Interview with Taiwan's Warren Fox
Posted Feb 2 2010
On another note, before we officially started this interview you mentioned something about your master having a regular job. Did I hear right?
He does. They all have to now because they have families. Martial arts are not as big as a commodity as before. Before it was really something people needed to protect their village from raiders or whatever so the value in teaching martial arts has really gone down. But I’d like to be able to create a foundation so people who want to do martial arts as a career can actually have that as a career and not just something they do on the side. Even if it’s just enough money to get by in the beginning. Still, creating that type of network for them that has the potential for growth and expansion.
My specific goals with letting people make martial arts into a career start are simple. First, it would be a matter of talking to the masters that I know here to set up an information website so that individuals that are interested can find a style they want to learn easier. Then all of the information of the masters and history of the art can be found, helping the masters gain more students.
The next step would be having a facility that the different masters could train in. Some place big, protected and convenient. If they began teaching in a place that was advertised and recognized they could start teaching to different groups on a semesterly program; summer courses, military groups, exchange programs etc. This would be the first step—to opening a martial arts university. In the end it would provide a lot more than just martial arts: yoga, Chinese medicine, research on new training equipment and technology. The possibilities would literally be endless. I can't talk about everything cause I don't want someone else to do it first.
Has mixed martial arts picked up big here? I don’t want to presume, but it’s so big in the States I had to ask.
Well, I’m going to say generically, I know there are lot of mixed martial artists. They’re all different, we’re all different as individuals, but I’m just gonna say kind of overall, it’s mostly focused on competition. Your goal, in a sense, is to be better than the other person. When your goal is to be better than the other person that means that you don’t initially have the responsibility of self-refinement. When you train in martial arts, most of the time you’re trying to control your technique. You’re trying to increase your power, in the sense of beating yourself. So if the only goal you have is to be better than this guy, then in a sense, the more you practice the more arrogant you become, the less knowledge you can absorb. Instead of becoming a martial artist you become a fighter. You can be a martial artist and you can be a fighter, you can have them both, but I think that a lot of fighters are not martial artists. You feel me?
I don’t practice martial arts, but it’s very apparent, as an outsider, how the culture has shifted and it’s a product.
It’s something you can see right now, and that’s the other thing about the external styles. It’s something you can learn a lot faster. Because you can learn it faster, it appeals to people. We live in a microwave society. Everybody wants results right now. A lot of the techniques, they feel, aren’t necessary. Let’s just strip out the weapons, let’s strip out the jump kicks, let’s strip out anything that’s going to be difficult. Let’s break it down to the basics of me and you in an arena. But if you ever have some kind of self-defense kind of conflict, you’re not gonna be in an arena and there’s not gonna be a flat surface around. You’re going to have all kinds of obstacles and distractions. If you go down to the ground, if this guy has keys in his pocket, then the fight gets a lot more dangerous. If I have keys in my pocket and you tackle me I’m going to stick my keys in you. I’m not just going to sit here and try to lock you out and see what your locks are. So there’s a lot of things that we’ve created in the sports field that seems like it’s a reality. It’s an illusion—the illusion of the ability to protect yourself. If you’re wearing gloves you can take like ten or twenty punches. If you’re not wearing gloves, one good punch that connects—that’s it. No more mistakes.
I know you’re super passionate about martial arts, but your past interviews have focused on that aspect so I want to talk about hip hop a bit more. Were you an MC before you came over?
Oh yeah. We’ve always been freestyling, me and my brothers and stuff. I wrote my first rap song, when I was like eight. But most of the time it was kind of like for fun. I had a hard day and come rap about it. So it’s always been a skill I had. Later on I started getting more serious into it, like do a few stray competitions in Canada and in Seattle just to kinda have fun with it. But when I came to Taiwan it wasn’t really something I was super interested in. But I just saw what people were doing here and I was like, “oh man, you guys need to know the rules of the game.” You guys gotta understand that you can’t just say this and say that and make it work. I felt like I had to teach them what the culture was. In a sense, the only way to do that was to become a bona fide MC.
You do English. You do Mandarin. Do you do Taiwanese? Do you speak Taiwanese as well?
I understand Taiwanese. I don’t speak it that well. Just the curse words!
So you’ve actually recorded stuff or do you just do live…
Well, I recorded some stuff. I recorded a demo in L.A. and then I did a song with the Dali Lama. The Chinese Dali Lama. I did a rap for him.
It’s on CD?
It’s on the CD that’s already come out. You can find that if you look online. My Chinese name is 孔太龍 (KǑNG TàiLóng). Under Warren Fox you can find it, but you have to search a little more.
Wait, this is the Dali Lama that the Chinese government selected, not the Tibetan one? Since it’s such a controversial issue, have you gotten any negative reaction to that project?
No I never got any flack. But that album wasn't incredibly popular here in Taiwan so it didn't really lead to anything positive or negative.
I’ve performed with DJ Chicano, MC Hotdog, basically all the big Taiwanese celebrities. What they really want me to do for the most part is to be a hype man, like to get everybody pumped up. So to do that, I’ll throw in my own freestyles or a few of my own songs. I rap in Chinese. Just anything to grab their attention. After they get all pumped up, then the other people with the name come out and do their show. I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of those shows, high schools, universities. It’s exhausting, but rewarding. Every now and then I get a minute to tell them what Black people are actually like.