Martial Journal Interview with Mr. Chris Carlson

Preparing for International Competition

Chris Carlson headshot

Chris Carlson Talks About the Life of a Competitor

I was recently given the opportunity to do the first interview for Martial Journal. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity. Most noteworthy was the quality of person I had the pleasure of interviewing – Mr. Chris Carlson.

Mr. Chris Carlson is an American Kenpo practitioner from California and is a 3rd-degree black belt.  Furthermore, he trains at Team Brewer Karate under Anthony Brewer. He loves to train and has a passion for teaching. He does all this while pursuing a degree in Physical Education and being a good husband.

What is especially relevant is that he was recently selected to represent the USA in an upcoming competition. He will be a member of the US Sport Jujitsu team while at the World Council of Ju Jitsu Organisations Games in Australia in October. This has caused Mr. Carlson to take his training and dedication to a whole new level.

Chris Carlson kick

Chris Carlson is a great representative of the martial arts due to his dedication and positivity.  I really enjoyed getting to know more about Mr. Carlson and his life, in addition to his preparation for the competition. Continue reading to learn more about Mr. Carlson!

The Interview

How did you get started in the martial arts? 

I’ve been involved in martial arts for 24 years. When I was 5 years old my hero was Michelangelo and I wanted to be a Ninja Turtle. This is how I got involved in Karate. Since I couldn’t become an animated character my parents opted to enroll me in Karate classes instead. I was never the most talented kid in my class and in most cases, I was the one goofing around and getting in trouble.

I stuck with Karate, I stayed consistent, and when I was 12 years old I earned my Junior Black Belt. As a freshman in high school, I started teaching classes at the Karate school and I continued to teach and train throughout college. By 2012 I got my first “real” corporate job, but I kept doing what I loved and taught and trained. In 2013 I earned my 3rd Degree Black Belt.

And where are you at now?

Now in 2017, I have a wife, 2 cats, and a home to take care of. I’m interning as an elementary school P.E. teacher while going to school full time to earn my P.E credential. Teaching and training are two things I will always make time for. They’re part of me.

What would you say the martial arts has done for you? 

I grew up between Hayward and Oakland, California. One of my brothers was heavily involved with gangs and drugs and at one point had been beaten with a bat and stabbed, police were regularly at our doorsteps. I’m not sure where I would be if I didn’t grow up in martial arts. Showing up for Karate every class, I absorbed the positive energy from my teachers and my peers. I had an instructor and a team that kept me focused and accountable inside and outside of the school. On a regular basis, my instructor would ask me how I was preparing for college (not if).

What kind of competitions have you participated in previously, and how did you do?

I started fighting in local (Northern California) Karate, Judo and Sport Jujitsu tournaments in 2006. Despite just turning 18 and jumping into the men’s black belt divisions, I did pretty well. Through my participation in tournaments, I’ve become a stronger competitor and I’ve made a couple friends along the way.

Have you ever competed at this level before?

This will be my first time competing at this high of a level. I’ve fought in a few NBL Super Grands in the years they were hosted in Sacramento and more than a few League Championships hosted by The League in Reno.

What are you currently doing to prepare for the WCJJO World Championships?

Diet Regimen, Out of the Ordinary:

I’ve been dieting down from 210 to 198lbs since June. I eat 200+ grams of protein a day alongside fruits, beans, and vegetables. The only other carbohydrates I have are sweet potatoes. I have also been strict about sleep. I’m sure to get no less than 8 hrs a night (including weekends) so that I can maximize my recovery and continue to train hard.

Strength Training:

Being overpowered in the ring is not a strategy I’m looking to adopt, so I’m at the gym lifting weights 5 days a week (60-90 minutes per session). As competition gets closer, I’ve been incorporating more explosive movements to mimic striking, weight transfer and throwing. On top of lifting, I’ve been focused on building grip strength through various TRX rows, pulls, and fingertip pushups. Grip training has been taxing on my forearms, elbows, and wrists, so I’ve been countering these movements with sand bucket therapy.

Cardio Conditioning:

A big concern for me is fatigue. I get in as many sparring rounds (striking, throws, grappling, 4-5 nights a week) as possible and I’ve also made it a point to throw a minimum of 1000 kicks and 1000 punches outside of sparring each week. Additionally, I run bleachers/hills, jump rope 30+ minutes, and do 15 minutes of battle rope work weekly. 3 weeks from the competition I will kick up my conditioning to every morning before work. I would like to implement some aquatic conditioning if I can get access to a pool.

Average Weekday:

6:20 Wake Up, eat 5 egg whites (25g protein)

7:40 arrive at Work

8:30-9:00 sip 25g whey protein

10:00 eat 2 hard-boiled eggs (14g) and an apple

12:00 eat chicken breast (50g) and veggies

2:35 get off work, drive to gym

2:55-4:15 strength training

4:15 drink 25g whey protein, and drive to school

4:30-7:00 School (Teaching Credential Program)

6:00 dinner (in class) ground turkey (50g), zucchini and sweet potato

7:30-9:30 Training in the Karate school

9:30 drink 25g whey protein, drive home

10:20 sleep


Pizza. I can’t wait to tear up a pizza.

Where is your mindset right now, knowing that the competition is coming up about a month from now? 

Focused. Excited, but focused. I have so much to do, and very little time to get it done. Aside from the initial anxiety and nervousness, I felt when I was being recruited, I haven’t stopped long enough to dispel the surreality™ of it all. 

Chris Carlson flying

Are there any special people who have been instrumental in your preparation? 

My Wife, for being supportive of all the time spent away from home, meal prepping, and being dragged to the gym with me on weekends.

Anthony Brewer, my instructor, who’s never given up on me

My parents, for making me who I am today

The TBK squad, who relentlessly show up to throw down

The US Sport Jujitsu team for presenting me with this awesome opportunity

All of my friends, family, anyone who has made a donation or who has helped me along the way

What does it mean to you, that you have been chosen to represent your country at the WCJJO in Australia?

To this day, it still feels surreal. My instructor won his first world championship (Karate) in 1993, and then again in 2001, 2002 and 2003 (Sport Jujitsu). I would never have thought I’d get the opportunity to follow in his footsteps. To represent the US is truly an honor, and I look forward to this incredible experience.

While I’m sure you want to grab gold, do you have any other personal goals you want to accomplish at this event?

The goal I have outside of winning revolves around being prepared. I want to show up the strongest and most explosive I’ve ever been. Also, I want to have the most endurance and use the best strategies and most dynamic techniques possible. I realize this is a tall order and I’m doing everything possible to get there. I want to not look back and think “damn if only I’d…”

Final Thoughts

As you can tell, Mr. Chris Carlson is a dedicated martial artist in addition to juggling the kinds of responsibilities that we all have in life. Furthermore, he has a group of people who are supporting him in his endeavors. There are many of us that can relate to that since forming bonds in the dojo is a natural occurrence. In addition, most of us could not persevere in the martial arts without the support of our family and loved ones. On top of all of this, Mr. Chris Carlson is still keeping up with his academic endeavors. While most of us may not be training for a competition on the world stage, we can probably all understand the balancing act Mr. Chris Carlson is trying to maintain. I came away amazed at how he is able to manage all of the different facets of his life while training at such a high level.

If you would like to support or reach out to Mr. Chris Carlson, please visit his GoFundMe page. Every little bit helps due to the significant travel costs of the competition. You can also find out more information about the WCJJO Games by clicking here.

In conclusion, I would like to wish Mr. Chris Carlson the best of luck at the World Council of Ju-Jitsu Organisations Games this month in Australia!


Scott Bolon

Scott Bolon

I am a Shodan in Tracy's Kenpo Karate under Grandmaster Mark Tracy.I also hold rank in Tae Kwon Do and Combat Hapkido.I enjoy almost anything related to the martial arts, and love to have conversations about it.
Scott Bolon
Scott Bolon
About Scott Bolon 33 Articles
I am a Shodan in Tracy's Kenpo Karate under Grandmaster Mark Tracy. I also hold rank in Tae Kwon Do and Combat Hapkido. I enjoy almost anything related to the martial arts, and love to have conversations about it.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.