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"Simple Is Best", Filipino Martial Arts World Champion, Joshua Teves, Interview

Joshua Teves, PCC Side Plank

Dragon Door: It looks like you're very involved with martial arts and fitness, how did you get started?

Joshua Teves: I think my first passion was martial arts—which at first was mostly because of Saturday morning cartoons. I finally got involved with Filipino martial arts at the age of 12. From there I started competing and did a couple of tournaments. I always enjoyed training, but didn’t exactly know anything specific about endurance training, physical preparation, or even strength training until I started lifting weights in my college weight room. Even then, I just did what I saw other guys doing and what I saw in YouTube videos.

Dragon Door: Were you in college for a health related degree?

Joshua Teves: Yes, but not at first. Like most college students, I started as undeclared then switched my major a couple of times from business, to political science. Eventually, I chose and graduated with an exercise science degree.

Dragon Door: What prompted that final choice?

Joshua Teves: Fitness was something that I knew would be a lifestyle for me, so it seemed like the right decision to study it. I felt like exercise science was my foot in the door of other possibilities. It eventually led to becoming a strength coach and personal trainer. I'm working in a corporate gym at the moment, but my ultimate goal is to eventually become an entrepreneur and open a facility in my home town.

Dragon Door: I saw that you are a Filipino martial arts world champion! Earlier you mentioned competing, but how did you get to be a world champion?

Joshua Teves: The Filipino martial arts are deeply rooted in Philippine culture. And since I am a Filipino, I definitely wanted to get into it. My hometown has a big Filipino community and an actual Filipino martial arts studio. After my parents signed me up, I fell in love with it from the very beginning. It's a very physical martial art rooted in street defense and survival techniques using sticks and knives. The very first time you enter the studio, they give you a weapon! In most other martial arts, you start with hand to hand fighting and eventually move on to weapons, but with this one you start with a stick or a knife on day one. Eventually you work your way to hand to hand training.

It is a very unique martial art that's rooted in the history of the people. They used this martial art for self defense when the Philippines was colonized by Spain. I'm a big history buff and enjoyed learning more about my own culture. I picked up the techniques quickly, and just two years after I started learning it, I got involved in a few national tournaments. I eventually qualified for the World Championship when I was 14-15 years old. I traveled to the Philippines to compete and then won for my age division as a Junior World Champion in 2005.

Dragon Door: Obviously you have a lot going on in your own training, you’d mentioned powerlifting and kettlebells along with your martial arts training before our call. How do you fit all of those modalities together in your training?
Joshua Teves and Angelo Grinceri with kettlebells

Joshua Teves: I always want to be stronger. Even though I could make the excuse of not having the best genetics, I have always wanted to try and see what is my body capable of. I want to train with full effort to see how strong and athletic I can get. I’ve also played many sports including basketball, and volleyball—and wanted to get better at playing them.

The more I started to understand how to get better at sports, I noticed that the best athletes always focused on strength. They seem to always want to have a good foundation of strength which then leads to being faster, more athletic, and having an advantage in competition—and that’s what I always worked towards in my training. So, I do a lot of barbell and kettlebell work which directly helps me become a better athlete.
Joshua Teves Powerlifting
This past weekend I competed in my first powerlifting meet and hit a couple of PRs—I even hit my lifetime goal of a 500lb deadlift. It’s not a world beater in the strength community, but for me at 164lbs, it’s always been a goal. I've been working on it for the past 5-6 years and thought that it would take another 2-3 years to get it, so I am stoked that I hit it last weekend!

Dragon Door: That’s really exciting! What brought you to the PCC?

Joshua Teves: The gym where I work is really big on having the best continuing education for the trainers. They always give back and want to give us the best opportunities to learn from the who's-who in the strength training, fitness, and calisthenics world. So, when they said that they were hosting the PCC at our Crunch Gym I jumped in. I knew about the PCC, and researched Dragon Door a couple of years back. I had always wanted to do the workshop and now it would be right in my backyard in New York. I also wanted to meet the Kavadlo brothers. Everything really paid off for me at the certification, it was a great experience.

Dragon Door: How has the PCC influenced your training?

Joshua Teves: I enjoy the minimalist nature of the PCC. At the beginning of the course, Danny Kavadlo explained that all you need are your own limbs and a floor—and that if you don’t have a floor beneath you, then you have bigger problems! I love that message so much and want to share it with my clients and students. I want them to know that they don't need expensive state of the art equipment. I love the barbell and the kettlebell, but you can get where you want to go with your own body—it’s a strength tool. Just like martial arts, I think that strength training and calisthenics are a form of self expression.
Joshua Teves Helping Al Kavadlo at the PCC

Dragon Door: It's a competitive world out there for strength coaches and trainers, do you have a special approach you take with your clients and students?

Joshua Teves: I like to stand out with a simple and basic approach. I feel like the trend right now is for trainers to get "internet famous" and post the newest trend or fad on Instagram. But, I like to give people simple answers in very simple terms. My clients don’t need to become anatomy majors, they just need to know how to pick things up, run, jump, and how to push and pull their own bodyweight. If they keep doing these simple things, they can achieve anything. With a little bit of consistency, hard work and dedication, success is within reach.

Dragon Door: It's great that we can share that message with our clients. So, now that you have your 500lb deadlift, what's your next goal?

Joshua Teves: 600! I was surprised that I got to 500 as quickly as I did. When I am not at work, I am researching fitness, getting stronger, and trying to learn as much as I can. I do eventually want to get a 600 deadlift, and feel like I have the powerlifting bug. I don't want to say that I am a powerlifter, but the reason I got into fitness was to try and take my body to its limits. I would also like to press the 48kg Beast kettlebell and get better at team sports and martial arts.

Dragon Door: What moves from the PCC are you working on?

Joshua Teves: The PCC was like three years of progressions bottled into three days. It was so much to grasp, and the manual was so thick that I had to tell myself that I can't do it all at once. With the training I am doing right now, I want to include one progression or movement per month and see how I do with it. Every day I want to take about five minutes to work on that movement.

Right now I am working on hand balancing, including the progressions like the crow and eventually the handstand. Handstands were not always a goal of mine, but it was so cool once I finally did it that I want to work on it for a month. Eventually, I want to work with the progressions for the flag because they were so demanding during the certification. Another one of my goals is to do 30 pull-ups before I'm 30—and I'll be 30 in about a year.

Dragon Door: Do you have any martial arts competitions coming up?

Joshua Teves: The next world championship is in two years. I haven't competed in the Filipino martial arts in about six years, so I definitely want to get back into it. The 2018 world championship will be held in Hawaii, so I would like to compete and get a nice vacation with a little surfing.

Joshua Teves Side Plank thumbnailJoshua Teves, PCC Instructor trains clients in New Jersey. Follow him on Instagram: @JoshTeves24