Kumite with Butch Hiles Part 4

Welcome to the finale of Butch Hiles’ interview. Last week we looked at the challenges Butch and other martial artist faced when seeking to legalize MMA in West Virginia area. This week we look at the strategy Butch may use if and when he faces off with the Karate Kickin Dwarf. Will tapping out from being pummeled to the ground by a 3 foot tall dwarf be his most embarrassing moment? Or will Butch teach the Karate Kickin Dwarf a lesson? But first we will look what areas of life martial arts training contributed.

KKD: Do you contribute your martial arts training to your success of overcoming obstacles either in life or career?

Butch: I think a true martial artist can contribute training to every aspect of their life. If you are really serious about your training then you are going to eat right, party less, and do things that will help you be a better martial artist.

You also get used to setting goals and this is a very important aspect of bettering yourself.

KKD: If you could meet anyone from the past who would it be? Why? What would you hope to gain from this encounter?

Butch: I have been lucky enough to train with most of the great people in our sport, so I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head. However, I am always interested in learning from other talented coaches. I like to see their thought process on training and their favorite drills.

KKD: What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened when practicing martial arts or at a competition?

Butch: I think I am pretty lucky in that respect. I can’t think of anything too embarassing. When I was just starting grappling, I entered the professional no gi division at the Arnold Classic and I didn’t do too well. I hate losing in front of people but it was a valuable learning lesson.

I have made some mistakes but I am pretty lucky in the fact that it’s all been correctable and nothing too embarrassing has happened (at least that I can remember).

KKD: Based on your martial arts experience; if you were to teach me one thing what would it be?

Butch: I think we should probably work on something self-defense related. Everyone is different, so we would need to figure out what you thought your weaknesses were and go from there.

However, I feel like I have a lot to offer anyone and I would be open to helping with anything you or anyone else needed.

KKD: Have you ever sparred a 3 foot tall dwarf? If you have, how did it turn out? What was your strategy?

Butch: I can’t say that I have. I am 6′ 6″, so most everyone is smaller than me. So, I would have to use my same strategy of distance and movement.

KKD: That seems like a good strategy. We should test this theory soon. You should train for all types’ situations.

KKD: If you haven’t, how would you proceed to spar against one?

Butch: Well, since I am 6’6″ I would use my reach and try to stay away. However, I imagine that you are sneaky, so we would just have to see what would happen.

I would also hide the cameras so you won’t beat me up and give me one of those embarrassing moments I said I didn’t have. I think a video if a 6’6″ guy getting beat up by a 3′ one may go viral and I should probably avoid that…haha

KKD: I promise I won’t go too hard on you. I am slightly out of shape.

KKD: One last question for the blog: Have you ever traveled to Brazil to practice? If so how was that experience? If not do you plan to?

Butch: No on Brazil. I had a few trips fall through and now that I have a family I really don’t want to leave them behind. It just hasn’t worked out well but my instructor goes about every month and I’m always invited.

I’m sure I will go at some point.

On a related note, I did go on a cruise with the gracie family (Helio, Rorion, Kiera, Relek, Rener, Etc) and we trained every day on the way to Mexico.

Helio invented BJJ so it was nice to be with the founder training.


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Kumite with Butch Hiles Part 3

Last week we looked into the styles Butch practices and what he listens to on the radio when working out. In this week’s edition Butch will recount the challenges he and other local martial artist faced when trying to bring Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts to West Virginia. After MMA became legal in the state, Butch takes on a new role as a coordinator for the WV Games.

KKD: You have been a major promoter of martial arts in Charleston. What inspired you to work so hard to get the MMA Bill passed?

Butch: The inspiration is simple. There were a few people out there who had their own agenda regarding athletics in WV. In fact, for a short time, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Japanese JuJitsu, and Judo were even banned in WV around 2005. I don’t think people even fully understand what was going on in 2005 when a few very ignorant people were trying to over step their boundaries and trying to make most martial arts either illegal to do or very hard to do. I had to help battle that in the courts of WV and we ultimately defeated those who were trying to screw everything up for us all.

If we didn’t fight that ruling and judgement, most martial arts would have been banned in WV in some form or another. Mostly meaning, there would not be any tournaments like you see in our state, every weekend, or every other state across the United States, for that matter. Ultimately, once that was cleared the only thing that remained was the fact that MMA was illegal in WV.

Myself, and others, stood up for MMA for years. However, in order to pass a new bill and actually make some new laws you really need more than a few of us talking to our local government. It’s really a huge process that took some really key people getting involved before it could happen.

Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC, a great lobbyist, named Sam Minardi, and myself took on the challenge a couple of years ago. I give most of the credit to them, because they are who asked me to get involved and they did a lot more work than I could ever do on my own. My job was getting the grassroots efforts going and meeting with various members of the house and senate and letting them know about the sport and the local aspects of MMA and training. Ultimately, it worked and we won, making professional MMA legal in WV.

I was not an MMA promoter, so I didn’t have anything to gain by doing all that. I just wanted to do what was fair and right for everyone who trained MMA in our state. It made no sense why we remained as one of the only states out their blocking the most popular martial art and pay-per-view draw. I was happy to be part of such a great thing and I hope it continues to grow in WV.

Since I mentioned not being an MMA promoter, I will mention that I did help with a couple shows and promoted a couple shows on my own. The sole purpose was to help MMA get off on the right foot in WV after all the hard work we did. So, I still don’t consider myself a MMA promoter because I have no desire to actually put on shows. I just enjoy seeing our local athletes get the opportunities they deserve.

KKD: What inspired you to do the WV Games?

Butch: WV Games is a collection of sports that we feature on Magic Island every year. The idea behind it is to showcase some sports and activities for the general public that they can not only watch and enjoy, but hopefully spark an interest for them to join in the future. Generally, we have competitions in crossfit, power lifting, jet ski, volleyball, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, running, basketball, and many more.

Samantha Carney and the Charleston Visitors Bureau have really helped take this thing to the next level and I am lucky to be part of something they work so hard at. I am the WV Games coordinator but Samantha and the CVB really do all of the difficult leg work and preparation, so they deserve all the credit in the world.

I hope to have WV Games continue to grow. Currently, our state championships for BJJ has exploded and people come from all around the US to compete there. It’s amazing to see all of these people out their having fun and surrounded by positive energy. People love it and I am proud to be a part of something so positive for our sport, city, and state.

KKD: Be sure to tune in next week for the Part 4 of the interview with Butch Hiles.

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Kumite with Butch Hiles Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of Kumite with Butch Hiles. Last week we looked into Butch’s morning routine and what inspired him to practice martial arts. This week we are going to see how Butch feels about listening to Taylor Swift while working out at the gym. What does a fighter such as Butch Hiles watch on TV when he is relaxing? What does one read to become a better-rounded warrior?

KKD: What style(s) do you practice?

Butch: I try and train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu 2-3 times per week. I also still come in and hit the mitts and do some boxing/kickboxing drills a couple of times a month. When there’s time, I try and train Krav Maga once a week as well. However, I am actively teaching self-defense and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu the most. Currently, I have lost interest in training people in MMA or stand-up fighting so all of our other coaches handle that.

I teach privates in boxing, Muay Thai, MMA, self-defense, BJJ, and more. In fact, I have gotten so busy that most of our other coaches have had to take over most of the private lessons.

KKD: Why those styles?

Butch: I find the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu workout is one of the best that there is. I can burn up to 1000 calories in just an hour of BJJ, so I truly don’t think there’s anything better for me than that. I also like the fact that you can truly never stop learning in BJJ. It’s human chess at it’s finest.

To be well rounded in street self-defense, and to mix the workouts up, I still train Muay Thai, boxing, and Krav. In my personal opinion those are the most effective for real life scenarios. Boxing and kickboxing will help with the long range things, Muay Thai, Krav, and BJJ will help with the clinch, and BJJ will take over on the ground.

When training for self-defense purposes, I like that martial arts where we have the opportunity to go as hard as we can with a resisting opponent to see if it works. Now-a-days, I find that too many martial arts do scripted moves or spar so light that you don’t even know if it works. I don’t want to be told a person could do something. I want to see them do it. I am usually very skeptical of the people who just want to tell you they could have did this or that.

KKD: Wow, you can burn 1000 calories in one hour with BJJ! Sounds like an intense weight loss plan.

KKD: Do you listen to music when you practice? If so what type? Why?

Butch: Occasionally on open mat days we will have Metallica radio playing on Pandora. I feel like this keeps the energy up, but really we will let people play just about anything but slow romantic music. There’s nothing worse than seeing to guys rolling around together on the ground to Taylor Swift music.

KKD: That would be an image hard to Shake, Shake It Off.

KKD: Do you have a favorite TV show or movie?

Butch: I am a bit different in that fact that I live my life by not having a favorite anything, that includes sports figures, teams, shows, etc. However, there are quite a few things that my wife and I watch or watched. Currently, we are watching the Blacklist and the Walking Dead. We also binge watched the Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad to name a couple recent things.

I like all sorts of movies and ranges all over the spectrum from Bloodsport to the Matrix to Wedding Crashers. Really, my wife and I are both all over the place on things like that.

KKD: I think Blacklist could use some Krav Maga. A few months back I went on a binge watching all a bunch of Donnie Yen movies. I picked up a few more Donnie Yen movies while visiting a martial arts movie only store at a mall in North Carolina.  

 For martial arts action in a TV series I would like to recommend DareDevil. I will warn you, it is very violent but I really enjoyed the action sequences in the show. Marco Polo is another show that has good martial arts scenes.

KKD: Read any good books lately? What book would you recommend for a fellow martial artist to read? Why?

Butch: Unfortunately not. I was reading a lot of autobiographies on coaches and athletes and figuring out what made each of them successful. I’d prefer to read something that I can learn from when I have the chance, rather than a story.

On a purely martial arts stand point, some of the books I would recommend are “The Gracie Way” and a couple of books on the history of MMA. The names escape me but they have some really good back stories of the guys in the early UFC’s, etc. I have read the Tao of Bruce Lee and some others as well.

KKD: I have a few books on the shelf I plan to read. Most of them are history books. Ninja 1000 Years of the Shadow Warrior is sitting on my nightstand waiting for me. I can put away an audiobook faster. Recently I listened to a Brief History of the Samurai. It is a good book but it can be dry. You will probably come away with a different outlook on the samurai culture afterwards.

KKD: Be sure to tune in next week for Part 3 of the interview with Butch Hiles.


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Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome!

The perspective of people with disability or dwarfism is much different today than it was when I was a child. All too often people mistook me being physically disabled to also being mentally disabled. I know in my circle of influence I helped change these perspectives. As a young kid I often heard “Larry you can’t do that…” In the early years of my life, it was Mom who always said I could do anything I want if I put my mind to it. So I did. Here is a list of things I have done in my life time where I have had to overcome various obstacles and challenges to prove a point or to get what I wanted.

High School Graduate

During my time in elementary school all the way through high school was a fight to get administrators and counselors to realize I didn’t need to be in the special education classrooms. I had the capacity to be in a classroom with everyone else and I could do the work. In fact when I got in high school I started taking advanced courses and eventually taking college courses during my senior year. I even participated as a waterboy on the middle school and high school football team. I joined the yearbook staff and went to Gettysburg and New York City for conferences. I even started a karate club.

College graduate not once, not twice, but thrice

I graduated high school, but life didn’t end there for me. I went on to a local college where I graduated with an associate’s degree. Not feeling satisfied and having other inspirations to continue my education I went on to get a bachelor’s degree with a focus on History. It was during the days of working on my history related assignments I began to enjoy researching and writing. So I decided I would go after my master’s degree. During the 18 months working on my degree is where I shined the most. I made straight A’s all the way through the program. I even got one of my papers published after I graduated.

Move out on my own

There were some people who thought I’d live at home with mom and dad. One day I decided I needed the challenge and see what I could do on my own. So I got an apartment with a friend. I remember telling mom and dad of my decision to move out. Dad questioned me about everything on “How are you going to do this….? How are you going to do that…?” I knew from childhood that an “I don’t know” response wouldn’t be acceptable. So I made sure I mitigated all risks and had a plan for all of the challenges. In other words, I had an answer for every question. Ironically enough I ended up getting a master’s degree that emphasizes risk management.

Have a family

I was told that that most girls were shallow and would not be able to see past my height and disabilities. I should expect to be a bachelor for the rest of my life. Then one day I saw a friend who was my neighbor and went to elementary through high school. She had a boyfriend who was in a wheelchair. When I saw this, my first thought was – “wow, she isn’t shallow.” So a few years later when she was single we started talking. We had a lot in common. So we got married. Best and easiest decision. Many years later we have kids. Each of them is interested in some form of martial arts. They have no problem sparring their dad 3 on 1.

Martial Arts

The last thing on anyone’s mind is a 3 foot tall person sending a 6 foot tall person through the air and onto the ground with the flick of a wrist. The Ju-jitsu class I attended had a focus on the basics of Judo. I stood there and watched people throw each other across the room. I assumed a style such as Judo would be impossible for me to do. What did I have to lose; I might as well give it a try. After a month in class the jujitsu instructor had taught me the basics of Judo.

Never underestimate the abilities of people with disabilities. If someone truly wants to do it, they will find a way around the obstacles. I live by Marine Corp’s motto: Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome!

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