What’s Up Martial Artists! Welcome to The Black Belt Podcast a Martial Arts Lifestyle Show hosted by highly acclaimed multi style martial artist Sifu Harinder Singh in partnership with Black Belt Magazine. “We are going to bridge the gap between sport, tradition, and reality. Join me as I sit down with world class practitioners to discuss their lifestyles to teach you about their mindset, training, and fighting methods so that we can grow from their wisdom.” Season 1 guests include Michael Jai White, Jocko Willink, Herb Perez, Rickson Gracie, Mike Swain, Justin Wren, John “The Pitmaster” Hackleman, Tony Blauer, Chatri Sityodang, Dave Kovar, Meisha Tate, Burton Richardson, Master Wong, Master Ken, Mike Ninomiya, and Jackson Rudolph. Follow Sifu Harinder Singh @sifusingh and Black Belt Magazine @blackbeltmag. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, RSS feed, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. DISCLAIMER: Our guests are highly trained experts and masters of their craft. They take many safety precautions to mitigate the risks involved in the practice of martial arts. All training methods and fighting strategies discussed in these podcasts should not be attempted without qualified supervision and training with professionals.
#1: Big John McCarthy – “Let’s Get It On”
“The ability to relax under pressure is the trait that all the greats share. Panic is the most useless emotion that humans can have in any situation. Fear is a good thing, it tells you , you have a problem, the question is how do I fix that problem, bringing panic into it is not going to help the problem. The people that are the ones that tend to come out on top are the ones that can manage their emotions and manage everything that is occurring in that chaos. They understand that it is ok to lose a little bit, they don’t get mad or angry when someone hits them, they acknowledge it, everything in fighting is a mindset, it’s the mindset of I may not win every second, I don’t have to win every battle, I don’t have to win every engagement, in the end, I have to win the war, this comes from attrition. Putting shots on people that slowly and systematically diminish their ability to put shots on you.” – Big John McCarthy
My guest this episode is the one and only Big John McCarthy. He is a commentator for Bellator MMA, and is a former mixed martial arts referee, who is best known for officiating in the UFC. He is a former officer of the Los Angeles Police Department and has been involved with the UFC since the very beginning. The UFC started with very few rules, and Big John was instrumental in creating the Unified Rule Set which led to fighter safety and ultimately the growth of the sport. He is famous for his catchphrase “Let’s get it on” and currently co-hosts an MMA and Combat sports podcast, titled “Weighing In” with Josh Thompson.
This episode is all about the physical and mental evolution of combat sports and combat athletes. My key takeaway is that Panic is the most useless emotion that a human can have in any situation. Fear is a good thing, it tells you that you have a problem, but bringing panic into the situation is not going to help the problem. The people that come out on top in a combat sport or in life are the ones who can manage their emotions and manage everything that is occurring in that chaos. They understand that it is ok to lose a little bit, they don’t get angry or upset when an opponent or life hits them, rather they relax under the pressure and start to make conscious choices in the chaos. We also dive deep into the evolution of mixed martial arts from UFC1 to the present moment where MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world. Tune in to a truly eye-opening experience and hear first-hand from someone who has been in the trenches since day one.
#2: Michael Jai White – The Ego is The Enemy
“Don’t take yourself too seriously, if you do it is about your ego. If I get my ass kicked, I will brag about it, because then it means I am learning something. We go into these things as insecure beings, I was no different. But be willing to learn, my philosophy revolves around the concept of learning. I have progressed a great deal, because every time I train with someone, I will come out better in some way. I want to grow every time.” – Michael Jai White
Returning as my guest this episode is Michael Jai White, a highly trained martial artist, and actor. Michael has broken barriers as a Hollywood star and is an International Box office sensation. He is a national martial arts champion, a special education teacher, and a Black Belt under the legendary Bill “Superfoot” Wallace. He was awarded Black Belt Magazines, 2015 Man of the Year.
This episode is all about approaching the study of martial arts with humility and honesty. My key takeaway is that the Ego is the enemy and it stands in the way of progress and growth. Humility relaxes the Ego and allows martial artists to face their insecurities and control issues. By repeatedly putting yourself in uncomfortable positions and letting go of what other people think you will become comfortable expressing your authentic self and this will unlock your true hidden potential. We also dive deep into the value of sparring, and how to get the most out of your sessions. Michael shares great stories of his encounters with Floyd Mayweather, Donald Cerrone, and Michael Bisbing. This was a fascinating conversation about martial arts, philosophy, and mindset, tune in for another great episode with Michael Jai White.
#3: Erik Paulson - "The Creative Act of Martial Arts"
“It doesn’t matter where it comes from as long as it works, and you don’t know if it works unless you experiment with it. In order to get good at everything you got to break it all up and pull it apart. Find the common thread, that’s how the styles will merge.” -- Erik Paulson
My guest on this episode is Erik Paulson who is an Encyclopedia of Martial Arts and the first American to win the World Light Heavyweight Shooto Championship in Japan. He was trained by legendary instructors like Guro Dan Inosanto, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, Gene Lebell, Yori Nakamura, Rigan Machado, Rickson Gracie, Tim Tackett, Ajarn Chai, and Billy Robinson. He is a multi-style Black Belt and master instructor of Jeet Kune Do, Kick Boxing, Savate, Shoot Fighting, Filipino Martial Arts, Muay Thai, Boxing, Wrestling, Catch Wrestling, and a 6’th degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is the founder of Combat Submission Wrestling and STX Kickboxing. He runs the CSW Training Center in Fullerton, California, where he has trained MMA Fighters like Josh Barnett, Ken Shamrock, Cub Swanson, Sean Sherk, James Wilks, and Brock Lesnar.
This episode is all about connection and seeking the common thread in all martial arts. My key takeaway is that martial arts is a creative act. We must be humble and open so that we can learn and absorb from all sources. What we learn must be tested so that we know that we can make it work, and the only way to test it is to experiment with it. Martial Arts is a creative process, of transforming knowledge, wisdom, to understanding. Erik Paulson is a true genius of the game, his understanding of the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of martial arts sets him apart and allows him to mentor and guide his students toward excellence. This is a special episode, filled with insight and old-school stories of Jeet Kune Do and the development of MMA from someone who has first-hand knowledge and experience. Tune in for an unforgettable episode.
#4: Billy Blanks – "Heart of a Champion (Transformation Begins from the Inside Out)"
“Tae Bo sold 115 million copies and revolutionized the fitness world. It changed the way people talked about fitness, I was the first person that talked about inside out. Most people didn’t really talk about the inside, most people talked about changing your hips, your legs, your bum, and your arms, but nobody talked about the heart. I was the only one talking about the heart. If you really want to change your life, you have to change what is going on on the inside. What if all of a sudden God gave you the best body in the world, would that change who you are as a person? No, because the inside is still the same, outside may look different but what is carrying that body is still the same thought pattern. Change the inside before the outside can change.”—Billy Blanks
My guest this episode is the one and only Billy Blanks who is a 9’th Degree Black Belt and one of the greatest Karate Fighters in history. He is a 7-time world Karate Champion, the first Amateur Athletic Union Champ in 1975, and a Golden Gloves boxing Champion of Champions. He was the captain of the United States Karate Team and won over 30 Gold medals in international competitions. He is the founder of the sensational “Tae Bo” fitness system that sold over 115 million copies and revolutionized the fitness world. Mr. Blanks was inducted into the world Karate Hall of Fame in 1982.
This episode is all about transformation from the inside out. My key takeaway is that success in martial arts and life begins with unlocking the heart. We all experience fears and doubts that cause us to put up protective walls, these walls stop us from feeling, growing, and honestly expressing ourselves. Our true gifts remain hidden behind these walls, but the practice of martial arts pierces these walls, and allows us to discover who we truly are and gives us the ability to face our challenges with courage, confidence, and clarity. We also dive deep into training philosophy and how to perform under pressure at the highest levels of competition. We discuss the value of testing your skills, to see how you can improve and to find out where you stand instead of focusing on outcomes like winning and losing. Mr. Blanks shares some great stories of overcoming adversity, the early Karate Scene, and finding greatness through the service of others. I was really moved by this episode, and Mr. Billy Blanks truly has the heart of a champion.
#5: Val Mijailovic – Karate is Harmony
“When I was coming up, we didn’t look at anybody else, we didn’t glorify anybody else, instead we learned by discovering what we could do. Everybody was different. Now days there is so much information out there and it is so easily available. So now we try to become like others, and this takes away from that spiritual and physical muscle memory experience, that one needs to discover themselves.” – Val Mijailovic
My guest this episode is Hanshi Val Mijailovic, who is an 8’th degree Karate Black Belt under the legendary Soke Tak Kubota, and was also trained in Judo and Iaido. Hanshi Val was an international competitor and champion throughout the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, winning the USA JKA Championships and the IKA World Championships. He is the owner and publisher of Martial Arts Masters Magazine and has produced over 700 martial arts instructional videos.
This episode is all about cultivating instincts and discovering yourself as a martial artist. My key takeaway is that Karate and all Martial Arts are truly about Harmony. Cultivating peace and balance within yourself is essential to success in life and in the heat of a battle. To study oneself in a relationship with their opponent is truly the path towards mastery. We also dive deep into training methods, fighting strategy, and the importance of becoming a good teacher. Karate is not about fighting but about taking care of others and caring about their well-being. But above all martial arts teaches us to how learn, how to live, and how to experience life. This was an amazing episode filled with so much wisdom, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
#6: Graciela Casillas - Trailblaze Your Own Style
“My goal in training is to build a student’s reflexes not just memorizing a technique. Building reflexes by discarding the drills, and eventually being able to free flow, so you can react to any angle of attack, if you train that way you will never be caught off guard because you are prepared for any line of attack, it doesn’t matter the trajectory of the weapon because you have already trained it, as opposed to set techniques that may not fit the situation.” – Graciela Casillas
My guest this episode is Graciela Casillas who is a former Boxing and Kickboxing World Champion. She was the first athlete to simultaneously hold both titles. She was originally a student of Taekwondo and full-contact Karate and a 3rd degree Black Belt in Kenpo and Kodenkan Jujitsu. She was trained as an instructor by legends like Guro Dan Inosanto and Grandmaster Angel Cabales and is currently a college Academic Counselor and Educator. She was awarded Black Belt Magazine's and Inside Kung-Fu Magazine's "Woman of the Year" in 1989 and inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame. In 2020, she was inducted into the International Women's Boxing Hall of Fame.
This episode is all about trailblazing your own path in this world. My key takeaway is that as martial artists we should all evolve and develop our own expression and style of movement. We begin our training by imitating and emulating our teachers, but we must continue the path of exploration and discover our strengths and weaknesses, and from their look for our own unique opportunities for growth. From this growth we will learn valuable lessons that will lead to the creation of a better version of ourselves. We also dive deep into teaching and training philosophies and how to discover your own truth. Graciela Casillas is an educator and true martial arts pioneer who inspired paved the way for women in combat sports. Tune in and enjoy a fantastic episode.
Martial Arts Practitioner
Quite Insightful podcast. Amazon guests and very informative for anyone interested in Martial Arts.
Host is terrible
Host makes every show about him not the guest
Couldn’t stop doing Double Roundhouses after listening!
Excellent podcast, very insightful. Definitely worth listening! #DoubleRoundhouse