Master Basjons Jordan talks about how martial arts and discipline helped him stay fit.
So the holidays came, and you ate like crazy. Now we’re in the middle of king cake season, and you’re trying to figure figure out how to fit in that gown or tux for your Carnival balls.
We interviewed Master Basjons Jordan, chief instructor at Tiger Rock Metairie East, about how discipline works into making your New Year’s resolutions a reality.
How long have you been teaching martial arts?
“I’ve been teaching martial arts for 20 years now, I started teaching when I was 15, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
It’s January, when everyone decides they are going to get fit. How does martial arts work into you fitness routine?
“At first, it didn’t start as a fitness thing. For me, growing up it started as a as a fun thing to do. As a kid, Ninja Turtles was popular (editor’s note: COWABUNGA!), Bruce Lee and all this other stuff. I used to watch kung fu movies and karate movies, that’s what really got me into it. It wasn’t until I got older and once I got to a certain level I had to start thinking about health. When I made this a business, I had to start noticing my appearance and how I looked when I’m teaching class. I just took a close look in the mirror and said, ‘Hey I have to start making a fitness change.’
What we do is a lot different from when I first started. We focus a lot more on fitness now and not just learning how to fight and defend yourself. It’s more about the cardio and having good stamina and building up your strength. I would say now, it’s very important as far as the martial arts and staying healthy and fit. I used to be at least 35 pounds heavier. I got more serious about working out and dropped 35 pounds when I was getting prepared to test for a new belt. Now, it’s like an everyday thing. I have to workout every day, and it just makes you feel better.”
Does being a martial artist help you carry fitness goals past January?
“The key word is discipline. From doing martial arts for so many years, that’s one of the things we learn growing up with this, everything is discipline oriented, it’s like being in the military. Once you develop a habit you kind of stick with it. Sometimes you fall off, of course. But for me, I’m not going to say it’s easier, but I feel like I can jump right back into it. Mainly, the way you do that is setting a goal. Right now, I think everyone had a little falling off for Christmas and New Year’s. For me, it started in November because that’s my birthday. So November through Christmas, I was eating bad — cakes and all that. But in December, I said, ‘Look, I need to make a change. It’s time to get back, focused.’ You have to set a goal and I think people lose that past January. You have to set a short-term goal and set a long term goal. Look, you can’t just say, ‘Oh I want to lose 30 pounds in a month.’ No, you’ve got to be realistic. Can I lose 5 pounds? Then maybe 10 and then from there. How long did it take you to get to where you’re at? And then you have to say, ‘OK, it’s going to take me this much time to go where I want to be. People get distracted and with technology, we want the fast quick and easy way, but its a lot of hard work. Set goals, whether it’s for fitness, work, whatever it may be, set goals for yourself and write it down and say this is where I want to be.”
Do you think it’s harder to get fit in New Orleans?
“I think it can be but I think that’s anywhere you go. I think that’s kind of a cop-out. Everywhere you go, there’s somewhere you can that has decent food. Yes, in New Orleans there’s a lot of places you can go to eat and drink, but you can do that anywhere. I can go to New York and go eat and drink bad over there. You have to make a plan and set a goal and have a little disciple and keep that in mind. We have more temptations, I think, than other places. You know, king cake season. I’m a fan of sweets. I can eat sweets every day, and I do! But I moderate it more now than I was in November in December. I haven’t gotten a king cake yet, I’m looking forward to it but I think you just have to control it a little bit, and its hard. You have to know what you wanna do and push yourself.”
When you lost the weight, what was your biggest challenge?
“For me, I wasn’t the best eater. I had to sit down and really plan things. Meal prepping or meal planning, what some people call it. You have to write it down because you get so busy. Some people say, oh I forgot to eat, and you’re like, how did you forget to eat? Well, because you don’t write things down or you don’t plan for it. If you don’t plan for it, it’s not going to happen. The biggest thing for me, I wouldn’t eat breakfast. I would get home late. My last class ends at 8 p.m., so I’m not getting home till close to 9. So, by the time I’m eating, it’s 9:30 and that’s not good. So that was the biggest challenge for me, sitting down and saying I need to eat at this time and I can’t overeat. Everybody has their weakness and you have to figure out what that is and zone in on it and fix it.”
We’re having a kickboxing class, what’s the difference between that and a regular martial arts class?
“The way we do kickboxing, I treat it very similar to my martial arts classes. The way our style has grown, we incorporate a lot of fitness drills. The only difference is we don’t get too much into the hands-on combat stuff. But we do similar drills that we do in the martial arts classes. It’s just a faster pace, you have the music going, it’s fun, it’s exciting. I really started this program a few years ago. It was more for people who really didn’t want to learn how to do forms and dint want to learn how to fight and didn’t want to focus on getting belts. They just wanted a good workout with the idea of learning how to defend themselves. You get to kick and punch stuff, which I think everyone wants to learn how to do that because you get to let a little frustration out. That’s what I love. The fact I get to punch on bags and kick stuff, that’s fun. It’s an uptempo class. I like to think of it as a boot camp style karate class. We’ll get some punching bags, we’ll get some kettle bells, the whole nine. It’s a great full-body workout.”
Say someone has seen your class on social media but they’re not sure they want to come. What do you tell them?
“It’s funny because it’s been a long time since I’ve been in someone’s shoes to where I’m intimidated by it. But even grown people, they get intimidated by it. They might even like it on Facebook or social media and say, ‘Oh I want to go to that’, but it’s very intimidating especially if you’ve never done it before. I tell people it’s going to be fun, we have a great DJ which is going to be exciting. I always tell people if you can bring a friend, do that because you can have someone to relate to and that’ll make it even more fun because now you’ve got your buddy with you. We’re going to make it really simple but it’s going to be a great workout at the same time.”