Ikuhisa Minowa returns to Korea at ROAD FC 15 to face Park Jung-Gyo. But before then, we manage to sit down and talk to the legendary fighter about MMA in Asia, life after fighting and keeping his heart in the game.
You are a very interesting and entertaining fighter with a long and active career. How do you keep the spirit to keep fighting?
I just want to get victory for my fans, and make them happy. I do this all because of my fans.
When you look back over the fights you’ve been in, what comes to mind as your favorite, or most memorable?
All my fights remain in my heart. But the most recent fight I can say that I thought was interesting was with Sokoudjou. I think about that fight a lot.
How long does it take you to prepare for a fight?
About two months.
What kind of training are you doing now?
I try all different types of training, all different styles.
Do you have a favorite, or anything you’ve been gravitating towards recently?
Not really, I like to do everything equally. I think my skills are all about the same level so I enjoy training in every way.
Have you ever considered changing your shorts color?
Ah, no. It’s always the same. I have a black one and a white one, but I still don’t change.
You’ve seen the popularity of MMA in Japan decline during your active time in Japan. Do you think with UFC and WSOF holding shows in Japan, that there will be a resurgence?
I think that if Japanese fighters aren’t on these events, they’ll be useless. But if they put some Japanese fighters on the card, then I think the popularity of MMA has a chance to go back up.
When you look at Korean MMA and Korean fighters, what is your opinion?
I think the popularity of MMA in Korea itself is very stable and even going up. Within the few past years I’ve watched it, I think the fighters have improved a lot. They are very strong.
What would you say is important for young MMA fighters to know?
They shouldn’t rush. They should pick up MMA slowly and do it at their own pace.
Has there ever been a time in your career, during the ups and downs, that you’ve lost heart in fighting?
There have been a few times.
How have you regained purpose?
I have to be calm.
How do you become calm?
Relax. I like to be with nature and go hiking.
Do you have any other pursuits outside of MMA?
I like to go shopping with my family, go to the market, go traveling, basically spend time with my family.
Do you ever contemplate the end of your career?
I’m always a fighter. But I am thinking about it sometimes.
What does life after MMA look like for you?
I’m thinking about it over and over, but I can’t grasp what I would do. I still have the heart for MMA. So it’s difficult to think of what I might actually be doing instead of this.
Would you say that you are defined by being a fighter?
Do you watch MMA?
Yes, sometimes I do.
Are there any fighters you find interesting these days?
Well, to be honest I really only watch it for fun, I don’t watch it to follow fighters specifically. I just watch enjoy watching their techniques, see what other fighters are doing.
What are your thoughts on the trend of fighting for points, not finishing – in other words, not Minowaman style?
Since the level is so high in international MMA these days, there’s nothing that can be done about it. It’s just a natural progression in the sport.
Who have been your sparring partners and where have you been training most?
Yanagisawa Ryushi and some other Pancrase gym fighters.
Do you have anyone you’d like to thank?
My family, friends, and my fans.