Seagal was recently on “The Voice” for a for a full hour interview. All in all, it was pretty entertaining and if you can use your internet skills or Tivo’d it, its worth a watch.
Seagal talked about his training history, his time in Japan, getting into movies etc. This part is pretty cool – Seagal is a legit aikidoka and has some depth in traditional martial arts. At one point, he mentions that Lyoto Machida’s dad is a bit envious of his trainers and vice versa.
Steven alludes to having to use his skills “hundreds” of times, also suggested that he may have actually used the cue-ball-in-the-bandana weapon (from his movie Out for Justice). Moreover, he jabs at Micheal Jai White and Jean Claude Van Damme (The Voice asks if they are real martial artists and he responds, “Can I laugh in your face?”). He does give a nod to Jet Li and a begrudging acceptance of Chuck Norris as a “tough guy”.
On the Judo Gene Label story – where Gene chokes out Seagal and Steven poops his pants – Steven says it is hogwash and Gene’s a liar. I’m not normally with Seagal’s worldview, but the choke-crap-caper is a bit too … mythical? Much like Steven’s magic powers.
On training Lyoto an Anderson Silva: his official record is that one of Anderson’s guys phoned him, knowing about Seagals “lethal stuff”, and started teaching him. Yes, he acknowledges that people have seen the front kick, but they way he teaches it is different in some important [mystical?] ways. I’m totally going to write a whole post about this front kick.
On being one of the first Mixed Martial Artists; sure he was studying all sorts of different systems and mixing it up, but so were thousands of other guys. The notion that MMA is somehow new doesn’t fly with him; Seagal also makes distinctions between fighters, warriors, athletes and true martial artists.
Seagal acknowledges that he’s made some good movies and some terrible movies; he’s not too broken up about admitting that; this seems like a pretty grounded thing to say, +1 to you Steven.
Seagal thinks that he may be faster now than he was a two decades ago; – 1 to you Steven.
Of all the things he’s done, he seems to enjoy helping people – especially with his law enforcement and humanitarian work.
In summary, if you hate the guy, you’ll find plenty more to latch onto. If you like him, you’ll find enough here to substantiate that too. Personally, I like the guy. He’s weird, exaggerates and is a bit deluded – but he really does love traditional martial arts and is both knowledgeable and passionate.
On the bizzaro spectrum, Steven Seagal is more normal than Mayhem Miller and Bob Arum, but crazier than Diego Sanchez and Tito Ortiz.
I just watched something that was informative, funny, and freaking sweet. Weighing in at just over two hours, Joe Rogan “interviews” Bas Rutten and lets him just run off with the mic – much to the listening pleasure of all. You may or may not like Joe Rogan, but everyone should be a Bas Rutten fan. (Warning: these boys can get pretty raw, and this mature content is not for all audiences)
Anyway, since you may not have the attention span, nor the time to listen to it all, I’ll give you the recap. In no particular order:
Bas sounded off on his experience in kick boxing, MMA, and fighting in Japan; we think MMA is big now when 15,000 people show up to a UFC even; in the heyday of Pride, these events were selling out in Japan with 40, 50, and even 70,000 raving fans in attendance. Things were nuts over there, and I’m not sure we really understand that nowadays.
Bas as a kid overcame some serious physical adversity; he had these intense asthma attacks that would last for days and days where he would gasp for air for every breath. Like many of his opponents, he punched them in the face hundreds of times until they were subdued. Also, he had some serious eczema.
Due to his experiences in lung stricture and subsequent training, he now has a product called the O2 trainer (o2trainer.com) – like a snorkel with different modular hole sizes – which may help you develop some lung power.
Bas got in some crazy bar fights in Europe. Super crazy.
Bas ended his fighting career mostly due to pain and injury – sounded like some pretty gnarly stuff – tendinitis, etc.
Bas loves training and competing, it is a pleasure to him.
He spoke liberally about transitioning into his sport commentating role.
He and a buddy learned from tapes in their garage – he was mostly self taught. Pretty bad ass.
I have been thinking about what would help novice student become well-rooted in martial arts. My students up at the U of U have taught me a great deal, and I have a few things that could be of use to them and all beginning students.
Relax, relax, relax. There is a tendency to substitute strength for technique – especially since at the beginning of your training career you have very little of it. When sparring, the lack of experience and control tenses up your body and often makes guys go ape crazy. Breathe, have positive self talk, use mantra’s ,do visualizations before class. Whatever it takes.
A tight fist can hold nothing; a relaxed hand can accept.
Safety is a no brainer – if you plan to train in martial arts for any significant length of time, you are at continual risk of injury and disease. The healthier and safer you remain, the more fruitful and long lived your training.
Take your personal safety, and that of your training partners dead serious. When you get injured, you stop training. You get sick? Training stops. You hurt your team members? People will shy away from practicing with you.
So how do you stay safe? For starters, see above. Relax. Second, take care of yourself. Get to bed on time, eat your veggies, don’t push yourself beyond your limits. Third? Pay attention to the safety pointers your Sensei brings up.
Instructors love it when you ask questions, even more so when they are thoughtful questions. Don’t just ask to see a technique again – go deeper. Ask about the fundamental principles at work. Ask why the move works.
Also, the instructor cannot read your mind – if you have difficulty with something, bring it up. At the same time, be respectfully curious – think about your questions before hand. When you are practicing at home, ponder what would be a good question. People say that there are no dumb questions, but this is because “they” are idiots. Of course there are dumb questions – questions that are usually blurted out with no thought. Don’t let this discourage you though – “they” and “we” were all idiots at one time. Nice people will forgive you and help you in spite of it. Still, use your brain; craft good questions and imagine someone else asking you the same thing. What would you say to them?
Invest in a notebook dedicated to your martial art study. Write down what you learn, draw stick figures and diagrams. Write down questions about techniques and make a list of the top three things you are developing.
At the beginning, you are a kid at a candy store. So many awesome, sweet things to learn and do. Knife-fighting defense, rubber guard, advanced sweeps, five point palm exploding heart technique. So much!
The aphorism, “Keep it simple stupid” is a great frame of mind. A master of the basic, fundamental moves and ideas of his or her martial art is a true master. When ever you can, focus on the core concepts and basics.
The most common question I have heard while training is, “Well, what if the guy does this?” “Or this?” Such queries are well-intentioned, but often take an instructor so off topic that it becomes difficult to remember the move you were once learning and the new move that answers the question. There are thousands of things an opponent might do, and there are thousands of techniques to deal with each of them.
I know its tough, but be satisfied in learning one move and learning it well. Save variations on a theme for later. As I have been told numerous times, better to have five techniques you can really fight with than to have five hundred techniques that fight you. Don’t be a collector of techniques. Become a student of the essence of a move.
Practice the basics, over and over again. Advanced stuff is typically just an expression of a well-honed fundamental.
Keep it simple, and keep going.
I love martial arts. I love love it. Chances are, you’re getting pretty found of it too. Talk about it with your friends, practice with them. Invite your friends to class (if its okay with your instructor). A large part of the pleasure of training will come from the relationships you develop in the gym and the relationships you bring into the gym. If you train with a buddy, you can motivate each other and build each other up. When you are tired or lazy, your true friends will coax you into training anyway.
No need to force it on anyone, of course, but if you like it why wouldn’t you want to experience it with the people you love?
“Hey, I just learned an awesome move. Can I practice it with you for two minutes? I’m just a novice at it, so I need to go really slow.”
I had the chance to catch up with my Jiu Jitsu instructor, Eddie Edmunds of Team Fusion Academy. For those who don’t know him, Professor Edmunds is a very technical black belt under Professor Pedro Sauer and a superb teacher. In fact, Eddie began studying under Professor Sauer in 1992, longer than any other affiliate instructor.
We shot about 30 minutes of video to accompany this interview and I have put some clips throughout this post. (I also released some of the footage in my post about z guard.) If you want to see the whole thing, you have two options. You can download it in high quality (614 meg) by right-clicking “save as” with this link: Bart and Eddie.wmv . Or you can view it in pieces on my youtube channel here.
Bart: Thanks Eddie for talking with me. I know you’ve been around martial arts for a long time – tell me a little bit about your background in martial arts.
Eddie: Thanks for the opportunity to speak with you Bart. Although I studied Karate and Kung Fu, the first martial art that I truly loved and enjoyed was Jeet Kune Do, Kali and western boxing under a master named Dan Berry. Dan Berry learned JKD and Kali under Michael Moore who was a direct student of Dan Inosanto. He was and still remains the most combatively oriented martial artist i have ever known. Only someone who trained under Dan can tell you what I mean. His capability with the stick and empty hand was second to none. Dan was not only a master, but an innovative genius.
Dan Berry was an assistant instructor at the Hawkeyes wrestling club under Dan Gable – so he already had some pretty decent grappling experience. Well, there was a seminar in Utah with Rickson Gracie and Pedro Sauer. Dan Berry went down there and came back blown away.
He got tapped by Rickson over and over. It was shocking to him as Dan had good grappling skills. However, there were no strikes involved in this match. If there were, I believe the outcome would have been different.
So Dan comes back and tells all of us that we will need to get a blue belt under the Gracies in order to get a black belt under him. He was that converted. It was Dan Berry who introduced us all to Pedro Sauer, and that was my induction into the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Bart: Every time you talk about your Jiu Jitsu lineage, I can feel the admiration and respect you have for Pedro Sauer. For those who don’t know him personally, can you explain to us why you call him “Professor” and why having a black belt under him is special?
Eddie: Over the years, chess masters have been studied because of their encyclopedic knowledge of looking at a chess board and need to make the right moves to win the game. Pedro Sauer definitely has an encyclopedic memory of chess moves. The quality that distinguishes him from a chess master is that he is actually doing something against a physically resistant opponent – while the chess master performs in the cerebral domain and can just move a chess piece without concern for the opponent resisting. Jiu Jitsu is much different. The Jiu jitsu expert performs in the cerebral and the physical domain, and this is a huge difference between chess and jiu jitsu.
Pedro also comes to the mat with personal instruction from Helio Gracie, the father and founder of Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He received his black belt under Helio but he also earned a black belt from the Jiu Jitsu god himself: Rickson Gracie. Pedro’s technical knowledge is second to none. He has details about details.
In addition, Pedro has the gift to take apart and put back together a move inside his head, so that he can watch someone do something and know immediately whether it is effective or not. Pedro is that rare breed of instructor who has trained with the best instructors in the world and has the specific capacity to analyze Jiu Jitsu like a scientist would to make it better and more efficient.
Bart: To return a bit to your experience in martial arts, after training so long, how has studying Jiu Jitsu influenced your personal life and character?
Eddie: Out of all the lessons i have learned from Jiu Jitsu, the primary ones are first humility. There is always someone better and you will be tapping till the end of your life. The second is the work ethic. Jiu Jitsu taught me to really take the time and start to study, train and learn the art and not to skip steps. There are not shortcuts with Jiu Jitsu. You either put in the mat time or you don’t get to a high level; it doesn’t happen any other way. I would say those two things have influenced me the most. Third would be encouraging my team members. I like to see them improve and I really believe Jiu Jitsu can help people gain a measure of happiness and confidence as their skill grows. Team Fusion is made of of some of the best people I know and it is exciting to see it grow.
Bart: What kinds of things have you incorporated into the training focus and philosophy at Team Fusion Academy?
Eddie: One facet of the academy that I really try to promote is a team environment. My initial training with Pedro was like the wild west. I can’t tell you how many guys came into our academy Pedro would say something like “Eddie Edmunds my friend, I want you to go with this guy and go easy on him.”
That meant to tap the guy fast … as he wasn’t going to be nice to me.
Our training was technical but we had to prove Jiu Jitsu each week as people really doubted its effectiveness. Today, we still have guys come in to try and disprove Jiu Jitsu, but we try and be a little more gentle than the old days. I have gi and no gi classes and we teach takedowns in addition to the ground game. I believe this type of cross-training is very comprehensive for everyone.
Bart: You’ve trained with a lot of great guys and seen a lot of students progress through the ranks. In terms of Jiu Jitsu, what can you tell me about guys who become legitimately good vs the guys who just hover around the mediocre level? Off the top of your head, what are two or three things that separate the casual from the skilled?
Eddie: The guys who become very good – or even great – are individuals who learn from the best and consistenly train. Meet the best guys and learn from them. People like Saulo Ribeiro, Pedro Sauer, Cobrinha and Rickson Gracie all have different approaches to Jiu Jitsu – and it helps to learn from a variety of people. However, I’ll be truthful, the ideal way to learn is to roll with the best and have them coach you.
That is how Pedro Sauer got so good. He told me that he took privates from Rickson and they would roll and Rickson would correct him. In my opinion there is no better way to accelerate your game than to have that kind of coaching..
Outside of that, every person should have the five tools of Jiu Jitsu: a notebook, video camera, qualified instructor, cross training and thought. I say thought because you don’t’ become great unless you sit down and really think about Jiu Jitsu. Study and analyze your game. Analyze a match and try to discern how individuals are finding leverage. Rickson asked many, many questions in his quest for becoming better at the gentle art and I never forgot that.
Bart: As a black belt, how does the jujitsu game change vs your approach as a white or blue belt?.
Eddie: My approach to Jiu Jitsu as a black belt versus a white belt is radically different. For some guys they may say it isn’t, but I learned Jiu Jitsu much differently because I was a product of the times. Pedro was right out of Brazil and the Gracies wanted to prove the effectiveness of Jiu Jitsu. We were always training hard and going for the kill. At least I was.
Bart: Thanks so much Eddie, I’ve enjoyed chatting with you. Before we close, how can people get contact and train with you? Also, who else do you have teaching down at Fusion?
Eddie: Our website is www.FusionBJJ.com . We are located at 650 East, Wilmington Avenue (2180 south) in Salt Lake City, Utah.
We have three black belts teaching at our school: Gustavo Rodrigues (Carlson Gracie), Mike Colby (Walt Bayless) and Eddie Edmunds (Pedro Sauer). We also have great assistant instructors Tony Ventrano and Noah Jenkins as well.
Bart, thank you for the opportunity for this interview. I appreciate you being one of the members of Team Fusion and you are one of the students who works hard and is constantly learning and trying to improve. I appreciate you taking the time to do this.
John McKean (left) and I chilling after some training at FusionBJJ
Salt Lake City is a fascinating place. For our population, we have an incredible amount of MMA goodness: fighters, trainers, gyms, venues … we’re pretty stacked. I have been fortunate to meet a number of them and I wanted you to be able to get to know them too. Namely, I had a chance to catch up with local fighter John McKean, and ask him a few questions.
SLCMMA: Tell me a little bit about your background in martial arts.
John: I started training BJJ in 1998 in New Orleans, La. I was living in Mississippi at the time, so me and a friend made the journey a few times a week to train. A few years later we opened up a “school”. I use that term loosely because we trained everything from batting cages to Karate. At the time, we used books and VHS tapes to learn and no one in Mississippi even knew what BJJ or MMA was. My friend attended a seminar with Professor Pedro Sauer and shortly after we became affiliates of his. This was pure luck – or whatever you want to call it – because his JJ is some of the best out there. In 2004 we managed to get one of his top black belts, Allen Hopkins, to move to Mississippi and take over our school. Later in 2005, I lived in Brazil for 6 months training with Royler Gracie. After coming home from Brazil I decided to move to SLC to train with Professor Sauer and start fighting MMA. Since then, I have been traing Muay Thai, MMA, and wrestling.
SLCMMA: With all of your influences in jujitsu, what can you say about your fighting style? Do you focus on winning fights on the ground?
John: I want to finish the fight by whatever means necessary. The ground is were I am most comfortable but I love the whole stand up game, and really, I enjoy every aspect of it. My goal is to be the most well rounded fighter I can be.
SLCMMA: So what was it that initially made you want to compete in MMA?
John: As soon as I saw UFC fights in the 90′s I wanted to do MMA. I did sport JJ for many years and MMA felt like a natural progression. Although sport JJ and MMA are very different, I think competing sport JJ helped me a lot in the cage. I also wanted to test myself to see if I could apply what I had learned.
SLCMMA: How did you first get into your MMA fight?
John: SLC has a weekly fight show called the UCE. All I did was contact them and they put me on a card. (Check here at Ucombat’s website to find out more)
SLCMMA: What advice could you give guys who are looking to get into MMA, either as a hobby or as potential professional? Also, how might their approach and training differ?
John: First off, find a gym that fits your personality. We are very fortunate to have many MMA gyms to choose from so finding one that fits you is important. Don’t be in such a rush to get in the cage either.
Take the time and learn the arts, roll with guys that just do JJ, box with guys that just box, and then put it all together. Fighting should be the reward form training hard. So many people wanna skip all the work and just jump in the cage, and those people are the ones who get hurt or are only around for a short time.
The main difference in a person doing it for a hobby or someone who wants to compete is time and hard work. A fighter is gonna eat sleep and breathe fighting – there is always something you can be working on. I train 5-6 days a week because I don’t want to lose. If you’re doing it for a hobby and want progress, at least 2-3 days will get you there. The thing with martial arts is the more you put into it the more you get out. You can’t say that for a lot of things in life.
Don’t forget to have fun either.
SLCMMA: I’ve rolled with you a number of times and something I’ve noticed is that you have a very clean open guard and just a difficult guard to pass in general. What are some of the things that you’re doing to keep control, guard-wise?
John: I try and move my hips a lot. Your goal is to control my hips so I have to make it hard to do that by moving them. Its hard to control something that’s moving compared to something that is still. I also use my hooks a lot … but most importantly I got my ass kicked by a lot of good guard-passers.
SLCMMA: What are a couple of your favorite moves in the ring?
John: Anything that works. For submissions, I like chokes. I also like arm locks but they are hard to get if the guy is slippery from sweat.
SLCMMA: When you hit the gym to prepare for a fight, what kind of stuff do you do technique-wise?
John: Once I start training for a fight learning new stuff is put to the side. I try and focus on sharping my overall game and working hard on my weaknesses. Every fight is different so I might concentrate on one specific aspect, depending on the opponent. I also up the cardio and reduce the heavy weight lifting.
SLCMMA: Now in terms of that physical aspect of the game, I know you train down with the guys at Gym Jones. They train a number of fighters and are pretty hardcore dudes. (Gym Jones trained the cast of the Spartan 300 ) Could you sound off a little about the training philosophy there and what kind of workouts are they putting you through?
John:Mark and Lisa Twight have helped me so much, both with training and life in general. One of Mark’s things is mental toughness. He has a way of making work outs both mentally and physically hard. This is very important for a fighter, being able to continue to work hard when things get tough. We do a lot of Olympic lifts, circuits, kettlebells, rowing, and the king of all cardio machines the Airdyne bike. Mark has a gift for putting all this together in a scientific way to help us as fighters.
SLCMMA: What about nutrition?
John: This topic is just as important as learning grappling or boxing, its something you need to keep in mind 24/7. I fight at 155 but walk at between 170 and 180. So this means as fight time comes I have watch what I eat. I try not to eat past 7 and eat lots of fresh fruit and raw veggies. I am also not a big supplement person, and try to be as natural as possible.
SLCMMA: What are some of your long term goals when it comes to MMA?
John: I am 35 so I have no real plans to be the next UFC champ. I just want to fight and have fun doing it. The sport and the lifestyle are very rewarding, so the goal is to stay healthy and compete as long as possible.
SLCMMA: When is your next fight, and what can we do to support you?
John: I am looking for a fight right now, so I don’t have an exact date. Before then, come and check out some of the gyms I train at. I do my main training at the Bernales institute of martial with WIll Beranles. He has a strong Muay Thai background and BJJ black belt – he really helps my overall MMA game. I teach BJJ there on Thursday nights. I also roll with the killers at Unified Jujitsu in Sandy – Johnny Carlquist and James Gardner. The BJJ black belts in that group are some of the best in the US. I occasionally train with Eddie Edmunds and the guys at Fusion BJJ, and they are always great to train with. My friends at Mushin, Brian Yamasaki and Brandon Kiser have helped me tons. You cannot go wrong with any of these gyms, go check them all out.