I recently had the chance to talk with an inspiring martial artist and human being, Mr. Finn Ryan.
Mr. Ryan holds a Black Belt from Mile High Karate and a blue belt in Brazilian jiujitsu from Jubera Jiujitsu Academy in Denver, Colorado.
Where did you get your start in martial arts?
I officially got my start when I was 15 years old. That was at Mile High Karate in Westminster, Colorado.
“Officially” got your start? Had you been around martial arts before that?
Martial arts had been around in my life for a long time. My grandfather was a huge Bruce Lee fan, used to show me his movies. [Grandpa] liked to do little moves, little joint locks on me when I was three, four years old.
How has your formal martial arts training transformed your life?
I’ve made a total 180 since I started.
Can you explain that?
I used to be very skinny, weak. Those are physical characteristics and they’re fine. But I wasn’t doing anything with what I had.
What do you mean?
I was unmotivated to do anything, really. I didn’t want to improve or excel, didn’t want to get stronger. My karate instruction really let me flourish.
The experience in karate gave me the opportunity to be great. I felt like I could be great at this. Not just great physically, but academically as well. My schoolwork improved, my whole trajectory changed. Reading books and being tested on that book learning was huge for me.
What books do you study?
Some of my favorite books are The Art of War by Sun Tzu, the Tao of Jeet Kun Do by Bruce Lee. “Your mentality is your reality.” That’s one of my favorite quotes.
How did you get started in tricking?
I actually started tricking before I’d even trained in martial arts. Me and a friend looked up “best flips in the world” on YouTube. I was hooked. I signed up for karate in large part because I thought it would help my tricking [laughs].
What are some of your favorite tricking moves?
Sailor Moon, for sure. The Double B Twist is my absolute favorite.
What’s the function of momentum in tricking? How do you use momentum?
Momentum is evident in everything we do in life. In tricking we use a lot of moves to influence and improve others.
Simple moves build momentum, and that momentum generates the energy you need to blast into the move that everyone remembers. Everything’s connected through energy.
Maybe that’s a bigger metaphor for life.
Who are some of your heroes in martial arts?
Goku [from Dragonball Z], Bruce Lee, stuntmen like Daniel Graham, Jeremy Marinas.
Beyond your taekwondo background, what martial arts do you practice?
I’ve studied Brazilian Jiujitsu for the past three years. I also practice muay thai.
Jiujitsu’s a ground game. Tricking’s aerial. How do the disciplines combine?
They’re two sides of the same coin. Tricking has fundamental moves that you use in fighting. Jiujitsu is all about fundamentals, practical moves on the ground [that are] good for fighting.
There’s creativity in jiujitsu, flying triangles, for example, or tomoe nages, as long as it serves the practicality. Then there’s practicality in tricking, as long as it serves the creativity.
How young can you be to start tricking?
You can pick it up at any age. Kids of any walking age, to adults, as long as you can move. The duality of it is that the younger are more flexible but less powerful. The more mature students may be stronger. Whatever gifts you have you can put to use.
What motivates you to keep training in tricking, jiujitsu, taekwondo?
The possibilities. There’s always someone better, something more to learn.