Interview With Seymour Yang Of Meerkatsu: Amazing Artist & BJJ Guy

Seymour_yang

If you have not seen some of the artwork done by Seymour then you have to head over to his gallery. Seymour is not only an amazing artist but he is also a brown belt with four stripes. Let’s dive into the interview and see what he has to share with us.

How did you get started in BJJ?

I was running my own school teaching traditional jujitsu but felt I needed more understanding of groundfighting so tried out a BJJ class. That was back in 2003.

What is your current belt/rank?

I am currently a brown belt with four stripes.

What is your academy/team?

Roger Gracie Team, Mill Hill BJJ in London

Are you a part time athlete or you have a job apart?

I wouldn’t call myself an athlete haha, just a part time hobbyist BJJ guy. I have a day job in an office and every night I work on my clothing and art brand, Meerkatsu.com

How many times a week/day are you training?

Three days a week, most being double sessions. So on Monday, I’ll train the fundamentals class for 1.5 hours then the mixed levels class for 1.5 hours. Fridays is judo class for 1 hour then mixed levels BJJ for 1.5hours, Sundays is open mat so I’ll roll for like 2.5-3 hours. Couple times a month I will add in a nogi class, just to keep on top of that part of my game.

Do you do No Gi/Judo/Wrestling as well?

Yes, I train nogi once every couple weeks and attend a basic judo for BJJ class too.

What is your attitude to Crossfit or circuit training? Have you ever include it in your training?

Nope, I don’t have time, but I try to include a set of rigorous BJJ oriented animal drills as part of my every day warmup. All respect to those who choose a healthy amount of exercise into their lives, better than slaves to the sofa and TV.

New School vs Old School Jiu Jitsu, any thoughts?

Jiu jitsu is jiu jitsu, the only ‘new’ things are whatever additional rules are imposed by tournament organisers.

What is your personal style in jiu jitsu?

I play very defensive and like to counter attack.

If you could choose one super ability for jiu jitsu, what it was?(lol)

Youth, I’d like to not be 45, but having said that, age imposes a certain level of calm and patience which are important in BJJ.

Are you following any special dieting?

I just try to avoid red meat, deep fried foods and dairy, that’s about it. I still eat take outs, probably too much.

Do you use any sport supplements? If yes, give us an example of your favourite?

Nope

Do you have something special in your training program?

Nope

What do you prefer – rolls over drills or drills over rolls?

Rolling.

What do you like most and least about BJJ?

I love the sparring. Win, lose or stalemate, every roll is a learning experience. There is very little I dislike about BJJ.

Where do you see yourself/your gym in the next 5 years?

50 and still rolling…

What would you say to someone who was thinking about joining your BJJ gym?

Pick the smallest, nerdiest, dweebiest person in the gym as your first roll. Very few things can attest to the power of jiu jitsu than rolling with a small but technical opponent who will in all likelihood wrap you up in knots within seconds.

What are your thoughts on BJJ tournaments?

I respect the competitive aspect to jiu jitsu development. It’s an important part of the process for every student, but not the totality.

What is your bread-and-butter move?

My go to move if I can get some form of control is to play guard with both sleeve grips, I can then choose to play spider or its accompanying variations or sweep or attempt a triangle or omoplata etc. It is such an awesome position to play.

What do you wish more people knew about BJJ?

BJJ to the untrained eye is very deceptive. Even a triangle choke doesn’t look that impressive but of course we know it is a highly effective submission, so my only wish…is for regular folk to try at least one safe, high percentage BJJ technique and test for themselves to see its effectiveness. If I were to conduct an open mat for the public to attend – people who have never ever trained or rolled before – I would teach them a basic escape from the mount or side control. Nothing crazy, no physical exertion required, just an illustration of leverage and hip movement.

How many women train at your gym?

We have two regular women who train almost every single day.

What would you say to a woman who was thinking about trying BJJ?

Pretty much the same as the question above about what I wish more people knew about BJJ.

What jiu jitsu lifestyle means for you?

It’s a mind-set. Once you are hooked, the whole world takes on a different meaning. For example the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the potential dangers you see in the real world, the way you shake someone’s hand and accidentally fist bump and hand slap, the TV shows you follow, the films you watch, the friends you have…all of this changes from non-BJJ to a very very BJJ-centric world. It’s not necessarily intentional, just a consequence of training often.

How the idea of your blog was born? How did it begin?

Back when I was teaching and running my own traditional ju-jitsu academy, I wanted a way to document my new found discovery of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The first articles were very short and not very interesting. Being creatively minded, I would often write about and comment on the BJJ-apparel scene, and that’s how my reviewing work was born. Over time, as my own brand progressed, I used it to showcase my artwork. These days, I try to mix it up with posts on my designs, seminars I have attended, interviews with interesting BJJ people, reviews and other stuff.

Did you expect your project become so big?

Certainly not. Back in 2002/2003, blogging was a new found craze and everyone was doing it. I figured I was simple just another BJJ blogger with limited skills. Which I am still.

What is the main message of your blog?

Promoting the passion and positivity that BJJ can bring to people’s lives. But mainly, to promote my own stuff. The blog gives me space to expand and write about designs, apparel and things where Facebook and other platforms aren’t really suitable.

Have you ever have a negative experience with your readers? Do you think you have haters lol? Bjj community can be cruel sometimes, especially people who didn’t get the true vibes of jiu jitsu yet.

Not with my blog, but I have definitely observed rude comments about my artwork. That’s life and I don’t get too upset about it. This situation is no different to me listening to a radio and shouting obscenities at a song I truly hate. I have no personal beef with the singer or band, I just truly hate that song, at that time and possibly I hate the people who love that song or that band. I dunno, it’s just a human nature to react so viscerally to art of any form. All artists have to understand it and learn to deal with it.

What is your advice for bloggers who face it? (not all people can handle the negative feedbacks and give up with their ideas).

Not gonna lie, it’s a shock to the system when you first encounter trolling comments. You try to rationalise it and yet it still nags away, eating at your self confidence. After a while, you just see them, ignore or laugh and move on. It’s also important to be humble. Why did that comment actually really hurt you? Maybe it is because you aren’t as good as you think you are. My goal is to improve on my abilities, slowly, over time, learning as I go along and taking the bumps and highs with equal measure. That’s really the only way to do things.

Do you consider it a full time job?

Blogging? No, not really. In the old days I would spend a lot of time preparing articles, photographs and images but these days I rather spend that time on my art commissions – which of course do take up a lot of my time. For my day job I work 30 hours a week. With art commissions and generally running my brand, I’d say I spend 25-30 hours a week too, mostly late at night when it is quiet.

Some of your articles are really good, where do you usually get your ideas? (academy, community)

It’s been a while since I wrote a proper article on my blog. Most of my writing work is published in magazines now, like Jiu Jitsu Style. My ideas stem from everyday forum discussions and personal training experiences.

What is Jiu Jitsu for you?

It’s a great hobby. It’s a platform for me to express myself artistically

What are the tips you got in bjj and use through your journey?

Patience. Don’t get upset when you get tapped. It will happen often and it will continue to happen but you will still learn as you progress.

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