Transcription of Episode 12 - Interview with Alex Haddox of the Practical Defense Podcast
Tim: Today I’m speaking with Alex Haddox of the practical defense podcast. Alex has trained in Kenpo, Hapkido, Kubotan Self-defense and firearms. On the Practical Defense Podcast, he talked about practical ways of staying safe in increasingly dangerous urban environments. From fording home burglary, gun safety, internet safety and reality-based self-defense scenarios, Alex talks about everyday habits that can help protect you and your loved ones. He was also the co-founder of the Semantic Antivirus Research Center, at which time he was considered one of the world’s leading computer virus experts. His work has brought him on worldwide travels and he’s been seen on Good Morning America, CNBC, the Discovery Channel and FOX News.
Alex, I’ve enjoyed your show for a while now and it’s a pleasure to have you on the Martial Arts Lineage Podcast. Welcome!
Alex: Well, thanks for having me.
Tim: Now, when I hear practical defense, when I listen to your podcast, I hear you talk, I hear techniques and strategies for modern-day and reality-based self-defense scenarios. What the phrase ‘modern-day self-defense’ says to me is that these techniques have evolved over the years. They’ve adapted, just like any style of martial arts, to accommodate the situation at hand and prepare for the immediate threat. Thinking about this from a lineage or historical perspective, when Bodhidharma first taught the monks at the Shaolin temple, the 18 Lohan hands that would eventually develop into Kung Fu as we know it today, they were accommodating for the situation at hand. The art was evolving and people were adapting. It seems that that’s exactly how martial arts continues to develop today. That’s one of the interesting reasons why I really wanted to have you in the show. You’re really in the forefront of martial arts development today, self-defense.
Alex: Yeah, well, thanks!
Tim: Now you’ve trained in many different arts. I want to know how you ended up in the reality-based self-defense field. But first, I want to know where you got started in the arts, what enticed you to train originally and who did you train with and what styles were they.
Alex: Wow. Ok. That’s going to go back a ways. And I'm actually going to share some stories with you that I haven’t even shared on my own show.
Alex: The reason for this is I'm working on my book right now and a lot of these stories are going to come out in my book as well, so, you may as well hear it.
Alex: One of the reasons why I’ve kept it off of my show is for family security. But at this point, it doesn’t matter so much anymore.
My first exposure to the need for self-defense and protection from criminals comes from when I was young, younger than four. My father worked as a psychiatrist and the criminal justice system and he specialized in the criminally insane. So, he worked daily with convicted murderers, sociopaths, psychopaths and just really bad people. What happened was, often when he was on duty at the prisons, my mother would receive phone calls in the middle of the night naming my father, what he wore to work, where he was down the hall where they could see him, where we lived, and that they were going to come and kill us. It would freak out my mother and so, she’d go and grab us, grab my sisters and me, and pull us in the bedroom and hold out in our safe room until my dad got off work.
So, from a very young age, I was exposed to the threat posed by criminals. And because of that, because of my father’s background and his experience, we had very strict security protocols. I was never allowed to answer the phone when the phone rang until I was 12 or 13 years old until after my voice changed, when I didn’t sound like a woman or a child. I never answered the front door, all about taking candy from strangers, what you do if you get lost - all these types of things just drilled into us from a very young perspective, from a very young age.
And then we had bad experiences. When I was ten, our house was robbed, burglarized when we were away from the weekend and burned to the ground.
Alex: It was, you know. We went out for the weekends, went down to Palm Springs; I lived in Los Angeles. We went to Palm Springs for the weekend, came back to a smoking shell husk of a home. So all those people that had been threatening us finally “found us.” It wasn’t the exact same people, but in my child’s mind I was like, “Ok, the bad people found us.”
Tim: “Bad guys found us.” Right.
Alex: Not to mention the fact that our neighbor was murdered in his tree house over drugs. The lady that lived up in the hills behind us, she had a home invasion when she and her son were home and they were bound and that woman was raped over the course of four, five hours. All this stuff I was exposed to before I turned ten.
So, with all my, you know, my father’s friends being judges and attorneys and police officers and then his experience with all, and psychiatrists and the criminal justice system – it was like very focused and aware of the criminal element.
After our housed burned down, we moved to West Los Angeles. It just so happened that there was a karate studio that was down the street from where we lived, within walking distance. So we’d walk ourselves home from school and then we would change into our karate uniforms and walk down the street to the karate studio. We practiced there every single day. My parents would pick us up after work.
Alex: That school just happened to be Ed Parker’s West Los Angeles Studio.
Tim: Oh, wow.
Alex: Ed Parker, the founder and creator of American Kenpo.
Tim: Now was he actually at that studio at that time?
Alex: No, he was primarily at his Pasadena studio, but his protégé, Larry Tatum, is the one who is running the studio. And that’s where I trained under Larry Tatum; we had private lessons with Larry Tatum.
My current Grandmaster, Mohamad Tabatabai, was a student there as well. And he studied right directly under Grandmaster Parker as well. Grandmaster Parker didn’t teach kids, but he came in and taught classes especially the black belt class on Thursday nights. He’d come in and he’d teach there. So I saw him but I never trained directly underneath him.
Tim: Huh. Wow. Yeah, that’s a great way to get started in karate.
Alex: Yeah, it was blind luck; it’s not like we sought him out. It was just like, “Oh, yeah.” Just, you know, here we were and he was in walking distance, so we just went down and checked it out. Our dad signed us up.
Tim: So, it was your father’s idea to get you into karate and get your self-defense up to par at a young age?
Alex: Yes. In addition to all the awareness and avoidance techniques that I grew up with, it was now time where we’re all going to have to have the availability of teaching the actual physical defense as well. And also because, you know, I was ten and my sisters were younger than me, so we all started together. And then at that time also, my dad’s friends in the army were also teaching us how to fight and how to protect ourselves. So we had a lot of, a lot of the old school training in the sense that it was literally going over to spend the weekends with this martial arts expert and live with him for the weekend and practice and train and study under him. It was that type of old school training.
Tim: Yeah, I’ve heard you really had good combat training…
Alex: [chuckle] Yeah.
Tim: …in the military.
Alex: Yeah, he was the one who taught me how to hit, the one who taught me how to make a fist – his name’s Bill Graine. More than I was ever taught, even at the Parker school. It was really very basic, reality-based self-defense. Also tournament fighting, which is where I got all of my tournament skills from, which is the practical application of the mock combat. The sparring in the studio was just one thing; but I'm a big advocate of tournaments as training devices.
Tim: Hmm, Yup. That’s a little bit of a different sport, I guess, than in the studio.
Alex: Oh, it’s very different. Totally different approach to everything.
Tim: So, you said the combat training is more of a Jujitsu type of style than Kenpo? More scientific, more combative?
Alex: No, it really has nothing to do with Jujitsu. It was a combination. Bill studied Chinese Kenpo, he had black belts. Tthis was back in the 70s, when it was old school. He had a black belt in Wushu, Shorin ryu and Chinese Kenpo. So he was just teaching us what he felt were the most applicable pieces of those styles. And then of course, I was given the American Kenpo training at the studio at the same time.
Tim: Great, well that’s a good start to our story here with all of your styles and training. Did you move on to different styles from there or did you pretty much stick with Kenpo to get your foundation as you grew up?
Alex: I stayed with American Kenpo until I was about 16. And then after that, I got into other sports, cars, girls, high school, college and those types of things all got in the way. I went back to American Kenpo and stayed there for a couple more years and then other things got in the way.
Actually, I got back to studying Hapkido. I studied Hapkido under Grandmaster Bong Soo Han, who is one of the people that originally, he’s one of the people that incited the interest in martial arts in the United States. Before Bruce Lee, it was Billy Jack, if anybody in the audience remembers that movie. Grandmaster Bong Soo Han was the impetus and the body-double in Billy Jack.
Tim: Ok. Hmm.
Alex: So I studied Hapkido under him for four and a half years and got to brown stripe under him. That was, it was absolutely amazing. He was a fantastic teacher.
Tim: And what types of things, I'm not too familiar with Hapkido. I know it’s a Korean style, but how was that different than Kenpo?
Alex: Oh, wow. [laughs] It’s striking, the differences.
Alex: Grandmaster Han and Grandmaster Parker were very good friends and actually made a couple of moves together.
Alex: They used to meet for lunch and talk theory, martial arts theory and practice. And there was a lot of trade of ideas between them. What was also interesting is that some of the creeds that Grandmaster Han had were also same ones that Grandmaster Parker had in the studios. So, there was a lot of crossover there in the theory part.
But this style, it’s very different. American Kenpo is strong, its circular motion leaning in to linear strikes. It’s almost like a wind-up, and then a strike. So it was all usually some sort of rounding motion that leads into a very direct, very powerful burst. I say it’s a hard art; but some people would disagree and say, well it’s a moderate, medium style. But I really think it’s kind of hard, having studied Hapkido.
Alex. Hapkido’s soft. It is a sister art to Aikido, as well as Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwan Do. So there’s a lot of crossover between the two. They all have the same throws and joint locks of Aikido, the kicks of Tae Kwan Do and then the hand strikes of American Kenpo. So it’s really a very nice blend, it’s very soft. Grandmaster Han taught in a very soft manner. I’ve seen hard Hapkido; but with Grandmaster Han, what I studied was more of the soft.
Tim: Ok, Yeah. That’s interesting ‘cause I think of Hapkido, you know, not knowing too much about it, I think of it as a hard style. And maybe there’re different branches that train different ways.
Alex: Grandmaster Han was, he said that when he was young, he taught a lot and saw a lot of death. He was part of the, one of the South Korean President’s personal guard. And he said he didn’t want to do that anymore. So, he took out a lot of the aggressive, hard techniques. He just didn’t teach them anymore. Everything that he taught was from a difference of perspective. He said, based on his experiences in his life, he didn’t want to deal with harsh or hurting or killing anymore.
Tim: Yeah, yeah. Was he an older instructor? Older in age or similar to other instructors that you had?
Alex: When I finally started training, he was in the last years of his life. He passed away in 2007.
Tim: Hmm, ok.
Alex: So, I started training under him in 2002.
Alex: So, I caught him at the end of his life.
Tim: Yeah, yeah. That’s just interesting to me that an older, more experienced and having experienced more in life, philosophically, would teach a softer art and leave out some of the harshness of it.
Alex: Yeah, it’s interesting. People change. I mean, I’ve noticed myself change over the years as well.
Tim: Hmm, yeah. Now I’ve heard you talking on you podcast and I've read some of the articles. You talked about the importance of martial arts traditions and the practical defense side of things, generally. You don’t see a lot of crossover or too much crossover, generally, between the reality-based self-defense programs and traditional martial arts. Can you just talk a little bit about your thoughts on how modern-day self-defense can be blended with traditional training?
Alex: Absolutely! People, when they read my articles, they think, “Oh, you hate traditional martial arts.” No I don’t! I really don’t. I love traditional martial arts. Even Grandmaster Parker with American Kenpo, he was berated and discounted for creating this other art that wasn’t a traditional martial art. Now, 50 years later we look at it and go, “Oh, yeah, American Kenpo, that’s a traditional martial art.”
Alex: And if you go back to the earlier articles, even some of the interview, they would say, “No, no, no!”
Alex: But with time, everything, you know, comes around. But my idea is, in the way I see this, the reality-based is almost a return to traditional martial arts. Because if you go back to the beginning, the tradition of the martial arts, how it started was, self-defense.
Alex: Everything was based in reality; what they were seeing on the street, how do I protect myself. It’s not how to be flowery, relaxed.. certainly there were parts of that, but I think what happened was, over time, the arts started to dominate the martial aspect. So I see that the reality-based aspect of it is bringing back the self-defense aspect of these traditional martial arts. And you could still have the tradition! You can still have the katas that are more of a dance than an actual practice. You can still have the crazy, fancy, jumping, spinning heel kicks that you would never use in a defensive situation. You know, you would never roundhouse somebody to the head in a self-defense situation because, “Oh, here! Why don’t you whack me in the nuts while I stretch myself out on one foot?”
Tim: [chuckle] Of course!
Alex: It just doesn’t make any sense from a practical defense perspective.
Tim: Mhmm, mhmm.
Alex: But those types of actions change balance. They build strength. It builds control, targeting - all these types of things, you need for self-defense. So, they are needed, but they're not directly applicable to self-defense in the terms of you want to use in a street fight. What you have to do is just focus the training, focus the skills, make the defense, make the practice, more realistic, have more intensity. Stronger, more realistic; run a little scenario. Instead of just lining up and throwing a wild roundhouse punch to the guy’s head maybe, set the scenario like, you’re drunk. Or “Hey, why are you sleeping with my wife, dude?!” You know? Put a little, little more realism. Don’t let them know what’s coming. We get in these ruts in the studio that make us complacent. And that’s repetition ingrains us, ingrains into us. And that makes us less defensive because we’re not use to it.
I mean, one of the running jokes that people say is “Oh yeah, you take martial arts. Oh good, that means you know how to take a punch!” It means you’d know how to stand there and take a good punch – it doesn’t mean that you could really defend yourself because there is no reality in it anymore. It’s been so sanitized and so commercialized that there’s a lot of the self-defense aspect is completely absent. Although if you look at it it’s still there in the core, you just have to bring it out.
Tim: Hmm. Yeah, that’s interesting what you were saying about you’re bringing, making new traditions and I can add Parker’s case, you know, now there are new traditions. I‘d recently heard you speaking on the Karate Café Podcast and you mentioned that you were working to create and codify a style of martial arts called American Kenpo Jujitsu. You want to talk a little bit about that style and what that addresses and where the inspiration came from?
Alex: Well, the genius behind it actually is not mine. It’s my Grandmaster’s, Mohamad Tabatabai’s. He is probably one of the top five American Kenpo practitioners in the world. Yeah, within the Kenpo community he is well known. Outside of it, he’s the most kind and humble man I know. You should be a million times more well-known than he is but that’s because he’s so humble, he doesn’t self-promote. And because of that, anyone outside the Kenpo circles knows nothing about him, which is a shame!
He started investigating ground fighting because of all of the hooplah around it. We guess so many would walk-in in the studio, the first thing they ask, well, “Do you grapple?” In American Kenpo, you stand apart. There really is no grappling.
Alex: We have, maybe a couple of techniques where you’re knocked to the ground and the first thing you do is kick, kick, kick, stand up. That’s it! It’s all about getting back on your feet, which is really good for a street fight, that’s what you want. But the problem is that so many people these days, because of the UFC and the popularity of it, are teaching ground fighting and they’re training at it, or have some sort of exposure to it. A person who’s only done stand up, who gets taken to the ground by somebody who knows what they’re doing, is done. I’ve done stand up for twenty years; not standup comedy, of course. Although I try, and usually fail. Stand up martial arts. And going to the ground for the first time in some of these classes, I was like, “Holy moley! I have no idea what to do here!” And I was, I had guys literally half my size tossing me around on the ground. I just didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to move, I didn’t know what the feel was, I didn’t know what they were trying to do to me; I was helpless! Standing up, I would have destroyed them! But on the ground I was helpless. When he started investigating he saw the same sort of thing. So he went and started studying, pursued Jujitsu under the Gracies in their Torrance Academy.
So, he’s a ninth degree black belt, thirty-something years experience, promoted to Grandmaster level from here to fifth degree by Grandmaster Parker personally, goes down, puts on a white belt, stands in front of the Gracies and learns. Puts me into thinking that, how humble you have to be to do that. He’s a Grandmaster! Recognized the world over to American Kenpo, and puts on a white belt.
Tim: That’s great.
Alex: So he goes and studies with the Gracies and when he starts learning the Gracie Jujitsu, he just becomes aware of the incredible synergy between the two styles. So, he’s now a certified instructor in Gracie Combatives and that’s where I’ve been in my Jujitsu instruction from, is under him. We also have a couple of the Gracie instructors actually came up to our studio and teach in a regular basis as well.
What he’s doing is, we start with the standup techniques of American Kenpo and then it moves to the grounds and all the finishes are done with Gracie Jujitsu. So, American Kenpo Jujitsu.
There is such synergy between the two systems, I hate that word, it’s so overused, but in this case it’s amazing. You can’t tell where one art starts and the other stops. There’s really no delineation; you can just walk at the door and look at it. You would think that they’ve been a single art for hundreds of years. The flow is just absolutely amazing and he’s worked them in so seamlessly that it’s beautiful.
Tim: Hmm. Sounds like there’s a pretty clear separation between the standup art and the ground fighting art, but are there other things that overlap as well? I mean, does the Gracie Jujitsu lend some stand up techniques and American Kenpo lend some ground fighting techniques that help that synergy?
Alex: No. [chuckle] No, because there really isn’t all that much stand up in the Gracie Jujitsu at least that I’ve been exposed to so far. It’s usually just how to get in and under and around the punches to getting close to do the clench of the take-down. With American Kenpo, you throw a wild punch, you know, there are tens of techniques we can do or now we ‘boom’ take you to the ground as well, if we need to. Or if you go to the ground, what would you do with that one and how to get back up.
Alex: So, it’s really interesting to see how this thing has developed over time. They’ve been working on it a year and a half, almost two years now? They’ve been together, practicing, figuring out names, what part to attach to what Kenpo technique is there, so many different options. What do we need to remove from the American Kenpo system to American Kenpo Jujitsu because there’s so much material. [They] just took both raw systems and threw them together.
It takes four and a half, five years to get a black belt on American Kenpo and it takes six something years to get a black belt in Gracie Jujitsu. You can’t just throw those things together and expect an average person to be able to do it. So some things have to fall away. One of the things that we took out immediately were the forms and sets. Which for me, it was no big loss. I know a lot of traditional people out there who are “Oh no, no forms, no katas” I never really studied them the American Kenpo katas are really just self-defense techniques strung together. In fact, our long form which goes on, when you complete it, is almost four and a half minutes long… from start to finish. It is the longest one in the system and its twenty techniques, self-defense techniques, which are between five and ten actual strikes and moves: left hand, right side, all strung together back to back. So, in fact when people learn they go, “Ok, we open up with destructive twins and may go on to this one and then this, then it’s thundering hammers and then that’s you know, branching twig and you know, all this stuff.” And they ask, “How’d you memorize it?” There is no way you can!
So having those disappear from an American Kenpo perspective, it’s not that big of a deal because you already have the techniques.
Tim: Right, you retain the same material just in a different form.
Alex: Right. And in Gracie Jujitsu, of course, there’s no, there are no forms. Grandmaster Han and his Hapkido, didn’t have any forms either. No katas. He didn’t teach them with them. It was all self-defense techniques.
Alex: It was rolls, falls, throws, self-defense techniques.
Alex: That’s what Grandmaster Han focused on.
Alex: So for me, losing the katas and sets was not a big deal.
Alex: Because I never really had any to begin with.
Tim: Yeah. So, you mentioned “codifying” a style. I know we talked about that briefly on the show once in the past but I didn’t really discuss actually what is involved in codifying a system in martial arts. Are you publishing a book content or how does that work?
Alex: Yes. What that means is going through and taking the material and writing it down, making an instruction manual out of it. And it’s very important if you want to do it for posterity, or want to expand your organization because you’d need consistency. And people are going to be studying this remotely or go into a seminar as someone who’s very interested in picking it up. Not everyone can be within driving distance of Grandmaster Tabatabai, so, how do you do that?
Well, it’s through writing, it’s through DVDs, it’s through documenting everything and creating the step by step instructions of how to conduct a test, what the belt ranking system is. How many hours you need to qualify to be able to test. What the belts mean, the history behind everything. All that stuff that you get via osmosis of living in, breathing in, what some of the teachers teach you and instruct and say, you write down and make available in written form. That’s the codification. It’s long! It’s not easy! You could see you have the student guides, you have the instructor guides, then you got to film the DVDs and have everything synched. It’s taking us a long time.
Tim: [chuckle] Yeah. This system of American Kenpo Jujitsu, is this something that will replace any other styles that you might teach in a normal class? Or would you continue to keep teaching Kenpo and Hapkido and American Kenpo Jujitsu?
Alex: Yes! Well, Yes, in that I will continue to teach others because there is the art. Right now in my studio we teach American Kenpo Jujitsu and then we have Gracie Jujitsu classes.
Alex: So in our school, we teach both right now. I haven’t taught Hapkido in many years and probably it’s because of my time constraint. I love that art. I really love that art. But because of time constraints and just everything else, I only have so many hours in a day, I probably won’t be teaching that. What I do continue to teach though is reality-based self-defense and firearms.
Alex: I ran seminars and classes for firearms and the reality-based stuff on a daily basis. In fact, this weekend, I have a, actually it’s not reality-based, I have a Kubotan class that I'm running this weekend.
Tim: Sure, I remember hearing that.
Alex: And I’m actually a certified Kubotan instructor under Soke Tak Kubota, the man who created the Kubotan.
Alex: So I had some training under him as well.
Tim: That’s great!
Alex: But not in his martial art, just in the Kubotan.
Tim: So, what has been one of the most difficult challenges in developing a new style of martial arts?
Alex: It’s…Wow, one… There are many.
Tim: Mhmm, yeah.
Alex: And it’s really just deciding what to cut and what to keep and what is essential. One of the big challenges for us also, because we have been doing martial arts so long, [is] we jump right into the meaty good stuff, the fun stuff and I had to go back and say, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! What about the fundamentals?”
We were so thinking and focused on the techniques and how the techniques worked together, it was like, “Ok, we have to assume this person’s fresh off the street. Ok, well let’s teach him hard stance. Let’s teach them how to block, let’s teach them how to make a fist.” And so we had to go back and actually create a list of fundamentals that we had to teach before we could get into the good stuff and the fun things. So that was something I haven’t anticipated. You do it every day in class and you just assume, “Oh, we’ll just cover that in the basics and in the warm up in the class.” Well, you now, we can’t assume.
Alex: So that was something that we had that kind of surprised me.
And the second one was what to cut, what to keep. There’s so much material from both systems, it’s all so interesting and so good and so important – what do you leave? What do you want to [inaudible] from?
Tim: Right, that would be hard for me to cut things out of the system, that’s got to be a tough decision.
Alex: Oh, and I kept wanting to add stuff in! From reality-based, you know? [chuckle] Other places that I had pulled stuff from it’s like, “Oh, let’s put this in here, let’s do this…”
For example, I hate the techniques for knife defense in American Kenpo. They’re just, they’re completely unrealistic and are useless and would probably get you killed if you even tried to do them. In fact, the American Kenpo people that I know that have been in knife fights, don’t use them.
Alex: So, it’s interesting. So, actually we’re taking out the knife techniques completely from American Kenpo, the original ones, and replacing them with the reality-based knife self-defense.
Tim: Ok. So you’ve taken influences from some other things as well as Kenpo and Jujitsu?
Alex: Yes, because it really, I mean the whole purpose for me behind martial arts at its core is the self-defense aspect. And that’s where I really focus everything.
Alex: And I love the art, I love the theory, I love the mind, body, spirit; but when the rubber meets the road, I think you need to be able to defend yourself. So that’s kind of the overriding goal of all of it to me. The rest is wonderful and needs to be there and makes you a complete person. But I think, if you take martial arts, you should be able to at least stand up to somebody.
Tim: Now, your career in the field of computer antivirus software is actually kind of interesting to me.
Tim: I came upon that in research; I hadn’t heard you talk about it on the show. I have heard some of your shows about internet security and computer security but this is an interesting find for me. It’s actually along the same vein as practical defense, which is why you have some shows about that type of thing, because you're working to protect yourself and others from clear and present dangers around you and in society. I'm kind of curious to know how your self-defense training has affected your career in computers or vice versa.
Alex: Wow, well, my career in the antivirus fields do a couple things for me.
One, it really piques my interest in other forms of security. Although we work specifically with computer viruses, which are worms, Trojans and viruses. We didn’t, at that time, I didn’t do other security type of stuff: firewalls and things like that. There's so much going on with viruses it was just enough to do that. But I worked closely with other people and law enforcement in that area - I spoke to DEAs, we worked for the FBI in a couple of cases, there were all sorts of different things that came into there. So really, it helped reawaken my interest in personal security from all perspectives and all venues: complete awareness, online and personal.
The other thing it did is really, …because as my position as product manager, I was the spokesperson for the product, the virus research center and the company. So I would go on speaking engagements. In one of these that we put into a charter was educating the public on safe computing practices. I really took that to heart. Whenever we went on a press tour, I really didn’t talk about the product; I talked about general computer security and awareness. And then, at the very end, “Oh, by the way, we kind of have a product over here that we sell.” But, you know, the gist of it was just educating the public and that really solidified my interest in educating and I actually have my Masters in Education now.
Alex: It really wanted me to be a teacher, to be a better teacher and gave me a lot of experience in teaching in different venues, which is why I was on TV. For almost a year, I did ten interviews a week…
Alex: …on computer viruses. So I was doing more than a single interview a day. I had four dedicated PR people just managing my interview schedule.
Alex: And then I’d go on press tours and I’d fly to New York and how I’d get up at four in the morning and sit in the chair in New York at 6am and every five minutes another TV station dialed in and I had somebody that I couldn’t see, I was just smiling at the camera. And they would be throwing questions at me and boom! They would cut away and somebody else would cut in and we did that for three hours straight.
Alex: These press tours, I won’t put this that I was the most quoted computer virus expert in the world. I was in New York Times, Wall Street Journal; I could always tell when I got a really big quote in a very big publication because I’d get stockbrokers calling me on my office phone.
Alex: They’d say, “Hey, I've got this new IPO!” This is pre-bubble, right? “Right, yeah, I got this new IPO!” And so they’d call the front desk and ask for Alex Haddox and they’d transfer them back to my line, so I was like, “Okay.” And so I called the PR after office hours, “Hey, I just got a call from another stockbroker, trying to see where we got another this week.”
Alex: I’d go to large venues; Mexico City was one of the largest ones I did live at four hundred people in the audience, three TV stations live with simultaneous translation. It was at the Museum of Technology in Mexico City. I remember those 20 foot screens behind me and speaking into a microphone and people in the audience were listening on headsets so I got a lot of experience and exposure teaching and just spreading the word about personal protection from computer viruses and online threats.
So, it was interesting. It was a lot of fun, it was one of the most rewarding jobs I've ever had. But at the same time I also had to run the research center. So while I'm on the road, I had to manage the office and all, everything that was coming in those times. Work was tough because I was doing two jobs. All day long I'm doing PR and then I’d go back to the hotel room and I have to catch up on the day’s email, returning phone calls and all these stuff and things. I just burned out. I decided to walk away, it was just way too much.
Tim: How long did you do that for?
Alex: Four years.
Tim: Four years.
Alex: Yeah, I have a million mile status on American Airlines.
Tim: [chuckle] Great. You get to travel quite a bit for that.
Alex: Yeah, I’ve got life-long permanent gold status on American Airlines.
Tim: Wow! Great! So I also want to touch on, you mentioned something at the beginning about a book that you’re working on.
Tim: You want to share anything about the book with the listeners?
Alex: That’s a little bit early but I'm going to talk about it, yeah.
It’s basically the material that I’ve been working on for the podcast in print form. More detail, more stories, some of the stuff that I talked about in the beginning but in more detail and diagrams and those sorts of things. I got the first draft done, I’m not halfway through the second draft and I should have it out in the next two months. What I'm going to do is release it as e-books first. So it’s going to be in e-book form and then available through sale in pdf form for my website, which is alexhaddox.com. And then after I got the various shorter e-books for just a couple of dollars, I’ll compile everything into the dead-tree print version and then make that available as well.
Tim: Dead-tree print version, great! I can’t wait for that, that sounds great! That sounds like you’ve got some really interesting stories from your childhood and how you developed through the martial arts and your career as well.
Alex: Well, thank you, yeah, it’s been a ride! [laughs] In some days, I feel like I've been ridden.
Tim: [laughs] Of course, we all do. Just before we part I guess I’ve been interested to return to the American Kenpo Jujitsu for one more question and ask you about your hopes and dreams for the future of that art.
Alex: The art has incredible potential. It really is practical, it’s got the best of American Kenpo with all the power and speed that American Kenpo can generate, combined with right now is probably the best ground fighting system.
So you’ve got an incredible stand-up mixed with an incredible ground and that really is a wonderful, wonderful combination. You can go, it can go years. Some are even saying, we did some research that, originally, there was a form of Kenpo Jujitsu several hundred years ago. That was the Japanese Jujitsu. I don’t know which version of Kenpo they were talking about, still a little bit hazy. It could be we’re rediscovering something that was done and then lost. It’s very tough to say, I doubt its exact form, but there may have been something similar to it in the past.
These things, a good idea’s a good idea. That’s why they have simultaneous discoveries on different parts of the world because two people woke up in the morning go “Hey, these combined could be a wonderful thing!” We’re not necessarily the first but this combination is really, really powerful. It could go very far.
The trouble is, and this is true with a lot of things: everyone’s claiming to have THE mixed martial art, THE ultimate fighting system. And it muddies the water, because we say the same thing in reality-based or with firearms or with anything! People are always trying to sell their thing and it muddies the water quite a bit. There’s just a lot of junk out there. So, time will tell. The junk will eventually disappear and the good stuff will survive.
Alex: But you just have to be patient. This really is two wonderful, wonderful arts put together in a way that it’s just really good. I wish I had better words for it.
Tim: That’s excellent. Thank you, again, so much for being on the show. I really appreciate your time and the story you shared. I’m definitely going to have some information on Alex Haddox on the Martial Arts Lineage Website. You can find a link to Alex’s website there and when the book comes out, we’ll have some new information about that as well and where you can find that, so, thank you again Alex, I really appreciate it.
Alex: Thanks for having me on! It’s been great!