Ray Stevens - From Ground to Pound!

Ray Stevens is a former Judo Olympic Silver medallist 1992 and has a 6 th Dan red and white belt grade. He has had a long and distinguished career and is also the last male Judo competitor to win an Olympic medal for Great Britain.

He retired from competition in 1996 following the Games in Atlanta, USA, and decided to open his own Academy in Wimbledon to pass on his vast experience and knowledge.

Ray’s BJJ/Judo Academy is a really welcoming and friendly environment and caters for all ages from 4yrs – Adults.  BJJ classes are run 5 times per week and include No Gi on Friday’s. On a typical Saturday there are approximately 80 students throughout the day participating in the dojo!

Combat: How did you become interested in BJJ Ray?

RAY STEVENS: I became interested in BJJ when I met Mauricio Gomez and Roger Gracie while I was teaching Judo at the Budokwai in 2001.  Maurico, Rogers father, asked me if I could help improve his son’s stand up, as he was deficient in that part of his game.  I said it would be a privilege and this was the beginning of a great friendship where Roger and I exchanged our knowledge and techniques, my stand up for his groundwork. Subsequently Roger and Maurico decided to promote me to BJJ Black Belt, a huge honour to receive the belt from them personally”.

Ray explains how they continue to work closely together outside the dojo and when Ray decided to open his Academy in Wimbledon, he naturally affiliated the BJJ to the Roger Gracie Academy. 

Combat: I hear you now have your own brand of BJJ/Judo Gi’s; can you tell us more about that?

RAY STEVENS: In 2009 I formed my company Rei-gi after becoming disenchanted with so many ill-fitting gi’s and became the official supplier for Roger Gracie.  The gi’s are receiving great reviews and our speciality is bespoke gi’s for Academies...

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A Rose by Any Other Name - Bridging Two Cultures with Paper and a Smile

As you might remember a few issues ago I introduced a friend of my wife and mine, an unusual artist and performer by the name of Rose Park. You may also remember that you were informed that she will be coming to The Martial Arts Show Live in May. As her performances are anything but ordinary, I thought it may be a good idea to let you know what to expect from this unique figure in the Korean art world.

You are already a well-known figure in Korean art and literary circles. Do you have any international plans this year?

ROSE PARK: Of course! First and foremost is The Martial Arts Show Live in May. Immediately after that I come back to the International EXPO in Yeo-su (Korea). It will run for 3 months. My part will consist of fashion shows of my hanji (Korean paper) clothing and a variety of performances based on the basic theme of the ocean. Over 3,000,000 people from all over the world will be expected to attend the EXPO this year. Lastly in September in Kyeong-ju, an international pen club consisting of 300 to 400 famous writers from all over will meet an arts centre there. As part of the occasion I have been asked to have an exhibition of my work and perform as well. 15,000 people are expected to attend that event.

Have you been overseas before with your work?

ROSE PARK: Twice. The first time in Shanghai in 2009. The second, more recently in Manhattan in February of 2011.

Why did you choose this particular show out of all the others you get invited to?

ROSE PARK: It’s an easy but long answer. You see I believe England is the prolific symbol of European culture. It has the most well preserved heritage and culture. Also its royal family is so special. The world even shares it. In so many ways my culture and Britain’s share so many common points.

My country had a royal family but sadly we lost it some time ago. Actually I’m a descendant of King Baek-Huk Gu-Sae who founded the Shilla Dynasty (and ancient period in Korea’s history). I’m the 64th descendent of a 2000 year old family line. Coincidently my medium as an artist, hanji, has a 2000 year old history...

See Rose at The Martial Arts Show Live 2012 - May 12th & 13th, Birmingham NEC 

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Shaolin Warriors UK - The start of a year with a new Dragon

Matthew Ahmet featured in the May 2008 edition of Combat. Back then he spoke of being just 11 years old and watching the spectacular and at that time prestigious Chinese Shaolin Kung Fu show ‘Wheel of Life’ at Tottenham Court Road. Then, during school he felt he should be elsewhere and challenged further with his Kung Fu and he aspired towards training in China. With his persistence Matthew’s parents agreed to help fund one year of studying in the Shaolin Temple, China. After two years of hardcore training, for 8-10 hours per day, he was promoted to Coach in one of the training grounds. Then, Matthew began touring with the Shaolin Warriors in the Wheel of Life. Matthew feels extremely lucky to have journeyed in China and it has given him wisdom beyond his years.

“I don’t want my little brother, younger cousins, friends and in fact any youngster to become involved in the bad things that are becoming ever more common here. I know I can help and it is just about getting a bigger team that knows and understands what I am trying to achieve…. It is not about rushing, or trying too hard; everything happens at the right time and I am sure great things will happen; it’s just about waiting for the right time to come.”

In keeping with his philosophy and aspirations back in the UK Matthew has created his own Shaolin Temple in Hertfordshire, situated in the beautiful Lea Valley a few miles of North London. And he has quickly created a stir with the locals.

“We are lucky to have Matt in Cheshunt. Shaolin has become part of life for us; my son sees that being healthy is important. He wants to go to China at 16. We take each day as it comes. But, he never says he doesn’t want to go to training. I wish Matt could get more funding for the Temple because he is incredibly inspiring. I see the disaffected kids, taking drugs, stealing, this gang culture is closer to us than we’d like. I am glad Alex found this, his self esteem is boosted and he looks so cool. He is up before school every day at 6am training with his friends. It is teaching him about hard work paying off.

Shaolin with Matt shows the kids that you can pick your friends, and move onwards with similar motivations and goals. You don’t have to be angry at the world and carry a knife or have an attitude. That just makes you hate yourself more...

See The Shaolin Warriors UK at The Martial Arts Show Live 2012 - May 12th & 13th, Birmingham NEC 

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Introducing Grand Master Stephen Chang - The Face Everybody Knows!

 Who hasn’t sat in front of the TV and watched an episode of their favorite program and said “Hey I’ve seen him before in… (Insert various names)!”? No one ever thinks the “bad guy”, the consistent background characters and supporting actors are professionals in their own right with quite lengthy resumes to prove it. In action movies those professionals need to not only be able to act, but to fight and fight for the camera.

Asian entertainers seem to be the most stereotyped as they can be asked to portray any number of Asian ethnicities as if they are all exactly the same in appearance. A few however become legends after a time in their own right. This year Team TMAS Live has brought perhaps one of the most famous “co-stars” if you well in the TMAS Show in May. His name is Grandmaster Stephen Chang. You’ll be able to meet him along with the unique mix of other martial artists from around the world at the NEC in May. Don’t miss it. Here’s a glimpse into this renowned master’s mind…

How old were you when you started the martial arts?

Most people I tell them started at 5, because 4 is too young and 6… well they like to hear 5. People think that’s very honest. Unless you were born in a martial art family. You have to think “how” are you going to start at five? Unless you were born in an older time, but nowadays, if a kid is five years old they’d have them do something else like going to kindergarten or hockey or this or that. So, I would answer this question by saying I don’t know.  But as the eldest son (the eldest is very important) in the year right after WWII in the early 40’s. When our families’ seniors trained us in the mornings before we had breakfast I HAD to be there because I was the eldest… the inheritor… So I cannot tell you how old. It could be younger than 5. They wanted me to get into the mindset, into the spirit. That’s how they taught you. They didn’t teach you anything. They wanted you to watch.  Maybe I was watching at 2 or 3 or 4, I can’t tell you for sure. I was very young that’s for sure. After that, we were allowed to have breakfast.  After some time I was trained to balance on one leg with one hand above my head… like Buddha. I had to do this while watching. I didn’t know why. I didn’t like it. But after I grew up I realized if a human being can balance on one leg, how much better they can do on two legs. Later on, my uncle or someone like that, started to train me. Not my father. They didn’t believe in fathers teaching sons. My grandfather and great uncles were in charge...

See Stephen at The Martial Arts Show Live 2012 - May 12th & 13th, Birmingham NEC 

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Richard Norton - Alive, Well and Still Kicking!

In the martial arts film industry there really are only a few names that keep popping up over and over again. Then take into consideration those who are in hot demand time and time again as seminar instructors you have an even smaller list. Now take that minute group and pick out how many had work as bodyguards to some of the biggest legends in Rock music. One name comes up. Richard Norton.

My first introduction to him was in watching him as the mysterious masked arch-ninja in Chuck Norris’s only ninja film, the Octagon. It catapulted the tall Australian into HK and back into the international community. Even at 62 he is all muscle as if he was 35 again.

Upon interviewing him I found an extremely friendly, easy going gentleman with a smile broader than his impressive career. What follows is an abridged version of our conversation. As a youth I was a fan of Richard Norton the star, then the actor and now I am a fan of the man himself. I hope you’ll join me in welcoming him to Birmingham!

What got you started in the martial arts? What was your first impression?

A pure childhood interest really. I’ve often said the only thing we had in Australia at the time I became interested was pretty much Judo when it came to martial arts. Of course there was boxing. I used to go to see World Championship Wrestling. I was always interested in things to do with combat, but it was literally ads in the backs of comic books that intrigued me about Judo. I often said there was a mystic lure to the martial arts back then because nowadays there are no secrets anymore. Back then there were no videos or YouTube or anything else. So there were a little steeped in mysticism and I was very intrigued with that and it just so happened that a friend moved in opposite where I was living in Croydon, a suburb of Melbourne. He would disappear so many nights a week, so I asked him one time “Where are you going?” He said, “A Judo class.” “Oh cool! I want to come along.” So to make a long story short I went along and joined the club. I think I was 11. At the same time there was another friend from school who was doing Judo but also learning Karate from Mas Oyama’s book. He took me to his house, in his garage. He was breaking boards and all that sort of stuff. That absolutely intrigued me. His name was John Rowe and he told us there was a Karate school opening up 3 miles up from where I lived in Melbourne. So we went and had a look at that...

See Richard at The Martial Arts Show Live 2012 - May 12th & 13th, Birmingham NEC 

Read more in Combat magazine available from WH Smith, Borders and all good newsagents and don't forget to look out for the Digital Edition

Joe Lewis - The Forgotten Secret of the Martial Arts

Like so many others I grew up looking up to his image and reputation as a world champion, movie star, seminar instructor and trainer of champions. The one thing being a journalist has done is get me to see inside people like Joe and see what makes them tick.

In this case I was very pleasantly surprised. He holds nothing back. If you keep your eyes, ears and heart open he’ll share the world as he sees it with you.  He insisted we, as he put it, talked to each other as human beings. No “sir’s. He feels there’s so much B.S. in the martial art world with people either talking up to or down to each other. Not something you’d expect to hear from someone more senior in the fighting arts than most. He blames it on the influx of the fighting arts after WWII with people caring to much about where you are on the pecking order, rather than what should be going on during training.

As a journalist he taught me about using what’s in my heart and what’s in my mind. To go into everything I’ve learned from him the few times we talked would talk entire issue of this magazine.  What follows is a greatly abridged version of what he shared with me. To get more one really must meet him face to face in May! I know I will...

What kind of time did you have last year in Birmingham? Were your seminars well received?

Here’s my problem. I have no memory of doing a seminar in Birmingham. Birmingham? I went over there for a ceremony to receive some kind of Lifetime Achievement Award. I was a little disappointed it took me 3 months to get the thing. I went over there to see martial artists and so they could see me. Then we could start to communicate. That’s where the fun was. 

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t give a hoot about awards. I don’t give a hoot about titles. I don’t give a hoot about beating another martial artist. That’s not why I’m into martial arts. That’s very unimportant to me. I trained... I started as a little kid at 14 years old.

Let me go off the subject for a little bit here. God said, “Joe. Speed is for athletes that want to improve their accuracy.” That’s what you see martial artists working on. They’re trying to become fast and they’re trying to hit hard. To me... that’s pure garbage! I’ll say that to any black belt’s face that wants to argue with me...

See Joe at The Martial Arts Show Live 2012 - May 12th & 13th, Birmingham NEC

Read more in Combat magazine available from WH Smith, Borders and all good newsagents and don't forget to look out for the Digital Edition

The Greatest Show on Earth? - The Martial arts Show Live returns

Now regarded as THE martial Arts Expo event in the World of martial arts and as the ONLY annual martial arts event of its kind in the UK, The Martial Arts Show Live has, in just a few short years, created an experience that the entire martial arts World has taken to its heart. It would appear that the formula is one that you, the martial artist, likes and enjoys, if the smiles and happy faces are anything to go by.

Last year’s martial arts show attracted THOUSANDS of visitors, all of whom came to witness and experience firsthand, the many diverse styles of martial arts on display. There were quite literally hundreds of UK based senior martial artists present to share their knowledge, experiences and general skills with all present. This year’s event is set to be twice as big, twice as enjoyable and twice as kind on the pocket as a ticket to The Martial Arts show Live also grants you access to The MMA Show live taking place next door to TMAS LIVE over the same weekend. And if MMA is your thing, you can meet, greet and train with a huge selection of the World’s greatest martial artists!

However, when it comes to value for money, you will not find a match at any other event as once you are in the show, you can register to train with all the martial arts greats that are there to teach everyone and anyone that cares to attend the 112 seminars that will take place over the weekend. What’s more, you can watch hundreds of demonstrations, take part in the many Q&A sessions, watch interviews take place on the main stage and meet and have photographs/autographs with them all!

The NEC has once again been chosen as the venue and was chosen as it is central to the UK and has fantastic direct access from those that come from Europe too.

A key factor of the shows success lies in its ability to cater for dedicated enthusiasts as well as those visitors looking to explore new ideas for their Martial Arts development. It also provides, by design, a chance for everyone to meet up and collective celebrate the fantastic and diverse forms of martial arts that are on offer for the whole weekend...

Read more in Combat magazine available from WH Smith, Borders and all good newsagents and don't forget to look out for the Digital Edition

RECOIL - An Interview with Danny Trejo

A veteran of over 200 films with another 11 due for release this year, Danny Trejo is one of the hardest working and most recognisable actors in Hollywood. Danny recently took time out of his punishing schedule to speak to Combat Film’s Matt Duddy about his new film Recoil, working with De Niro and Pacino and the upcoming Machete Kills.

You have a new movie out called Recoil where you star as the head of a vicious motorcycle gang opposite Steve Austin, what can you tell me a little about the film?

Obviously its “Stone Cold” Steve Austin! (laughs) It’s a vicious motorcycle gang and we totally take over the town of Hope. Prior to taking over the town we have killed Steve Austin’s characters wife and daughter so he comes looking for revenge and gets it!

In Recoil you are involved in a savage fight in a ring with electrified ropes, showing that you still pack a mean punch, how much did you enjoy the fighting?

Those fights are fun because you are working with different actors but the fight that I enjoyed was the one with Steve Austin, simply because he knows how to fight so you can do so much more stuff. The fight we have is brutal, the most brutal fight I have ever seen in a movie. He is a professional fighter so it was easy to do what we wanted to do, myself and Steve were choreographing that fight as we went so it’s a scene that goes on and on and then we tie our hands together, it looked brutal!

Whose idea was it to bind your hands to each other?

It was Steve’s and I thought it was just brilliant, we just busted each other’s heads open, I kept asking the director if I could have a machete (laughs).

You have worked with Michael Bisping, Steve Austin and Dave Bautista are you a fan of MMA/Wrestling?

Absolutely! I love martial arts and all the ultimate fighting, I love boxing, I’m from the old school and I love a great boxing match with two fighters just fighting, I get bored if they keep going to ground as there is not enough action. Gimme a straight up slugfest; awesome!..

Read more in Combat magazine available from WH Smith, Borders and all good newsagents and don't forget to look out for the Digital Edition