This month I had the pleasure of speaking to the co-owner of Kombat Arts, Edgar Obregon to get some interesting tidbits about his background in martial arts, his passion for the Kombat family and his secret food indulgence!
1) Tell us about your background and how you got into martial arts?
I studied Kung Fu when I was about 7 or 8 years old, in the Choi Le Fut style. I had moved to Canada from the Philippines when I was 5 after my dad and uncle won a lottery to immigrate to Canada and we lived in Vancouver.
2) You mean your family actually had to “win a lottery” in order to come to Canada?
My dad and uncle came first, then sponsored my aunt and cousin to join them. Eventually, my mom and I followed suit. I graduated from BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology) but finished school right when the tech bubble burst.
I then moved to Toronto hoping to find work, but after 3 months, came up with nothing. I was literally about to pack my bags and move back to Vancouver, when I happened to bump into a friend who knew of a job opening at HSBC. He introduced me to a senior network administrator (complete with tattoos, piercings and a backwards baseball cap – can you say I was surprised when I showed up at his door in a vest and dress pants?!) and the rest is history.
3) So you did manage to stay in Toronto. How did you find Kombat Arts and what classes did you take?
For a long time I was just doing the regular gym routine and soon grew bored of weight training. So I did what many people do – I just Googled ‘Martial Arts Schools in Mississauga’ back in 2003/2004 and Joey answered the phone. He invited me to our old location on Kamato Rd and gave me a tour – very much like what we do today. After viewing the facility, I decided to sign up for a 3-month trial.
I started with Muay Thai classes, which I found I very much enjoyed and also took some boxing and JKD.
4) How did you get into coaching and helping to corner fighters?
I was actually training to become a fighter, when I injured my knee. Once I was unable to train anymore, I actually grew quite depressed and didn’t know what to do with myself.
Finally, it was Joey who suggested I take some coaching classes from CASK and I began to help corner our fighters. I discovered I really enjoyed it, especially when guys would actually respect my advice enough to listen to me to help improve their skills.
So about 3 years ago, I asked Joey about becoming a Kru. I wanted to move to the next level after CASK, because I couldn’t be a competitor, I wanted to see where teaching could take me.
5) What is your favourite part about coaching/teaching?
To be able to help motivate individuals go beyond their limits. I don’t believe in the words, I CAN’T. You can always push yourself to achieve more.
6) What prompted you to consider being a member of Kombat Arts to an OWNER of Kombat Arts?
It’s very simple: selfishness. I wanted a place where I could continue to train, a place where the vision and values lined up with mine and I didn’t want to see that go away. I wanted it to persist and also to be given a chance for revival to be the kind of place I always knew it could be. I had the resources to contribute, so I did.
Now, I’m primarily responsible for the behind-the-scenes stuff, making sure vendors and staff are paid, making sure the juice bar is stocked up, meet & greet our members, etc…
7) You are known for your creative food posts on Facebook. How did you learn to cook?
I have no formal training and most of what I’ve learned is from my parents. I like to be creative and have fun. I’ll try anything once or sometimes I’ll adjust a classic recipe to try to make it healthier. For example, I tried making maki rolls using quinoa instead of white rice or making pad thai with zucchini noodles.
8) Zucchini noodles? How did you manage that?
I used a spiralizer and it turned out pretty good.
9) What is your least favourite food?
I’ll try anything once. There is no food I particularly hate, but I’m not really a chocolate guy.
10) What is your secret food indulgence?
Deep fried chicken wings!
11) Finally, what does Martial Arts mean to you and what does KOMBAT ARTS mean to you?
Martial Arts: A way of life, discipline, structure, loyalty and humility.
Kombat Arts = FAMILY.
You can leave a crappy day behind when you walk through those doors and know the people inside will always have your back.
Thank you Edgar for your time and for all that you do!
ARTICLE BY: ALICE SOON