Saturday, April 19, 2014

Jayson Patino Interview - BJJ Expert

Jayson Patino is a black Belt in BJJ and Taekwondo. He has participated in extreme fighting championships and has a history of winning in high level BJJ matches. 

Tell us about yourself and your school.

My name is Jayson Patino and I am the Owner and Head Instructor of American Top Team East Orlando. I started training Taekwondo when I was five years old then wrestled in high school and college. I was a 2x NCWA All American in wrestling at UCF and a member of the US Grappling World Team. I fought MMA professionally and received my black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from Ricardo Liborio. I teach and train at my academy everyday and compete as much as I can. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is my passion. I love practicing different ways to submit people, its fun! Teaching has given me a way to pass on all the great benefits of training BJJ to my students. It is very rewarding seeing people achieve their goals and improving because of something you showed them. 

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What has been your biggest accomplishment to date? Why did it mean so much to you?

My biggest accomplishment is probably winning the 2009 ADCC North American Trials and competing with the best grapplers in the world at ADCC in Barcelona. This meant a lot to me because after training so hard for so long, I finally got some recognition. I had won several local and regional tournaments but this was my first big tournament win. 

You have won titles in Gi and No Gi brackets. Do you feel it's important to train one more than the other to be expert in both?

I believe training in both gi and no-gi will make you the most effective grappler. My first three years of training were all no-gi. Once I put the gi on it was much harder to submit people who knew how to slow me down using the gi grips. Learning the intricate details of gi will help make you more technical. Then training no-gi will help improve your ground game without relying on the grips of the gi. This mix of both has really helped me through the years. 

We have heard to points of view. One being, "BJJ is the greatest martial art in the world for self defense." and the other, "Being on the ground in a real fight is the worse place to be in." What is your philosophy about these statements?

In terms of self defense, BJJ is definitely one of the most effective martial arts. There are so many variables in self defense situations though, that a mix of multiple martial arts like Muay Thai and BJJ would be the MOST effective way to defend yourself. 

In response to people who say being on the ground during a real fight is the worst place to be in: If there are multiple people attacking you,  then yes, I agree. Your objective should be to defend and escape. In a one on one fight situation though, BJJ is a very effective way to defend yourself and subdue an attacker. In addition to teaching techniques that focus on angles and leverage over strength, BJJ also focuses on staying calm and relaxed. The ability to remain focused and not allow emotions or adrenaline to overwhelm you during a stressful situation can be very useful. 

What do you feel is the most under-utilized technique in BJJ? Taekwondo? Muay Thai?

The most under-utilized technique in BJJ is probably takedowns. Most higher level jui jitsu players want to pull guard and try to sweep or submit instead of working for a takedown. This is actually a very smart strategy but it leaves many jiu-jitsu players with bad takedowns. 

The most under-utilized technique in Taekwondo is protecting your chin. Students are taught to throw punches and bring your fist back to your waist instead of back to your chin. Sparring with experienced fighters really exposes this hole. 

The most under-utilized technique in Muay Thai is probably elbows. Elbows are great close range weapons that can cause serious damage. 

How can someone tell if their local BJJ school is any good?

You can tell if a local BJJ school is good by looking at the instructor's credentials, students' accomplishments and by trying classes there. Ideally, a good academy will have an instructor with decent achievements as well as having produced technical students. Sometimes there are great competitors out there that are not as good at teaching. Trying classes at an academy will let you see the instructor's teaching style, their class structure and let you get a feel for the atmosphere. Training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a lifestyle and long term commitment. You want to make sure you are comfortable with the people you will be training with over the next few years.

What are your thoughts on instructional videos being available for free online?

Instructional videos being available online is a great resource for students worldwide to improve their game. I have watched several instructionals online and post my own instructional videos on YouTube as well. 

If you never win matches at your home gym, do you feel it is still important to attend tournaments? Why?

If you are never winning matches in your academy it is probably not a good idea to compete in a tournament  (unless you are a beginner and have all advanced training partners). Confidence plays an important role in your performance. If your confidence is already low from constantly losing during training, it could get worse if you lose in competition in front of an audience. This could turn someone off from wanting to train BJJ and ultimately cause them to miss out on all the benefits training has to offer. Practicing more and improving your weaknesses before entering in a competition would be a better idea. 

Visit Jayson and American Top Team for more information.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mike Moh Interview - Martial Artist

Mike Moh is a 4th degree black belt in Taekwondo. He has played  in multiple TV series and is also known for his stunt work. You can see Mike in the upcoming firm Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist as Ryu.

What did you enjoy most about your Taekwondo competitions when you were younger?

I really enjoyed the opportunity to showcase the skills I had been working hard to improve on in my training. It was also a very friendly environment and still am friends with many of the kids I competed with!

Are the flips and twist normally taught in Taekwondo? If not, how did you learn them?

No flips and twists are normally taught in traditional taekwondo. However, the high flying/spinning kicks that taekwondo is known for make transitioning into "tricks" much easier than other martial arts styles. I learned how to do tricks by teaching myself with the help of online videos and going to open gym sessions at gymnastics facilities.

When you were filming with Jackie Chan. Did you ever hear him say something in person that has stuck with you after all this time?

It was more of what he did than what he said. Even though he's one of the world's biggest movie stars, on the set he was sweeping the floor, running around like crazy working very hard to help out the production. He ate meals alongside everyone else and even shared his chicken with me! He's a hard worker and very very down to earth.

Has your degree in Marketing helped you develop your acting career? If yes, how so?

My college experience helped me as an actor as it taught me about life and how to live on my own and be responsible. For me, acting is all about drawing from personal experiences and translating those experiences into your character. 

Many martial artists start off with stunt work. Do you feel this is a good way to get started?

Everyone has their own path. For me, my background in martial arts helped me get acting agents immediately so I was fortunate to book work in TV and commercials right away since my main goal was to be an actor not just martial artist. Others prefer to stick to stunts or use stunts to transition into acting.

What do you feel was the number one difference between making it as an actor and never being signed after your first role?

Staying positive was my key to success. No matter how talented you are, actors will hear NO many many many times. The actors that can stay positive and continue working hard will end up landing roles that will lead to a prolonged career.

You recently had a spot on Castle, one of our favorite shows. How did you get that spot? What was it like being on the show?

Since I no longer live in Los Angeles, my agent had me video tape an audition. Thankfully, they really liked my audition and after a few days I flew to LA and filmed the show! Working on the show with actors like Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic was pretty intimidating and I was nervous! However, they were very kind and easy to work with and I had a blast working with the Castle crew!

Is there anything we can hope to see you in, in the future?

Besides Street Fighter:Assassin's Fist coming out next month on Machinima, I also have a really cool short film called "The Man from Death" coming out later this year. I play a diabolical villain!

Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

Stay positive, train hard, and eat your vegetables.

Mike, thank you for taking time out to answer our questions. We look forward to seeing your upcoming TV appearance. 

Be sure to visit Mike's website to learn more about his career. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Interview with Kevin Secours - Systema Expert

Kevin Secours B.Ed. is one of North America's foremost specialists in Russian Systema. Kevin was long renown for his concise grasp of Systema and his innovative approach to sharing his knowledge. He has published some of the first and most comprehensive articles on the subject. He has been featured in numerous DVD's including his own best-selling combat series, and taught Systema on 5 continents. In 2010, Kevin formed The International Combat Systema Association to more fully represent his continuing evolution and understanding of the Russian martial arts.

What makes Russian Systema different from Krav Maga?

Systema is often equated to Krav because they are both military hybrids but beyond that they do not have much in common. Krav focuses more on aggressiveness and is about moving forward. They prioritize sweeping 360 degree blocks and direct pressure and a small arsenal of simple high probability techniques. SYSTEMA by comparison advocates a lot of breath work to help keep a high degree of relative relaxation and emphasizes on biomechanical efficiency. It emphasizes yielding rather than pressure and adaptability rather than memorization. Epistemologically, it actually the polar opposite.

What is the difference between what you teach and what a pure Russian Systema school will teach? 

What I teach (combat SYSTEMA) is my interpretation. SYSTEMA is a hybrid that was created in the 1930's but various teachers relay their version as if it has achieved perfection. I believe that no one or one system has all the answers and the definition of a hybrid is that it is constantly evolving. Evolution is a process not an end result. It should never stop shifting and integrating. I have no interest in trying to be Russian. I am a westerner and this necessarily leads to a different interpretation. I have profound previous experience and I will not forsake this either. I would expect no less of any student that trains with me. I advocate cross training and individual realization.

You have expertise in Goshinbudo. Can you tell us about this style and what it's strengths and weaknesses are?

Goshinbudo literally means self defense. It is all about survival and fighting. There are various schools of goshinbudo in the world but they are generally based on jujitsu in some respect. Our approach is all about getting home alive. It is very strong in it's principles, and like everything that we teach. I modify and adapt it so I am always trying to plug up its weaknesses. The key for us is to pressure test and then to observe and accept what we discovered to make the necessary changes.

We are also very interested in your expertise in Five Animal Shaolin Chuanshu. Many people claim animal styles are strictly for Hollywood. What are you thoughts on this? Can they be used successfully in real life combat? Can they be successfully applied in real life combat?

I can't speak to whether or not five animal work is purely Hollywood or not. It certainly weighs heavily in marketing. There was some good material in it. I certainly still favour a lot of gouging which I was first introduced to there, but I was working as a doorman when I used to teach it and literally had one encounter one night wherein I realized I was never using the style in application and was always reverting to my jujitsu; so I came in the next day and told my crew I couldn't teach it any more in good conscience. We haven't really used it very much since that day; save for as a basis of comparison and important life experience. There are strong advocates out there who could speak to it's value far better than I could.

What was the last 3 things you learned with martial arts?

The last three things I learned with martial arts:

First being an observation I made about hip movement with firearms when working with a defensive tactics friend of mine--it was one of those things he was doing without realizing it, just torquing the hip as he moved his eyes. Very subtle but a light bulb went off.

Second, I had to work through a lower back pull recently during one of the most hectic schedules ever, and it taught me a lot about isolating my core and moving on what was essential.

Third, we had a situation with a homeless guy shooting up heroine in the stairwell of the downtown office building where my dojo was and I had to bounce him out. It was late, I was tired and wasn't expecting him naturally and after the fact I was quite ramped up and I used a variation of staggered breathing (inhaling in this case in 6 increments and exhaling in 6) afterwards to calm myself down and realized firsthand just how effective it was for me.

Those have been the big three from the last few weeks.

What inspires you to be better next year than you are today?

I am inspired by everything. My son is a huge factor because he is only four and I want to be alive and healthy as long as possible to share everything that I know firsthand. My students are another huge factor because I want to feed those that are hungry and lately I have been on a real mission to get a lot of info out. There is just so much bad instruction out there. That alone is motivating.

What is your favorite quote? Why does it apply specifically to your life?

My favourite quote is from Rumi--the first obligation of the teacher is to destroy the idol the student would make of them. I try constantly to advocate critical thinking and to get rid of fantasy and worship and wishful thinking in the dojo. Ego is a life waster. I just want honest sharing.

Here's a hypothetical situation. All government has broken down and it's chaos in the world. You are only able to have 3 weapons and no firearms. What would they be and why?

My apocalypse backpack is already packed-- cold steel karambit is the first go-to. It is my favorite for hand to hand. Great leverage and cutting capacity. It fits naturally with my fighting approach. Second would be a good quality Kuhkri. My ka-bar is in my bag right now. It doubles for an axe for bushcraft and can hack a path through anything and even throws well. Third would be my tomahawk. You can hook or smash or hack. I double it up with the karambit for optimal zombie mayhem. It deploys quickly, works well in close combat or at a distance, again can be thrown easily and is super durable and still effective if you forgot to pack a sharpening stone.

What new projects can we expect to see from you in the next 5 years?

The next five years will see a lot of growth in my online learning site It will see the launch of a instructional DVD series with a major US provider. It will see continued stunt and choreography work in the entertainment industry as early as this year. It will see a reduction in travel and seminars with focus on home life. It will also see a lot more written material and hopefully a continued growth in my own training and teaching.

Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

Final words would just be to trust your gut and to always choose teachers over styles. If something doesn't feel like the right fit, keep looking. You are the best expert on you. Don't be told otherwise.

Thank you Kevin. We really enjoyed reading about you and your journey.  Your advise is greatly appreciated by a number of our readers and we will continue to follow your progress and your journey.

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