ADVENTURES IN FIGHTWEAR
HO Reader!, (yes that IS a Thundercats reference)
These are some of my adventures in fightwear. Encapsulated in my thoughts, my insigths, and my personal experiences.
On the left, you're seeing me at an open demonstration with students from Warrior Sports Centurion in 2017 at the Food Lovers Market at Gateway Shopping Centre in Centurion on a Saturday morning. The little guy didn't have someone to hold pads for him at that moment so I stepped in to help.
I'm wearing a one-off WARPATH Omegalon™ Rashguard I call the Sidewinder Edition. More on that later.
Since I ask all my first-time customers to give me their measurements, I'll give you mine.
Seriousness or solemnity in demeanor or treatment.
Seriousness in bearing or manner; dignity.
Now. You may think WARPATH is just a cute name I happened upon as clickbait. It's not cute when a word can sum up your existence. You may think I thought up a cute nickname for myself to match my cutely named fightwear business. You'd be wrong.
I'm just one of those people that no matter how friendly I think I am or was, others don't experience me that way. It's my cross to bear. And so, after years of not comprehending or accepting that about myself, it was time to re-evaluate the truth and accept it.
Life starts in Lezard. I was about to turn 19 years old when the first person called me "Aggro". I was so discombobulated (or taken aback) I clean froze instead of engaging him in a confrontation. We'll call him "Tomcat". I was living in a men's residence as a first year student where everyone had nickname, he was also a resident but not of the same house and was visiting my housemates who were his friends. We were all having a laugh when Tomcat decided to tease me with a broom from across the table. Just as I lost my temper and was about to grab the broom (and beat him with it!) he burst out laughing and exclaimed "AGGRO!". I wanted to argue but couldn't, I WAS infuriated at that moment, I didn't think it was THAT evident. I had hardly moved. But that's how the moniker came to be. And I HATED it!
As part of the initiation as a first year you had to bow and greet everything on the residence grounds during initiation. Your seniors, your house, your residence, the relaxation hall, everything. Did lots of PT in a suit in Pretoria in the middle of a heatwave because first-years ("djarre") were accused of greeting our houses or seniors sarcastically; or whatever else lame excuse the seniors could think up ;). So on my way back to the residence from campus one morning I greet three seniors and they ignore me. Regarding which I then promptly confront them. I was sick of this PT for no good reason in a suit. Could these be the jackasses that keep reporting that juniors don't greet them? All three then promptly greeted back, one glared, one was confounded, the other just wanted to get to class.
Well, if the moniker didn't stick before that incident it certainly did after that. Me? I couldn't see what the big problem was. They ignored me and I forced them to acknowledge me, but now everyone knew about it. It spread like wildfire that I was a "tarzan", and then Tomcat got wind of it. It just emboldened him. He would yell at me from afar whenever and wherever he saw me : "Aggro!, Hey Aggro!" to tease me and so the nickname's popularity grew. And I HATED it!
I even launched Freddie Brunette down the embankment at the house at a street braai one Saturday night for calling me "Aggro" in passing. I was on top of him so fast he didn't have time to think, put my right hand behind his left shoulder blade, my left hand on his left wrist. And basically spun him in a 360-degree motion like a discus and flung him down the embankment while yelling "Ek is nie Aggro nie!". He could have been hurt badly. It's a steep 2-story drop. Luckily he kept his legs under him as he went flying. - Sorry Freddie, I'd like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologize. I just lost my temper. I attacked you by surprise because I felt provoked. At the time I didn't appreciate the truth. I'm sorry. - Years later Freddie sent me a Facebook friend request. Hopefully that meant that I was forgiven.
Life went on. Other things happened as they do. I graduated. I was free of the moniker. Years pass. Things happen, as they do. Vague comments are made from time to time. Confrontations. Life goes on.
Then, in 2016. Around the time I started this fightwear venture this creep I used to report to starts throwing little snide comments my way constantly about how I'm rude, he works it into every conversation he can, mostly in a sly way. I never thought of any interaction with him as being rude from my side, but I did find his management style annoying at times. Otherwise we were on good terms. But one day it hit me. While I'm trying to be friendly, at the same time others think I'm rude?! Tomcat's moniker came back to haunt me, like a timewarp, was he correct? Some people might find me intimidating. Some might say I am confrontational. And that's when I decided to embrace that little annoying nickname for the first time.
Now, it doesn't help that I was born on "The Day of the Battler". It doesn't help that my secondary birth-name by which my family insists on calling me is derived from that of the Roman "god of war". It doesn't help that my clan name is that of what can at best be described as a war-clan. (If you're in my clan and one of my kindred you will know what I'm talking about.) It doesn't help that I have a short fuse. That, and a whole host of other factors doesn't help but put me where I've always been, on the warpath. Fighting. Constantly. My curse, my cross, my Gravitas.
Mean what you say and say what you mean. Let your word be your bond. Mine is Aggro. I am what I am. In the end I'm just a nice guy who doesn't take shit. You do you, I'll do me.
I met a police reservist in 2011 who showed me a training video where Idan Abolnik was training him. And I was facinated by what I saw, they were training breaching a premises with Idan slapping them from behind and they had to stay on task. Before that I had not known much about Krav Maga. But I instantly recognised that I needed to learn it! (that's excluding the part being slapped by Idan to distract you)
Once I'd found a club, I needed some gear. And then VENUM Shinguards came up in my search results. And then their fightshorts came up. And I was an instant fan of their designs. Now at the time, World of Warriors in Edenvale was selling VENUM items from their club and I immediately contacted them for my first gear.
I can't remember what my first pair of Fightshorts were. But I still remember walking down the streets in downtown Johannesburg to the Game parking lot with a backpack on my back. And a VENUM Shinguard in each hand. What a spectacle. In my bag I had a red Amazonia headguard, a pair of fightshorts, and a pair of MMA gloves. Since the moment I got home and put those on I was hooked on VENUM. And it's remained my #1 brand ever since.
Time went by. I earned my P1 from Krav Maga SA in 2015 after a gruelling 5 to 6 hour grading. Still had to buy one of their silly vests on the day to grade. And I then decided to switch to MMA classes - which meant I needed some more VENUM gear. Then in February 2016 I found a place in Europe that had some unique pairs of VENUM fightshorts I wanted. So I bought 2 additional pairs. One of them was the VENUM Tiger Fightshorts, the other I can't remember.
In May of 2016 I contacted them again for more VENUM gear. And that's when they asked me why I don't buy more? A lot more. At the time I was looking to do something entrepreneurial. And then they made me a deal I couldn't refuse. 50 pairs of VENUM Fightshorts for an astronomical bargain. And that's how WARPATH Direct™ was started. I still have the massive box I received that shipment in in storage. It's filled with gloves and accessories now.
Getting back. I then needed some rashguards to go with the fightshorts. TITLE MMA was offering some great deals, so I got a few of their products. At first I created a pricelist in document format and went around talking to fellow MMA students about what I had on offer - didn't get far. I distributed the pricelist via Whatsapp, no takers. But I knew what I had. I couldn't be the only fanatic willing to spend on quality. Could I?
A couple of weeks later I tore a guy's favourite BADBOY T-shirt in a Jits class and mentioned to him that he really needed a rashguard. The day I delivered it to him another student overheard the conversation and asked about MMA gloves. Yes I had gloves. TITLE MMA. We set a delivery date. At that meeting he mentioned to me about Crazy Monkey Centurion. I used to do Crazy Monkey with Bobby Kiriaginides (sorry Bobby) from 2004/2005 and really enjoyed it until I blew out a knee. So I knew about the form. But didn't know there was a club so close. Got their number, phoned, and made an appointment to go make introductions.
During this time Alias Sports had just closed down. They used to be a regular supplier for Crazy Monkey Centurion and they were now in the market for new gear here and there. I made an appointment to go see the students. Filled a bag full of gear for sale and headed out. That night I went home with around R6,000 in my pocket, and I knew I was on to something. Which is why I will always be grateful to Jacques Wagner for giving me a shot. If it wasn't for that night, I would never have taken WARPATH to where it is.
After that night, sales-pitter pottered in from here and there. I was still using the document pricelist. People scoffed at this color or that design or whatever arbitrary excuse they needed to back out of a sale. But that magic of "if you had the right buyers they would buy" had me sniffing blood. My wife wasn't too happy. By this time I had sunk way more than R50,000 worth of stock into this pipedream with no real returns.
Yes. I made a serious play to buy the SCARAB name from Allen Cliffe in 2017. SCARAB Gis were everywhere. I wanted the rights to the intellectual property, the customer list, all those good things. But in the end. Allen had abandoned the brand which was in a CC as far as I remember and he didn't have his ducks in a row and it was basically deregistered by the time I showed interest. So I withdrew the offer. Bygones.
WARPATH Angry Panther™ BJJ Gis (2017)
I wanted WARPATH Gis. Our first original product. After the SCARAB debacle I contacted APOCALYPSE and arranged with Dylan Bradshaw to make the first WARPATH Gis. He gave me a good price and I submitted my design.
This is what I thought I was going to get:
• Black Gi with Red Contrast Stitching and Red Drawstring.
• Red WARPATH typeface on each leg and shoulder in the specified size.
• Angry Panther embroidered on the back. No patch.
• Sizes A1 to A4.
Simple. Here's what I got:
• Black Gi with Red Contrast Stitching and Red Drawstring.
• Red WARPATH typeface on each leg and shoulder - Squashed, with embroidery that easily frays.
• Angry Panther printed patch on black patch background on back - not embroidered - one even had the unwanted patch sowed on upside down. Grrr.
• Sizes A0 to A3.
Here's the thing: Dylan outsourced these Gis. Whose to blame? Sometimes the manufacturer overseas jerks you around. As I later discovered myself, time and again. But Dylan's allright. He didn't cower in fear and think there's no way he's going to entertain the competition, he helped where he could. He's kissed many a frog to get his clothing done - in his own words. And he repaid me in "roukoop" of R2,600 for his manufacturer's mistakes thereafter.
But, at that time. I had to make a plan with those Gis. I could not let them into the market looking like that! First thing was I had the patches removed on the back of the jackets. You can't have a black print job on a black background! What were they thinking? Later it turned out that I was blissfully unaware that the Angry Panther has more than 100 colours in it, very few embroidery machines can do more than 24 colours at a time. Theirs definately couldn't. But I had bigger problems, I couldn't let Gis out the door of which the embroidery frays. So I commissioned a local embroiderer to create Red shoulder patches with Black WARPATH writing embroidered. Once those were done I paid a seamstress to sow all those patches ontop of the shoulder embroidery. I thought it looked quite nice.
The Gis started selling. But I got complaints about the patch on the back from Crazy Monkey. Couldn't have that. First Gis. You know the story by now. So I took all the remaining Gis back to the seamstress to remove all the patches apart from 1 per size. (If you received one of those, this is the saga of what happened to your Gi.) And to have each jacket pressed. This was time consuming. I couldn't leave all my expensive stock with her, so week by week we did 4 to 5 at a time until they were all done.
In the end. All these costs drove the price of the Gis up. And I never even recouperated the money I put into these Gis. Probably made a loss of R200 to R300 per Gi. But them's the brakes.
APOCALYPSE has come far from the www.cdsports.weebly.com days.
If you're a Mass Effect player you'll know the mercenary group called the "Omega Talons". Omegalon is a conflation from the name. I've been infatuated with that fictional group ever since playing through ME3. Now, to be sure, the logo used is probably trademarked or copyrighted. And we will surely cease and decist making them as soon as the letters arrive.
That also means that all those Batman, Superman, Tatami clones, etc. being put out by APOCALYPSE and STJ would also be copyright infringements. I'm not saying anything, I'm just saying. But I'm not in a position to point fingers.
And so, the first WARPATH rashguards were produced by APOCALYPSE Fightgear for me in 2017. It was a really nice pattern. Good stitching. Good material. But some of the requirements got lost in translation again.
This is what I thought I was going to get:
• Ranks on biceps, not going below elbow, ever.
• Emblem on the chest is a white wave.
Simple. Here's what I got:
• Ranks on biceps, going below elbow on some designs.
• Emblem on the chest is a transparent wave.
I never fought with Dylan about it. I just mentioned that it's bullshit. We did attempt to collaborate later that year on a magnificent Jungle Tiger and Angry Panther rashguard based on the APOCALYPSE Crazy Tiger design. But the designer conflated the designs. Dylan didn't want me to pay. I guess it was shelved. Wouldn't mind to get my hands on that design one day.
I see you adapting my copy from time to time Dylan. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery brother. I inadvertently copied your "Just keep rolling" slogan as "Keep Rolling". When I realised it in 2018 I stopped.
Clearly, I needed a different rashguard manufacturer. I looked around and found Venom Sportswear. Roy Brennan owned the company. Big sportsman. Had a meeting with Roy. Discussed some changes and options. And then I battled to get the sample out of Roy. Eventually Roy said I can send my driver. I confirmed with Roy in the morning if I can send my driver to collect the sample. Venom is in a dodgy and dangerous part of Joburg. My driver sat outside for two hours before someone opened for him.
Then the sample wasn't as expected. Big dissappointment. And the disregard for my driver's time and safety disgruntled me. No loss.
Exit Venom. Who, per Roy, owned the trademarks for the "venom" name in SA in three different verticles, and if I remember that's why World of Warriors couldn't call themselves Venum SA when they were still operating.
The search continued.
In 2018 I approached Niel Geyser to be our Brand Ambassador focusing on my fitness and Jiu-Jitsu lines.
I spent around R80,000 in money, time and effort to collaborate with Niel. We developed a range of clothing together inspired by his theme of Mastery (Jukutatsu) including Jits Gis, Rashguards, Spats, Compressions Shorts, etc.
Niel is probably one of the best Jits coaches alive. He focuses on expanding and improving YOUR game, individually. His students of all belts are highly skilled. However, his Neuro Linguistic Programming games he likes to play along with his diversions into non-related activities before our paths crossed, which made him highly unpopular in the Jits community, as well as his penchant to argue with me personally instead of collaborate meant that our journey together ended soon enough.
I wish Niel all the best but I came off second best in our dealings.
In 2019 my IT corporation, Impetus IT, bought out all the WARPATH Direct
stock I owned at cost and became the sole reseller and distributor of everything on hand as well as my trademark : WARPATH Fightwear™ by transforming WARPATH Direct™ into WARPATH Boutique™ or WARPATH Shop for short. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.