Mike Henninger is one of 10th Planet Bethlehem’s purple belts and started training at Bethlehem about 3 years ago, when they were still at the old location. He originally got into training jiu jitsu because one of his sons had started karate around the age of 14 and he never wanted his son to be able to kick his ass. With that said, he wasn’t particularly interested in karate, so instead him and his son both started grappling with wrestlers in the basement of the building where his son’s karate classes were held in about 2008. Mike continued to work with this same group of wrestlers for numerous years, but they were more focused on MMA generally whereas Mike had fallen in love with ground work and jiu jitsu. Realizing where his passion was, Mike started looking for a jiu jitsu focused school to improve his technique. He had already attended some open mats at 10th Planet Bethlehem and always found himself in bad positions when he rolled with the guys there. He also knew that Zach and JM were solid, so he began training at Bethlehem and has been there ever since.
Mike is really a perfect fit for the 10th Planet system and Bethlehem in particular, since Grace Gundrum and Eddie Bravo were at the top of his list of jiu jitsu heroes, along with the great Marcelo Garcia. Mike tends to specialize in chokes and some of his favorites include the d’arce choke, the Japanese neck tie, and the guillotine. Pretty much anything that also involves a brutal neck crank, Mike seems to be a fan of. As far as competitions go, Mike prefers submission only, like many of the 10th Planet team. Not only do his preferences fit with 10th Planet Bethlehem’s style, but he has become an integral part of the squad due to his consistent dedication to the mat.
At 47 years old, Mike is one of the older members of the squad, although you wouldn’t know that from looking at him or rolling with him. When he was only 19, his girlfriend at the time got pregnant and they had a baby boy when Mike was still 20. He was working 2 jobs and going to school trying to provide for his family, when he decided to go sign up for the army reserves with a friend. Once he got there though, unbeknownst to his family, he ended up just immediately joining active duty and served for 4 years before being medically discharged due to nerve damage in his shoulder. During his time in the army, he was initially supposed to be a morse code interceptor, but he did everything in his power to change his specialty before finishing basic training ended. They ended up authorizing him to go to Physical Therapy Tech School in Fort Sam Houston, TX. Eventually, he decided to change course again and started to go to school at night for accounting while he was on active duty, which the military readily paid for.
During his time training, Mike realized something was wrong when he was rolling and when he went to get checked out in December of 2008 he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Lot of people say that jiu jitsu saved their life, but Mike in particular takes that sentiment very seriously. After getting surgery that same month, followed by 5 years of barium CT scans, bloodwork and various other medical treatments, he was able to finally consider himself a cancer survivor and in remission. Mike now works as an accountant and owns his own accounting business, Summit Consulting Group, LLC. In addition to his own business, Mike also has a podcast called The Tattooed Accountant Podcast, where he talks about his journey as an entrepreneur and gives tips for others who are looking to try something new. You can check out his podcast on stitcher, Spotify and google podcasts. Mike has two adult sons, three adorable grandchildren, and is quite the family man.