Floral Monday


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Mondays have the stigma as the downfall of the new week. We turn up on weekends but turn down on Monday.. Personally, I’m trying look at it from a different point of view (may be temporary).Having our new edition (child) slowly approaching, I think to it’s best to be optimistic more frequently. A great way for me to express in stylish manner is with my outfit: 👕 – #balenciaga : 👖 – #oldnavy : 👟 – #maisonmartinmargiela : 👓 – #johnvarvatos .. The floral t shirt was a great way to reflect my optimistic spirit towards a bright week!

Our best foot forward


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My girlfriend and I needed to make more space for our new edition. The countdown for our second little one is coming to a close. We are so excited to regain this experience! It’s like we are starting a new transition of something greater. Sometimes we aggressively desire for progression, but never want to accept change! This is a give and take world. You can only fill your cup with so much!

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Even though we share a walk in closet, I am in love to walk in to place my dope garments. From high fashion to mall retail (😪), I don’t discriminate lol. Through out new transition, we seeking to put our best forward towards our new home, family and also future!

“Iron Will”

Tournament of Champions


black everythingEarly march, We managed to travel down southern Kentucky to compete at a great martial arts tournament. Tournament of Champions is a sport karate event by Marty Eubanks (Son of the late Bluegrass Nationals promoter, Ken Eubanks). He has been branding this regional event nonstop all years. Fortunately, it has paid off quite well for him. Soon as we arrived at the tournament, the registration line was packed!! you feel the energy in the air of the top martial artist in the region seeking to win their divisions. Me and couple of my classmates, whom I consider my brothers, decided to do team fights early that morning followed by our actual division later.

team magic

After a long day, the adult black belt men’s division finally were caught up. The heavyweight division was stacked with an enormous amount of talent. Personally, it was definitely a challenge because it could be anyone’s day to win! Some of the guys I’ve fought or watched them fight. Good thing being off the radar for a while, they didn’t know what I could do. After going through two rounds in eliminations, the fight I would’ve taken me to fight for first place along with my other team, Sean “Goo” Elder (pictured in the red and black) was short by Tray Lazenby of Team Atl. He is very good counter fighter will great speed for a heavyweight. Despite the blows exchanged, he advanced with a score of 6-3 and lost by one point (6-5) for 3rd and 4th to my friend, Ben Franzen (we fought first round during team fights).

Initially, I wasn’t pleased on the performance. However, I have always been my toughest critic. Throughout the day, I pondered on the mistakes taken from our earlier matches. Soon as my cousin (also classmate) gave me a broader perspective, my initial moral took a slight mental shift towards the greater good. Since November, the obsession to win overall grand champion deprived my evaluation of self-improvement. For once, I never took the chance to view the gradual progression upon myself. Sometimes we focus so much on being perfect or winning for a “title” we never try to register our milestones which transpires us to the present. Obtaining fourth place was a great lesson because I gave it my all. No one wants to be second or three best, but if we recognize our steps towards being greater than we all win! Granted, we all are hungry and push each other to better ourselves.

heavyweightsI finally got the chance to do team fights train along some people I admired as a teenager, learned from my strengths and weaknesses, and fellowship with some martial artists. You can’t get any better than that!

#tbt the object of winning


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This shot occurred at a regional karate tournament which I won my second grand championship. I recently got back into the tournament scene this past fall. Although I didn’t place as desired, it has pushed me to make myself greater. Extraordinary is the only option.

2010 was a great year because it reflected my journey as a martial artist seeking truth for myself and not from a single source. It was a great moment. However, I was still in the crosswords whether if martial arts was a motivator. Sometimes winning titles doesn’t always determine your happiness. In competition, no one wants to be the loser. Granted, if we all learn something in our battles (inside and outside the ring), then we all walk away as victorious. 2014 will be a different story. It’s time to see if my dedication to the art should pay off!

The Split


Volvo Trucks released the dopest video ever featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme.  To highlight its latest truck technology, Van Damme stood between two trucks as they drove down a road backwards. After his epic monologue ends, the two trucks slowly drift apart from each other to highlight their Dynamic Steering system. Meanwhile, he taken the split into another level. For those who are not aware, I am an extreme fan of Jean Claude Van Damme (JCVD). Afterall, he is MAIN reason why I wanted to do martial arts, period! From roller coast ride dealing with fame and drugs, he has shown us he can still do what he does best – make epic shit!

Fight of Flight


13033_1239643025491_7579739_n #tbt 5 years ago was a fight or flight point moment. Losing my brother really took a tow of me, which I even considered on hang up the martial arts forever (obviously, I haven’t quit). Granted, this was an unprecedented emotional experience for me; therefore, I didn’t know where to go. I mainly trained by myself, no school backing me or anything. I needed time to figure what’s my true purpose. I competed at a martial arts tournament in Cincinnati as verdict for my future direction.

13033_1239643065492_13435_nDespite my oppressing moments, defeat was not an option. I went all the way to fight for overall grand! God shown me the light to never quit no matter the circumstances and do what you are passionate about! From then on, I recognized my purpose. Personally, thank my parents and my son being at my corner through it all (celebrating my victory with my pink polo and denim jacket 😉 )!!

Iron Will

Tournaments are the club; Dojo is our home


DSC05450There are plenty of things you can gain from competing on the martial arts tournament scene. One of the greatest benefits for being in the sport martial arts world is seeing other martial artists from all over. Martial artists from different styles, backgrounds, personalities, etc. Chances are you may be competing with these people in your division (i.e. weapons, forms, fighting) or see them compete for the nighttime finals.

Each competitor possess different strengths and weaknesses. At tournaments, I try to utilize these to climb to the top. Unlike all games, you don’t win them all. No one likes to lose. I do not like losing because the entire purpose is to win. However, the only exception of losing is discovering oneself. For example, last national tournament I competed was at the Battle of Atlanta 2011. Unfortunately, I did not place the way how I wanted. My techniques were on point, but my timing was off. Through months, it was very difficult to pinpoint the missing piece of the puzzle. Brian Ruth, a well-respected martial artist in sport karate, stated I lacked aggression from my attacks. It was crazy enough to finally recognize this issue.

This is a priceless moment which the monetary things such as trophies and money does not matter! You  it the exposure to other people foreign to you.it’s the goal setting it’s the dealing with disappointments well as success. The dojo or Dojang is your home. Like every other home, you learn the fundamentals of life. You learn health, respect, courage, leadership. These are not shared in tournaments.. In the tournament scene, you only learn the desire to win and great sportsmanship! One must return to the essential traits to anchor this endeavors.

Tournaments are a great place to utilize them. If you want to be a great athlete you must maintain proper health. If you want to do well in tournaments, you need to show respect to the past present and future competitors, coaches and judges. You step on any mat be it for forms, weapons or sparring you are showing courage to step outside of a comfort zone and allow yourself to be judged by others and finally if you are part of a team or school competing you need to take on that leadership role.

Metaphorically,some times we focus so much about the club (tournaments) in which we forget about our home training (dojo). In today’s society, this is extremely crucial. We always want to show off, turn up, but don’t want to place the necessary home skills to offer for the real world. When the club is over, you have to worry about going home safe. Are these domestic values gonna help on your way back. It’s all fun and games until the light are on and the music stops playing. It’s something to think about.

“Iron WIll”

 

Be Owt!! SS14 rick owens womenswear collection


There has been talk about fashion designers who neglect to allow black women enough opportunity to strut the runway as their counterparts. Beauty is not determined by collection. Do they fear their label shall become a liability to attract ratchetness and diminish their hard work and efforts to become a powerhouse? Well, Christian Louboutin and Michael Kors are still relevant; therefore, the annotations shall be seated. Needless to say, it took an American fashion designer who felt ostracized from the American ideology to migrate to Paris. His name is Rick Owens..

Rick Owens has always executed stunning collections. He is the forefather of the Goth Ninja movement. His avant garde aesthetic is shown gratitude from fashion enthusiasts to celebrities such as Jay Z, Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas, and especially A$AP Rocky. This time he has taken a left turn from the norm by showcasing his Spring/Summer 2014 womenswear collection with black models. Keep in mind, these models are not your typical models who look like superficial barbie dolls..The runway show was already shown at an intense start as the models began a militant charged synchronization. The stepping reminds me of my days being on the yard in college! Stomping down the runway beautifully structured garments in neutral tones of gray, black and ivory.

These models are from all shapes and sizes. A designer who lacks integrity who never dare to compose a collection with a high number of black models (let alone if they are past a size 6)! Garments were not walked in human hangers. These are women walking. Women who are being represented as you are walking down the street, at the store or in the office. Rick Owens is taking the Yeezus approach to break the system of what art and fashion should be represented. The shackles are beginning to break thanks to an American fashionable outcast such as Rick Owens. However, I am concerned if this was executed with pure generosity. It would be ashamed if this solely used as shock value. In the meantime, I salute to you sir! Job well done!!

 

#TBT Best of The Best: Final Bout


From the 80’s thru the mid 90s, American films had some great martial arts films. Although some possess a typical storyline (i.e. seeking vengeance towards deceased loved one), many of these films reflected the reason why martial arts was apart of pop culture. For example, Best of the Best was perhaps one of those great martial arts films which executed excitement with its epic storyline and martial arts choreography. In fact, this film actually demonstrated the true nature of sport martial arts. This particular match is the final bout against team USA and Korea. Philip Rhee who portrays Tommy Lee of Team USA  faces off with Team Korea and Tae Kwon Do champion, Dae Han (whose his real life brother Simon Rhee). Tommy’s moral code as a martial artist is tested because Dae Han is the man who killed his brother (typical in films right).

Despite the great basics and choreography, I was more pleased about the integrity Tommy faced in this match. Here you have a person who has the chance to settle the score against their ultimate adversary. Despite his repressive moments and illegal hits, Tommy fought hard to overcome Dae Han. However, this true test was the compromising decision to finish him. Instead, he took the high road during the guidance of his coach (James Earl Jones) and teammate (Eric Roberts). During the present moment, it doesn’t always feel great to take the high road based on conflicting moments. Reflecting back at those moments it make us appreciate the right decisions we make. This fight demonstrated it entirely in the best metaphorical way possible.

N.E.R.D.S.


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Sometimes I don’t get the pleasure of hanging out with some old friends. My good friend (brother from another mother) decided to come in town from Indianapolis to pay a visit. On a random day, you have to search for these things to do in Louisville. It’s best to stick to your guns and find something artistically creative. Gaining inspiration from some dope exhibits would certainly do the trick!

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Sidebar: Cuong and I (along with my brother) both played saxophone in high school. Two video game geeks playing covers from our favorite RPG games in our spare time lol. Those were the good times because they were absolutely no worries and no fucks given. He has always talked about designing video games. Ironically, he obtained his degree in digital animation whereas he’s starting to do projects for independent video game companies. Dude is really trying to do his thing!

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There is a trend about “no new friends” or whatnot, but sometimes you have to erase the old friends who hindering your progress. Fortunately, it is not the case with him. I admire his ambition and hustle towards his art. In reality, our friendship has grown on another level because we are searching beyond greatness!

5595_10200575157115686_1061142324_nLocation: 21c, Louisville

“Iron Will”

Industry Night


me and my lady..

My lady and myself decided to step out in style at a local “industry gathering” hosted by a couple of my good friends from Glass Label. The idea of the gathering was to have local creative people network in a social setting. Creativity was from photography, film, modeling, styling, fashion, music, etc. It was great to see some old faces and new faces (contacts as well). Another good night with people who knew how to have fun!

 

Remembering Jim Kelly


ap27867346147My heart was heavy to receive the news about one of my martial arts heroes, Jim Kelly, went to warrior heaven this past weekend. Jim Kelly was most famous for his role as the swagadelic martial arts fighter, Williams in “Enter the Dragon“. The Kentucky native also appears in numerous Blaxploitation films (i.e. Hot Potato, Black Samurai, Tattoo Connection, 3 the hard way) where he possessed martial art skill, style and swagger to overcome his oppressors by any means necessary (no pun intended). Above everything else, I loved his catchy phrases such as, “You come right out of a comic book” or ” When it comes, I won’t even notice because I will be too busy looking good”. The role in the Bruce Lee film was his second.In recent years, he was a particular celebrity fixture at various comic book conventions.

He started studying martial arts in 1964 in Kentucky and later moved to California where he earned a black belt in karate.His interest in acting began after winning karate tournaments. He also played college football at the University of Louisville. What baffles me about Sifu Kelly was the fact we didn’t see enough of him. True story, There are enough black martial art heroes to look up! It has been stated Hollywood was NOT ready for a black action hero, which caused a deep emotional inflicting wound to continue film during that time. Fortunately, we have other black martial arts actors such as Michael Jai White and Wesley Snipes who keeps the art true and create avenues for future martial art actors. His last appearance was from a Lebron James’ Nike “Chamber of Fear” commercial back in 2004.

As a child, I am beyond pleased my mother raised me on a person who shared my same interest as myself and someone else (besides my father and martial arts instructor) to look up to in the big screen. His work will never be forgotten.

“Iron Will”

This image was done by my cousin, James Mason of Urban Shogun. visit his webiste at www.urbanshogun.com

This image was done by my cousin, James Mason of Urban Shogun. visit his webiste at http://www.urbanshogun.com