Louis Gaudinot loves it when people ask him what he does for a living.
"I change people's lives," he tells them.
"To get a kid to come in here who's six years old, who's shy, getting bullied, has no confidence and to teach him how to defend himself, how to stand up to bullies and to be more outgoing -- the parents come up to me and tell me, 'You really did change my child's life.' And it isn't just that: You get an adult who comes here and he loses 50, 60 pounds and adds years onto his life. You teach a woman some self-defense and she has more confidence walking down the street, taking the train, knowing she's a bit safer."
Gaudinot, who's been a martial artist since age six with the Tiger Schulmann schools, is currently the head instructor at the Hoboken, N.J., location. Oh, and he's currently the No. 11-ranked Flyweight on the Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) rankings and No. 14 on the meta-rankings.
The Yonkers, N.Y., native was disappointed that he wasn't able to get on the recent UFC 169 card in nearby Newark, N.J., but is excited to be fighting Phil Harris at UFC Fight Night 37 "Gustafsson vs. Manuwa" in London, England, later on this afternoon (Sat., March 8, 2014).
One of the interesting tidbits I found out from Gaudinot is some background on the Tiger Schulmann schools and how they changed from a karate dojo into a solid MMA academy. If you're around my age, you grew up with ads for what derisively came to be known as McDojos: Schools that were often in strip malls or on the second floor of buildings above a Wendy's that -- much like the ubiquitous fast food chain -- served cheap imitations of the real thing.
Given the failure of most traditional martial arts in the grander scheme of vale tudo and MMA, these schools capitalized on America's fascination with Bruce Lee and later The Karate Kid to make karate, taekwondo and other martial arts a standard afterschool activity for children (like myself, a blue belt in karate from way back in 1988) much like little league baseball.
Tiger Schulmann's was one of them ... or so I thought.
Tiger Schulmann realized that karate wasn't the be-all end-all of martial arts, and had always incorporated basic wrestling takedowns and things like that. Then the first UFC happened and we really started including the groundwork. He recognized the Jiu Jitsu was a game changer and was something everybody needed to know. I'm sure other traditional martial arts schools shied away from it and tried to sell their stuff more than someone else's, but you really do need to know all the different things.
He likes to tell a story that he got his brother to allow him to put him in an armbar and told him to get out of it. His brother couldn't and his exact words were, "Really? This is so cool!"
Among some of the other rapid-fire questions I asked the contender:
Cory Braiterman (MMA Mania): What was your favorite MMA moment?
Louis Gaudinot: As a fighter or as a fan?
Cory Braiterman (MMA Mania): Ooh, nice tangent. Both. Start with fighter.
Louis Gaudinot: When I was fighting [Jessie Riggleman] for the Ring of Combat flyweight title, it was a great fight and I jumped the guillotine late in the third round and he tapped with like five seconds left. I jumped up out of the cage and ran into the stands to hug my mom. I did it before Jose Aldo!
Cory Braiterman (MMA Mania): And as a fan?
Louis Gaudinot: Well there was watching the first UFC with my dad, but I've always been a big BJ Penn fan. Him beating Matt Hughes for the 170 pound title was huge because no one was giving him a chance.
Cory Braiterman (MMA Mania): What was the hardest you've ever been hit?
Louis Gaudinot: One of my training partners, Shane Burgos [a 3-0 featherweight], he didn't even know, but I saw lights and was on wobbly legs. I didn't realize it and I told him after the round. He hit me even harder than Lineker.
Cory Braiterman (MMA Mania): What is your normal walk-around weight?
Louis Gaudinot: About 141, 143
Cory Braiterman (MMA Mania): How much do you normally cut to make weight?
Louis Gaudinot: I do it the right way, hydrate myself with a lot of water. By fight week, I'm walking around at 136, 134... sweating it out. Then I'll wake up that weigh-in morning at 129 and only have 3, 4 pounds to go.
That's all for now, check out MMA Mania's live coverage of UFN 37 "Manuwa vs. Gustafsson" right here!