Q.O.M.A (Part 1)


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It’s Women History Month and it’s time to recognize the Queens Of Martial Arts. Here they are in no particular order.

Valentina “The Bullet” Shevchenko

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Valentina “The Bullet” Shevchenko is a Russian born mix martial artist. She began training in Taekwondo at the age of 5, and had her first fight two years after that. Valentina quickly became a decorated fighter known for her accuracy and counter strikes. Shevchenko discovered Muay Thai at age 12 and immediately turned pro.

Since then, the Bullet has been running amok around the fighting circuits earning title after title in big organizations like K1 and IFMA. She currently has over 500 fights and has defeated the top female fighters in the world. Some of her victims include, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Julianna Pena, and Holly Holm.

Today, Valentina is the # contender in the UFC 125 lbs flyweight division. She is constantly sharpening her striking skills and is always adding new weapons to her ground game. In addition to hand to hand combat, Valentina is also very skilled with the Gat. Her IG page (bulletvalentina) is filled with videos and photos of her popping off her pistol on the range.

Shevchenko is an accomplished and  complete martial artist. She is a Queen Of Martial Arts.


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The first time I heard the name Westside Gunn and Conway The Machine was on the Combat Jack Podcast. The host of the popular podcast kept praising these two rappers from Buffalo labeling them the hardest MCs out. It wasn’t until my cousin came down from New York that I really got familiar. It was a rare cold night in Miami. We were heading to Art Basel when my cousin popped a CD in the whip. The song Jimmy Hart came on and that was all she wrote. I was hooked.
(Westside Gunn; Jimmy Hart)

For the past six years, Westside Gunn and his brother Conway The Machine have been building a cult following by becoming the flyest duo in rap since Rae and Ghost. The siblings  have been flooding the internet with a litany of hard ass mixtapes such as Gunn’s Hitler Wears Hermes series, and Conway’s Rejects On Steroids.

In 2016, Westside Gunn unleashed his critically acclaimed debut album Flygod. The industry quickly took notice. Eminem promptly sign the siblings’ Griselda Records Label to his own Shady imprint.


What separates these two MCs from your average rapper is their flow and word play. These dudes are taking that b-boy shit to another level reminiscent of Nas, Mobb Deep, and Wu.

“Designer clothes to body most

The Mazy flow

This is verbal intercourse Nas and Ghost

Fire coming out the nozzle from every shot I throw

I got shot right after that

Bodies started dropping tho”

(Westside Gunn & Conway; Robert Horry)

The poetry is potent and loaded with high fashion designer references, and mafioso gun-talk. The flows are flawless, these cats make the street life sound like something worth aspiring to. Bricks are broken down, pistols are popped, and haters are bodied on the mean streets of Buffalo.



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The bulk of Westside Gunn and Conway’s music is crafted by Buffalo-based producer Daringer. The beats are stripped down and uncanny. The loops are slowed down as if they were dipped in lean. Drums are often muted letting the sinister melodies do all the clapping. But don’t let the simplicity fool you. Daringer manages to move the needle. This producer is taking the genre to the next level. It’s really refreshing to hear his less-is-more approach in the midst of all the 808 infused trap music. In a recent interview, the producer stated “ I’m kind of doing it the throwback way, more simplistic. You’re not hearing me play all sorts of instruments on top of it, or adding synths” (http://nahright.com/2016/09/15/in-the-lab-with-daringer/). Daringer names DJ premier, Alchemist, and the RZA as his influences so you know his coming from a good place.

(Westside Gunn; Medusa Plate)

It’s fair to say that we can expect more heat from these boys from Buffalo now that their label, Griselda Records has been picked by Eminem’s Shady Records and Interscope Records. Hopefully, the Universal Music Group doesn’t try to water down these artists with pop features and glossy production.

The Youngest In Charge

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In 2015, a friend of mine told me he has training with a new Muay Thai instructor called Asa. According to my boy, Asa was the real deal, a martial artist who stressed technique and tradition, a proven fighter who was destroying the competition. I was skeptical when I heard this because I knew that authentic Muay Thai Boxing was and still is hard to find in Florida.

Nevertheless, Asa Ten Pow kept popping up in my social media peripheral vision. It didn’t take long before I double clicked on one of his links and got caught up in his dynamic highlight reel. The footage was incredible! The technique and swagger were on point.

A few months later my friend invited me to Asa’s gym called FKA (Florida Kickboxing Academy).

Asa and I literally kicked it off the moment I stepped onto his mats. After training with him and witnessing his come-up, I felt compelled to expose this Muay Thai phenom not only for his own accomplishments, but also for the success of the other fighters that he is currently developing and training.

This past January I had the privilege to have a sit down with the boss and pick his brain.

Below is a clip of Asa and I talking about training, leadership, visualization and much more.


Asa will be stepping back into the ring  on the Triumphant Combat card, which will take place on February 25th at the Oakland Marriott City Center in Oakland California.




Kings Of Martial Arts

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As Black History Month comes to an end, I thought it would be a good time to recognize the best black martial artists of all time. But first let’s define martial arts. Wikipedia states that martial arts are a codified system of combat practices. I can agree with that. To me that includes boxing, muay thai, wrestling, BJJ, fencing, and any type of weapon-base training. But today, I will stick with what I know; hand-to-hand combat. This list is not about dojo dwelling purists, or who can perform the best kata. This category is about proven prize fighters who have competed at the highest level. Here are the black Kings of Martial Arts.

Marvelous Marvin Hagler

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Marvin Hagler is responsible for my involvement in combat sports. Throughout the 80’s I watched this hard, chiseled, southpaw annihilate the competition. Between 1980 and 1987, Marvelous reigned as the undisputed middleweight champion. This king defended his title 12 times which is the second longest unified championship reign in boxing history. In addition to that, Marvin Hagler still holds the highest knockout percentage of all undisputed middleweight champions, at 78%. That’s crazy!

Some of Hagler’s victims include Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran, and Olympic silver medalist John Mugabi who was 25-0 at the time with 25 knock out. Hagler stopped Mugabi in the 11th round of their brutal showdown.

One factor that puts Hagler at the top of this list his ability to switch from southpaw to orthodox stance and knock his opponents out with either hand. But what is even more impressive than his strength and athleticism, is Hagler’s mindset and discipline. This man use to lock himself up in a closed down motel for his fight camps. He called this regiment “going to prison”. Hagler also preferred to jog in combat boots calling sneakers “sissy shoes”. Obviously, Hagler was familiar with pain, hardship and had a high tolerance for discomfort. With an impressive record of 67-3-2, it’s hard to argue against crowning the southpaw from Newark New Jersey as the King Of Martial Arts.

Ernesto “Mr. Perfect” Hoost

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Born on July 11, 1965 Ernesto Hoost is a professional kickboxer hailing out of Holland. Hoost began training martial arts in his early teens. He went on to earn titles in several disciplines like Muay Thai, Karate, kickboxing and Savate. Mr. Perfect is one of the pioneers who helped popularize the Dutch kickboxing style of heavy punching combos and devastating low kicks.

As a four-time K-1 World Champion, Ernesto Hoost is one of the greatest kickboxers of all time. This Suriname/Dutch fighter holds wins over formidable opponents like Peter Aerts, Maurice Smith, Mirko Cro Cop, Jerome Le Banner, and Ray Sefo to name a few. In addition to these notable victories, Ernesto Hoost has also trained legends like Fedor Emelianenko, Tyrone Spong, and Joanna Jędrzejczyk.

With over 120 fights, Ernesto Hoost reigns supreme.

Anderson “The Spider” Silva

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Coming straight out Curitiba Brazil, Anderson “The Spider” Silva is perhaps the greatest mix-martial artist ever. Although he is known for his Muay Thai prowess, Silva’s first discipline was TaeKwonDo followed by Jiu Jitsu. Since his family  couldn’t afford to pay for Jiu Jitsu lessons, Anderson began training by observing and eventually rolling with the affluent kids in his neighborhood who were able to pay for the sacred lessons.

At the age of 16, Anderson Silva discovered Muay Thai, which became his prefered martial discipline. Today the crafty southpaw holds a BJJ black belt under the tutelage of the Nogueira brothers.

Aside from that, The Spider held the UFC Middleweight belt from 2006 to 2013 making him the longest title holder in UFC history. This title run includes 16 consecutive wins and 10 title defenses. With an overall record of 43-8 in MMA, Anderson Silva will go down as one of the best to ever live.

Jon “Bones” Jones

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Jon Jones fighting career began as a stand-out high-school wrestler in New York State. After graduating high school and dropping out of college, Jones channeled his taste for blood and embarked on an impressive MMA career. He burst onto the international scene in 2008 when he made his UFC debut, winning a unanimous decision over a stepping stone.

Following his debut, Jon went on and cleaned out the Light heavyweight division by dismantling hall of fame fighters like Mauricio Rua, Lyoto Machida, Ryan Bader, Rashad Evans, and Daniel Cormier. The only blemish on his impressive record of 24-1 is a disqualification loss against Matt Hamill who Jones was man-handling at the time; thus, this man is virtually undefeated in the UFC. In 2011, Jon Bones Jones became the youngest UFC Champion in history. He went on to defend that title several times before being stripped for testing positive for cocaine and PEDs.

What makes Jones a special fighter is his fearlessness, his ability to dig deep, and most importantly, his willingness to take risks. Jon Jones is not afraid to throw caution to the wind and deliver spinning techniques that are usually frowned upon because they tend to leave a fighter vulnerable to counter attacks. Bow down.

Yoel “The Soldier Of God” Romero

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Before becoming the number one Middleweight contender in the UFC, Yoel Romero was a decorated freestyle wrestler with numerous world titles to his name. Yoel capped off his wrestling career by winning an Olympic silver medal in 2000.

After defecting from Cuba in 2007, Romero began cage fighting in 2009, and made his way into the octagon in April 2013. From that point on, the Soldier Of God, quickly established himself as a dangerous mauler by smashing top-of-the-food-chain fighters like Tim Kennedy, Lyoto Machida, Chris Weidman, and Luke Rockhold.

What is scary is that Romero doesn’t only rely on his superior wrestling, the soldier of God has develop an awkward yet effective striking style that keeps putting his opponents on their backs. This 40 year-old man possesses an unusual amount of explosive power and I predict he will be holding the UFC belt before the end of the year.


“The Best Punching Bag I’ve Ever Used”

I’ve used many punching bags: Thai bags, teardrop bags, even those old-school Century dummies.

It wasn’t until a trip to Thailand that I got to sample the tire bag. I was hooked. I kicked that thing to hell and back.

Once I got back to the States, I forgot all about it. I went back to my favorite teardrop at the gym and kept at training.

It wasn’t until I saw Buakaw ripping through a tire bag that old memories began to surface.

Look at that ferocity, that power, that speed… and the bag doesn’t give an inch. I knew I needed one of my own — a little piece of Thailand in my backyard.

Before the tire bag, I considered other options. Whatever bag I chose would have to hold its own against the elements. Just as pressing was the need for a super affordable option. Punching bags come in all dimensions, and prices range between $100-550 USD. But the cheapest ones (i.e. the ones I could afford at the time) lacked the durability of those on the higher end of the spectrum.

After doing a little research, I came to realize that the best punching bag money can buy would cost no more than twenty bucks and that it was none other than the tire bag. There’s a reason the Thais have been using it for decades. That rugged, recycled rubber is cheap, reliable and will condition you like no other punching bag you’ll find online.

Building the Money Bag

Since I was working with a tight budget, constructing a punching bag out of tires was ideal. All I needed to make this instrument was:

  • used tires (which I got for free from the local tire shop)
  • bolts, nuts & washers
  • a chain and a chain connector

These items cost me less than $20.00 at Home Depot. Putting it all together was easy:

Sure, it was dirt cheap, but for me, its durability was the big selling point. I needed something I could smash and leave outside without worrying about it succumbing to the elements.

Tires are weatherproof and they can absorb enormous abuse. I hit the bag at least three times a week and like my best opponent, it’s still swinging after every round. Talk about grit! That bag is indestructible.

Surprisingly, the best part about the tire bag is that it has conditioned my shins, hands, knees and elbows like no other equipment. Hitting the tire bag is real. I feel it every time.

It’s the closest thing I found to striking an actual person. Sometimes it feels visceral and real, like I’ve landed my instep right on an opponent’s neck; at other times, it feels like I’ve smashed my shin bone against an elbow.

Also, since I prefer MMA gloves, I immediately feel the pain when I don’t punch properly. This device has kept me honest. It has improved my technique by forcing me to hit it with control and precision.

Pound-for-pound, the tire bag — the money bag is the best bang for your buck on the market.



At home with my tire bag.


PS: This article was originally published in June 2017, on muaythaiguy.com