Danji “DJ” Marvin | D-22292
by Brian Giboney
Danji “DJ” Marvin, D-22292, is an influential and safety-conscious AFF Instructor Examiner, Tandem Instructor Examiner and Coach Examiner who owns and runs The Ratings Center instructional ratings school. Marvin, along with co-host Nick Lott, also shares his enthusiasm and passion for the sport on Gravity Lab Radio.
Nationality: Japanese American
Marital Status: Married to the most wonderful human being, Valerie Marvin
Occupation: Owner of The Ratings Center, USPA Instructor Examiner and canopy coach
Pet Peeves: Dishonest people. Whether it is about your skydiving skills or life in general. Honesty helps promote growth. By lying you are only hindering the growth of your own skills, personal happiness and your relationship with others.
Pre-Jump Superstitions: Regardless of how many times I have checked my gear prior to the door light, I check my three straps and three handles (in order) one more time when I get up to move toward the door.
Life Philosophy: No regrets, our past is what makes us the people we are today. Learn from each and every moment.
Neat packer or trash packer? Neat packer
Hard opening or line twists? Neither, that’s why I pack neat
Jump Philosophy: We can learn from everyone, from the first-time jumper to a national champion. Always have an open heart and mind.
Company Name: The Ratings Center and Gravity Lab Radio
Sponsors: Cookie Helmets, Itandehui Skydiving Suits, Larsen & Brusgaard, Option Studios, Performance Designs, Skydive Spaceland–Houston, SSK Industries and Velocity Sports Equipment
Container: Velocity Sports Equipment Infinity
Main Canopies: Performance Designs Spectre 120 and Valkyrie 84
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs Optimum 126
AAD: Airtec CYPRES
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Spaceland–Houston
Year of First Jump: AFF in 1997
Licenses and Ratings: A-30163 and D-22292; AFF Instructor Examiner, Tandem Instructor Examiner, Coach Examiner
Total Number of Jumps: 8,400-plus
Tandems: 3,400 (approximately 500 of which are front rides) Camera: 1,500 AFF: 1,200 Course Practice and Evaluation Jumps: 900 Freefly: 700 Coach: 500 FS: 100 CF: 20 Wingsuit: 20 Demos: Five Balloon: Two BASE: Five
Largest Completed Formation: 36-way
Total Number of Cutaways: Three (one tandem, two sport)
Of all your skydives, does one stand out most?
Taking my sister on a tandem! I’ve always wanted to share my passion of skydiving with my family, and in 2013 that dream became a reality.
Who has been your skydiving mentor?
Mr. Jay Stokes! The greatest compliments I have received in the sport are about my similarities to my mentor, Jay Stokes. I strive to emulate Mr. Stokes, and having so many make this comparison lets me know I am on the right track. I cannot compare myself to Jay, but I will continue to chase the example he has set for so many jumpers.
What safety item do you think is most often neglected?
The parachute! The most important thing we can do on every skydive is land safely, yet most completely neglect improving their canopy skills. Hop-and-pops matter!
How did you become interested in skydiving?
The movies “Point Break,” “Drop Zone” and “Terminal Velocity” motivated me. I met Steve Barker during a traffic school class I was teaching. We spent the majority of that class with me asking questions about skydiving and what it would take for me to learn.
Do you have any suggestions for students?
Be humble and listen. Even if you think you know what you are talking about, listen to the others. They may say things in a way that deepens your understanding or changes your viewpoint altogether.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with and where would it take place?
Take my father on a tandem over the beach in Destin, Florida (one of my parents’ favorite spots in the world). My dad has a vertigo issue that prevents him from jumping, but I would love to share my passion with the largest influence in my life.
The toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving is:
Say “no” or “not yet.” We get excited and eager to do everything in the sport, but we need to remember to say “not yet” when things are above our skill or mindset. We have two choices: learn slowly or heal slowly.
Is there one jump you would like to do over?
There are no jumps I would like to do over. I have taken something away from every skydive. Sometimes it is a personal fulfillment and sometimes a learning moment. I cherish each jump as the unique experiences they are.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
While in freefall, what has been your strangest thought?
My 2,000th jump was a tandem. In freefall I thought, “Wow, I have 2,000 skydives … I gotta do laundry tonight.”
Do you have any suggestions for USPA?
We, as members, need to be more involved. Vote for your board of directors but find out who they are and what they truly stand for. Many of the directors do a great job and are still in touch with the sport. Are the people you are voting for active in the sport? Are they truly in tune with the jumpers they represent? Look at their actions, not their words. Are they helping make a difference and influencing growth, or are they filling a seat?
What has been your best skydiving moment?
Seeing those I have trained making such a large impact in individuals’ lives and throughout the communities they represent.
What has been your worst skydiving moment?
Making a low turn and leaving a large divot on the beach in Marco Island, Florida. We were doing a jump to show the city authorities we could safely jump onto the beach for a boogie. Despite me tearing my calf muscle, they allowed us to jump the next day (until another jumper landed in powerlines).
What is your motivation for running The Ratings Center?
To give back to the sport that gave me my life! Skydiving has made me the man I am today. I cannot thank the community enough for helping me grow as a person. Some would suggest that we do what we do to share this wonderful sport and our ability to fly. I believe that is the first step. If you spend enough time in the sport with an open mind, the growth you can achieve through skydiving and the people is endless.
What’s the best thing about the team you have assembled?
Passion! Each team member of The Ratings Center shows care and compassion above all else. The Ratings Center has become what it is today thanks to the team around me.
What are your future goals for The Ratings Center?
To continue to grow the community around us. I started TRC as a one-person company and never imagined doing anything more. In 2016, TRC opened up a second campus at Skydive Spaceland–Dallas [in Whitewright, Texas] and that growth opened my eyes to the larger impact The Ratings Center team can have. We will be offering tandem instructor and coach courses in Spanish with a great lady, Erendira Sanchez, traveling to help those countries who do not have the opportunity to travel and learn. I do not have any other campuses immediately in the future, but I am watching for the right opportunity to expand.
Explain DJ Marvin in five words or fewer:
Passionate, caring, open, family oriented.