’s one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. I’ve never heard that dude say a bad thing about anything,” says Prokopos. At such a tender age, it’s hard to imagine Prokopos has the life experience to have met many great people, but this is a grappler who has been sought out for training by legends such as Frank Shamrock and Randy Couture.

“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be fighting. That’s the truth,” adds Prokopos, who has been teaching since he was 14.

Prokopos was part of San Francisco’s hard line gi jiu-jitsu community before aligning himself with Bravo. A part of the controversial no-gi and rubber guard movements, Prokopos shares his instructor’s pro-marijuana stance. And for all the negative attention each position attracts, Prokopos has a counter.

“I know we get a lot of positive [attention] but I know we get a lot of negative [attention], but I focus on the positive,” he says, citing results are all that matters. “I’ve learned that from Dr. Pete. I’ve learned that from Eddie too.”

Fresh off of his no-gi nationals victory, the recently promoted black belt plans to fight in mixed martial arts. He’s had three amateur bouts, all wins coming by submission. But he admits there were no strikes on the ground and taking up fighting is a full-time occupation he’s not ready for. He is busy settling his personal life and building his school. Still, he absolutely wants to test himself in the cage or ring.

“When I fight, I fight to win. If I’m gonna do something to be the best at it or else there’s no point in me doing it. I can’t get up and train and think I’m not gonna be the best,” he says. It’s something he’s learned over these past few formative years. When he feels all-or-nothing “about MMA, then that’s when I’ll get into it.”

Enthusiastic and studious about everything he does, Prokopos calls on his Zone Healing studies to elaborate.

“The concepts that you have or something that you hold in your head manifest in your physical reality,” he says, “So I would say the most important thing I learned from Pete is how to monitor my thoughts and that goes way beyond jiu-jitsu.”

(Dr. Pete catches Prokopos in a twister. Photo by Danny Acosta.)

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