MASTER MIGUEL LOPEZ JR
JAN / 2012
My name is Franklin Puello and welcome to Martialforce.com Online Martial Arts Magazine. I have trained in the Marital Arts for 37 years, and have been associated and trained with many Masters of the Martial Arts who became well respected and established Training Halls to continue the Martial Arts legacy. With this said many of them were already parents/ fathers, or became fathers and those children trained at the Dojo and learned the Martial Arts from their fathers, and at times from other Martial Arts Teachers.Searching to explore the Children of Martial Arts Mastersí views and valued opinions of Martial Arts Training, I have embarked in the search of young Martial Arts Teachers who continue their fathersí Legacy, and in my quest I continue this Series with the man I am about to introduce. Greetings and Oneigashimasu, Sensei.
Interview by Franklin Puello
Martialforce.com: What is your Full Name?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Miguel 'ThunderKick' Lopez Jr.
Martialforce.com: Where were you Born?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: I was born at North Central Hospital, in The Bronx.
Martialforce.com: Where did you grow up?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: I grew up in The Bronx.
Martialforce.com: What is your current occupation?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Iím teaching Martial Arts full time.
Martialforce.com: When was your first introduction to the martial arts?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: My first introduction to the martial arts was when I was a baby but I started strong when I was 14.
Martialforce.com: What Style of Karate?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: ITF Tae Kwon Do
Martialforce.com: Who was/ were your instructor/s?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: My father, Miguel "ThunderFist" Lopez Sr, Grand Master
Martialforce.com: Can you tell our readers what a typical day of training was like back when you were Training towards your Black Belt?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Well I would walk in with my dad and clean up a little and then get dressed and start warming up and then start stretching and after that start working on the kicks, punches, blocks and kata I needed to know for my next rank. After that class would start and we would exercise and we would do the same thing I did before class and helped out my dad when he needed me.
Martialforce.com: Did you ever enter Competition?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Yes I did and most of the time it was twice a month.
Martialforce.com: What was the Attraction?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: I was born to compete and I enjoyed doing my kata and weapon kata, but believe it or not I never liked to fight but I did it cause my dad told me I had to do it if I wanted to get to become a complete Karate- Ka and advance in rank. After a while I started getting good at it and started to really like it and now I love to fight just like my dad did all those years ago. My dad told me that to be a complete martial artist you need to do your kata, weapons, fighting, breaking and self-defense depending on the tournament, if they only had kata and fighting then I did both of those events and if they had more then two events then I tried my best to do everything if I had the money for it and not just do one thing.
Martialforce.com: Describe your preparation to enter the Martial Arts and/ or competition Arena?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Well, I would get there early so I can register fast and go get dressed and work on what I was going to do that day lightly and check out the rings to see the space I would need and made sure I was able to do my kata and weapons the way they set up the seats for the judges. Mentally had to go over my Kata as well, all in preparation.
Martialforce.com: Please describe Training, when you were competing in Karate Shiai and or Tournaments?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Well my dad taught me to train in class everyday like if I was in a tournament so when it came down to competing it was like another day of training in the Dojang, the only difference was I could win trophies and compete with other schools, styles and even the same style learning from others and sharing knowledge.
Martialforce.com: When and who did you fight?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: I fought a lot of great fighters so letís just say I fought some old school masters and some up and coming fighters of my generation. They all made me train harder for the next time we met.
Martialforce.com: What was tournament competition like when you were first introduced?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: It was more traditional but now extreme and extreme musical forms and weapons are taking over and I feel that if we as traditionalist don't keep on teaching traditional forms the way it was done in the old school we will be taken over and tradition will be fading away little by little, now a days in these National tournaments, the traditional forms are not even traditional anymore, they are changed and modified to look flashy and to impress the judges and the crowd instead of doing the form to show the true essence of the kata in its purest form and perform not for the judges and the crowd but for one self and for his/her instructor.
Martialforce.com: Can you tell our readers who were some of the Noted Martial Artists you had to Trained with/ Competed against?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Just to name a few, Troy Binns, Ross Levine, Shihan Jonas Nunez, Shihan Derrick Williams, Shihan Abdul Aziz, Master Dave Thomas and Sijo Halbert Lee.
Martialforce.com: Do you believe the practice of Kata is useful and important?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: I also have a love for Kata and its useful and important because kata is an expression of ones self and each kata in any system has a story dated back to ancient times and kata has self-defense in them so we know hundreds of self-defense just from learning numerous katas over the years.
Martialforce.com: What is your Most Favorite Kata?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: The ITF Korean kata Gye-Bak Hyung.
Martialforce.com: Have you learned Kata from other Systems of Karate?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Yes I have learned kata from Shotokan and Goju.
Martialforce.com: What makes it/ them so Special?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Well Shotokan is my second love besides Tae Kwon Do, cause Shotokan gave me my structure, and started learning Goju cause this style has a lot of traditional aspects that I like.
Martialforce.com: Can you tell us about your relationship with Grand Master Miguel "ThunderFist" Lopez, Sr.?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: We have a great relationship both on and off the mat. He is my father, mentor and my instructor and I look up to him. We are one and the same, that is why we bump heads at times. Like the saying goes I am my fatherís son.
Martialforce.com: How was Training with him?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Rough but great cause by him teaching me the way he was taught I became who I am today, which is a strong traditionalist and competitor and very structured and disciplined. I would have not be able to achieve what I have done in defeating many masters and grand masters in kata and in weapons. If it wasn't for him pushing me harder than anyone of his students and he treating me like just another student, I probably would not have achieve that, but at the end, the only difference is that I am his son and I am the one that will keep his Legacy and the Lopez name alive.
Martialforce.com: How would you describe his Method of Teaching?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Old school. Straight forward with what he wanted us to do; simple but effective techniques that worked in the streets and point blank hardcore training without complaining. It was either we wanted it or we didn't and if we didn't then the door was there. Only the strong survive.
Martialforce.com: Do you still Learn from him? Direct teaching?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Yes I do, and he still pushes me to be the best that I can be.
Martialforce.com: Are You presently training others in the Art Karate?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Yes, I currently teach with my father and I have my own class somewhere else where I can teach my students the discipline, respect and the traditional way of the martial arts that I was taught by my Grand Master/Dad.
Martialforce.com: When did you start developing a teaching style?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: I developed a teaching style while I was still a brown belt cause I was helping and sometimes actually took over the class and had to teach on my own so I picked up on how my dad taught and I put myself in teaching and the rest is history. Now I have taken teaching to another level, I have the best of both world and by saying this I mean I can teach the old school way and the new school way and by knowing both eras I can teach strong principles, but at the same time work with the children in a more modern way and not have to physically discipline them and make it more fun, but they still learn tradition of the art.
What is your teaching style or methodology? My teaching style is similar to my dads but I teach with both physical and verbal methods, which get the studentsí body and mind strong. Martial Arts is not all about kicking and punching but about learning what you are actually doing and understand why your doing it and by doing that you can become a strong martial artist who can achieve highly in the world of martial arts and be a real black belt that earned it and not just given to them cause they paid a certain amount of money.
Martialforce.com: Did your father, Miguel Lopez Sr, guided you into a teaching style?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Yes he did.
Martialforce.com: Can you explain your Philosophy of Teaching?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: I feel that in order to truly understand your martial art you need to break down what you do and know every detail of your technique, kata and over all out look of the martial arts as a way of life not a hobby. I teach you the physical aspect of martial arts and the mental aspect. You can understand the physical, you can harness the true essence of what you are learning and why you do certain things which will make you better understand your kata and be strong and sharp during the time of performing your story, and by story I mean whatís going on while you do your kata, you are defending yourself against multiple attackers, you have to visualize the fight and show the actions as well.
How much were you influenced by GM Lopez, your Fatherís teaching? My dad has influenced me in all aspects of my martial arts journey by the way he approaches things when he teaches and the chosen words he speaks, it is truly an honor and a blessing having Grand master Miguel "ThunderFist" Lopez Sr. as my instructor in the martial arts to guides me and a father that also guides me in my life outside of the martial arts.
Martialforce.com: What are the Pros and Cons of having the same or similar Philosophies?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: It great because my dad and I are on the same page about certain things which help us teach better as a unit, but it can also be a little difficult cause we might have same or similar philosophies we have different ways of getting the to the destination but in the end the same result is produced.
Martialforce.com: How would you compare your Philosophy of Teaching to your Fatherís Philosophy?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: We both believe that with hard training you can beat anybody and it doesn't matter what style u do, its you that makes the style the best and when it all comes down to it we say you have to be in it to win it and if your not serious don't waist our time and energy cause that could be put into a student that really wants to learn and is willing to work hard to make not only himself proud but his instructor proud as well.
How would you instruct Kata Training to a Martial Artist of the present generation, who may not believe in Kata? Well first I would show them the way a kata should look like and then break down the kata so they can see whatís in it and to realize that kata is truly fighting, the actions taken for our protection against attackers.
Martialforce.com: Do you feel that Martial Arts and teachings learned from your father played an important role with Who you are today?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Yes, if it wasn't for my dad I would have not been able to achieve everything I have done in my martial arts career and by him pushing me to be the best and always telling me that if I train hard I can beat anybody, I wouldn't be the man I am today.
Martialforce.com: Can you identify aspects of your life or accomplishments that you directly attribute your success in, to the Training received in the Martial Arts?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Me competing against great Masters and even Grand Masters and winning the Grand championship for my dad. He was right when he told me that if I train hard I can beat anybody and my hard work paid off, with my dad guiding me I was able to defeat Masters that to some people were unbeatable.
Martialforce.com: What have you personally gained from your practice of Martial Arts with GM Lopez Sr, your father?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: I have gained confidence, strength, the drive to be the best I can be, more respect, a healthier life, discipline, self-confidence and over all a closer bond with my dad.
Martialforce.com: How have the Martial Arts training help you achieve Goals?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: It taught me that if I put my mind to it I could achieve anything.
Martialforce.com: Do you believe The Martial Arts training would be beneficial for any youngster or adult?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Yes, invaluable for development of mind, body and spirit.
Martialforce.com: How would Martial Arts training benefit them?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: It will give them a healthier life, self-confidence, Discipline, respect and knowing that they can defend themselves in the street if they have to.
Martialforce.com: What are your thoughts on cross training in regards to other styles of Martial Arts?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: I agree with cross training cause at one point I was doing Tae Kwon Do, Shotokan and Jujitsu at the same time but the difference was that I did not slack off in one system, I progressed in all three styles and I was able to handle it and now I hold the rank of black belt or higher in all three styles. Everybody is not me but people can do more then one style but in my opinion achieve a brown to black belt in one style so u can better understand the difference between other styles and be able to perform equally in all the styles u decide to take up and over all make sure you get permission from your instructor to do another style and make sure the other instructor has full support of your instructor to take you on as there student.
Martialforce.com: What other Martial Arts Styles, if any, have you trained in?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: I have trained in ShotoKan, Mi-Yamaryu Jujutsu, Kick boxing, Goju, Judo, Brazilian Jujitsu and my dads style of Tae Kwon Jitsu.
Martialforce.com: Have you trained with Family members, and/ or taught any family members?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: No, not yet.
Martialforce.com: Who do you feel was your biggest influence in Karate or life in general and why?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: I say my dad Grand Master Miguel "ThunderFist" Lopez Sr. was and is my biggest influence in karate and life because he himself said he was not going to give up and he trained really hard to become one of the great fighter's to come out The Bronx and become a three time World Champion.
Martialforce.com: Do you think Tradition is important?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Yes
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Me and my dad have the same opinion, without Tradition and a Legacy there is no martial arts and knowledge to pass down to the next generation.
Martialforce.com: What are your Views of Evolution in Karate?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Well I feel as the years have gone by the tradition in the martial arts is slowly fading away and being taken over by flashiness and making up kata instead of performing those kata that were past down through generation after generation. I believe, as I have said, that Kata should be performed and pass down as taught by your teachers to preserve the Systems of Karate.
Martialforce.com: What do you think about rank in Martial Arts, and the present practice of fast and advanced promotions?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: I agree with my dad, we don't believe in promoting fast, now a days some schools promote you to fast even if you don't deserve it just for the money, back in the day it takes years to get a belt but when you got it you not only earned it you was that rank.
Martialforce.com: Do you believe youngsters (12-20 Yrs.) could/ should be holders of Rank above Sandan?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: No because they need to have some years under their belt and a strong understanding of what they were taught and how to teach other students once they achieve there black belt.
What are your Long or Short-term Goals in Martial Arts? My Long term goals in the martial arts is to continue teaching Traditional martial arts and passing down the knowledge that was given to me by my dad and for them to make tradition strong again and not fade away like its doing now.
Martialforce.com: Are you involved with any Martial Arts Association?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Yes, I am apart of the Eastern U.S.A International Martial Arts Association and The International Council of Ninja Societies.
Martialforce.com: Would you or Do you advocate for Martial Arts students to participate/ support Open Tournaments/ Competitions?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Yes I do cause the more tournaments you go to the more experience you will have under your belt.
Martialforce.com: Do you continue to train and teach? Where is/ are your Dojo?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Yes I continue to train hard and teach my students the way I was taught and keep on the Legacy of my dad and I and me and my dad have 2 Dojangs in The Bronx.
What would you share with Parents or Kids who want to be involved with the Martial Arts?
I will explain to them what martial arts is all about and its not about kicking and punching, its about discipline, respect, good health cause of the obesity in children and cause of the children of today don't have structure and come from broken homes and have no respect so I help my father to teach them its not about coming one day but coming to every class to train and about becoming a descent person in society because the world is not getting any better.
Martialforce.com: Would you advocate young children to attend classes in Martial Arts?
MIGUEL LOPEZ JR: Yes because it has changed my life for the better and it kept me out of trouble and I am able to learn and teach the great skills and wonders of the martial arts.
Martialforce.com: I personally, and on behalf of Martialforce.com, thank you young Sensei Miguel Lopez, Jr for your insightful, and candid answers to the questions in sharing your thoughts and philosophy of the Martial Arts with us and the readers.