From Pat: Its just my comments. I am not an expert or anything nor do I claim to be a remarkable fighter. I was blessed enough to have fun fighting and practicing and am happy to teach whatever I can.
Q: How many fights did you end up doing over the span of your fight career and what was your fight record?
A: As far as my full contact fight career goes, which I count as kickboxing, sanda and lei tai my record is 20-2. I have also competed in some boxing and grappling events which were fun as well as a few light contact events which I didn’t like so much.
I also received gold and silver medals in push hand events and trained students who have also received gold and silver in push hands.
Q: Name any championship titles you might have:
A: I was the 2002,2003,2004,2005,and 2007 USCKF International champion for full contact lei tai which we know includes punches, kicks, knees , elbows and throws/takedowns as well as the added factor of fighting on the lei tai platform itself which has no ropes. In addition I was the 2003 USCKF world champion for the first USCKF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP which was held in Sao Paulo Brazil.
Q: How much had Tai Chi and push hands help Lei Tai?
Push hands helped me tremendously on the lei tai. When you’re dealing with big guys who are trying to knock you unconscious it’s great to be able to move them off balance so they can’t launch their potentially devastating attacks. Someone who is off balance needs to first regain balance before they can think about hurting you. Also there is no way I would have been able to move any of those guys who were always heavier than me if I didn’t practice push hands. Ever try pushing an over 200 lb weight that has arms and legs and doesn’t want you to move it an inch as it’s trying to knock you out while you do so?
Q: What was your strategy for push hands events?
A: In push hands events I always used to focus on remaining calm and keeping my root. I love how the two person training in tai chi helps you to retrain your nervous system to remain calm with another person all up in your space. I knew if I kept a good structure and root and could absorb some of their force then eventually I could redirect it and move them off balance.
Q: What is your current training like these days now as a retired fighter? What kinds of training are you currently doing?
Actually I am planning with a coach and possibly a local fight team to come out of retirement. I am getting the itch to compete again. I love how it pushes us artists to constantly improve ourselves and enjoy taking a lot of the theory out of books and minds and putting it to use in the actual field so to speak which I believe is the ring. I think competition is one of the only ways for the martial aspect of these arts to effectively survive in today’s age. Without the need to defend our lives with our bare hands like times past, we need to search out people and events that allow us to keep the martial side of these arts alive and not always just talk about theory. Win or lose I believe its good for the artist and the art and I look at my fights as just another part of my training.
Q: How did you mentally prepare for fighting on the Lei Tai?
A: I believe the strong mind body connection provided by the internal martial arts really help one to develop focus and intention that carries over into a fight, whether real-world or full contact competition. The same way our forms and standing meditations like I-chuan help us develop a calm and focused mind and body during the most stressful positions, so too can we does this during the stressful and sometimes chaotic experience of a fight with another person.
Q: With the explosion of the UFC and MMA, what do you think might be lacking with the amount of fighters rushing in to fighting in the cage?
A: I believe a lot of these guys are to be respected for their heart and dedication to training in preparation for these events. Not to mention the fact that they are willing to do something that the majority of martial art “experts” and “masters” would never dare do, which is try to test their techniques in an as close to real situation as you can get legally, with everyone watching, with no excuses. That being said I know for a fact that a lot of the guys who succeed for as long periods of time are the ones who have that extra unseen, unmeasured dimension to them. Possibly they gained it through some form of classical martial arts or even yoga, but the fact remains that it separates them and puts them on another level that just going to an mma gym and doing some cookie cutter sytle training will never put you on no matter how many hours you spend or how fast or hard you train it. That’s what I like to call the unseen, immeasurable factor that a fighter can use the internal martial arts to develop, allowing him to gain an advantage in a world being flooded with a lot of new and excellent mma talents.
Q: Do you see any advantages that MMA guys are doing in their training these days (like kettle bells, conditioning circuits, cross training) that might have helped you in your fight events?
A: Definitely, I respect the MMA guys for their dedication and training ethics as I said before, but the other thing I love about them is their approach to training. They train what works and what has been proven effective. They also take their theories into the ring through competition and sparring very frequently to “test” it out and return back to the lab with the results. This provides them and their coaches with all the data needed to constantly improve their training programs and find which techniques the fighter can actually find success with in a real situation. That’s what I always tried to do and am still doing to develop as a martial artist. No doubt I wish I knew some things back then that I know now with regards to training. Actually there is a video floating around of my first full contact fight in which I remember not even training with a heavy bag or knowing the first thing about preparing for a fight.
Somehow I won but all I really did at in those times were empty hand forms, hold stances and play with push hands. I would have really brought myself to a higher level of performance had I cross trained more. Focusing on the internal doesn’t mean neglecting the physical body which is an important tool in a fighter’s arsenal. Think about a grade a sniper with a broken, rusty bent up rifle. I don’t care what he has as far as skills or knowledge, you’re not going to see it because his tool would be holding him back. That being said I sometimes wonder how I had so much success with such little science behind my training programs. It just goes to show you that you can always improve.
Q: What were some of the techniques you used on injuries when you trained for Lei Tai or after fighting?
A: I would always spend an insane amount of time on stretching and would do I-chuan and different breathing techniques as well as tendon exchange.
Q: Are you currently coaching any fighters? If yes, what are you doing differently than how you were taught?
A: Actually as of now I have no fighters to train. I just started focusing on myself and improving my fighting to be able to compete at a higher level. I have a coach and am looking to maybe settle in at a gym with some guys who don’t mind rolling around or sparring.
Q: any final thoughts on the 3 internals (tai chi, pakua, hsingyi) as effective martial arts in modern times, any additional things you would like to share or add?
A: I think that the internal arts can be very effective in any full contact forum. People need to just take it as serious as most mma fighters take their training. This means preparing the body for what it will face in the ring, finding strong partners to practice with in tough sparring, similar to your fight, and last but not least we should take some of the techniques from our styles and actually practice them on the pads for many repetitions, round after round if we expect them to work. You see the muay thai and boxing guys do it, as well as the mma guys and it gives results. So how can we expect something to work if we don’t take it as serious as everyone else?
Sorry it took so long, been busy getting back into training. Maybe I will look to fight again soon. 😉