After reading a Forbes.com profile of Tucker Max, a controversial Internet star who'd turned into an absurdly successful book author, I noticed that a very brief quote about the good qualities of MMA was almost buried into the piece. I reached out to Tucker in hopes of getting a few quick blurbs about the positive mention of MMA in a mainstream media publication and then mashing the whole thing together as a short post here on Bloody Elbow.
Tucker ruined those hopes by bouncing back and forth with me in a nearly 4500 word Q&A session, which is now the five part interview being featured here on Bloody Elbow. The back and forths that we went through showed that Max views MMA as a source of physical betterment, complex and useful techniques, great friends and astonishing personal growth - which should be surprisingly universal to combat sports followers and participants reading this.
The first part of this interview dealt with Tucker Max's discovery of Brazilian jiu jitsu, subsequent humbling and the transition into training MMA. The second gave us the surprisingly good methodology of his training with MMA hillbilly Reggie Warren and moved us to Max's present day training in Austin, Texas. The third part essentially asked Tucker why he does all of this and why he is willing to stand up on this platform and talk about MMA. In the fourth, I'm tossing him as many questions as I possibly can and he's fielding them with ease. In this last part, I surprise him a bit with a question about Jeremie "Kamikaze" Myers and he launches into a great story before we close things out with a few last questions.
This interview is done partly in support of his latest books, Hilarity Ensues and Sloppy Seconds, yet the interview is 100% Tucker, 100% relevant to MMA and there is no advertising or review thing going on here. Max was genuinely surprised by me reaching out and by my questions and welcomed the chance to talk about something other than his debauchery. I present his answers exactly as written (minus the bleeping out of a few cuss words). The books hit stores earlier this week and can be ordered online as well.
Hit the jump for Part Five.
Tucker Max: I never had an "end" goal with MMA; I want the same things in the future that its given me in the past, which I kinda talked about above. MMA is not a thing I'm doing for a period of my life. To me, it's now a part of who I am. At this point, I couldn't imagine not training anymore.
The only other thing I want from MMA is actually not something I want, but something I want to give back: I'd love to expose more people to the sport, men and women. MMA has given so much to me, I'd love to figure out a way to share it. Plus, I think fighting is something very deep in the human psyche, and MMA is a way to safely, productively express that urge. Beyond that, I think MMA teaches so many positive things to so many people that could benefit, but don't realize it. I don't see myself as being any strong voice for it or anything, just another person who does it and loves it and helps others start.
BT: Have you been successful at converting friends and family to active participants or casual fans?
TM: Oh yes. So many of my friend have seen the amazing changes in both my body and my life as a result of MMA, and they took it up. I've gotten two girls seriously into muay thai, and both are now really good at it, like competition level good. And I would say at least three of my male friends are serious enough at now that they're maybe better than me at gi jiu-jitsu. One competes a lot and wins grappling tournaments and s**t, I think he's a f***ing purple belt with some major tournament wins.
BT: What was the story with the sparring match with Jeremie Myers in Ohio?
TM: How did you know about that? I don't think I've ever written about that. That's a funny story: So right before the book tour, this random guy from Ohio emails me, explains that he's like 10-1 as an amateur at MMA, is about to turn pro, and was wondering if I would sponsor him. I normally ignore email where people ask me for things, but since I love MMA, I made this guy a deal: I would sponsor him for $200, but he had to beat me in an MMA fight. Not a full fight, but sparring. He immediately took the deal.
Here's the funny thing: I didn't tell him that I had ever trained any sort of martial art, in fact, I think I lied and told him I didn't. I actually did this because I wanted to see what kind of guy he was; I knew he was a more skilled fighter than me of course, but I figured if I went in there, and he thought I had no idea what I was doing, I'd have about a 30 second window to throw a submission on him before he was expecting it. I wanted to see how he handled this, how mentally tough he was--if I was going to let him put my name on his ass, he'd better not just be a good fighter, but I wanted to make sure he wasn't a quitter or anything like that.
During the book tour for Assholes Finish First, I met him at a gym in Ohio, and I let him take me down, and then I threw probably the greatest omoplata of my life on him. I could tell he was in shock, but the dude kept his head, patiently worked his escape, and I blew my one shot at subbing him. I was able to stay with him for about 5 or 10 minutes, but the only advantage I had was surprise and once that was gone, it was only a matter of time, and he got me.
Jeremie actually lives in Austin now, and trains out of the Relson Gracie affiliate. He just won his last pro fight in Dallas, I think he's 4-3 overall. He has all the tools to become a really good fighter, he just has to dedicate himself to putting in the work.
To ruin the mystery of how I knew, the answer to Max's question is that Jeremie appeared on The Verbal Submission, a radio show that I co-host with Brian Hemminger of MMA Mania and Gerry Rodriguez. He was on our 23rd episode last year and we are now coming up on our 72nd next Sunday at 6:30 pm ET. Our 71st episode featured interviews with Diego Sanchez, Sheldon Westcott and Dave Camarillo.
BT: Did you tour facilities around the country during the previous book tours or have plans for doing that?
TM: No, I'm too busy on book tours to train, but I travel a lot and train at different places sometimes. For example, this past week in NYC, I rolled at Marcelo Garcia's place for the first time. It was incredible. I've never rolled with a group of guys who - top to bottom - had more amazing open guards. I rolled for an hour with like nine different guys, and I don't think I f***ing passed one person. Cool guys though; they put an a**-whipping on me, but they did it in the nicest, most instructive way possible. If I lived in NYC, I would definitely train there full time.
Note: This is not the first time Tucker has spoken about MMA the positive effects he perceives as being associated with or derived from the sport. At the 2011 Ancestral Health Symposium, he spoke for about twenty minutes, using a Powerpoint slideshow to illustrate his ideas of fighting occupying a necessary societal function. The video is embedded below - although be warned that it was recorded with something like a webcam and frameskips a bunch. The audio is clear and you can sort of riffle through to see the slides and the general points.
BT: How would you characterize the immediate response and the eventual after effects at the Ancestral Health Symposium to your presentation on the positive effects of controlled violence through MMA and MMA-like activities?
TM: The response was overwhelmingly positive. The people at that thing are mostly academics and people who, let's say aren't super athletic or anything like that. But I think they understood exactly what I was saying, because my message is one that is very primal and resonates at a deep level with people: Fighting is part of our ancestry. Better to recognize that, understand it, and then express that part of ourselves in a safe, productive way, than suppress it and have it come out in
other destructive ways.
Since that speech, I've had a ton of people say they've started training some for of martial arts. If the type of people who were at the conference start training and understanding MMA/BJJ, the world is going to be a better place, and more people will understand how amazing martial arts are for humans.
End of Part Five
Thanks for sticking with us the whole time. It was a novel experience and I hope it was worth the read.