Exclusive Q&A with Mark Hatmaker

I’ve had the pleasure of attending Mark Hatmaker‘s seminars several times over the years, and I’m a big fan of his products.  Anyone who’s met Mark knows that he’s a killer coach, a walking encyclopedia of wrestling, boxing, and MMA, and a very, very busy man.  That’s why I jumped at the chance to interview him for this blog.

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Mitch: Hello Mark.  I’ve been a fan ever since taking your class at Karate College back in I think it was 2003.  Thanks to agreeing to the interview.

Mark:  No problem, sir–thanks for asking.

Mitch: My club and I have been enjoying Volume 1 of your Street Defense Series.  I’m sure you’re relieved I won’t be emailing to pester you about release dates anymore!  So…when can we expect Volume 2?

Mark: I’m glad you are enjoying the street-material, as for the release of Volumes 2 & 3, I wish I could be more specific–they’re all in the can, so to speak, and optimally it would be nice to be able to study the material as a whole as I’m not a fan of separation or segregation of knowledge but the powers that be (Paladin) understand the production end far better than I do. My guess is that we will see the other 2 volumes any time between now and March. How’s that for vague?  Volume 2 will cover our unarmed responses to several classes of weapons attacks, both static and fluid and volume 3 is a video encyclopedia of drills that we use to seat (cull) skills from the first two volumes.

Mitch:  Okay, I promise I’ll wait until March before I pester you again.  I noticed that you’ve been doing the obstacle course stuff pretty regularly for a while now.  Can you tell us a little about that?  Can we look forward to a book or DVD on the subject?

Mark:  Yes, indeed, love the obstacle course race movement. Big, big fan. My goal this year was to hit 2-3 per month. A knee injury knocked me out for 90 days of that goal but now I’m back to wrapping it tightly and have hit 3 in the past 3 weeks including a 13 miler, this past weekend.
I see obstacle course racing as a nice little gut-check for conditioning all the while enjoying the pure fun of playing like a kid in over-grown playgrounds. On an application/utility side I use them to hone flight drills that we have been doing for some time. In our street work we take the fight or flight dictum seriously. All folks grounded in reality know that evasion is far preferable to engagement and yet, to be honest, I see nothing but engagement from the real-world tactics side of things. Yeah, I know it’s sexier to do knife disarms all the time, but referring to the fight or flight response, as all credible real-world purveyors do, without addressing specific flight/evasion skills in a variety of environments is mere lip service to what is at least 50% of the defense game. (I’d wager it’s more than 50% myself).

You are correct in that we will be putting pages where our mouth is in this area, we’re are currently in the production phases on an upcoming book on obstacle course racing called MUD, GUTS, & GLORY. Its focus is two-fold. The first, building the conditioning/training tips to help do well in such events and the second is to provide specific skill sets for evasion or obstacle/environmental engagement. The best way to scale a muddy wall, efficient fast-crawl technique, that sort of thing.

Mitch: My son shares your appreciation for mud runs and obstacle events and I’m sure he’ll be the first in line to buy a copy.  He’s seriously contemplating an assault on Ninja Warrior.  I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts you’ve watched that show.  Am I right?

Mark:  Looove that show! Also, a big, big fan of WIPEOUT. I’d love to hit that show if/when the knee hits 100%. So many of the courses appear strategy-proof and it would be a blast to hit something so absurdly anti-skill.

Mitch:  Let me say that if go on WIPEOUT my face will be cemented into a permanent grin.  I’ve often thought that there should be some kind of extreme event geared specifically toward martial artists.  I blogged about it but nobody seemed to notice.  Am I alone in this, or have you ever thought about how that might be done?

Mark:  That is an interesting idea. It seems that a mix of evasion/obstacle interaction with stations for conflict drilling would be the way to go. On a smaller scale that’s the idea behind volume 3 of our street series but expanding that to the macro-stage would be a dream, or a living hell–depending on your point of view.

Mitch:   Maybe somebody with expertise and love for both martial arts and obstacle course events will make that happen.  Hint hint.  But I won’t harp on that, I’ll move on.  Most all markets consolidate as they mature, so it’s no surprise that UFC has become the NFL of MMA.  Still, I miss the excitement of the 1990s.    Do you see anything on the horizon that will revolutionize martial arts the way UFC did?

Mark:  That’s a great question. Personally, when the UFC added lighter weight-classes I couldn’t have been more pleased. Having that full-spectrum of fighters is manna for the fans. I, myself, would like to see female bouts added to the UFC. There are so many seriously talented women in MMA I’d love to see them get a shot in the big show, so to speak.

As for new developments, I’m fixated on your obstacle course/fight idea. Seems that such camps/events that would allow real-world competitors to challenge themselves would be rife with possibilities.

Mitch:   Girls on UFC, a real-life Ninja Warrior event – that’s exciting stuff!  What do you think is the most exciting thing going on in martial arts right now?

Mark:  Most exciting thing? I’m old-school, I’m easy to please. Anytime I see a bout with crisp boxing, solid takedowns, some hard, aggressive riding I’m about as stoked as you can get. For me, it’s less about what’s new on the horizon than it is seeing what’s old being honed and done really, really well. Not an exciting answer I know but there you go.

Mitch:  I should have known you’d say that.  Ever the pragmatic perfectionist!  My first martial arts instructor used to say that advanced martial arts means doing basic martial arts really really well, and I think that’s true.  Look here, I really appreciate you taking the time to consent to this Q&A session.  I know how busy you are.

Mark: You’re welcome Mitch.  Thanks for asking, let me know when she’s up on your blog, and have a good one!

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What a great interview, and a load of fun. Here’s a little clip of Hatmaker in action from his Youtube feed.

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One response to “Exclusive Q&A with Mark Hatmaker

  1. I’m a big fan of his. His Complete Pugilist videos were excellent.
    Believe it or not, I’ve ran the original Wipeout course and it’s WAY harder than it looks. Funny thing is though, the guys who clean it walk across it like it’s nothing.
    If you look up Wipeout Canada Season 1 Episode 1 you’ll see me.

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