would like to start by congratulating you on your wins at the ISCF Submission Grappling tournamentRebecca: I would like to start by congratulating you on your wins at the ISCF Submission Grappling tournament on January 26, 2002 at Ray Thompson’s Upstate Karate in SC. Can you tell us a little about some of your fights?
Muhsin: Every one there was tough but I was really surprised by the guys from Upstate Karate. Casey Oxendine has done a great job with those guys. They don’t wait for the submission they were attacking the entire time. It was good to do another grappling tourney. I’ve been focusing on NHB so It has been well over a year since my last grappling tourney. It was good to get out and just grapple without people trying to knock my head off.
Rebecca: What was your opinion about the overall tournament?
Muhsin: The tournament was great! It was really fast paced which fit into my style of fighting very well.
Rebecca: Your wins at this tournament currently places you in the points lead in your weight division for the title belt match at the end of this year, how do you feel about this?
Muhsin: Well, unless God strikes me down I plan on having that belt at the end of the year.
Rebecca: Do you currently hold any titles ?
Muhsin: I’ve been in a lot of matches and won a lot of tourneys but I’m still waiting on my title shot. I’ve placed 1’st in Jacares grappling tourney in Atlanta. I was first in my division at King of the Hill in SC. I’ve headlined for Reality Super fighting and Word Extreme Fighting (NHB). I’m just waiting for the right promoter to contact me with a big fight.
Rebecca: Watching your fights, I was reminded of Pele’ . You are a very exciting fighter to watch and the crowd really seemed to get excited and involved watching you. I noticed that you perform a lot of “flashy” spectacular moves, like flying arm bars. Do you do that to “play to the crowd”, or do you intend to intimidate your opponent and throw him off his game?
Muhsin: Our goals as fighters should be to be exciting for the crowd and to win. This is a fan based sport. Without the fans this sport has no chance to grow.
Rebecca: Are these moves typical of the martial arts style that you train in, or are they just your personal style?
Muhsin: The way I fight is the way that I train. Our coach has always told us if someone is constantly on defense they will not have much time for offence. So that’s exactly how I fight. From the moment I touch you I’m attacking so you better be on guard.
Rebecca: What is your favorite technique and why?
Muhsin: Well, I like anything that I can make you fall into, but I land a lot of arm bars and triangles. I have a pretty good transition from arm bar to triangle and from triangle to arm bar so it tends to work well for me.
Rebecca: Having been a competitor and a spectator at various grappling style tournaments in this area, I can’t help but notice the lack of spectators in comparison to the numbers that turn out for the NHB type events. So many of the “submission” grappling events have adopted the “points” style of competition which slows the action of the fights. Mr. Thompson through IronSpirit Promotions is trying to increase the public following of this sport by implementing rules that are more like those of NAGA. These rules encourage more aggressive fights, rewarding fighters that go for the submission as opposed to stalling for points. What are your feelings about “points” tournaments vs “submission” tournaments. Which do you prefer to compete in?
Muhsin: I hate points. If you have to judge, judge the fight on aggression not points. If I’m fighting a guy and I’m doing all the work, attacking and going for subs, and because I’m attacking he gets to side control and wins by 2 points that’s not right.
Rebecca: These aggressive rules require that a fighter be in very good shape. You look like you don’t have an ounce of body fat, and during the tournament on Saturday you never even broke a sweat. Without giving away ALL your secrets, what is your diet and training program like to stay in shape for a fight?
Muhsin: Well I was a sport medicine major in college so I’m pretty knowledgeable about how the body works and what I need to do to make it work better. I do a weight program six days a week that is specifically designed for a MMA athlete. I do a 40min interval cardio program every day. I train boxing 4 days a week, kickboxing three days a week, wrestle three days a week and grapple every day. My diet is a high protein intake and moderate carb intake and I cheat at least once a week. I guess its my lack of will power. But that is my training regimen in a nutshell.
Rebecca: Renzo Gracie once told me his favorite food to “cheat” with was a hotdog. What is your favorite food to cheat with when you go off your “training diet”?
Muhsin: I love pasta! I can go to olive garden and order everything on the menu!I love pasta! I can go to olive garden and order everything on the menu!
Rebecca: How do you prepare yourself for a tournament style event where you go against multiple opponents that you may not know anything about, as opposed to a “matched” fight where you only have one fight and you are familiar with your opponent’s style?
Muhsin: Our coach trains us for every situation. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation in a fight that I haven’t experienced yet in class. That is why I love our art, it hits every angle.
Rebecca: I noticed that you have a pretty impressive NHB record as well as an equally impressive Submission Grappling record. Which style do you prefer to compete in?
Muhsin: NHB is more of a challenge to me. You have to look out for a lot more. So I enjoy the challenge of NHB a little more than pure grappling. Also, our style is suited a little more for NHB. We box, kickbox ground and pound. It’s all in our style.
Rebecca: Could you tell me about your most memorable NHB match?
Muhsin: It would have to be my first match ever. I was pitted against Cam Mcgargue. He had a record of 9-1, he was the extreme trials champ and Gauntlet trials champ and it was my first NHB match ever. We almost beat each other to death. But luckily I think my cardio was a little better that day and I slipped away with the win. Boy was I sore the next day. Me and Cam have gotten to be really good friends. We’ve trained together since and I’ll tell you he is tough as nails. He’ll go far in this game.
Rebecca: You mentioned that your goal is to fight in Japan. Tell me more about your plans concerning that.
Muhsin: Japan is where Jujitsu started. To think these warriors just sat around and figured up ways to hurt people. It’s amazing that these techniques have been preserved and are still being used today. Also, my coach is from Okinawa Japan so he can be my translator when we go. My dream almost came true when I was offered a fight in shooto Japan. But it was short notice and I didn’t have my passport and I would’ve had to cut about 12 pounds. But you guys are going to see me there soon!
Rebecca: From what I saw of you this past weekend, I am SURE we will !!! You are a real crowd pleaser too, the Japanese audience will love watching you. What other goals do you have?
Muhsin: As far as fighting I just want to be the best that I can be and have a decent career.
Rebecca: You train in Japanese Shooto – right? Tell me about that, when did you start, why did you start, why did you choose Japanese Shooto.
Muhsin: I train in a shooto style jujitsu called goshinbudo. It’s a fast pace art that encompasses Judo, wrestling, boxing. kickboxing and full body submission grappling. I chose this art because of its tradition and the fact that it covers every angle.
Rebecca: At the tournament Saturday, you said that you and your fighters would show Brazilian Jiu-jitsu stylists that BJJ was not the only game in town. This “fight talk” really got the atmosphere pumped and exciting. Team Psych Ward walked away with a lot of first place wins to back up your challenge. Why do you prefer Japanese Shooto over Brazilian Jiu-jitsu?
Muhsin: That statement I believe was from my brother. He didn’t mean to disrespect BJJ at all. We just want to show people that we can grapple and that no art is superior to the other! It’s all in how you train. When I got into mixed martial arts my goal was to fight NHB. BJJ just didn’t cover enough to me. Their ground game is excellent, but their takedowns and striking were non existent. So I went with an art that worked for me.
Rebecca: Speaking of “Psych Ward”, that is a catchy name. What is the story behind that name?
Muhsin: Every time some one watched our team fight they would talk about all of the “crazy” moves we pulled off. Every time someone watched us train they would say how “crazy” we were for training so hard. So it kinda fit our style.
Rebecca: Tell me a little bit about your instructor.
Muhsin: Well Coach Matsuoka was born in Okinawa Japan. He started training in Judo and Jujitsu at the age of 8. He moved to the states and was on the Florida state Judo team. The guy is 50 years old and can still throw me around like a girl! He’s amazing. Some of the techniques he shows us I have never seen anywhere. He is an encyclopedia of knowledge. We also train with Olympic wrestling coach John Hallman and box out of Jerrals Gym in Savannah, GA.
Rebecca: You said that in your system there is only white belt and black belt. Were you serious?
Muhsin: Yep, I am currently a white belt and I’ve been training everyday for the last three years.
Rebecca: In America, where things are not as traditional as Japan, most students look to receiving belts periodically for motivation. How do you stay motivated without that “pressure” of testing for belts. How do you keep your students motivated?
Muhsin: That pressure for testing for belts is usually just a way for an instructor to get more money from students. My motivation are the guys around me. Me and my team are like family. We keep each other going. When I get my black belt I’ll know that I’ve earned it!
Rebecca: Who do you feel is your greatest influence in the martial arts —- or the person that you most look up to?
Muhsin: My greatest influence for martial arts are the martial arts. I’ve seen what martial arts can do for people. I’ve seen peoples lives completely change because martial arts gave them something to focus on, something to work towards. I’ve had kids come into my class that you would never think would amount to anything end up getting their life back on track because of martial arts. I love it, and it will be a major part of my life for the rest of my life.
Rebecca: What is the biggest challenge you have overcome?
Muhsin: My biggest challenge has been a fight with myself. After I graduated from High school I got into the club scene and put myself in situations that I did not need to be in. A lot of drugs and alcohol. Later I finally came to my senses. I became Muslim started praying 5 times a day and left all of that ignorance behind me. Now I focus on God, my family, my career and training.
Rebecca: You said that the greatest influence for the martial arts to you IS the martial arts and seeing what it does for people., and then you mentioned your challenge of overcoming the influence of drugs and alcohol in your life. This day and age, young people really do have a lot to overcome with drugs and gang related activities. Do you see the martial arts being helpful in giving young kids today the strength to resist this type of activity?
Muhsin: Martial arts are definitely a positive outlet for kids. If a kid is in the gym training he will not have time to do the ignorant things that kids are doing nowadays.
Rebecca: Chuck Norris has his “kick drugs out of America” program and also works with kids that are trying to get out of gangs, do you see yourself working with any program of this nature when you open your school?
Muhsin: That is a great program and I could definitely see myself running a similar program.
Rebecca: You mentioned that you got messed up with the club scene, drugs and alcohol. This is not an easy thing to over come. Going from that life style to being Muslim is a giant change for you. Was there an incident in your life that acted as a catalyst for that change?
Muhsin: When introduced to Islam, for the first time in my life I had found something that I could not deny or find any holes or contradictions in. Islam is an amazing religion that gets a bad rap because media only focuses on the fanatics. It completely turned my life around and helped me to be a successful person. It’s funny, 4 years ago I was at the club drinking and putting poison into my system. Now I’m married to a beautiful women, I run a successful business and I’m in the best shape of my life. People that knew me back the are amazed by how I’ve changed
Rebecca: Who is your favorite fighter?
Muhsin: My favorite 2 fighters are Din “the Dominator” Thomas and Mach Sakuri. They are the new era of NHB. They have excellent striking ability, excellent grappling and are as tough as nails.
Rebecca: Have you trained with anyone famous? Tell us about that – what impressed you most about the experience?
Muhsin: I try to train with Din a week out of every month. He is amazing and has really helped my overall game. I feel sorry for Mat Serra come March. I’ve also trained with Tim “Obake” Catalpho and Jacare. These guys are all world class and were amazing to train with.
Rebecca: Tell me a little about Din “the Dominator” Thomas.
Muhsin: Me and Din train together about once a month or whenever we can get together. Either he comes to my gym or I go down to Orlando and train with him and his guys. Din and fighters like him are the future of MMA. He has devastating striking skills and is insane on the mat. I don’t think that Serra will be able to keep up with him
Rebecca: On a more personal note, what is your profession?
Muhsin: I am a personal fitness trainer and I run my own training business here in Hilton Head. I specialize in sport specific training and weight reduction. I also teach martial arts for adults and children. I’m working now on opening my own gym that will have a full weight and cardio area and a martial arts training facility.
Rebecca: You mentioned that you are married, tell me a little about your wife.
Muhsin: Yes, my beautiful wife Angela helps to keep me level headed and focused on the important things in life.
Rebecca: Tell me about your pets.
Muhsin: I have an Akita. Akita’s are Japanese fighting dogs. They aided the samurai in combat and are a national treasure in Japan.
Rebecca: Where did you go to college?
Muhsin: Dekalb College- Atlanta, Ga and Armstrong Atlantic University- Savannah, Ga
Rebecca: Have you always lived in Hilton Head SC?
Muhsin: I’ve only been in Hilton head about a year. Before I moved to Hilton Head I lived in Savannah, GA. I was born in Tulsa, Ok and spent a lot of my younger life in Orange Co California. From there I moved to Atlanta and lived there until I moved to Savannah in 1999. I moved to savannah to finish up college. So I’ve been all over the place but when I came to Hilton Head I fell in love with this place. Beautiful Island life and a great place to raise my future kids.
Rebecca: What is your favorite Movie
Muhsin: My top three are Pulp Fiction, Carlito’s Way and Usual Suspects.
Rebecca: What is your favorite color
Rebecca: Do you have hobbies outside of your martial arts training.
Muhsin: I’m a fitness oriented person so I love to be in the gym. Other than training I like to spend time with my wife and friends and enjoy life.
Rebecca: Is there anything else that you would like to share?
Muhsin: I’d just like to say thank you to all of the people that support this sport and let everyone know to to look out for me and my team. We are going to make some big waves in MMA this year!!
Rebecca: Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with me. You are a spectacular fighter and athlete and I look forward to seeing your matches at the May 4th tournament. Best of luck with your goals!