LIVING THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE
By Brandon Bosworth
Travis Ewing sees the martial arts as more than a competitive sport or a method of self-defense, but as a true art form and method of self-expression.
“Being a martial artist is a beautiful way to live your life,” he says with conviction.
Ewing’s journey as a fighter began with Shaolin kung fu while residing in Albuquerque, N.M. There, he participated in performance teams, demonstrating fighting forms, and the dragon dance. Ewing even made the trip to China to train at the legendary Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, where he was able to spar with one of the Temple’s monks.
Despite loving the forms and artistry of Kung Fu, Ewing felt as if something was missing. “Kung Fu is often taught ineffectively,” he says. “There isn’t enough contact.” Seeking to take his training to the next level, decided to add Western boxing to the mix. “The first time I got punched, I ran around the ring,” he says. He admits he ran because it was scary to actually get hit. The fear didn’t stop him from getting back in the ring. “I decided I was going to keep doing this until I wasn’t scared,” he says. “You soon stop being afraid and start wanting to hit back.”
Ewing would eventually start going even further with his martial arts, and started training with renowned MMA coach Greg Jackson. He got good enough to become a regular sparring partner of top fighters such as Diego Sanchez, Keith Jardine, Nate Marquardt, and John Dodson. Jackson also gave Ewing the chance to hone his skills as a coach and corner man for some smaller-scale MMA bouts. He also did some coaching at LA Boxing.
Competition was the next logical step. Ewing did a few local tournaments, and then moved on to compete in Grappler’s Quest in Las Vegas, which he entered twice, winning both times.
His desire to improve himself would also see Ewing journeying to Florida to spend a couple of months training with Marcelo Garcia, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion widely considered to be one of the best pound for pound no gi and gi submission grapplers in the world. “It was an apex martial arts experience,” says Ewing. “Marcelo is the greatest grappler and one of the kindest human beings I have ever met.”
Ewing also has deep ties to Hawaii. He had relatives in the islands, and had spent many summers here growing up. During an extended stay in Honolulu after college, Ewing decided to find a local school to train at. He ended up training with Burton Richardson at JKD Unlimited, and immediately noticed how different Richardson’s school was. “Everyone was really good with flawless techniques, but they were also really nice,” he says. “It wasn’t always like that in MMA. It made me want to move out here and train with those kinds of people.”
Ewing ended up permanently relocating to Hawaii. While here, he has taught at both Icon Fitness and MMA Center and at Chris Leben’s Fight School Hawaii, where he was one of Leben’s pre-fight sparring partners. He has also taught his own women’s and kids’ martial arts classes. “I never planned on coaching or teaching,” he says. “But if you love something, you want to pass it along.”
Right now, Travis Ewing is only working one-on-one with private clients, including one woman who is training for a major grappling tournament in Canada. Ewing himself is preparing to step back into the cage for an MMA bout to be held this Fall in New Zealand. But it’s the daily training of the martial lifestyle that really motivates him. “Every day I am surprised by something so wonderful I couldn’t have imagined it,” he says. “You are always surprised by what you can do.”
WHO: Travis Ewing
WHAT: Local trainer and fighter
HOMETOWN: Albuquerque, New Mexico
CURRENT LOCATION: Honolulu
TRAINERS: Greg Jackson, Marcelo Garcia, Burton Richardson
FIGHT DISCIPLINES: Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Shaolin Kung Fu