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!

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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 ūüėČ )!!

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”

 

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”

Unofficial Face of Menswear – Adrianne Ho


adrianne-ho-unoffical-face-of-streetwear-menswear-4Some times I strongly believe women rock menswear is better than us men. It does sound a bit awkward, but it is the truth (i.e. smoking suit for Yves Saint Laurent). You could always see labels such as Dsquared2, Dries Van Noten, and others embraced womenswear pieces from their collection.  How can a woman transform a masculine ensemble without sacrificing her femininity to create her own? Adrianne Ho recently did an interview with super street wear website, Hypebeast, in regards to her modeling journey (on the other hand, I am discussing the styling).

The Toronto native whose under Ford Models NYC and Next Management LA¬†model is the new “It Girl”. She is called an ‚Äúanti-heroin chic model‚ÄĚ and a woman who represents the intersection of power, independence, sexuality, all within connections to the city in a relevant way whereas she is labeled the unofficial streetwear/menswear face of the moment. Streetwear labels like Supreme and Stussy, and Nike layered with current hot menswear designers such as Mark McNairy. Men staple pieces from¬†Hoodies, sneakers, bomber, varsity jackets,sweats, jerseys, and baggy t-shirts were displayed in a contemporary feel.

We are slowly living in a world of diversity. Androgynous garments are on a rise. Once upon a time, it was totally unacceptable for either genders to express themselves through clothing. Personally, I don’t care what a person wears long as they make it their own. I know men who wear dresses. would I do that? Hell to the NO. At the end of the day, do you! It was taboo for men to wear pink lol. Do whatever floats your boat; If you are happy, then I am happy. Women rock menswear pieces from boyfriend jeans, blazers, and footwear everyday. Menswear compliments Adrianne quite well.

“Iron Will”

Image Source: Hypebeast

Homecoming Ceremony


mastersThe grandmaster’s memorial service was held this past weekend. There was no shadow of a doubt I attended to show my respects. Along my visit to the service, I got the chance to speak to some old faces and met some new faces as well. I must admit it is not a great moment to meet other martial artists based on certain circumstances. However, my main concern about the martial arts community was its current direction. I always asked myself when the elders are gone, who were going to become their successors? Once that torch is passed down, will we be able to evolve the art beyond what they have given to us. It was an interesting topic as I spoke with several other masters about the subject, which inspired me as I walk into my quest to evolve. Many people love to ride the coat-tail of another person’s success (or skill). The secret is you have to make your own.

One person who walked away and marked his own path was my instructor, Keith Price. Controversial sparked among his colleagues from his departure. On the other hand, it helped other martial artist such as myself. His unconventional methods are one of the reason how I determine expectations. Honestly, I had an underline disagreement with him within the past few years because of my relentless dedication to the art.¬† I always wanted to more from his teachings and felt it was unrecognized. The last thing we want to happen as artist is place our fate in someone’s hands. After the passing of my brother, it was best for me to search for it on my own. Living tomorrow is never promised. I had a success in discovering the art from another level. A discovery no one can take away from me.Tackling the nucleus of the art was my true key to evolve. Sadly, one can never grow without studying the roots.

Our society is so focus on dealing with being relevant at the current state of time. Never do we seek to polish our craft so it could resonate through out time. A skill which no one can not deny. The chains of justification can no longer cast a burden. This is what I see our direction in the community (as well as society).  However, my progression will unable to seek fruition if there is an ounce of resentment. Discussing those issues were the way to progress. In the result, I have made amends with him. As the casket was brought down by the steps of the church,  I have seen the faces of my fellow brother with such hurt. The hurt was not solely on the lost of our grandmaster, but the lost of the compass they relied on forever.

This is what worries me. We can not expect people to hold our hand in our journey for ever. The bird leaves its nest sooner or later. Out of all the living species, how many do see them taking of their offspring throughout time. The answer is none.. We have to push forward to grow. We have to want it for ourselves. I love the new faces of fellow martial artists who are on the same pursuit as mine. Our elders would appreciate their legacy continues to inspire others.

“Iron Will”

Suck my preppiness


Today was a beautiful day enough for me to rock my yellow Michael Kors jeans (they were originally white). Recently, I have been going through a hip hop/rock-star mood. However, it was great add a change in the mix! The ensemble shown above is to express my aesthetic of the day, All-American prep. I chose to rock this vintage glen plaid/houndstooth jacket under my light blue John Varvatos shirt, Polo neck tie, Murano vest, my recently Michael Kors dyed yellow denim pants to add a pop of color and with my favorite Salvatore Ferragamo loafers!

Its alright to have a distinctive style. After all, style is indeed personal. Because it is personal, I want to make sure I express more than one side of myself. So should you!

“Iron WIll”

Date Night


Its friday night with the Lady and myself… Its great to actually leave your current 9 to 5 and anticipate for those great weekend moments. Emmy and myself went to the Brown theater to see Anjelah Johnson perform live. She is mainly known for her MadTv performance as “Bon Qui Qui”. Endless laughs with the a beauty of mine.

After the show, We treated ourselves to some sushi and a trip to the art museum. Another night in the books!

My Ensemble: Maison Martin Margeila shirt; silk knit tie; Jean Paul Gaultier Vest; (not pictured) polo chinos; cole haan oxford shoes

 

“Iron WIll”

Father/Son flow at the highlands


This past weekend I happened to take my son out for ice cream and walk around the highlands in Louisville..I was very resistant on the idea, but how can I say “no” to my son lol? One thing about my son is the fact he knows what he wants and will not stop to get it. It inspires me how much a small individual can be more driven than more grown ups despite how big or small things appear! I don’t think he is spoiled. He is just loved by yours truly.

In the photo, I chose to take my biker look look which consisted of my favorite¬†ASOS leather jacket, my Dolce and GabbanaMickey Mouse” graphic t-shirt, John Varvatos Jeans, and the Jeremy Scott¬†Adidas hi-tops (very rare shoe to find).. The look was entirely inspired from my son’s love for Mickey mouse. Although the shades and jacket provided an edge, but the shirt and sneakers neutralized the ensemble with a softness of an iconic child cartoon character. There is some uncertainty he does not know how much I spend for those pieces just to express a love he has.. Even though I still like the garments, I mainly did it for him.

Random Thought


Today I have been going through a random thought, just like now. Sometimes in life we often do things because either people say this is what we have to do or feel like it is something we should do. Take me for instance, I am a father, trying to finish college, blogging, networking,training to become a world known martial artist, building up experience being a fashion stylist, training, work, etc

There is only 24 hours in a day and only one WIll!!!!! Now most people would say you gotta slow or something have to give something up. Personally how I feel right now, I am thinking about letting school go. To be realistic, when I ever graduate I would never be doing anything pertaining to my major (such a waste).

It baffles me how people always talk about go to college, but when the people who work at the same place you currently work has degrees for years with the same pay. Are you kidding me? why should I stress all of my time in something I am not going to make use of it. Their reply, “Its always to have that paper to back you up”.

The College Dropout Album is playing in my head right now.. Reality is life is what you make of it. You taking a risk of entering the real world to achieve in something you believe, but you ultimately risk losing yourself doing things that is not in your niche. Education is totally mandatory; do no get me wrong about that. Its really hard to juggle so many things at once. However, if we all are striving to become successful this comes in the package. We will always be engaging in activities which are obliged to us, which we have no desire in. Hell that is life period. Success deals paying your dues, not always about comfort. Sometimes when there are things you feel discouraged, just roll with the punches. The result may not be what you want, but at least you found a hidden piece of yourself.

Tang soo do’s black belt


I have learned an interesting concept on why their belt is Midnight Blue. The color is midnight because it symbolizes the practioner doesn’t know everything because there is always room for improvement and perfection.

Whether you are an artist, fashion designer, dancer, fighter, or whatever, always know there is always more to grow from your craft. Your kicks can always be faster, punches stronger, the draping and silhouette of the garment can always improve.

Rank and status should never end your journey. Never  limit yourself! Inspiration and motivation never sleeps..