We recently took time out to get the lowdown from Sonny Chargualaf. A.K.A @heroesandheadkicks http://www.instagram.com/heroesandheadkicks/
A keen martial artist and also comic artist. Hailing from Guam in Micronesia. East of China, Thailand and the Philippines, we were intrigued to get his views on a few topics.
WC&R –Firstly, thanks again for joining us for a brief chat Sonny. What was your first pull towards martial arts, and can you tell us a little about your background?
My first urge to pick up martial arts came from watching Bruce Lee’s movies, specifically Way of the Dragon and Game of Death. My older brother and I were imitating the moves we saw in Lee’s movies and my dad thought, since we were half Korean, it would be a good idea to get into martial arts. Martial arts were popular on Guam, so we had a lot of options. We settled on Taekwondo. I competed internationally, suffered a big loss and decided to learn boxing, kickboxing and MMA. I’ve competed a few times as a pro (one MMA, four Kickboxing) while coaching local amateur and pro fighters from Guam. I’m also a certified art teacher and freelance comic artist.
WC&R –We think your characters and artwork is amazing and clearly your MA passion shines through, which came first for you ‘the pen or the sword’ (so to speak) and what influences you?
For me, they work hand in hand. The ability to create (art) balances well with the potential to destroy (combat sports). As I’ve gotten older, the urge to compete is almost out of my system. The desire to create artwork has taken over almost completely. I’ve been drawing almost as long as I’ve been in martial arts – over 30 years.
Although I did graduate from a four-year art program in college, my influences are almost entirely from comic book artists. I was a huge comic book fan growing up and my parents recognized and fostered that. My influences are from my favourite artists – Arthur Adams, Jim Lee, and Alan Davis to name a few. I have noticed the connection between comics/music/martial arts. I believe there’s a strong connection due to the struggles involved in honing a craft – martial arts, comics and hip hop have cultures that are constantly growing based on self-reflection and struggle of their respective practitioners.
WC&R –What advice would you give a younger version of yourself when beginning a martial arts journey?
Identify your goals as early as possible and connect with a supportive academy or gym with legitimate instructors. Lean on your training partners and coaches for struggles in and out of the gym.
TRADITION OR PROGRESS
WC&R –Can you share your thoughts on tradition Vs. progression in the martial arts?
I’ve always identified myself as a martial artist who dabbled in prize fighting, but there is definitely a place for traditional values and progression in the martial arts. My traditional TKD background has made it easier for me to learn boxing, kickboxing and MMA. There are far more similarities between traditional martial arts and progressive aspects like prize fighting than there are differences.
WC&R –What has been your favourite project this year and what made it stand out from the rest for you?
I don’t have one in particular, but I do definitely enjoy supporting fighters both from Guam and also worldwide. It’s very motivating as an artist to get martial artists competing at the highest levels saying good things about your work.
WC&R –What are you currently looking forward to in the graphics and MA world and what keeps you motivated?
In my art career I’m working with a few companies on commissions for clothing and collaborating with a group of artists on Instagram. Also, I’m working on personal graphic novel projects. In the martial arts world, I’m looking forward to my former kickboxing students’ future fights. Motivation for me comes mainly from the support I’ve gotten from my family, my wife Lani and supporters of my art. Another motivating factor is that I only truly pushed my art after I coached Kickboxing and MMA fighters for 12 years, so I feel like I’m a bit behind after prioritizing that aspect of my life.
TOP 5 – TRAINING TIPS
- Look at martial arts as a lifestyle and not a hobby. For me the benefits (discipline, self-reflection) have been worth the decades I’ve spent training in martial arts.
- If you’re cutting weight for a fight, start the cut early. I would cut from 175-145lbs almost two and a half months before a fight and would only cut 3-4lbs on the day of the weigh in.
- Take breaks when you’re physically or mentally drained to ensure longevity in your martial art.
- If you’re competing in hard contact sports like MMA, Boxing and Kickboxing, take note of how much damage your brain is taking. Try to adjust if your style lends itself to taking a lot of trauma to your brain. A good goal is to be as sharp as you can when you’re older.
- Embrace the tedious parts of training. It’s there for a purpose and is good practice for mental fortitude.
WC&R Awesome, great tips – we definitely agree! And to close out, thanks again for your time – where can our readers find information on your artwork and projects?
Thank you for the support! I do appreciate having me on board for this. I’m most active on my Instagram account: http://www.instagram.com/heroesandheadkicks/ so any updates will be posted there. Thank you!
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