MARCH / 2016


Hi my name is Eddie Morales and welcome to Online Martial Arts Magazine. The person im introducing in this interview has been a dedicated pratitioner of the Martial Arts for many years. His knowledge is vast and lineage strong. I was introduced to him by Sensei Paul Sequence Ferguson. When we spoke in regards to this interview his demeanor was humble and unasuming. Those that know him can attest that he has very few words as he is a man of action. His name is Sensei James Outlaw. We here at hope you enjoy this interview as we explore his life and the art he is passionate about.

Interview by Eddie Morales

Online Magazine Where were you born and raised?


JAMES OUTLAW: New York City, in the Bronx. What is your current occupation?


JAMES OUTLAW: I am a retired electronic technician from Minolta Corp. When and where did you begin your Martial Arts training and what was your motivation?



JAMES OUTLAW: My actual beginning was as a freshman in High School, 74.  I knew I wanted to start but could not decide which art suited me. A teacher who was also the wrestling coach help me decide on jui juitsu. At the time it was not as popular as karate.  Tremount School of Judo and Juitsu,  Mi Yama Ryu, was a Bronx landmark.  The large sign painted on the side of the building always intrigued me. Once I got up the courage to walk up those three long flights of stairs, my next challenge was Shihan Antonio Pereira.  At the time you had to be 18 for jiu juijutsu or you had to study Tae Kwon Do or Judo. I guess he got tired of this 14 year old annoying him.  The loud kiaís and vibrations of the building from people hitting the mat was very intimidating but i went forward.

A few years later I happen to be at a tournament in Brooklyn and saw Shihan Errol Bennett. There was no jui juitsu competition at the time. Sensei Bennett so impressed me with his kata and fighting skills I decided that I must train with him. Fortunately he was in the Bronx which was more accessible to me. Becoming a Shotokan Warrior which was earned in his scool was another right of passage for me. I trained with the top of the crop and they made an everlasting impression on me.  Shihan Michael Jackson who would give me my first and only knock out. Shihan, Fred Miller and Shihan Franklin Puello who would visit, Sensei Ricky Pickens and Molina, and Billy Beason were just a few of the great ones that I had the pleasure to encounter.

Sensei Paul Sequence Ferguson and Shihan Errol Bennet
 It sounds like you were in hardcore no nonsense Dojo (School). Everyone has a personal reason for beginning and some have people that impact their lives. That being said, who has been your greatest influence throughout your life in regards to Martial Arts and life in general?


JAMES OUTLAW: This is not an easy question. Shihan Pereira inspired the mind set of what it actually takes to live another day when dealing with life on the streets of New York City.  Shihan Bennett gave me a deep embedded sense of courage to face any and all opponents psychologically.  I never forget after having my eye closed by Michael Jackson in class. Jackson said to me with a sense of brotherhood, " now you have to fight with only one eye."  Sensei Bennet' taught in a hardcore realistic fashion that reflected the times and he prepared us for possible encounters on the streets. The training was intense and sometimes brutal but everyone their was treated equally and we would help each other learn how to survive the worst. We held the name Shotokan Warriors with a deep sense of pride and honor. In your opinion, what defines a good Martial Arts practitioner?


JAMES OUTLAW: That is to all, a personal quest. Ultimately martial art is military art. Thereís only one aim and thatís to survive a violent encounter and remain in one piece while doing so. Martial arts training when practiced with dedication gives you the best chance of survival.
 In your opinion, what are the characteristics of a good instructor?


JAMES OUTLAW: Iíve been fortunate to have encountered some of the best that martial arts had to offer.  This also makes me somewhat bias as to types of arts.  Ideally an instructor should be able to teach from practical personal experience. An instructor should never ask more from student than they can produce. Most importantly student safety is paramount.  Iím disgusted by schools where students are basically punching bags. Do you have any long or short-term goals in regards to Martial Arts or life in general?


JAMES OUTLAW: Unfortunately, I have retired from active participation in the arts due to medical issues. What do you feel is your greatest personal achievement in life?


JAMES OUTLAW: Having the chance to inspire people I meet in the physical sciences. As a former technician I understand the importance of critical thinking and science. What are your thoughts on the practice of Kata (Pre-arranged Movements)?


JAMES OUTLAW: Kata is the essence of the art. My Yama Ryu taught me judo katas that are not known by many judoka today.  Shihan Bennett taught me what was actually transpiring in Shotokan kata. He taught in detail what every movement meant. If you canít do that you are just going through the motions. I hear there are tournaments now where you can improvise kata.  I canít state enough how that is just total BS. If you canít go through a kata and explain every move you are just posing. Many athletes believe in cross training, what are your thoughts on this?


JAMES OUTLAW: You would have to explain what cross training is in that context. As a practitioner of jui juitsu I felt that Judo, Akido, and Karate made me better at jui juitsu.  That art was strictly about producing the most harm and being able to escape, even if it mean knowing when to run away.
 Reflecting on your life, do you feel that Martial Arts has given you a positive outlook and if yes or no, why?


JAMES OUTLAW: Most definitely. I was very introverted growing up and it took a lot of will power to start my training at 14.  The arts help me walk more different and keep my head up.  There were also a few occasions where I was able to help someone in need. What would you say to someone that wants to learn Martial Arts but for whatever reason is not sure?


JAMES OUTLAW: First I would need to know what reason they chose martial arts before I could recommend what would be the best path.  If they are just interested in doing a physical activity to keep in shape thatís one thing.  If itís strictly self defense for women I would recommend judo to start. This prepares them to be comfortable with direct body contact.  For competition I admit I do have a bias for Japanese arts. Tae Kwon Do set of principles laid down here in Midwest at least is nothing like when I was coming up. It is mainly a money making scheme and has no resemblance to a martial art. What can a person that knows nothing of the martial arts expect to learn when they enter your Dojo (school)?


JAMES OUTLAW: Being ďold schoolĒ they would first learn dojo etiquette. This includes how to greet and respect the school and others . Then they would be taught the history and principles behind the arts. They would also be made to understand that this is more than an activity but also a way of life. What age do you think is best to begin Martial Arts training?


JAMES OUTLAW: For most martial arts, I feel that as soon as the student is able to walk is the best age. We can teach babies to swim.  Because of the nature of jui juitsu and it not being a completive art at itís core Iíd recommend 18.  At that age they have a better grasp of the significance of intentional breaking bones or maiming. What are your thoughts on teenagers having 5th, 6th and 7th degrees in ranking?

JAMES OUTLAW: It takes away the integrity of the system. Did you compete in tournaments and if yes, are there any changes that you see from past vs present?


JAMES OUTLAW: I did compete on a few occasions but my true interest and passion was self defense.  Since moving to Chicago Iíve gone to a few Tae Kwon Do tournaments and honestly I found them to be a joke. As Iíve said earlier they are basically a money making scheme.  This might explain the proliferation of Tae Kwon Do schools. The Japanese and Okinawa schools have a very small foot print here. What advice would you give a senior student who is confronted with the politics of an organization?


JAMES OUTLAW: Try your best to stay away and focus on your purpose.



Shihan Pereira My last question for this interview is, do you find there to be a difference in the level of training from when you first entered the martial arts as oppose to modern times?


JAMES OUTLAW: I think that inevitably changes with each generation.  Shihan Pereira would tell me about his training at the Kodokan under Kano and how when he came to the states he had to tone it down. With improved training techniques and focused training I donít think thereís the need to punish yourself in general like before. Thatís true of any athletic activity.  Most sports are concerned more with safety now than in the past. In my oppinion, thatís how it should be. Thank you for accepting this interview and sharing your thoughts and insight with our readers. We here at wish you all the best in any future endeavors.