Base of Operations: Denver and San Francisco
Occupation: Combatives Instructor, Martial Arts Coach and
Doctor of Chiropractic at Aim High
Seminars and Worskhops
The Makings of a MAN (Martial Arts Nerdtm)
(Fake) Reporter (FR): Please tell us how you started your martial arts journey.
(Real) Conrad Bui (CB): Well my good sir, I am glad you asked. It is a long story so find a comfortable spot to sit, take your shoes off and have some tea.
FR: Thank you, I think I will.
CB: At the age of eight or so, I was in LA, at a relative's home. They had a VHS tape of Enter the Dragon and I watched the movie and was instantly hooked on the martial arts and Bruce Lee. The man had the magic. Just look around and his influence is still felt to this day. I bought Bruce Lee books, karate books and kung fu sparred with my brother and friends in the back yard. I started to take lessons in Aikido from my dad who is a black belt (earned in Vietnam). He would wake my brother and I up in the morning and he would teach us for about an hour on the weekends. But just like any clueless kid, I took my dad for granted and stopped the training after a year or so. But I was still kung fu fighting with my buds in the back yard mind you. Deadly stuff.
FR: I am sure.
CB: At around twelve years old, I finally enrolled at Mile High Karate. My mom saw an ad in the paper, and I was whisked away to my first intro. The school taught tae kwon do and American Freestlye Karate. Yep, American! The school was owned by Master Steve Oliver. He was a student of Jhoon Rhee and now a successful business man. He hired my current teacher Sensei Troy Mccaskell. Sensei Troy is a multi- world champion in point sparring. I call him the Michael Jordan of the martial arts because of the incredible things he could do during a match. Under Sensei Troy, I competed in a whole bunch of tournaments. I would often place first or second in both forms and fighting. I still look up to my sensei to this day, and consider him a second father. At one point, I was really into the tournament scene, spending time and money. I even spent an entire summer saving up to compete in the famous Long Beach Internationals (lost my third fight) and took fourth in forms (from my own calculations). I was so pissed for not bringing home any hardware. Later on, as fate would have it, I picked up a Black Belt magazine and saw the cover with Jim Kelly (Mister "Only at how sloppy your man works," Kelly). On the cover was titled, "Trophies never put gas in my car." I was in high school at the time, read the article, and agreed that trophies never put gas in my cool, rust color station wagon either.
FR: Trophies and gas...I don't get it.
CB: You don't need to. Just keep up will you? After reading the article I decided I better live up to my image as an Asian and dive into school work. In college, I still competed at local tournaments and started training with Sifu Jeff Jones in Jeet Kune Do and Kali. I was his student and training dummy for about two years or so. But it was cool. Every time we trained, it would be a seminar. Always something new! Sifu Jeff was a dedicated martial artist, an amazing athlete and detailed teacher. I loved the training, and I am very fortunate to have met him and have him share his art with me. I took notes of every training "seminar" and continue to practice his JKD and Kali to this day. Later, with many years of JKD and Kali under my belt, I hooked up with Sifu John Lopez and became a full instructor in Jeet Kune Do. All during this time, I continued my tae kwon do and America Freestyle Karate training and today, I am a 5th degree black belt in those arts.
FR: Tae Kwon Do and Jeet Kune Do, is that part of Nike's just "Do It" slogan?
CB: Well "Do" in Chinese means...
FR: That was a joke.
CB: Right.. After my undergraduate studies, I moved to San Jose, CA to pursue my doctorate in chiropractic. My martial arts stars were aligned because I met Dr. Andre Knust-Graichen at the chiropractic college. He happened to be a clinician at the school and a silat master. He trained under the famous Rudy Ter Linden. Talk about a two-for-one! I was in hog heaven learning both clinical skills and silat serak, at the same time. I was able to train with Dr. Andre almost daily while in chiropractic school and eventually became a guru (instructor) under him. If you have not heard or seen silat, you are in for a treat. Silat serak relies on body mechanics and extreme leverage, in close quarters, bad-breath distance, combat. Also the use of knives are a specialty of silat.
FR: Knives? That must hurt silat. Ba ha ha...ha....ha...
FR: So, to sum it up; so far a 5th degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and American Free Stlye Karate, Sifu in Jeet Kune Do and Guru in silat serk. Please tune in for part II, and conclusion of our interview with the MANtm.