Raised in several disciplines, Kayoon is proudly still a ‘traditional’ martial artist who has now transitioned into MMA, and in June he will compete at the One FC show in Malaysia.
Kayoom spoke to MMAWeekly.com about his background and training as well as his expectations for the show coming up in June.
When did you start martial arts and why?
I started training Judo and Tae Kwon do because as a child I very active, I was an ADD kid. Combat athletics was a vehicle to helped me so much in channelling my energy and help give me focus and concentration.
How many martial arts do you hold black belts in and what made you decide to study so many martial arts ?
Okay I want to set the record straight. I only have 3 black belts, only three. One black belt from Tae Kwon do (I.T.F). One black belt from Shorinji Ryu Karate Do. One black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.
But I have studied many different martial arts, Silat, Kali, Hapkido,Aikido, Judo( which I still enjoy practising today ) the Koryu arts and mainly they have all taught me the same thing, learn to be respectful of yourself, your family and friends, peers and people, even you adversary. Learn to be respectful before and after a battle/ competition. Being respectful keeps you mentally sharp.
Looking back I think I enjoyed learning the martial art I suppose because of it’s educational value in its physical, mental and social aspects. Especially when I was kid,I think I had put more value in the physical aspect because it was a time and place for a fun and creative outlet. I liked and still like training martial arts or combat athletics because for me it seems I get to learn so much on various levels about myself and other people.
How excited are you to have this opportunity to display the techniques you have learned over the years to so many people in Malaysia?
It is exciting, it has given me a lot of positive energy and support for my training for this fight. I appreciate it and very grateful for it.
When you were a child in Malaysia can you remember what sort of martial arts were available, either to train or on the TV?
Yeah, Judo, Tea Kwon do, Karate, Kung Fu and Silat.
Do you hope that by competing for One FC in Malaysia you might inspire young Malaysians to take up martial arts just like you did as a child?
What I hope is that young Malaysians take a healthy balanced approach to martial arts,combat athletics and life and use it as a vehicle to better themselves and their quality of life and surround themselves with positive, helpful and balanced people. That’s one of the things I hope for.
Do you still have time to train in different martial arts or does teaching BJJ take up all your time?
I still train Muay Thai quite frequently but teaching bjj takes up most of my time but I wouldn’t have any other way
The only loss in your MMA career came against an opponent with 15 x as many fights as you, did you have any hesitation about accepting that fight?
No, I was really excited to test myself. I had an opportunity to compete against someone with a lot of experience and I learned a lot from it. It was a very positive experience.
As someone who has studied so many different martial arts do you think your philosophy differs from someone who trains purely in order to compete?
Yes I think so, it may not seem any better or worse to someone else or to the other person but it might be different.
Do you think you will continue to study martial arts after your fighting career has finished?
Most definitely, you can never stop learning, the moment you stop learning is when you are dead. As long as you are living you can be learning.
With a black belt in BJJ and world titles in Muay Thai you are probably at a UFC level in terms of your stand up and ground game but the one potential hole in your game (at least on paper) is wrestling. Is this something you have spend much time working on?
Yes, progressively I have been working on my wrestling have been spending a lot more time on it for MMA.
When did you first become aware of the Gracie family and how much of an honour is it to fight a Gracie?
I was aware of the Gracie name when I first saw the second UFC. It’s a honour to fight someone with a Gracie name but is also an honour to fight anybody who is a good person and is a champion outside the ring not just inside the ring. It’s an honour to fight anyone to who has dedicated their time into training for a fight and who has great sportsmanship.
When you made your MMA debut in 2003 many of the current crop of UFC champions had not even started training. Do you regret not having competed in MMA more frequently since then?
No not really, I did a lot of travelling, learned a lot, met a lot of different and great people, made lots of great friends
If I didn’t do what I did, I wouldn’t be where I am right now and I wouldn’t be grateful with who I know now and what I have and I wouldn’t of met my wife.
Have you ever rolled or grappled with anyone on Gracie’s level before and do you think that you need to keep this fight standing in order to win?
I was a blue belt at team Carlson Gracie in Brazil and a purple belt under Brazilian Topteam in Brazil and a black belt in American Topteam. I was very lucky to train several excellent grapplers when I was working at ATT. I got train a lot with Marcelo Gracia when I was there.
When were you awarded your BJJ black belt and by who?
I was awarded my black belt by Master Ricardo Liborio in 2009
How excited are you to be fighting for One FC?
I’m excited and honoured to have a chance to fight for Asia’s biggest MMA promotion and to be able to do it in Kuala Lumpur is amazing. I have watched all the One FC shows so far and was very impressed, the quality of the production was excellent and there were a lot of people there.