Thursday, June 21, 2012


Alright, grapplers. Here we go with the 3rd installment of D/SG's Grappler's Interrogatories (the "GI's").  We're honored that Guam-based Competidor Brand, makers of fine kimonos and apparel, volunteered to have some fun with us and answer our interrogs. 

For those who haven't checked out the first 2 GI's (see No. 0001 and No. 0003), here's a brief explanation:  I've always been curious about the people behind the brands and other companies in our sport of BJJ/grappling.  I wondered if they trained and what motivated them to do what they do (and whether they preferred fauxhawks to mullets).  This is our attempt to find out a bit about the people involved in our sport and to have some fun with the interview concept.

So, let's get on with it.  The GI's No. 0003, as completed by Competidor founder, Marvin Manibusan.
How did you get your start in BJJ?

I wrestled in high school and got into MMA shortly after, through my uncle Melchor Manibusan, who is one of the pioneers of MMA here on island.  I got All-Island in wrestling and had a 2-1 record in MMA.  I was submerged in a lot of NO-GI and it wasn't until we affiliated our gym with Nova Uniao, that I really fell in love with Jiu Jitsu.  My uncle was close friends with Charuto Verrisimo (Nova Uniao Hawaii) and he came to Guam to establish the affiliation.  He now comes to Guam about twice a month to check us out and give promotions.  Through wrestling and mma, I thought my game was pretty on point and it wasn't until I put on the GI, that I figured that I actually didn't know shit!  I was so captivated about how technical rolling in a gi is.  It was truly a huge eye-opener.  I ended up getting my blue belt shortly after and the rest is history!  Now a full-time jiu jitsu student and always yearning to learn more.  I guess its the hunger for knowledge in the sport that attracts me.  Just pure love for the game.  Spike 22 / Nova Uniao Guam now has 3 blackbelts Joey Calvo, Mike Ulloa and Eli Monge, who continue to tap me out everyday.  OSS!
How did Competidor get its start?

I always had a love for street culture and the arts.  I studied Graphic Design at the Art Institute of San Diego, came back to island, began work as the In-House Creative at Dizzy Inc. which runs DNA Surf Shop and Kicks Hawaii (Guam).  Through them, I was able to attend the ASR and Agenda in California and Magic in Las Vegas.  It was experiencing those huge trade shows that I acquired an insight into all the different aspects of building a brand.  That experience + a graphic design background + love for BJJ, began the birth of Competidor.  I designed our first shirt "Live by the Gi. Die by the Gi" in 2010. Launched a small website that had that one tee shirt in white and black, then started our Facebook and started adding a bunch of players all over the world.  It really was just a way to make some extra cash.  The feedback was pretty good, we sold about 200 of those tees all over the world.  It wasn't until November 2011 that we revamped and relaunched our site, along with our first kimono "The Guardian" which was available in Grey and White.  Here we are now with our second kimono drop, as well as a kid"mono".  

Competidor was really just an avenue for me to do some different things in street wear.  There are thousands of brands in street wear with the same direction... Hip hop, sneakers, money...Yeah we, get it. Seen it before!  So to kinda try and merge street wear and BJJ was the goal.  We're not trying to be the next ATAMA or NIKE or anything like that.  We just want to do some cool things in the game and make our customers feel good about spending $100some on a kimono!  If we could make our customers smile about opening a package from us after a pre-order with some extra goodies or a small little note, then we've done right.  

How has your experience in BJJ influenced your approach to Competidor as a business? 

I'm definitely not a high level / high belt ranking player, I'm just along for the knowledge and the ride.  We also don't have a grip of black belts on our roster who can help us market the brand.  So we're here to cater to the "middle class" of the sport (whites, blues, purples, etc.).  They are the ones spending money, a lot of the black belts are already sponsored and get a crap load of free gear.  We believe that they are the core of the sport... So were here on the ground level just trying to do some cool things and grow with the players who can relate to our brand. I think our followers see that and appreciate the grass-roots"ness"! 

Do you have any advice for someone who has a business idea in a niche market like yours?

Do it well.  There are so many guys out there that think they could just launch a brand over night.  Their heart and desire may be in the right place, but everything else may just look really "half-ass."  Suddenly, there brand has fallen by the wayside and forever forgotten.  I'm definitely ALL-FOR a grassroots come-up and will support anyone who has a well-put together brand.  However, do it right man.  Take the time to know what you're getting into and what you're doing.  Come up with a good design and well put together marketing plan.  Don't just make a couple of tee shirts and think you have a brand.  Of course, that was the model back when street wear began.  But, nowadays we have all the avenues to make a start-up brand look PRO.  Consumers appreciate that. Let's show these bigger companies that we could do exactly what there doing on the ground level and make some noise!  Now we see a lot of the bigger companies trying to re model their company like us smaller guys.  So please, take the time and DO IT RIGHT.  Good luck and GO HARD.

Favorite BJJ Fighter of All Time?
When I hear "BJJ" and "Fighter" I think BJ "muthaf**kin PENN!  Sure, there are a lot of players out there that I could name drop, which will make me sound really "jitsy." But, hands down... braddah BJ man.  He represented jiu jitsu after it kinda lost it's noise and everyone was becoming these monster cross-training beasts.  Jiu JItsu needed another star after Royce, and that's where BJ came in.  19-year old black belt wrecking shop!  He bled, cried, lost, fought, scrapped, talked shit, fought anyone, threw shakas, won belts, tapped out the some of the greats, and just always put it on the line.  He never was one to play it safe, he JUST SCRAPPED.  He was definitely the peoples champ.  #FAVS

Closed Guard, Open Guard or Fancy Guard?

Closed Guard when I'm gassed out (8min rounds, 4mins left).  Open Guard when rolling whites or beginner blues ;) .  Fancy Guard when I'm shadow rolling.  LOL!

Fauxhawk, Mohawk, Mullet or Fabio?

Mullet.  (Kenny Powers in "Eastbound and Down" kind)

Fight/Board Shorts, Vale Tudo Shorts, or Spats (i.e., tights)?

Valetudos!  Early days Vitor Belfort - tudos.  Nothing sexier than seeing Vitor in some Valetudos shuffling Wanderlei Silva across the cage.  

Triangle, RNC, Armbar or Other?  If other than triangle, please explain.

RNC.  Probably the most dominant of all of them.  Plus, there's nothing better than seeing a guy already give up before he taps... Hand already in the air just waiting to tap (face blue and cringing).  

What Animal Best Defines You as a Grappler (e.g., I am like a snail.  I am slow and get smashed a lot)?  Note:  Answering with Fictional Animals (e.g., Unicorns, Sasquatch) Not Permitted.

I was gonna say Liger (Lion + Tiger).  But, since those aren't permitted, I'd have to say Raptor.  On the ground level ready to scrap with any other raptors, but get smashed on when T-rexs come along! 

Favorite Gracie?  If other than Rickson, please explain.

Rickson is definitely the most bad-ass looking Gracie.  But if I had to choose another Gracie, it would definitely have to be Royce.  He's accomplished so much for the sport. Have to give him props.  OSSSU!

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