A Conversation With Anthony And Ottavia Bourdain: Part II

Image courtesy of Ottavia Bourdain

This post is the conclusion of a long interview conducted with Anthony and Ottavia Bourdain. If you missed the first segment, you can find it here:

Part I

Interviewer to Ottavia Bourdain: What do you think it would take to get Anthony in a gi and doing some jiu jitsu?

Ottavia Bourdain: Oh man, I don't know. I've tried. I think it's Mission Impossible. There are many things that I can make my husband do [laughs], but the gi...I don't think so. I mean, he might do boxing, because he's a big boxing fan, or he might try Muay Thai, but no the gi.

Interviewer to Anthony Bourdain: Do you guys ever plan out some of the trips for the episodes of the show so that Ottavia can train at certain gyms she might be interested in?

Anthony Bourdain: Yes we have. I'm always considering if there is a gym or a place to train if she comes along with me. We built the whole Rio show around her match. Certainly the shoot schedule has revolved around the UFC cards or competitions that she's planning to go to.

Interviewer to Ottavia Bourdain: Do you ever anticipate traveling to certain countries with your husband so that you can try different martial art disciplines?

Ottavia Bourdain: I'd like to do a Muay Thai camp in Thailand. When my husband planned to go to Thailand, I really wanted to go, but it was shortly after the birth of our daughter, and I didn't feel like leaving her behind for two weeks. That's always been a dream of mine, to spend a month in a training camp in Thailand.

Interviewer to Anthony Bourdain: Since you're not really interested in Brazilian jiu jitsu, would a different martial art appeal to you to learn?

Anthony Bourdain: To be perfectly honest with you, rolling around on a mat with a sweaty guy is not something in any way that interests me [laughs]. I like watching professional fights, but for me, particularly at my age, if the match is not over in 30 seconds, I'm in real trouble. I'm really uninterested in learning those techniques because it has no application to my life.

If I'm ever called upon to use fighting skills, it's gonna have to be an ashtray to the back of the head, or the first punch is going to count for a whole lot [laughs]. I'm more of a sucker puncher, cold-cocker, blunt object sort of guy. I think that's age appropriate. I don't have any illusions about duking it out with a 30 year old. That's just not going to happen. I don't have the lung capacity or physically fit enough to go a full round in a ring. Experience has taught me to hit them hard, hit them fast, or preferably when they're looking the other way. Then finish it real quick, by any means necessary. That's certainly not going to get you a belt in any gym I've ever heard of, and there's certainly not an audience for that.

Interviewer to Ottavia Bourdain: What was it like having a jiu jitsu match and winning in the home country of Brazil?

Ottavia Bourdain: I think it was one of the best experiences of my life. As I said before, the training leading up to the match was absolutely amazing. The day of the match is when I actually found out that the girl had so much more experience than me. The No Reservations crew went and filmed her training, so I was trying to get information, and all I could get was, 'She's really pretty. She has a butterfly tattoo', and I was like 'That's not going to help me' [laughs]. I was starting to get suspicious, because they were basically avoiding telling me about her.

Anthony Bourdain: My crew thought that Ottavia was in real trouble. They went to film the woman training in the morning, but I was not there. They told me, 'Oh man, Ottavia is really in trouble. This woman is good.' She was very good, very crisp and very precise with her technique. She scared them, and when the girls went into the actual match, they thought the likelihood was that Ottavia would probably lose.

Ottavia Bourdain: She was a Gracie Barra student, and that's where we had the match. She was not only a student, she worked there, so yeah, I was really nervous. Still, I trained hard, and I felt that I could win, and it happened, so it was amazing. After I won, I wasn't jumping up and down or celebrating because I felt I could have done more.

I won by points, I had an advantage and I kind of stalled the last 30 seconds. I knew I could have done something else, but I was just like...I became a point fighter [laughs]. I hate that, but I'm one of them now.

Anthony Bourdain: She fought a really smart fight, because this is not a situation, with six cameras on you, that millions of people are going to see, you're in a gym surrounded by basically a hostile audience, and you've got all the pressure and training leading up to this, to have made a tactical error in the last 30 seconds, as could well have happened. It was an eternity to watch. It was absolutely hellish to watch.

The girl was really good, and really smart, and was looking to capitalize, and almost capitalized with one near sweep, and all of the people in the gym cheered, but you recovered. It was murder. It was really tough to watch.

Interviewer to Anthony Bourdain: It sounds like you've made quite an effort to learn the ins and outs of your wife's craft.

Anthony Bourdain: It's been a steep and rapid learning curve for me. We watch a lot of fights together, we go to a lot of fights, and I've made something of an effort to learn the history , reading up on it , especially for the show. I took judo when I was 12 or 13 for a couple years, but I'd still say I only have a tiny amount of knowledge. I have to constantly ask Ottavia, 'What's going on? What's he trying to do? What's that called?'

Interviewer to Anthony Bourdain: What are your thoughts on Paula Deen?

Anthony Bourdain: It's a ripe subject for mockery, for sure. I'm not the most ethical guy in the world. I don't have a lot of principles, but making your personal brand "excess", you know, eating freakish amounts, dishes that celebrate huge amounts of sugar or salt, all the while knowing the consequences, in this case diabetes, and to keep quiet about it for all those years, only to turn around and make a deal with a sinister Danish pharmaceutical company.

It's just not something I would do, and I have certainly felt free to comment on. I'm criticizing a corporation and a business strategy. Her personally, there's a lot to respect about her. She represents an amazing life story and an amazing success story, but I think the food she's chosen to cook and some of the business decisions she's made, obviously I took issue with.

We all like fatty food from time to time, but she made that her personal brand. Her brand was basically "A life of excess without any consequence." Go ahead, feed your kid a brownie for breakfast, as she suggests in her children's cookbook. I'm all for fatty food. I eat a lot of it, and this is America, and we should be free to eat whatever we like and make our own choices. I just think it was disingenuous.

Interviewer to Anthony Bourdain: You mentioned that you feel that we should be free to make our own choices and eat whatever we want. How do you feel about the new mandate coming into effect in New York that doesn't allow for sodas to be sold in quantities over 16 ounces?

Anthony Bourdain: I feel like it's an infringement on my rights, and it goes against my Libertarian instincts, but I think it's without a doubt, a good thing for society. Look at us. Look at the shape we're in. We're in trouble here. I don't see it any differently than regulating cigarettes, which we had no problem doing. Taxing me, and pushing me out of restaurants until I quit. I think it will be good for society, but it's terrible that we've reached this point. The government is stepping in and taking food out of our hands. If you look at the health of the nation, clearly we need help.

Interviewer to Ottavia Bourdain: Are there any particular jiu jitsu masters you're interested in training with?

Ottavia Bourdain: [laughs] I want to train with Renato Laranja. I'd like to train at 10th Planet. We're probably going to be in Los Angeles in September, so I'll make it out there. I'd also like to train with Dave Camarillo.

Anthony Bourdain: I just want to point out that we shot a scene in Rio, before her match. Ottavia and I are eating basically meat on a stick somewhere. The entire scene, she's talking in this completely bizarre accent. She sounded like she was Romanian or Bulgarian. She'd been watching so much Renato Laranja, that she was talking in this quasi Brazilian, as interpreted by an Italian, accent. It's going to look completely wacked on TV [both laugh].

Follow Ottavia via her Twitter, @OttaviaBourdain and follow Anthony via his Twitter, @Bourdain


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