AN INTERVIEW WITH
SENSEI JADI TENTION
APRIL / 2011
My name is Eddie Morales and welcome to Martialforce.com Online Martial Arts Magazine. It seems that every year a new item comes out that updates its previous version. Whether it is an ipod, iphone or software, there is always some indication of progress or some kind of sign that we are moving forward in the path of evolution. Some appreciate the change while others frown at the new discoveries. Within this train of thought there are always individuals paving the way and making these discoveries or becoming the very embodiment of evolution in all aspects of its meaning.
At this time I want to introduce Martialforce.com readers to one person that epitomizes my explanation of the evolutionary embodiment, Mr. Jadi Tention.
Tention comes from a traditional background in Martial arts and has been training for many years with the passion and drive that sets him apart from a mere practitioner of an art. Mr. Tention is not a stranger to the hard work and the dedication that it takes to become a champion not only in the ring, but also in life. To watch Mr. Tention in the fight arena is to know that there is more to this man then just a punch or a kick. He passes on his knowledge to anyone that is serious about their practice and has helped many achieve success in the ring and moreover, in life. When speaking to him, you begin to understand that new way or old is in the eye of the beholder and which ever one you choose is a personal preference, but! Evolution will happen whether youíre on board or not. We here at Martialforce.com hope you enjoy this interview as we look into the life, training and future of Jadi Tention.
Interview by Eddie Morales
Jadi Tention wins the fight but his opponent is unaware.
Martialforce.com: Where are you originally from and where did you grow up?
JADI TENTION: I am originally from Brooklyn New York. Born in Coney Island Hospital. Lived in the Marlborough projects located in Brooklyn, then Church Avenue. I Moved to the Bronx at the age of ten and have been here since
Martialforce.com: What is your current occupation?
JADI TENTION: I own two Martial Arts schools, one is located in the Bronx and the other in Wilkes Barre PA.
Martialforce.com: When did you begin Martial Arts and who was your instructor/s?
JADI TENTION: I started Martial Arts in 1989 and my first instructor was Eddie Banks ( Professor Sharieff Nashid) Master Sabu ( Tommy Lewis) then Soke Haisan Kaleak but I have been influenced by many who have also contributed to my success.
Martialforce.com: Can you tell our readers what a typical day of training is like for you?
JADI TENTION: A typical day of training depends on if it's casual or if I'm in tournament mode. But most times I train at least 4 times a week Wednesday, Tues and Saturday I do two training sessions a day, I box three times a week, practice Brazilian Jiujitsu 3 to 4 times a week and karate between 3 to 4 times a week. I also do allot of plyometric drills which are designed to produce fast, powerful movements, and improve the functions of the nervous system and of course sparring.
Martialforce.com: Do you believe the practice of Kata is useful and if yes or no, why?
JADI TENTION: I think kata is useful in the sense of it being a form of conditioning. Showing the beauty of various different arts, but as far as being used in preparation of combat, absolutely not. Kata does not reflect combat. Again I don't think it's useless ,but personally I would rather spend time working on the actual application than sitting in a back stance that you will never use in a real life situation. I think some of us use kata as a crutch for what we really don't know or are willing to learn. If you watch somebody do kata and somebody spar, they do not reflect each other.
Martialforce.com: Do you feel that Martial Arts played an important role with who you are today?
JADI TENTION: Martial Arts has played a huge role in my life and has impacted who I am as a man, Father, friend, brother,everything I do as well as Islam. From my patience, to the way I view things from the don't quit mentally. From the points of strategy in life, in the ring, with my children. To the core of my very being. I have never drank alcohol or smoked. As well as my views of humanity through my travels all over the world . Martial Arts has without a doubt help mold me into who I am.
Jadi Tention on right blitzing
Martialforce.com: You have competed in many karate tournaments. Can you name some of the toughest fights youíve had?
JADI TENTION: Oh, I have had many tough fights, some of best and hardest fights I had came from different eras different styles John Payton, Brian Plembel, Jason Tankson, Raymond Daniels, Brian Ruth, Mike Pombeiro, Jesse Wray, Frank Jones, Pedro Xavier, Reggie Perry,etc. Fighting guys like this all my life has helped me become the champion that I have become.
Martialforce.com: You have competed successfully throughout the country. Do you see anything negative or positive in regards to how the tournaments are being operated on the local or national level?
JADI TENTION: The positive thing about tournaments as a student is that it teaches you how to deal with success and disappointment. It teaches you how to make goals and how to prepare. If you are a serious competitor it teaches you about having desire, determination and putting it on the line. As well as the Sacrifice and Discipline needed to execute your plan. Some of us are the best swimmers in the pool ( your dojo) but being the best swimmer in the ocean is a different animal. ( National tournaments ) and to get to that level, the journey you take will change you as a person and your skill level will expand to a higher understanding. That is the beauty of a tournament competition. There is no theory, just application of the will of two warriors.
The national level runs so much smoother but when you come to a New York tournament other then twin towers karate tournament. It's like being in the stone ages lol. They run very unprofessional, you will be there all night. You have guys judging that think there belts qualify them to be judges. Its discouraging for me to bring my students and parents to these type of events and it's more discouraging to see these instructors having there kids sitting in horse stances planted with no understanding of foot work, fakes counters and distance. The local scene definitely needs a professional and modern upgrade big time.
As far as the negative on the national scene I think the fighters don't get the credit they should. The entry fees goes up but the prize money stays the same. They don't make the customers stars, they make the tournament and the imaginary ratings bigger then the athletes that compete at there events. We need stars and personalities in our sport but the promoters are too greedy and worry more about there pockets then making the sport grow. It appears to be more of a glorified hobby.
How can sport karate tournaments be around for 40 years and the most you can offer is a thousand dollar overall grand. It's sad but a reality and we wonder why we lose our best athletes to other sports.
Jadi Tention on right setting up opponent
Martialforce.com: What do you think of how Martial Arts are being demonstrated in the self-defense division in tournaments?
I mean give me a break you have these one step techniques where guys are doing fantasy island Martial Arts. If you are doing a demo I understand, however if you are doing self defense then it should look like self defense. You have these Marketing companies that have great great ideas on how to make 20k and 30k a month and how to market to get hundreds of students but we can't find a way to make hundreds of quality students. I think we need to re-evaluate some things. I'm not saying you have to be a cage dude or a killer but we need to be able to teach the common person legitimate quality instruction. For example, what to do standing up and what to do if your on the ground. There has to be more then catching a fist and opening up his hands throwing him nonsense. Or the kiddie land can't throw a proper kick and punch but then try to use the word life skills to justify there lack of quality instruction. I thought part of life skills were integrity and honesty, Well then have some integrity in your instruction and be honest if the moves are valid for real self self defense. When you look in the mirror and you see dirt on your face, don't wipe the mirror, wipe your face, the mirror is not dirty. Itís our industry our mindset that need to be evaluated . I hope we take an honest look at ourselves and evolve and get back to keeping it real. If not we will continue to be the laughing stock of all combat sports.
Martialforce.com: What would you say to the new generation of Martial Artist that are finding their way through the art as well as Sport?
JADI TENTION: I travel a great deal doing seminars and tournaments and have many visitors from all over the world and one of the things I have noticed, is that too many of today's fighters don't have there own sense of who they are. As a fighter you have to develop your A game and B game. There are too many clones. In the game you have to figure out what you do well and base your fight game on high percentage moves and various ways to use them. Too many youtube fighters copying instead of taking some of the moves from the guys they like and using it with there own unique / personal style, which makes the game grow and expand. There is only one Jadi, Jason Raymond, Ross, etc. Imagine koby Bryant trying to play like Shaq, and Shaq trying to be Ray Allen. Honestly, I want to see what the next 5.0 Jadi and Raymond looks like. I don't want to see a copy. Show me something new, expand on what we have done.
In order for us to be relevant and make karate applicable and modern up to date, we as instructors need to do better. We need to be willing to become students again. How can we produce this next level of students and athletes if our knowledge base is not updated. I thought reaching the rank of Black Belt was the new beginning. If it is then if you are at 6th and 7th Dan etc.. then shouldn't you be a Master at going back to the beginning. Humble yourself and let's become relevant again because right now too many of us are using rotary phones in 2011.
Martialforce.com: What are some of your winning techniques?
JADI TENTION: Winning moves I would say in my estimation is a matter of mastering the high % moves and just finding 20 ways to do the same thing so I always stick to the basic reverse punch, blitz, side kick, hook, round, good defense some fakes, foot work and always paying attention to details. A serious desire to win coupled with great preparation has allowed me to beat every top fighter in the world many times over.
Martialforce.com: What are your thoughts on cross training in regards to other styles of Martial Arts?
JADI TENTION: Cross training is the best thing you can do if you want to evolve. The old school days of Goju practitioner only training with another Goju practitioner is over. Please donít misread what I am saying, by no means am I saying don't have a sense of loyalty. No one style or person has all the answers. I learned so much training with Jesse Wray, Pedro Xavier, Flying to Detroit to train with world champion Richard Plowden. Flying to Cincinnati to train with world champion Anthony Price . Those experiences took me to the next level . There is a difference between being the best fighter in the Bronx and being the best fighter in the country and possibly one of the best fighter in the world. You don't get to those levels by not leaving the nest and seeing the world .
Martialforce.com: Who do you feel was your biggest influence in Karate or life in general and why?
JADI TENTION: My biggest influences in life and martial arts were definitely my Mother Olivia Tention . My father indirectly, Minister Louis Farrakahn, Brothers in the mosque. My instructors and all the gentleman and coaches who helped push me. Richard Plowden, Jesse Wray, Ibby Abdullah, Jean Claude Louhisdon, Abdul Aziz, Akin Williams and Master Sabu. I have been truly raised by a village.
Martialforce.com: There has been much said in regards to old vs. new. What are your thoughts on this in relation to the state of martial arts today?
JADI TENTION: I don't really believe there is an old or new I think there are more modern and higher % ways to do things. If you think that a Kata is the way to train for combat in the 21 century you are in denial. Art and Martial are two different things and in my humble opinion the problem with most karate practitioners (Taekwondo Goju karate Shotokan etc etc), is too much art and not enough reality. We hide behind the word Traditional. Every year a new car comes out, a better phone. Technology is always updated. Karate people are the only people who don't update themselves. They use these moves from farmers in the Ming dynasty and think it applies now. Can I get to Brooklyn or California on a horse?? Of course I can but is that way the fastest most efficient Way of travel? Of course not, because man and technology has evolved. Even the Amish drive cars. The problem with the state of karate is this hierarchy and these ego-based titles, Grandmaster, Doctor, etc. How are you the master of something that always evolves, or should evolve? These guys are always the hammer never the nail. When do they become students again? You have to be a student again in order for karate to be modernized. I have been grappling for 5 years and do I consider myself a grappler now? No! I am now a karate man who knows how to fight on the ground. So in turn my karate is now better because I can throw my punches, kicks knees elbows and if I get taken down, slip or fall I'm comfortable there. Itís not about style but about ranges. As soon as we get these guys with all this rank and 500 secret Katas with all this Bunkai and no application, to get off their high horses and start training and updating themselves then and only then, I think our future will be bright. As long as we keep hiding in our dojo with the big stomachs, huge egos and all this prearranged self-defense we will find ourselves on the bottom of the totem pole of combat.
Martialforce.com: You have accomplished a lot, so what would you say is your greatest achievement?
JADI TENTION: My greatest achievement I would say is the ability to provide my family with a good lifestyle doing something I love to do and touching the lives of those who come to my school. Giving back, making young champions who are already winning all over the country. Not just in New York City recreating yourself in others not just physically but morally as well. Each One, Teach one.
Martialforce.com: Do you have any long or short-term goals in Martial Arts?
JADI TENTION: My short term goal is to compete in a few MMA fights. To open schools up all over the country is my long term goal to make T.C.K. bigger and better and as a person to constantly improve as a son, person, bro, friend, husband Uncle , instructor and Father.
Martialforce.com: In regards to role models, a lot of kids donít have someone to look up to for life lessons. This in turn leads to the negative alternative of the streets. What would you say to a child that might be reading this in regards to feeling like they donít fit or havenít found themselves?
JADI TENTION: Speaking from my own personal experience, I came from a single parent home and I had friends that were into smoking, drinking, etc. I was lucky to have a Mother who understood that at a certain age I needed to be around men, not women. Steel sharpens steel, Men make Men. But my mother felt that one attribute that a man should have was to be able to defend himself. She sent me to Professor Sharrieff Nashid. And there was a time when I didn't want to do karate, and she said to me ďI understand but they will make u a better, stronger man, and there are no quitters in my home and you donít have a choice.Ē I never stopped or took a break from karate ever from that day on. Every team I tried out for nobody picked me. They didn't even know my name and I just stuck with it and stopped making excuses for myself. I raise the bar and expected more from myself and then success came.
Here I am a kid from the Bronx who's been to Africa,Russia,Paris,Greece,Germany Africa,Russia,Paris, Greece ,Germany,Italy,Ireland,Guatamala,Venzuela,Mexico,Puerto Rico, etc. My passport was so full I had to get another because I found something, stuck with it, sacrificed and committed myself to it. Now here I am with two schools and friends all over the world in all walks of life. I haven't paid for a plane tickets or tournament in years. Been on every national team in the country, won 6 world titles. All this because through the grace of Allah and the desire and commitment to work for a goal. I am no different from any other person except that I was willing to sacrifice and suffer then succeed. If I did it so can you if you are willing to sacrifice for whatever goal you may have.
Martialforce.com: As you stated earlier, you do a lot of seminars. My question is, what can a person expect to learn at one of your seminars?
JADI TENTION: As far as seminars I teach, I go over particular subjects for example; how to fight the Kicker or how to fight the blitzer. How to control the distance or create space. It varies on many topics. How to become faster in regards to footwork, fakes, kicks, Punches, counters different timing. I cover what happens when said move is not working. Etc. It varies with the levels of the participants some topics can be too advanced. I always try to make the participants walk away smarter fighters and give them a great seminar. I have had seminars in Spain, Venezuela, Paris Guatemala and throughout the USA, I have been truly blessed.
Martialforce.com: Do you have any closing statements?
JADI TENTION: Yes sir, I would like to close with an unrelated topic of equal importance. T
2011 TEAM VICTORY IN SPAIN
Martialforce.com: Your interview carries some powerful insight. Thank you for accepting this interview, we here at Martialforce.com wish for your continued success.
JADI TENTION: Thank you for the opportunity and the vehicle to express my point of views.