A PEAK INSIDE THE MIND OF "THE FIGHT PROFESSOR"
Stephen Quadros talks about mixed martial arts and the upcoming film, "Pit Fighter"
By Shihan Eddie Morales
Online Martial Arts Magazine
EM: What is your background in the martial arts?
Stephen Quadros: I started training in the 1970’s in Tae Kwon Do with master Soonho Song in Santa Cruz, California. He was already a 5th dan in Judo and Hapkido and a 6th dan in TKD at that time and had a huge impact on me. What I really liked about his approach is that he ultimately trained our minds. I actually started working out in the arts BEFORE I saw the late great Bruce Lee. My reasons for beginning in martial arts training was I wanted to be able to adequately defend myself. I had already been in a number of fights and had some success but like many youths, I lacked confidence and a sense of focus. Once I started training I felt at home. I had found a release for some of the wild energy that was bottled up inside me. I have continued my studies when I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my music career by studying with Shihan Tak Kubota, Sifu Konrad Wallkes (deceased) and finally ended up at the now defunct Jet Center, where I spent five years under Pete “Sugarfoot” Cunningham. I started teaching in the late 1980’s upon the encouragement of Mr. Cunningham and Don “The Dragon” Wilson. In the early 1990’s I became an advocate of the no holds barred approach, which eventually blossomed into what we today call ‘mixed martial arts’. In 2002, I co-wrote “Bas Rutten’s Big Books Of Combat”. I was a columnist/contributing editor for Black Belt magazine for over three years and then Black Belt turned my monthly column into a magazine called “Fightsport With Stephen Quadros”.
EM: How did you get involved as a fight commentator? You seem like you really enjoy it.
SQ: I love commentating! To me, it’s one of the best jobs in the world. It’s important to me that it be fun. I suppose I was a natural choice to become a commentator because I had become established as a journalist, was a fight trainer and an actor. I started with K-1 in 1998. My first job was K-1 Kings at Yokohama arena in Japan, which featured Ernesto Hoost against Peter Aerts in the main event. The late great Andy Hug was also on that card. After the K-1 USA effort stalled in 1999, PRIDE hired me in January 2000. I worked for PRIDE for 3 years with my friend Bas Rutten. Those were some memorable years. Currently I am hosting and do the play-by-play commentating the brand new APEX Championship Fighting show in Montreal, Canada as well as World Extreme Cagefighting in Lemoore, CA. I also have three other shows that I will be working on, two international and one stateside. More on those soon as the information goes public. Check the news page on my website, http://StephenQuadros.com for those developments.
EM: How did you get the nickname "The Fight Professor"?
SQ: I got the name “The Fight Professor” while I was calling the action at a K-1 show in Japan. Gary Cruz was doing the play-by-play and I was doing the color commentary with world kickboxing champion Earnest Hart Jr. While I was talking about one of the fighters, Earnest said something to the effect of, “Damn, you’re like ‘the fight professor’ or something.” We all laughed and the name stuck. I actually love teaching, whether it be educating people who listen to my commentary or while I am teaching a group class or training an actor for a film or TV show.
EM: How did you get started as a fight scene choreographer for movies?
SQ: A lot of actors I know have asked me that question. When I started as an actor in the 1980’s I actually tried to downplay my martial arts on my resume. I didn’t want to be connected with what I thought were sometimes substandard films, that seemed to exist only as a reason for martial artists to do fight scenes. The movies I liked most contained a strong plot, good acting and occasionally meaningful, justified action. In my mind, I wanted to be a “serious” actor. Hahaha, I soon changed my mind and my martial arts have become a sort of calling card. I had done fight scenes with Don Wilson, O.J. Simpson, Mark Singer, Cynthia Rothrock and Chuck Norris and worked with some really good fight scene coordinators, like Dion Lam, Roger Yuan, Art Camacho and Eric Norris. On one film I was working on as an actor, Richard Norton was choreographing some of the fights and he told me to go off with some of the actors and choreograph fights for them. I did and the director seemed to like what I had done. Then my pal Dominiquie Vandenberg called me one day and asked me if I’d like to go to Toronto, Canada to train some of the actors on the Warner Bros film “Exit Wounds” (Steven Seagal, DMX) and help with the fight scenes. Of course I did! So I was hired as fight technical advisor on Exit Wounds. I hit it off with DMX and the director, Andrzej Bartkowiak, so when they started “Cradle 2 The Grave” I was hired again. But this time I was advisor to this big cage fight sequence and hired UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) fighters Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell. I was able to choreograph the match between Chuck and Tito in the cage.
EM: You were involved in the upcoming movie "PIT FIGHTER" (20th Century Fox/Regent) with director Jesse Johnson. How did that come about?
SQ: I had known “Pit Fighter” lead actor Dominiquie Vandenberg for a while and had helped him with several fight choreography projects in the past. He told me about director Jesse Johnson and the next thing I knew I was reading the script for “Pit Fighter”. I really ‘got’ what Johnson was trying to say with the character, the fights and the story. It struck a chord in me. I really understood the heart and soul of Pit Fighter’s dark inhabitants. We all agreed that the action was more in the gritty, realistic, even hardcore tone, as opposed to a flowery, Peter Pan style, which we felt had already peaked. I was hired as the fight choreographer for the film. I started rehearsing with Dominiquie and fight assistants Maurice Negro and Erich Mueller.
Vandenberg already had an immense amount of hardcore fighting skill, honed and battle tested during his stints in Asia and Africa with the French Foreign Legion (where he was not only a special forces commando but also the hand-to-hand combat instructor) and when he lived in Thailand and competed successfully in Muay Thai. I believe in the Bruce Lee style of using the pre-existing skills of the fighters involved in a film to create fights. That way they will look natural executing a fight as opposed to having to “think” about what they are doing. With Vandenberg it was easy because he WAS the character and fought JUST LIKE I envisioned the character should fight. His training regime is sick.
The process of auditioning fight performers was never dull for me. At times it was entertaining, even funny. Part of the humor sometimes came from when some of those who auditioned couldn’t quite comprehend the difference between ‘real’ fighting and movie fighting. Reality seems to be open to interpretation anyway, especially in the martial arts. Through those tryouts, we were very lucky to have found a talented, yet diverse group of fight performers to match Vandenberg up against. I was proud of our fight team. True, I always add “The Stephen System”, but I give a lot of credit to the people I worked with because they really stepped up on the filming of Pit Fighter. I didn’t have to take anyone and train them from scratch, which I can easily do “if” I have the time. These guys were all fantastic at their various disciplines. We shot fights that would have ordinarily taken months to film, in two and a half days. It was brutal, numbing, exhausting. Everyone involved with this film poured their hearts into it. We all wanted to make a difference. I feel that “Pit Fighter” is destined for the same place populated by classic gutsy independent films like “Road Warrior” or “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”.
EM: What would you say is your passion: Martial Arts, Movies or Commentating?
SQ: You forgot music…hahahaha. What a question! Movies, music, martial arts, commentating, aren’t they all the same thing? Just kidding. To me, this kind of question is like asking “What can you live without: air, water, carbohydrates or protein.” I am a passionate person and I get wound up when I am doing something I love. And I LOVE making movies, both as an actor and as a creator of fight scene action, I love playing drums (Quadros is currently playing around Los Angeles in the rock quartet “The Deadagains”), and I love calling the action on the greatest fights on the planet. If they perfect stem cell research maybe I’ll just get cloned … but you know I actually like the friction of doing it all!
EM:Where do you see yourself five years from now?
SQ: I’ll have my own TV show where I interview people who are involved in martial arts, movies and even music. I will have my own magazine (again), which will be a lifestyle magazine based on martial arts, movies and even music, which I will run from remote (with the help of a devoted staff). I will be among the most sought after fight coordinators in the film business. I will be in a band that is signed to a major label and sells lots of records.
EM: Do you think that Mixed
Martial Arts events in this country are
being run safely?
SQ: Yes, mixed martial arts competitions are definitely safer than ever, thanks in part to guys like Marc Ratner, who is head of the Nevada State Athletic commission. Headbutts were banned a long time ago. I think they should get rid of the elbows too. Technically, you’re “only” supposed to hit with the forearm. But everyone knows that guys are getting sliced open with elbows. When that happens, fighters have shorter careers because of scarring around the face and it’s not visually spectacular, for the most part, to watch one guy laying onto of another guy elbowing him. It’s a lose-lose proposition as far as a lengthy career and crossing over to the “mainstream”. When two guys are in close pounding on each other, a referee cannot see if one was hit with the forearm or the elbow. It’s like telling a guy he can only punch with the first two knuckles. The question in my mind always rises, “Why did they ban the headbutt?” Answer: it looks barbaric and easily causes cuts and excessively bleeding. Well. The elbow is a hell of lot sharper weapon that the head is and the last time I checked fighters aren’t wearing gloves on their elbows, are they?
EM: What do you feel are good elements of a MMA event?
SQ: MMA the highest form of athleticism that I have ever seen. It’s agro-chess. It’s the ultra-Olympics. There are so many ways to maneuver, so many ways to outsmart your opponent. It must be the ultimate rush for those guys in there because I know what kind of rush people get when they watch them compete.
EM: If you had to sum up one thing in your life that made all the sense in the world, what would that be?
SQ: My basic philosophy: always try your best.
SPECIAL NOTE FOR MARTIALFORCE.COM READERS:
From Shihan Eddie Morales
I have trained with Stephen Quadros on numerous occasions and I can tell you first hand that he lives up to the name "Fight Professor". He is extremely knowledgeable in fighting tactics ,Techniques and Strategy and also a good technician. The staff here at martialforce.com and I are very happy that we could get this interview.
Thank You Stephen Quadros.
Visit Mr. Quadros on the World Wide Web at:
PIT FIGHTER PICTURES CLICK HERE !
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