Ray Rodriguez is a fighter in every sense of the word. The 57-year-old martial arts champion-turned-teacher started having hip pain about five years ago and knew he had to do whatever he could to stay healthy. When he visited NYU Langone Health, he found he had severe arthritis, with bone scraping bone with each movement.
After a hip resurfacing procedure on his left side, Rodriquez still had lingering pain. He decided to visit Morteza Meftah, MD, clinical associate professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, at NYU Langone Madison Avenue Orthopedics for further evaluation. The pain had become especially intense after he was sparring with a student and got kicked in the hip. At that point, he started having pain just getting out of bed and could barely walk. He decided to have a full hip replacement on his right side to resolve the life-limiting arthritis pain.
Dr. Meftah performed the replacement using the Mako robotic-assisted platform, the most cutting-edge technology and leading robotic platform in total hip replacement. What was important for Rodriguez was that the device was able to simulate different movements like squats, which was essential to getting him back to normal teaching and mentoring activities.
“It was especially important that Ray left his surgery with the potential to regain his full range of motion,” Dr. Meftah says. “Ray and I were both thrilled with the results, which have allowed him to return to teaching and competing the same if not better than when he came in.”
Ray Rodriguez is “extremely grateful because I’m living a dream. I don’t think I would’ve been able to do the things I do with the hip pain.”
Now, Rodriguez is “extremely grateful because I’m living a dream.” He says, “I don’t think I would’ve been able to do the things I do with the hip pain.” One year after his hip replacement, he was awarded a fifth-degree black belt with the title “shihan,” which means teacher of teachers.
A Story of Hard Knocks
For Rodriguez, learning martial arts was a matter of survival. He moved to Manhattan’s Lower East Side as a child and was bullied every day by other kids, prompting his mother to get him into a boxing class, where his sister was learning as well. Since that day, he hasn’t looked back.
Rodriguez’s passion now lies in instructing and mentoring youth. He established a Hoboken-based nonprofit 13 years ago, the Amazing Truth Society, whose mission is to provide low-income communities with karate and guitar lessons, teaching them skills that support self-sufficiency and helping kids learn about anti-bullying. He is proud to have recently launched a special scholarship fund for kids in the program who are entering college, helping them pay for books and other school expenses.
A Passionate Mentor
As a mentor and a loving father, Rodriguez believes in helping kids learn how to set goals and meet them. “When you fall forward, you keep going forward and let nothing stand in your way,” he said. “I had to get hard knocks and lessons taught to me. But had all those things not happened to me, I wouldn’t be me.”