Interview given in June of 2005 in the UK, for MAI magazine:
How and why did you first become involved in martial arts?
I was born with the interest, and my father put me in a Karate class finally when I was about 10. Later I boxed, and eventually started JKD. SBG started about 12 Years ago.
What’s your background in martial arts?
I really started training with boxing, and then eventually started BJJ about Ten Years ago.
Who have been your biggest influences in martial arts?
Can you describe briefly the concept of “aliveness”?
Aliveness is right action at right time. Which is always in the moment, and therefore cannot be planned. It is about timing. And it’s about authenticity, which has to be the starting point for anything really healthy related to the mind and body.
How much of a difference do training methods really make to the effectiveness of a martial art?
Only the total difference, and only always.
Are there people who your methods are more suited to than others? Perhaps some people would benefit more from a “gentler” way of training such as aikido for example?
Some people will benefit from a gentler form of training. But then you have to ask, training in what?
If the person wants training in a martial art because they also hope to achieve some increased ability at self defense, or fighting skill, then what they are doing needs to be real.
And when I say ‘real’ I don’t mean that it has to come with some elaborate story about how amazing warriors of past times used it. That may be a cool story, but it has nothing to do with what we are speaking about. When I say real I mean the timing, energy, and motion have to real. I am not talking about choreographed skits.
You have said a lot to martial artists about aliveness and training methods. What about people who do combat sports? Surely they know all this already?
People can become great fighters, and have no idea how to teach, coach, or help others to achieve the same level. In fact, that can be quite common. So at one level everyone with common sense and even a moderate amount of self honesty knows that boxing is real, and many Martial Arts are completely silly… but to explain exactly why that is, that is another skill entirely. And one that is really needed.
What do you think are some of the positive and negative things about modern combat sports?
I think anytime we attach to any image as a form of self identity we will suffer. And as that form falls away, and they all do eventually, how much we suffer will depend completely on how willing we are to let go off it.
I think the ‘fighter’ image is no different.
Have your reasons for being involved in martial arts changed over the years? How?
My thoughts about why I seem to do what I do have changed. . as far as reasons, there could be Millions. I think we would like to believe that reasons might be a lot simpler then they actually are because that helps shrink the Universe a little for us. And maybe then it wont be so scary. But in reality, there is no way my mind could know all the reasons. I’d be dishonest if I said I did.
Is there anything you wish you’d known when you started training in martial arts?
If I say yes then I would be stating that somehow, someway, I regret part of the journey that I have been on so far. And the truth is I have no regrets. So I can’t say yes. If I say no, people may assume I am therefore saying that everyone should have to take the same journey I did. And I am not saying that. In truth, I seem to work pretty hard to help them make that journey a lot easier. And I think that is evolution.
What do you plan on writing in these pages over the coming months?
I want to talk about the main principles we try and teach at SBGi, Aliveness, adaptability, coaching, and training methods. But I am just guessing, who knows what I will write?