Every so often here at the X-Ray Spectator we’ll have guest posters. The following is the first. It is an interview conducted by our no 1 ace reporter on the street, E.
Interview with M of street punk superstars THE FREEBOOTERS and BLACK ROSE MARTIAL ARTS, part of the WHITECHAPEL ANARCHIST GROUP in London.
1) Firstly could you tell us when Black Rose first started up and give a brief history of the club?
Black Rose is on the go about a year now; we started training in LARC, an anarchist social centre in east london. We train every saturday, and the odd time during the week. We are a part of the All London Anarchist Revolutionary Movement (ALARM).
The reason, or should I say one of the reasons for starting the club, was a few of us have trained in martial arts, MMA in particular for a number of years, but as you’re probably well aware, MMA clubs and BJJ clubs are extremely expensive. Alot of us would find we would be able to train maybe for one or two months, and due to money might not be able to train for another few months.
The ethos of the club is to provide a free space to train. We are very clear with new people who start that we will not teach you a martial art, and if that’s what you want, you need to find, for want of a better word a proper club. What we do is share skills; there are a few people who have been training many years who generally lead the class, but if someone wants to show us something they trained during the week, some submission, or sweep or punching combo, everyone does that. It’s all about what the people who are there on the day want to do.
We also now have a kids club, which is based on the same ethos, which train a couple of times a week.
2) What do you guys train in? Is it strictly MMA or is the training broken down into different disciplines like BJJ, Muay Thai, Greco Roman etc.
We generally break it down, about an hour striking, 30 mins grappling, then sparring and rolling at the end. Space is becoming a big question for us at the moment, as LARC is quite small, for more than 7 or 8 people. We regularly get 12 to 14 at the class now, which does limit what we can train, but the other option is renting a space, which I think everyone is keen to avoid, as then we would have to start charging, which of course we don’t want to do. So practically what that means is we can’t work throws and take downs, we can do stand up and ground work, but we don’t have the space for working takedowns, unless there’s only 4 or 5 of us on a given day.
In relation to different disciplines, we regularly have people who are mates from our other gyms come down and take a class for a day, so we have had some pro fighters down, doing thai with us, another one doing catch wrestling with us. Recently we have had another guy get involved who is a BJJ blue belt, so he has being showing us some really good stuff as well, and bringing the standard of grappling up, as there were a few of us with no-gi experience, but in something as technical as BJJ its good to have someone who has graded to show you the finer points.
3) What has your involvement with the club been and what’s your martial arts background?
I guess I was there from the start, I think there’s a good core group of about 8 to 10 of us, who have been involved from the start, so that includes the various meetings, fundraising, scabbing equipment etc that it takes to keep the show running.
As regards my Martial Arts background, I think jack of all trades and master of none, would some it up, Karate as a kid, which I got back into about 10 years ago, MMA for a few years, judo and BJJ here and there, but for the last year or so I’ve being just concentrating on boxing. Just give a shout out to Combat Temple, West London and me boys Reza, Ali and Fitzy there.
4) I imagine it’s great to have like minded people to train with as well as being able to really focus on what you want to get out of the training practically, ie: specifically training from an Anti-Fascist/Anarchist perspective…Thoughts?
Ya, it’s absolutely great training with mates, especially ones with the experience some of our guys have. On the question of Anti-fascist and anarchist perspective, of course training, keeping fit, knowing how to throw a punch and more importantly how to take one is good…But, and this is just my point of view, not specifically the groups, I have a big problem with self defence and “street” martial arts, I have no time for it, and think its nonsense, for me boxing / MMA / grappling – these are sports, and should be trained as such. Fair enough there’s going to be some benefit in confrontation, but I think if your first love isn’t the sport and the competition, your priorities are all wrong. Lets be honest, being involved in anti fascism, yer top boy is usually an huge lump whose never set foot in a gym in his life, I don’t buy into the what you train in the gym can work on the street craic. I think it gives people false confidence. I could go on and on about this as its a pet hate of mine…but like I said this is just my opinion, not specifically the groups.
5) I hear you guys are hosting a workshop with Jeff Monson. Tell us a bit about that. How did that come about? Has he worked with the club before?
This is really exciting for the club, it’s happening on the 11th of March, we have just had a successful fundraiser (Thanks ALARM / Dissendent Island) which means we can rent a proper matted dojo and provide the seminar free to our members, which was very important to us. How it came about was Dims brass neck, he just emailed Jeff, told him about what we did, and would he fancy having a look next time he is in England. Jeff being the amazin boyo he is, offered to do a private seminar for us, which is amazing, to have a former UFC heavyweight contender, get involved with us.
6) It seems the club has strong links with other organisations and campaigns on the left. Tell us a bit about that.
Well the club was an essential part of the Whitechapel Anarchist Group, which has since disbanded and gone on to form ALARM. We also have connections and personnel involved in the past and present with afa, antifa, Republican groups, prisoner support groups etc, as well as some contacts with progressive football casuals and ultras. I guess the usual bag when your involved in this type of politics.
7) I hear you will be hosting an MMA tournament at the end of 2012. Tell us a bit about that. I know there have been similar events held by Anti-Fascist groups in the Ukraine and elsewhere. Is this the first of its kind in London?
Ya, well basically inspired by the Ukrainian tournaments, we decided to host one of our own this year, I guess compared to the videos you see of the Ukrainian stuff, we want to have a bit more of a beginner friendly rule set, to encourage other groups to get involved. The main focus is going to build links with other groups who may be training, or may want to start training, also it’s always good to have something to train towards, so it gives your training a bit more direction, and gives you the push when you’re feeling like you couldn’t be bothered.
As far as I’m aware it’s going to be the first event of its type in the UK, but I am open to correction on that.
8) Lastly how can people get involved or join the club if they’re living in London and are interested. Any other things you want to add?
To get involved in the club come down and get to know us, we train at LARC every saturday from 12 onwards, come to one of the red and black clubs, which is a monthly social on the third friday of every month, get to know the people involved. Simple as that really. I guess we don’t want to hear, “I couldn’t give a bollox about politics, I just want somewhere to train for free” this is by people involved in progressive movements for people involved in progressive movements.
Just like to wish you all the best in your Training Eric, and hopefully you can come and run a thai class for us next time you are in London.