Mixed Martial Arts

The violent sport is suddenly so popular, they ought to call it Mainstream Martial Arts, which helps explain why Javen Guzon is bringing the Mixed Martial Arts Sports and Fitness Expo to the Blaisdell

Rasa Fournier
Friday - June 20, 2008
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Expo coordinator Louis Mansanas (left) with founder Javen Guzon
Expo coordinator Louis Mansanas (left) with founder Javen Guzon

Hawaii’s first MixedMartial Arts Sports and Fitness Expo is billed by founder Javen Guzon as an “exciting and explosive exposition that will blow you away.” If the names B.J. Penn, Egan Inouye and Niko Vitale get your heart racing and your blood pumping, then you know what Guzon is talking about. These Hawaii celebrities will be among the top local and national MMA and fitness talent making appearances at the June 27, 28 and 29 expo at Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall.

“You have three of the most explosive industries in this expo,” points out Guzon.“You have the mixed martial arts industry, the sports industry and the fitness industry, along with the wellness and health industry.You’ll have all those combined under one roof.”

It’s hard to miss the excitement over mixed martial arts these days - it pops up everywhere. The sport has become mainstream entertainment, distancing itself from its early ‘90s UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) days, when it had a more ruthless, no-holds-barred image. The latest knockouts, upsets and MMA celebrity news is often splashed across Yahoo’s front page. You can’t surf the cable network without stumbling across a fight program or two, and the nation’s top family shows, Dancing with the Stars and American Idol, both sported a fight theme for their grand finales this past season.

“My focus is to show people that this isn’t just a blood sport with guys beating each other up,” explains the expo’s MMA events coordinator, Louis Mansanas.“MMA evolved out of taking all of the traditional arts - judo, wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, jiu jitsu - and putting them together into one sport. These athletes are the most conditioned and well-rounded in the world because of their cross training. I’m trying to bring a family type feel to the expo. For example, I train, and my son who has done a two-time tour in Iraq fights in MMA events.My daughter who is 9 years old takes wrestling, judo and jiu jitsu.”

Fighter Niko Vitale (left) will be one of the big names at the expo
Fighter Niko Vitale (left) will be one of the big names at the expo

Guzon adds,“You’d be surprised by the local families that have their kids in martial arts or grappling - the support they bring to their kids. You ever been to a high school wrestling match? You see how much family comes to that to support their kid? So it’s a family-oriented event. The expo is about educating people on mixed martial arts, sports and fitness - the lifestyle. I think people who don’t know about MMA will have fun too because of all the different events - they’ll be a part of an experience.”

The experience will include watching exhibition fights, checking out some of Hawaii’s top MMA schools and fight clubs, attending MMA and traditional martial arts seminars, fitness competitions, fashion shows,browsing and shopping at more than 200 exhibits and vendors, enjoying live concerts and engaging in an array of activities for adults and children.Of course, the stars will abound.

“There’s a lot of good fighters that Hawaii produces who compete in the UFC,” says Guzon, describing the A-list of attendees. “The pioneers like Niko Vitale, Egan Inouye, B.J. Penn - those guys pretty much brought the mixed martial arts industry in Hawaii to where it is now. There’s so many talented young, up-and-coming fighters here in Hawaii, it’s hard to name them all.

“(Mixed martial arts) is the fastest growing sport in history. It’s been around for a long time, if you know about pankration (a mixed fighting system dating back to the Greek Olympic games). Now it’s just modernized. I think why it’s getting so popular now is that, especially here in Hawaii, guys grow up fighting each other. What better way to have the sport regulated? When the UFC came out, it started going to mainstream and a lot of local guys wanted to get to that level. They’re really good on the street so why not try go and make some money doing it?”

Built like the Hulk and covered in tribal tattoos, Guzon is, himself, a health and fitness man… and he knows how to please a crowd. He grew up in Waianae and belonged to the Waianae Boxing and Kickboxing clubs before becoming a personal trainer and nutritionist. He earned his black belt in Kenpo and taekwondo.

“Then life took over and I had to stop all that fun stuff,” explains Guzon, who has been an Army man for 18 years and who worked as a nightclub promoter


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