AN INTERVIEW WITH
PAUL SEQUENCE FERGUSON
JAN / 2012
My name is Eddie Morales and welcome to Martialforce.com
Online Martial Arts Magazine. The person I’m introducing in this interview
has a strong Martial Arts lineage. He studied with one of the most fearless
Shotokan fighters on the East Coast circa 1970s. His instructors name is
Errol Bennett and the man I’m speaking of is Paul Sequence Ferguson. In his
interview we will speak on how he turned a bad situation into a positive
one, which was the result of the mental and physical training he received.
He has an extensive background in Martial Arts as well as Music. We hope you
enjoy reading about this humble and dedicated human being.
Interview by Eddie Morales
Where are you originally from and where did you grow up?
FERGUSON: I was born in
battle hospital Great Britain, at the time of birth my mother and I died;
the doctors put the white sheet over both of us and left the room. A little
while after we both came to life, in a sense I have two birth dates and may
I say from that point on until now I have beaten death close to 50 times.
I'll give you two
examples, while growing up in the Caribbean islands Jamaica, my father Rev.
James Ferguson used to preach all over the country in fact the world, one
day he took the whole family in the van and headed to Kingston, we had to
drive a long way to get there from where we lived in Portland, Jamaica.
Along the way the brake fluid caught on fire everyone got out
the van and ran approximately 200 or so feet, my sister Elaine suddenly
burst out shouting, “where is Paul,” everyone looked around and I was
nowhere to be found. Elaine ran back to the van open the door and there I
was, she reached in the van and pulled me out. I would say she got maybe 100
feet or more away from the van when it blew up in flames.
From that day on I would never step foot in a van for at
least two years. They couldn't get me in one and I was around six years old
at the time.
Also, just to let your thoughts go for a while we had over
14,000 acres of land then and I ran wild through all of it. You can just
imagine all the times I could've been killed as a young boy at that age 6 or
7 running around hills mountains, exploring underground caves. I can
remember walking in a dry riverbed and suddenly hearing a rumbling sound and
just as I looked up I could see trees, boulders and thick red mud coming
towards me. I quickly ran to the correct side of the riverbank and up just
in time. I would have been killed by the flood. In the mountains, it was
raining and that could of been my end, but it was only the beginning.
Paul Bobbi Humphrey and Stanley Clark
Earth Wind & Fire
Paul SEQUENCE Ferguson Guitar/Keys for GURU JAZZMATAZZ
Martialforce.com: What is your current
My current occupation is president and CEO of
two companies. Yes, we care, Incorporated and the PFF music company,
Incorporated. I also produce a weekly radio show entitled public matters,
which is broadcast all over Connecticut and Long Island on Sundays, it's a
public service show that runs for 30 min featuring individuals and
corporations that do good for humanity.
Martialforce.com: When was your first
introduction to the martial arts?
returning from Germany US ARMY my Cousin Sensei Rick senior of the Tremont
School of jujitsu under Master Pereira, invited me to see his class after
class he told me if I wanted to learn an all-around system of martial arts I
have to go and see Errol Bennett sensei. He described Bennett sensei as one
of the top master instructors and competitors in the world, and said if you
want hard training and you’re not worried about rank, this is the Dojo for
Paul & His Cousin Sensei Rick
What Style of Karate do you practice and who was your
Shotokan Karate My Instructors are, Master
Tsutomu Ohshima and Bennett sensei, Mr. Errol Bennett teaches traditional
Shotokan karate (SKA) Kihon- Kata-Kumite, self-defense- throwing techniques,
locks and submission holds.
Can you tell our readers what a typical day of training was
like back when you began?
Bennett Sensei would train us in Kata
(Prearranged movement) and Kihons (Basics), over and over hundreds of times,
if you made a mistake on Kata you would have to repeat the technique for at
least an hour. In Kumite we would spar for at least two and a half hours
nonstop. Most of the black belts were rated fighters, and current grand
champions, such as Lee Smith, Wakki Smith, Billy Beason, Michael Jackson,
Mike Murphy, Matty Melisi, Ricardo Pickens, Steve Thompson, Byron Snowball,
Maurice Baker, Orlando Chambers, Barry Brooks, Walter Kong, Clark Marquez,
Paul Bent Earl Razor, Arthur Barnes, Skeeter McCullough, Paul W Smith and Al
Bennett sensei would pull the black curtains, and you would have you spar in
the dark. If you were swept or thrown on the floor, you had to keep
fighting until you got up or submitted by your
Sensei did not believe
in Mats, we were taught how to fall on the floor. During these legendary
sparring matches Bennett Sensei would be in the middle of it all, kicking us
and punching us through the walls, sweeping us taking us down and chocking
us out. You had to be strong and a quick learner to survive in that
environment. Then after class he would look at us and say, he was not
building better karate men he was building a better human being, so that we
could be successful in our personal and professional lives.
Were you a competitor and if so what was your motivation?
I saw one of
the greatest karate matches in the history of American karate in Harlem,
between East Coast grand champion Errol Bennett sensei, and US national
champion Fred Miller. It was a classic match between Shotokan and GoJu Ryu.
The match had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Both warriors executed
vicious and realistic Kicks, Punches, and Sweeps. After one hour of non-stop
fighting, the match was declared a draw, both warriors Gi,s were soaked the
audience was stunned, they gave both warriors a standing ovation.
Bennett sensei and Master Fred
Miller are called the pioneers of bare knuckle full contact karate, which is
now popular in the UFC.
Copyright Bennett Sensei
What was tournament competition like when you were first
introduced and is it any different today?
fought fighters in the nineteen sixties and seventies such as Louis Delgado,
Fred Miller, William Oliver, Ron Van Cleif, Abdul Mussawir, Mylo Thompson,
Earl Thompson, Errol Bennett, Hawk Frazier, you would know, you were in the
fight of your life. These fighters would fight all day maybe 15 to 20
opponents before they even got to the finals. Today’s fighters may fight one
or two opponents before they get to the finals, after scoring a point with a
kick or punch they usually fall down. This would not be allowed in the
sixties and seventies.
Can you tell our readers who were some of the Martial Artists
you competed against?
FERGUSON: Abdul Mutakabbir,
Andre Mason, Mahalia Bethea, Derrick Williams, Mark Zerat, Thunder Foot,
Lamar Thorton, Herb Wiles, Steve Thompson, Sheldon Wilkins. These were my
Do you believe Kata is an essential part of training
and if yes or no, why or why not?
kata is part of a well-rounded martial artist, today most young martial
artist would not even know the meaning of bunkai. Kata gives you balance,
coordination, and the ability to fight multiple attackers. Most of today's
martial artists don’t want to practice kata, it’s too much repetition for
them and they lack the discipline and sometimes the stamina to do a few
hundred at a time. So yes I do believe, kata is a vital part of your Martial
Do you train in weapons and is such training necessary and
teaches Kobudo, Bo & Sai to the advance black belts, my favorite is the Bo,
I practice Sakugawa No Kon sho, Sushi no Kun and Choun-no Kon. Weapons are
complementary to your kata, it also connects you back to the old Masters.
Photograph by Gina Tatum
Martialforce.com: Are you
currently teaching and if so at what location?
At this time I'm currently giving private
classes; I assist at teaching through the New York Do Jo’s and also continue
What do you teach those who want to learn Survival Skills?
first thing I teach is to know yourself, know your weaknesses and know your
Do you think that training in the Martial Arts played an
important role with who you are today?
In November 2005, I was diagnosed with prostate
cancer after 8 1/2 hours of surgery and two months in the VA Hospital, I was
told that I had no more than three years to live. However, in 2009,
my prognosis was revised I was told that I now have a 70-percent chance of
beating cancer. When a doctor looked me in the eye and said, “Staff Sergeant
Ferguson, you have cancer,” my entire insides were at war. I immediately
went to the dojo to sit with Bennett sensei and have a heart-to-heart
talk. I focused on the things that I had to do, to get ready for death if it
came, and to focus on the battle ahead. I drew on my fighting spirit, and
strived to personify and multiply it in order to succeed in combat against
the viciousness of cancer.
While I was in treatment, my practice was different. When I
was in a hospital bed for weeks I started doing practices in my head. I
would question kata, and reconnect with practice whenever possible. Although
the morphine or chemotherapy medications made this practice challenging, I
always connected through meditation.
One Saturday evening while lying in the bed, with around 2
inch Staples in my stomach, a tube running in the side of my stomach, four
ivies, a catheter, and morphine, I started to practice kata in my head.
Suddenly I saw Bennett sensei walked into the room, but I couldn't really
move or talk as good as I would have liked to. I asked him if he could
refresh my memory on a few moves in a kata.
He immediately dropped into his low stance and began
performing the kata, which to me looked as if he was moving a hundred and 50
miles an hour.
Bennett stayed there for quite some time; it must have been
over an hour. He continued going over kata right at the foot of my bed,
before he walked out of the room, he looked at me and said
GIVE UP! I will never forget that, it's
something that will always be with me forever. I credit years of practice
with Bennett sensei for giving me strength, focus and discipline that
guided me through the hard times and most useful through my musical Career.
Ferguson and Bennett
What would you consider your greatest accomplishment?
First, I would say my greatest accomplishment
is having my son and daughter, because my legacy should live on through
them. The next would be the creation of; YES WE CARE Incorporated, which is
my charity that helps the veterans and their families, and just human beings
that need a little help.
Do you have any plans to make DVD’s or books?
I currently have two
DVDs and 15 smooth jazz CDs. If you visit
you can preview all those products including OUTSTANDING framed
photography, that I took all around 500 to be exact. All of my products go
to fund my not-for-profit foundation.
Do you believe The Martial Arts
training would be beneficial for children and why?
Well, as a
former computer science teacher for the archdiocese of New York, I know that
children these days need a lot of discipline. It doesn't help that
cafeterias in our schools serve food that contribute to overweight
hypertension, and diabetes. So yes martial art training for children is a
good thing all around.
What are your thoughts on cross
training in regards to other styles of Martial Arts?
I think it’s okay in moderation, let me clarify that
statement, there are some who try to go to every discipline they can to
learn just a few techniques and that is something that I don't believe in.
If you're going to do something, do it well and if you're going to learn
something then learn it well. Show loyalty and remember where and who you
Do you think the
respect for Tradition is important and why or why not?
Western society when you get old, it means absolutely nothing because there
is no respect for the elderly. In the Eastern countries the older you get
the more they treat you with respect and kindness, why, because they believe
the older you are, the more knowledge and wisdom and traditions you possess
and can pass along. So to answer your question, YES IT IS VERY IMPORTANT. I
once asked a competitor at one of the local tournament in New York what
style of Martial Arts did he study, and who was the
founder he had no idea whatsoever.
In order to preserve the history of the martial arts that
were passed down one must know their heritage and the pioneers who came
What are your thoughts on teenagers being promoted to ranks such as 5th, 6th
and 7th degrees?
really don't think the level of maturity is there yet and the road of hard
knocks traveled long enough. It takes time, years of experience, and time
for one's body to develop and mature, not to mention the mental discipline
that is required. I don't think this would've been an issue back in the
16th or 17th century’s, back then proof of being called a Master was being
able to survive in life or death battles.
Martialforce.com: Do any of your
students compete in Sport Karate?
Yes we do but
we still maintain our traditional values such as scoring strong points and
not playing tag.
The dojo web
A special thanks to
Art In Motion Karate, Inc.
Master Eric King for getting me that Bo Staff, And also to Master
for the Bo Staff Picture.
Most of all to my friend and teacher Bennett Sensei for all
the years of knowledge you have given to me. Thank You!
Paul's 1st place
Black Belt Fighting awards
The twin tower
2. Malone's Garden state Nationals
The Duel of
three years in a row S.K.A east
The annual goju
open karate do championships
7. Ed Browns Invitational Championships
8. North Eastern Open karate Nationals
9. The NEMAC Associations Memorial Karate Tournament
10. Top finalists in David Washington's New York city karate
11. Top finalist in Miyazaki’s karate international
12. Tom Festa's Greater Metropolitan Nationals.
In addition, Paul has made Martial Arts history and we quote
from Sport Karate & Action Martial Arts Magazine. “ The nighttime finals
began with an opening performance by the junior students of Long Island Tae
Kwon Do accompanied with live music by Paul Sequence Ferguson. The opening
number was a perfectly synchronized accompaniment of Basai. The crowd was
overwhelmed, by this first ever anywhere live musician performing the
background music for the entire Martial Arts event.” Paul also customizes
music for forms and video.
Visit Him At
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES…